Timothy Keller is popularly known as the CS Lewis of the 21st Century. Anyone familiar with his books knows how easy to read his books are, and how enjoyable and enriching they are to digest. In his latest volume he tackles the idea of Christian Justice.
He starts off his book by talking about why he wrote it. The reasons he gives are, firstly, that certain Christians have become too focused about their message and not focused on their actions enough. The second reason is to answer sceptics like Christopher Hitchens who describes the Abrahamic God as a moral monster.
The first four chapters basically look at how the bible describes justice. It looks at how the bible as a whole defines justice (many quotes given along with historical interpretations), how the bible defines justice according to the Old Testament, whether this changes in the New Testament and finally to whom justice should apply (this is done by examining the Parable of the Good Samaritan).
Chapters five and six, ask the question why we should do justice and how justice can be done in the broader sphere. The central focus on why we should do justice is the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and the salvation/atonement theology of Christ - or in laymen's terms - if God could love you and die for you then the least you can do is respond to his love by helping others. The question of how is a bit more complex. The central argument is that justice is not easy and requires a lot of work, there are no easy fixes. Keller offers 5 core points which must be addressed in order to help achieve universal justice (namely direct relief, individual development, community development, racial conciliation and social reform).
Chapter seven is interesting. It basically argues that it is not ok to exclude a person's faith/beliefs from their public/political discourses/opinions. This is clearly a response to modern secularism. However, where it gets interesting is that he argues that it is also not good enough to simply quote scripture to people and say that that justifies your position. Going one step further, he even advocates getting churches out of politics. How he reunifies his thesis is to say that a person's faith is able to prompt them to interact with society and push justice (for e.g. Martin Luther King). In such instances the arguments given must be given in a secular nature (i.e. a non-believer would still be able to understand them). Nevertheless, the cause of your drive (your faith) should not be ignored either - after all, if you're a good Christian then acting justly is a sign of your faith. In this way evangelism and secular reform are both progressed, and therefore everyone goes home happy.
Finally the eighth chapter is an argument that we can get a degree of peace and beauty by pursuing the biblical definition of justice. Keller concludes that it is actually beneficial to the whole community to respond to justice in this way. To prove his point he offers an example of where this has happened in a small community which attempted to follow it, and how doing so improved all their lives.
Overall, I would have to say that I enjoyed the book. However, I've read practically every book that Timothy Keller has ever written and I must say that they are all excellent reads - this book is no exception. Once again Keller left me thinking about the way I conduct myself, and whether I am actually being faithful to myself. I thoroughly recommend this book, like Keller, to Atheists who don't trust the biblical concept of justice, and also to (and more importantly) to Christians who wish to evaluate their own concepts of justice and how to engage in political/social, reform/works.
I'd also recommend Keller's other book - Counterfeit Gods - which is also an enjoyable and highly relevant read.
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 681 KB
- Print Length: 268 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (14 October 2010)
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004FEEW6U
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 175 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #142,178 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)