Why Justice is So Important to the Emerging Church

One of the main characteristics of the Emerging Church is that it is seeking to be the missional church in a postmodern context. How do we proclaim Christ to postmoderns?

“It may come as a surprise to learn that in all sorts of ways I believe postmodernity is to be welcomed. It offers an analysis of evil which the mainstream culture…still resists; it deconstructs, in particular, the dangerous ideology of ‘progress.’ I regard the main function of postmodernity under God to be the preaching of the doctrine of the Fall (the truth of a deep and fatal flaw within human nature) to the modernist, post-eighteenth-century arrogance that supposes it has solved the world’s problems.” (N.T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God, p. 32)

Ministry that is properly situated to reach postmoderns embraces postmodern ideas about evil. We affirm the “will to power” that points out that we human beings (both individually and in our institutions) consistently abuse power in order to oppress others and to further our own agendas. We affirm that we should be careful not to trust others too far. We affirm a skepticism that says that everything is progressing in a wonderful Hegelian dialectical path. We affirm that Auschwitz and brutal World Wars and even current empirical power grabs by the governments of the West prove that our supposed morality is questionable at best. We affirm that even those who are religious are not immune to the bent human need for power (as we have seen throughout the history of the church and most recently in the power-wrangling of the Religious Right).

Wright continues:

“Postmodernity may be correct to say evil is real, powerful, and important, but it gives us no real clue as to what we should do about it. It is therefore vital that we look elsewhere…” (p. 33)

A Christian movement that displays the grace of Jesus Christ in righting injustices speaks to the postmodern heart and mind. It says that God knows that the world is not the way it should be. It says that God is indeed doing something about it. It says that the ultimate solution to these problems is God…God hanging on a cross.

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RonMcK said...

Good stuff.
The problem is that when many Christians become concerned about justice, they jump to the state for a solution. They jump straight back into "the will to power".

Stephen Finlan said...

Doesn't it seem crude and ugly to say the solution is God hanging on a cross? Shouldn't the solution be that God was willing to endure that, but that it actually effected NO CHANGE in God's forgiving attitude?
Yes, we can hurt God (so to speak), every time we hurt an innocent person. It's not human cruelty, but divine unchanging love that can save us. But to make everything dependent on the cross is to make a fetish out of human cruelty and stupidity.
The saving message is in the things BEFORE and AFTER the cross, in Jesus' creative and healing power, in his teaching, in his inclusion of everyone who wanted to be included in the family of God, and finally it is the Resurrection, which fore-tells our resurrection.