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The Battle Lines Over Justice

Is justice an imperative or an implication of the gospel, and why are people getting so stirred up about the answer?

As I write this, Christian relief agencies, denominations, churches, and parachurch ministries around the world are mobilizing to aid the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. But the call to alleviate suffering and rescue the oppressed is not only being answered in the wake of catastrophes. Over the last decade there has been a significant awakening to social justice issues among evangelicals. From Rick Warren's PEACE plan to the efforts of Christian bands like Jars of Clay and Hillsong United, issues of justice and compassion have moved from a sideshow among evangelicals to the center stage.

Research conducted by LifeWay last year found that "Younger evangelical pastors are less likely to self-identify as conservative than older generations and more apt to view social justice as a gospel imperative." Commenting on the findings, Ed Stetzer said, "I think ultimately that we are at a season right now where the issues of social justice are growing and a desire to integrate compassion and commission ...

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