Monday, August 14, 2006

Justification and Social Justice

Does my reformed conceptual toolbox contain the theoretical/theological tools to relate these two? Or, do I have to go rummaging through the toolkits of other traditions to supplement my own? My gut says yes and yes.

I’m not minimizing the discussions going on in my circles these days. At some level, they are needed and necessary but this isn’t a speculative theological question for me, one that I leave at the presbytery floor. The issues surrounding this problem are what cause me, in private moments of despair, to want to throw in the towel. Thankfully, I haven’t and won’t though I’ve cried myself to sleep over this and related stuff as I've realized that I operate with a different social paradigm and a sometimes alien theological language game!

Maybe, this problem is a subset of the heaven-earth chasm – things on earth are just not like heaven, so, our indicatives and imperatives are painfully out of sync at times.

The following have been helpful by way of suggesting some potential angles for fresh exploration. They are good primers on probing the relationship between the two:

Nicholas Wolterstorff's "Justice and Justification” in Reformed Theology for the Third Christian Millennium: The 2001 Sprunt Lectures, 83-96.

Kathryn Tanner’s “Justification and Justice in a Theology of Grace” in Theology Today 55(1999), 510-23.

“Justification and Justice: The Promising Problematique of Protestant Ethics in the Work of Paul L. Lehmann” in Justification: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates, 118-33.

I have a hunch that John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God would provide a robust reformed framework for addressing the question. I may be wrong though. If anyone knows of a work that speaks directly to this, please advise.

"This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one."

- Maltbie Babcock

2 comments:

Anthony J Stiff said...

One person is Harvie Conn and his short work, Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace (particularly his covenantal fourth-dimensional spirituality model).

Another place you might look within your own tradition are the Dutch Neo-Calvinist guys like Kuiper or Bavinck. I'm thinking these 'world-view', 'encyclopedic' guys could have some things to speak to this issue.

Mark Robinson said...

thanks bro. great suggestion. the neo-calvinists guys do seem to speak to this. maybe i need to pull out some wolters stuff.

where is the "covenantal fourth-dimensional spirituality model" stuff? what page?