Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Call to Justice

I am grateful for the many generous responses to my report to the Presbytery of Carlisle January 2010 which called forth a renewed commitment to our tradition of Christian realism. May I suggest that one, small way to engage this question in our churches and in our preaching is by some careful consideration of a Christian concept of justice. I am sure that many, many recent sermons from Presbyterian pulpits exalted the concept of Christian love. Maybe we also need some devoted attention to the biblical concept of justice. One way to consider the contours of our tradition of Christian realism is this constant push and pull between love and justice.

I appreciate Professor David True’s referring me to a recent web editorial in the online journal “Political Theology.” Copied here is a nice definition of justice from that editorial:

Justice “is not reducible to a check list and will power. Rather, it is a way of inhabiting the world and interacting with others that embraces more than the will and more than war. It is about habits and dispositions and how one is inclined to act in the course of the quotidian tasks of life when one is not consciously thinking about or willing it. Which is to say that the justice on which the classic just war tradition is erected, by the likes of Augustine and Aquinas, is a matter of character. It is a virtue. More specifically, it is the virtue of a people whose life is disciplined in a manner that they ordinarily, habitually care for and seek the good of their neighbors, including their enemy neighbors, in times of peace as well as war.”

From the Web Editorial: The Justice of Just War and the Exceptionalism it Requires A Response to Barack Obama's Nobel Acceptance Speech on 9 December 2009; found at:

Mark Englund-Krieger