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Corey's Corner: social justice from a biblical perspective

President Barry Corey shares seven thoughts on biblical justice in Corey's Corner this week. | Photo courtesy of University Communications and Marketing

On Nov. 14, I’ll be speaking in chapel, drawing from the story of Dinah’s rape in Genesis chapter 34. It’s quite a story. Try to come that day. Though my thoughts that Monday morning will center around courageous and godly leadership in the midst of a morally imploding culture, the whole chapter got me thinking about social justice, Jesus-style. Some of you are taking classes in social justice. Some of you are engaged in acts of compassion out of your heart for social justice. The pages of The Chimes have covered stories and opinions on social justice.

I want you to hear this from me. Social justice is not an end. It is a means. For those of you who study history, you know that over the past few centuries the church that saw social justice as an end and not a means drifted from its original focus. It drifted from the unique saving work of Christ. It drifted from the spiritual lost-ness of sinners. It drifted from the authority of the Bible. It drifted from the imperative of world evangelization. We need to learn from history that we must love the world in word and deed and in loving we shall not drift from our deeply held convictions.

A friend I was with in New York City, N.Y., this week told me of a church leader he met with, whose denomination had drifted from its roots. That leader lamented the drift, reflecting on it this way: “We applaud ourselves for the social work we have done, but we forget why we have done this in the first place and that is that God commanded us in his Word.”

Seven thoughts on biblical justice

Paul, in speaking of creation as yearning for the deliverance from the evil occasioned by the fall, calls us in Romans 8:20-23 to be restorers of the good God created. As Isaiah says in chapter 58, we are to be repairers of the breech. We do this so that the injustices are lessened and those who have suffered might see in us the hope of Christ and also hear from us the saving love of Christ. For this very reason, I prefer “biblical justice” to “social justice.” Here are seven of my thoughts on biblical justice.

  1. Every person is made in the image of God who created him or her, and God loves that person.

  2. God’s desire is that each man, woman and child will come to a personal relationship with him only through the atoning work of Christ.

  3. Some sin has become systemic, like violence, greed and lust, and it is difficult for victims of systemic sin to know the love of God.

  4. Christians are called into a world of fallen humanity and its resultant injustices in order to serve the needs of this world and in so doing bear witness in word and deed to the exalted Christ.

  5. Christians are to be different by observing moral absolutes, by practicing love and by preserving the dignity of others who are made in the image of God.

  6. The mission of social justice, or biblical justice, at Biola University is to help students take on the big challenges of sin that are keeping people from knowing the redeeming love of Christ.

  7. We do “justice” without falling victim to the world’s lack of concern about God and eternity, so we are to care about human suffering because we care about eternal suffering.

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