Responsibility for injustice

By Dave Henning / February 5, 2022

“When it comes to responsibility for injustice, the Bible recognizes complexity. . . .  Biblical injustice teaches me that I am responsible for my sins, yet I may also be complicit, responsible, and involved in other people’s sins and injustices.”- Timothy Keller

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”- Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

Timothy Keller continues Chapter 10 of Hope in Times of Fear with the third and fourth aspects of biblical justice.

3.  Justice = advocacy for those without power.  Certainly, Pastor Keller wryly observes, the Bible never tells us to speak up for the rich and powerful.  For one simple reason.  They don’t need you to speak up for them.

However, Zechariah 7:9-10 lists four groups needing special concern in ancient times – widows, the fatherless, foreigners, and the poor.  And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls on His disciples to give to the poor.  In addition, Jesus calls that kind of giving righteousness – dikaiosune – justice.

4.  Justice = corporate and individual responsibility.  The Bible indicates that injustice happens directly through individuals.  But it also occurs indirectly at the systemic and corporate levels.  But despite this reality, Pastor Keller stresses, the Bible puts the greatest weight on personal responsibility.

Most significantly, Pastor Keller cites Ezekial 18 as a case study of placing too much emphasis on corporate responsibility.  Because when this happens fatalism and irresponsibility result.  Therefore, the author states, Ezekial states, we’re fully responsible for our sins.  And our salvation before God lies in our individual actions.

In contrast, nonreligious views of human nature reduce our behavior to some mechanical factor.  A factor that explains everything and can be managed and controlled.  Furthermore, these views use evolution, neurochemisty, culture, or social construction to explain human behavior.  Yet, the Bible teaches that spiritual forces – both good and evil, within us and surrounding us – shape us.

Today’s question: Where do you place responsibility for injustice?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A fighting religion – Christianity”

About the author

Dave Henning

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