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Stott on Justice Ministry


In the foreword to Gary Haugen’s Good News About Injustice, John Stott asks four theological questions to consider regarding justice ministry. I have been thinking about this subject a lot lately, and have much to learn. I am also preparing to speak on the subject of “The Gospel and Justice” at the Acts 1:8 Boot Camp in MS.

Here are the questions:

First, what sort of God do we believe in? Is he concerned exclusively with individual salvation? Or does he have a social conscious? Is he (in Dr. Carl Henry’s memorable phrase), “the God of justice and of justification”? How is it that so many of us staunch evangelical people have never seen, let alone faced, the barrage of biblical texts about justice? Why are we often guilty of selective imagination?

Second, what sort of creature do we think a human being is? Have we ever considered the unique value and dignity of human beings, made in the image of God, so that abuse, torture, rape and grinding poverty, which dehumanize beings, are also an insult to the God who made them?

Third, what sort of person do we think Jesus Christ is? Have we ever seen him as described in John 11, where first he “snorted” with anger (v. 33, literally) in the face of death (an intrusion into God’s good world) and then “wept” (v. 35) over the bereaved? If only we could be like Jesus, indignant toward evil and compassionate toward its victims!

Fourth, what sort of a community do we think the church is meant to be? Is it not often indistinguishable from the world because it accommodates itself to the prevailing culture of injustice and indifference? Is it not intended rather to penetrate the world like salt and light, and so to change it, as salt hinders bacterial decay and light disperses darkness?

From there, Stott invites us to read and consider our role in the area of justice ministry.

I’m so thankful for Gary Haugen and the courageous work of the International Justice Mission.

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them”

Ephesians 5:11