Gideon Strauss has wrestled with questions of justice since childhood—a natural response to being raised in South Africa under apartheid. After his conversion to Christ, Strauss wondered how he could incorporate the biblical call to justice into his life. He says it wasn't easy, and that the journey required "much study, an openness to changing my mind, several false starts in resistance to apartheid, and a recognition that my own efforts were small and flawed."
Strauss's journey led to a role as an interpreter with South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as an adviser to the group that drafted the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Today, Strauss finds himself on the other side of the world, as CEO of the nonpartisan Center for Public Justice (CPJ) in Washington, D.C., a role he has held since October 2009.
Strauss frames CPJ's work theologically: If Jesus is truly risen, that shapes how we live out our callings as citizens and office holders. The mission of CPJ is to "to equip citizens, develop leaders, and shape policy in pursuit of our purpose to serve God, advance justice, and transform public life," and, as Strauss puts it, to do so "gracefully and hopefully."
Question & Answer
Define justice. How does it differ from public justice and social justice?
In the biggest sense, justice is when all God's creatures receive what is due them and contribute out of their uniqueness to our common existence. We are called to do justice in every sphere of our lives: how I love and educate my daughters, collaborate with my colleagues, interact with neighbors. Public justice is the political aspect—the work of citizens and political office bearers shaping a public life for the common good. Social ...1