Why Justice?

Edited by Charlie Snyder

Photo Courtesy of Cristina Chaparro

By Anderson Hultgren

Published September 1st 2020

            In my younger years, I realized that my emotions were not Truth. In  frustration I turned to God and asked, “Where do I find Truth?” His response was in His Word: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn. 14:6 ESV). Look to Him! Yet I did not understand. In my teens, I realized that my perception is not Truth. My mind was flooded with the phrase, Look to Him! I still did not grasp it. So it goes on: in my 20s, I realized that culture is not Truth; in my late 20s, I realized that theologians lack and dispute over the Truth; in my 30s, I realized that reason and logic are not absolute truth. Now, I hope to grasp the truth through the Truth, looking to Him because He is the Truth. This is the Theologian’s task: To be discipled by God (looking to God!), and disciple others as a disciple of God. 

"A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher." 

-Luke 6:40 ESV

            When done correctly, theology is a conversation. This conversation  teaches us to be “fully trained” and like God. Sometimes the conversation is between God and a people, like the prophets of Old; other times it is between an apostle and people, like the epistles of the New. In a certain sense, both dialogues are the same. The prophetic books and the apostolic books both addressed current problems and engaged with God and people. 
            One of the great current problems is the subject of justice. In recent history, justice has been distorted and abused, and in turn people suffer. [1] The topic of justice has gone ignored for too long in mainline Christianity. Politics and party allegiances have taken the judicial-reins, leaving us bound to worldly standards of justice. The polarizing nature of political party allegiances have made the subject difficult to address.
            We understand that this subject is highly debated (we at WTM even disagree on certain particulars). In my eyes, one of the central themes of the New Testament is  unity of believers. Jesus prayed that believers “may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (Jn. 17:21 ESV). Likewise, Paul continually exhorted his readers to earnestly pursue unity. [2]
            In an effort toward unity, we choose to embrace the other and learn from their unique experiences and education. Likewise, we’re opening up the conversation in an attempt to remove the fruits of disunity—resentment, fear, and unholiness. For if we resent the other, then we remain disune in heart. 
            In this issue, God’s Truth, the Church’s unity, and a personal theological-outlook join together, attending to the current topic of justice. In prayer, word, and action, we ought to attend to the oppressed and the impoverished; for the Bible exhorts the strong to attend to the needs of the weak (Rom. 15:1). [3] While injustice is often blatant, sometimes it is hidden behind nearby veils. Veils that are removed by dialoguing with God and neighbor. Moving forward, we ask that you listen to the unique experiences of other Christians, dialoguing with us and with God as we offer to you the same. 



            [1] Alexander VI, Inter Caetera, Encyclical Letter, Papal Encyclicals, May 4, 1493; Willie James Jennings, “Zurara’s Tears” in The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 15-38; N. H. Baynes, Hitler's Speeches (London: Oxford University Press, 1922), 369; Harry S. Truman, “Statement by the President Announcing the Use of the A-Bomb at Hiroshima.” (Speech, Presidential Address, White House, Aug 6, 1945). Accessed March 10, 2020;

Historically, the world suffers when Theology does not attend to justice. It was the Theologians who penned The Doctrine of Discovery, allowing slaves to be kidnapped and traded from Africa. It was a Theologian who watched and documented the first black bodies to arrive in Portugal, causing centuries of racialized thinking. Millions of people were torn from their land, family, and way of life allowed by these Theologians. Though theologians of those days had greater influence and power than they do today, their imaginary ideals had an impact upon the future. Likewise, we never know how our Theological thoughts can gain influence and power. While Hitler used Luther’s reformation to justify his military conquest, saying, “Luther, if he could be with us, would give us his blessing," President Truman justified killings of 90,000-146,000 Japanese citizens in his speech by being “grateful to Providence.” Both committed killing in warfare; both used Theology to justify it. This is the history we ought to learn and accept. These Theologians did not think of the impact of their work and the sufferings that would come through them. Now, we accept these historical facts and learn to attend to justice. 

            [2] A few examples: 1 Cor. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:11; Rom. 12; 14:19; Phil. 1:27; 2:2; Col. 3:14;  Eph. 4:3, 13-14; 15:5; Gal. 3:28

            [3] Jürgen Moltmann, "FELLOWSHIP IN A DIVIDED WORLD" The Ecumenical Review Vol. 24 Is. 4 (Apr, 2010), 436-446. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1758-6623.1972.tb03141.x, “By serving first of all the oppressed, the forgotten and all those who have lost hope, she serves all mankind and fosters human fellowship among men” (440). and “According to the New Testament, the brotherhood of Christ is two- fold : on the one hand, it is his brotherhood with the faithful and their brotherhood with one another; and on the other hand, it is his brother-hood with the humblest, the starving, the oppressed, the alienated, the hopeless and the forsaken. If the Church understands itself as the brotherhood of Christ, she must become, in herself and through her presence in the world, a brotherhood of believers with the poor, a brotherhood of love towards those who are captive, a brotherhood of those who have hope with those who have lost hope” (446).

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