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Leaving the details aside, what level of agreement about the following statements do we have. I presume support will drop the further down the list we go:
1. Persons can do unrighteous, unjust, and evil actions of their own free will.
2. Social systems and structures can be unjust (e.g., legally enforced slavery, forced prostitution, police-supported child slavery or drug-trafficking, apartheid, racial discrimination, etc.).
3. Social systems can be unjust even if they are legal (i.e., justice and legality are not synonymous).
4. Christians as individuals are called to be righteous and just and compassionate (separate but overlapping descriptions).
5. Christians as individuals can (should?) decry systemic social problems as the prophets of old did with passion.
6. These individuals can work to change social systems that they deem unjust.
7. Christians as individuals can run for political office to affect changes they believe are consistent with God’s values.
8. The church (congregations and/or denominations) can use its voice to speak to local or national governments about changes that it deems consistent with God’s values (e.g., 1921 SDA letter to Pres. Harding supporting arms reduction).
Depending where we begin to disagree with the list (and I can imagine a few changes/additions to the list), we will have very different discussions.
Three statements of belief:
B1) Personally, I believe it is possible to get all the way to #8 and still believe in the separation of church and state in terms of finances and control/authority.
B2) I believe we can agree with #8 and still speak truth to the empire without being co-opted by it.
B3) I believe we can agree with #8 and still disagree with each other regarding specific policy issues. This to me is more constructive than attacking “social justice,” which encompasses but is not limited to economic justice, to use terms previously mentioned.
To be against social justice is to support social injustice. Clearly, we are against injustice as personally defined, so why not stick to specific issues–health care, tax policies, human rights abuses and definitions, labor laws, immigration, education, housing, public debt, etc.–instead of being flat out against social justice.
“I believe in social justice defined as…”
“I’m a social justice Christian who believes…”
“I am an activist Christian committed to the biblical values of…”
“I value social justice, which to me means…. However, I disagree when…”
“Regardless of how some people in some places have defined social justice, I am trying to support a society that reflects the values supported by the prophets, including…”
“Even though this world will not be perfect until Jesus returns, I’m trying to learn how to best live out Is. 56:1-2, so I am working for peace and justice by…. However, I have a real problem when Christians and non-Christians…”
“Even though I don’t view any political party as holy or completely right, I want to know God as described in Jer. 22:16, so I am working to aid the poor, needy and oppressed by… and this has indirectly brought me in contact with government leaders and bureaucracies, and I…”