Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is biblical justice leftist?

On the one hand, we are Bible believing Christians. On the other hand, we work for justice. But we don’t seem to have a good biblical basis for justice. Our concept of justice in JNU campus is influenced by the leftist political parties which see justice in the light of power struggle. We have the oppressed and the oppressor, and structures that are oppressive. So, when we work for justice, we argue for the underprivileged and dismantling the unjust structures. As Christians, to this we simply add compassion for the poor/underprivileged and other Christian virtues. However, the biblical basis of justice and the call of the Christian to work for justice do not primarily stem from a noble concern for the poor and the oppressed; but first of all, because we believe in a God who is just. A God who is just and merciful. A God who has mercy on us though his justice deserved us to be punished. A God who not only is just and merciful, but a God who loves us and redeems us back by paying the price for his justice through the sacrifice of his Son. A God who is in the process of - in N.T Wright’s words – ‘putting things to rights’. 1. Therefore as believers and servants of a just God, we reflect his justice to all creation. But we are simply servants/stewards, forgiven criminals who are called to proclaim God's justice (not our justice). That prevents us from taking matters into our own hands. The aim to overthrow the oppressive regimes can lead one to take things into one’s own hands without this realization. There is the danger to be puffed up with pride that we are champions of justice for the poor. 2. Because of Sin, all our works for justice will be incomplete and imperfect until we meet our saviour face to face. This explains the messy world we are in where complete justice is still elusive. This does not mean lowering of the biblical standard to achieve achievable level of justice, but a call for humility and refraining from instant realization of utopian dreams in a world stained with sin. 3. The Bible also says that we who work for justice will also have to sit on the judgment seat and give an account. To a Christian, the means is accountable as much as the ends we try to meet. The Bible does not justify justice through violence no matter what.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Miroslav Volf: Exclusion and Embrace

Miroslav Volf laments about his country
“Did I not discover in oppressed Croatia’s face some despised Serbian features? Might not the enemy have captured some of Croatia’s soul along with a good deal of Croatia’s soil?”
Here’s another quote:
"Cultural identity insinuates itself with religious force; Christian and cultural commitments merge. Such sacralisation of cultural identity is invaluable for the act of piety. Blind to the betrayal of Christian faith that both sacralisation of cultural identity and the atrocities it legitimizes represents, the “holy” murderers can even see themselves as the Christian faith’s valiant defenders".
But the best I’ve come across so far is (I’m yet to finish the book, but can’t wait to put this up):
"It is a mistake, I believe, to complain too much about Christianity being “alien” in a given culture...There are, of course, wrong ways to being a stranger, such as when an alien culture (say one of the western cultures) is idolatrously proclaimed as the gospel in another culture (say one of the Asian cultures). But the solution for being a stranger in a wrong way is not full naturalization, but being a stranger in the right way. Much like Jews and Muslims, Christians can never be first of all Asians or Americans, Croatians, Russians or Tutsis (or Nagas), and then Christians. At the very core of Christian identity lies an all encompassing change of loyalty, from a given culture with its gods to the God of all cultures. "
I heard that there are some updates in his new book ‘The end of memory’. But this 2002 Grawemeyer Award winning book (and one among the 100 best books in the 20th century by Christianity Today) is great and sets the heart racing as you turn the pages. Please get hold of the book and digest it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quote

Before going polemical, we need to check the ground beneath our feet and watch our vocabulary

Saturday, March 6, 2010