Beyond Bono
Is justice just a trend, or is it central to the church's calling?

The summer issue of Leadership is about a week away from mailboxes. The theme is "Beyond Bono: Doing justice God's way is more than a fad." In the last few years, there has been a dramatic rise in pop-cultural engagement with issues of justice and poverty. This trend is captured best by Bono–lead singer for U2. This video from a few years ago illustrates the celebrity-driven focus around justice.

But what about the rise of justice as an issue within the church? Can it be explained away by the visibility of stars like Bono, or is there something more going on? And what does it mean to move beyond emotion and guilt toward a biblical and theological foundation for our justice efforts? These topics and others are addressed in the summer issue of LJ. Some of the voices in the issue include:

John Ortberg on prophetic preaching

Bethany Hoang on the justice generation

Eugene Cho on the risks of getting personally involved in justice

Jim Wallis and Mark Dever debating the role of justice in the gospel

Mark Labberton on the cultural and theological roots of the trend

We'll be posting excerpts, quotes, and videos from the summer issue in the coming days. And if you haven't yet subscribed to get all the great content in each issue of Leadership, click on the cover on the left side of the screen for a special offer.

July 08, 2010

Displaying 1–9 of 9 comments


July 13, 2010  4:10pm

Is it just to lobby for the government to forcibly take from one group of people in order to give to another group of people? Isn't this a violation of the 8th commandment, "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15)? Certainly, as Christians, we ought to be generous to the poor out of our own resources, but it is absolutely unjust to seek to force others to give of their resources by lobbying the government to forcibly take from one group in order to give to another. Is it just to give to every poor person just because they are poor? What if their poverty is due to their own behavior (alcoholism, drug use, immorality, laziness, etc.)? The Bible does NOT advocate irresponsible giving! II Thessalonians 3:10-12 COMMANDS us NOT to give to those that are experiencing poverty if their behavior is causing their poverty: "If a man will not work, neither let him eat." Certainly, as Christians, we want to reach out and help those that have brought calamity/poverty upon themselves, but we must not do it foolishly. We must NOT do it in a way that empowers irresponsibility or creates dependence or creates a sense of entitlement. God's blessing and help to all of us, as well as the gift of salvation, do NOT come to us because of justice, they come to us by GRACE (undeserved favor and unmerited blessing). To call giving to the poor, "justice," is to undermine God's grace.

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Russ Peavy

July 13, 2010  10:40am

Does God drive a theological wedge between created matter (nature, humankind,) and Spirit? The world which God created (and stills considers His) is where the Spirit works, manifests Himself. Theological dualism keeps us from seeing God's world, all of it including human-beings, as the place where God unfolds his purposes for creation. He's not through yet! Neither should the church.

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adrian wood

July 12, 2010  12:59pm

Why does the church have to choose between justice and mercy? Can it not multi task? I think it is better to talk of mission (of which justice and mercy are parts of) as the central task to the church.

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July 08, 2010  8:38pm

Jesus administered justice one person at a time. If the Church is the Bride of Christ then we should stand next to Jesus and do the same. So I believe that the Church should be involved in justice and mercy.

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July 08, 2010  6:14pm

Richard Stearns in "The Hole in Our Gospel" I think does a pretty good job at defining the debate. Serving the poor and needy is part of the Gospel. Just as Jesus healed the sick and lame, etc. Where we get into trouble is making it our goal to change the world through our good works. That's the social gospel. Only God can do that, which he eventually will get around to doing. (Come Lord Jesus.) Our mission isn't so much to change the world but to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world and show his love to the poor and needy.

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July 08, 2010  12:25pm

This is great. I am really excited about this upcoming issue. After spending a week ministering to migrant workers in Chicagoland, I was confronted by a lot of questions about what the church's role should be in dealing with injustice. And if we are to be involved, how do we even make an impact on systems that are so entrenched and instituionalized with injustice as part of their DNA? I look forward to reading the discussion about this topic. Thanks for addressing it!

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Matt Dabbs

July 08, 2010  12:25pm

How about Sweet and Viola in Jesus Manifesto? "The person of Jesus has become increasingly politically incorrect and is being replaced by the language of "justice," "morality," "values," and "leadership principles."...Something is wrong when it is easier for some Christians to think of the world without Christ than the world without Bach or the Beatles, or Bono. When we dethrone Jesus Christ from His rightful place, we tarnish the face of Christianity and redefine it out of existence." (p. xviii) Or this quote... "Unfortunately, 'Who do you say that I am?' is no longer the only question. 'What are you doing to bring in the kingdom of God?' is now an equally asked question, as is 'What are you doing for justice?' and 'In what causes are you engaged?' (p. xx)

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Skye Jethani

July 08, 2010  10:48am

That's precisely the question, Aiden. What is the church's responsibility regarding justice? I think you'll find the summer issue of LJ really illuminating on this topic with a diversity of voices and viewpoints. Just getting to sit down with Jim Wallis and Mark Dever for a few hours to talk about it was an education. This is a hotly debated and sometimes divisive issue. Skye Jethani

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July 08, 2010  10:21am

Is the church really called to a ministry of justice, or of mercy?

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