Getting Justice Just Right: A review by Bob Osburn

why social justice is not biblical justice

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Bob Osburn of The Wilberforce Academy recently published a review of my new book Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice on his blog. Bob writes: 

My Freshman year (1969-70) in Ann Arbor was a daily trial.  Lost in homesickness, I was paired with a roommate who might as well have come from the far side of the universe. I, a farm boy of bookish predilections, had precious little in common with the boarding school progeny of a Detroit-area auto executive.

But, the real trials that first year at the University of Michigan were the quotidian demands for revolutionary action by campus radicals: bombings, riots, strikes, and picketing.   One day, for example, a group of radicals tried to take over our introductory chemistry class. The professor, no wilting violet, chased them off.  In the middle of a final exam one evening, we were forced to abandon our building because of a bomb threat.  

In the midst of the daily chaos, God mercifully drew me to Himself.  He was my solace in the chaos, but I could never have imagined that God would later make me champion a Christian vision for the renewal of nations while making Jesus known among international students.  That vision has compelled me to search the Scriptures with the question, “What does it mean to truly pursue justice?”

I’m far from the only evangelical exploring that question in the 21st century. The problem is that many are looking for answers in the poisoned waters of postmodernism. The bubbling heart of 21st century postmodernism is Critical Race Theory (CRT), an alien worldview slithering into many of our evangelical churches with the aid of those earnest to find solutions to longstanding injustices. CRT claims to offer a set of tools against racism and other injustices, but actually promotes the unjust, pernicious racialization of American life.  

Scott Allen’s just-published Why Biblical Justice Is Not Social Justice: An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social Crisis (2020) is as crucial, earnest, and timely a response to this dangerous development as the book given me on a cold January evening shortly after my conversion a half century ago.  Francis Schaeffer’s Escape from Reason (1967) made sense of the chaos and irrationality of campus radicalism as he explicated the dangers of the existential worldview (and the just-emerging postmodern worldview). 

With charity and grace that gets justice just right while not diminishing past and present incidents of racism and injustice in American life, Allen’s new book contrasts biblical justice with its explosive CRT counterfeit labeled “ideological social justice.”  Allen’s second chapter lays the plumb line, asking, “What is justice, understood biblically?”  It is, he says, living according to God’s commands, living in right relationships with one another and God, and securing proper recompense when humans break God’s law.  The biblical standard of justice is universal, fair, and impartial.

I encourage you to read the whole review. I also commend the excellent work of The Wilberforce Academy. Their mission is to “train college-age students to be redemptive change agents in their home societies. As these students graciously bring the truth of a Christian worldview to bear on the deepest needs of their societies, they will foster human flourishing in their societies as well as serve God as He builds His kingdom in their midst.”

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