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The Disparity Question

September 23, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part 7 of a multi-part series reviewing Thaddeus J. Williams’ book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. This book is published at a critical time when many in our nation, including Christians, wrestle with the concept of justice. Williams starts with the clear biblical command that Christians must “do justice” (Micah 6:8) and “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Not everything labeled “justice,” however, is necessarily biblical justice. Therefore, Williams poses twelve questions to help Christians discern true, biblical justice, while calling us to do true justice. I commend this book if you want to dig deeper and be more faithful in seeking justice. The seventh question Williams poses is the “Disparity Question.” He asks, “Does our vision of social justice prefer damning stories to undamning facts?” (p. 79). In my estimation, this question exposes what has created so much heat and division over the discussion of race and justice in the last year. It boils down to how we define systemic injustice. Williams proposes a biblical definition for systemic injustice: “any system that either requires or encourages those within the system to break the moral laws God revealed for his creatures’ flourishing” (p. 79). Systemic injustice is real. Williams provides biblical, historical, and current examples of systemic injustice. Christians, committed to a biblical view of justice, decry and work against systemic injustices. ... Keep Reading

The Fruit Question

September 16, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part 6 of a multi-part series reviewing Thaddeus J. Williams’ book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. This book is published at a critical time when many in our nation, including Christians, wrestle with the concept of justice. Williams starts with the clear biblical command that Christians must “do justice” (Micah 6:8) and “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Not everything labeled “justice,” however, is necessarily biblical justice. Therefore, Williams poses twelve questions to help Christians discern true, biblical justice, while calling us to do true justice. I commend this book if you want to dig deeper and be more faithful in seeking justice. The sixth question Williams poses is the “Fruit Question.” He asks, “Does our vision of social justice replace love, peace, and patience with suspicion, division, and rage?” (p. 63). In this question, Williams is wrestling with how Christians should respond to injustices. He is not saying, “victims of oppression have no right to be angry about injustice” (p. 73). He contends, however, that pursuing biblical justice involves a surrender to the Holy Spirit, which cultivates the fruit of the Spirit. Williams recounts the story of Corrie ten Boom coming to offer forgiveness to a Nazi officer who was complicit in the murder of her sister in a concentration camp. “The kingdoms of the world play the self-defeating game of tribalizing, retaliation, and escalation, running up body counts in the name of ‘justice.’ The kingdom of Jesus invites us into does not play by those rules. Corrie ten Boom showed her citizenship in Jesus’ kingdom rather than the world’s kingdoms when she extended forgiveness to the Nazi” (p. 65). ... Keep Reading

The Splintering Question

September 9, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part 5 of a multi-part series reviewing Thaddeus J. Williams’ book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. This book is published at a critical time when many in our nation, including Christians, wrestle with the concept of justice. Williams starts with the clear biblical command that Christians must “do justice” (Micah 6:8) and “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Not everything labeled “justice,” however, is necessarily biblical justice. Therefore, Williams poses twelve questions to help Christians discern true, biblical justice, while calling us to do true justice. I commend this book if you want to dig deeper and be more faithful in seeking justice. The fifth question Williams poses is the “Splintering Question.” He asks, “Does our vision of social justice embrace divisive propaganda?” (p. 54). Behind this question, Williams wrestles with how can a group of humans dehumanize another group of humans to the extent that they want to exterminate them? He dived into the histories of the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, the Rwandan genocide, the Khmer Rouge, and more to find a commonality. In every single situation, propaganda was used to dehumanize one group and to empower tribalism. In surveying the propaganda for these heinous, sinful movements, Williams identifies three common marks in the propaganda. “One, propaganda offers a highly edited history that paints the most damning picture it can of a given people group. Two, it encourages us to treat individual neighbors as exemplars of their damnable group. Three, it gives us a way to blame all of life’s troubles on that damnable group and its members” (p. 54). ... Keep Reading

The Collective Question

September 2, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part 4 of a multi-part series reviewing Thaddeus J. Williams’ book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. This book is published at a critical time when many in our nation, including Christians, wrestle with the concept of justice. Williams starts with the clear biblical command that Christians must “do justice” (Micah 6:8) and “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Not everything labeled “justice,” however, is necessarily biblical justice. Therefore, Williams poses twelve questions to help Christians discern true, biblical justice, while calling us to do true justice. I commend this book if you want to dig deeper and be more faithful in seeking justice. The fourth question Williams poses is the “Collective Question.” He asks, “Does our vision of social justice take any group-identity more seriously than our identities ‘in Adam’ and ‘in Christ’?” (p. 43). Williams begins by telling the stories of two young men who were searching for “identity, community, and a sense of purpose” (p. 43). One joined a radical far right group, the other joined a radical far left group. They were both “propelled by the same human drive – the need to belong” and they were both “swept up in groups that used categories like race, economic status, and oppression to see themselves as angels and others as demons, although one man’s angels were the other man’s demons” (p. 43-44). ... Keep Reading

The Idolatry Question

August 26, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part 3 of a multi-part series reviewing Thaddeus J. Williams’ book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. This book is published at a critical time when many in our nation, including Christians, wrestle with the concept of justice. Williams starts with the clear biblical command that Christians must “do justice” (Micah 6:8) and “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Not everything labeled “justice,” however, is necessarily biblical justice. Therefore, Williams poses twelve questions to help Christians discern true, biblical justice, while calling us to do true justice. I commend this book if you want to dig deeper and be more faithful in seeking justice. The third question Williams poses is the “Idolatry Question.” He asks, “Does our vision of social justice make a false god out of the self, the state, or social acceptance?” (p. 28). Williams launches from John Calvin’s contention that the human heart is an idol-making factory. “Fallen human nature constantly cranks out new objects of worship” (p. 28). It is no different in our pursuit of justice. Good things, which may be helpful in our fight for justice, can be idolized and become ultimate things. Or we idolize good things which then distract us from pursuing true justice in other areas. Idolatry is a roadblock to the pursuit of justice. Williams explains: “Caring about the oppressed is a good thing. It is a deeply biblical thing. But when we make that good thing an ultimate thing, it becomes a destructive idol. The most pressing cultural and political issues of our day are, fundamentally, worship issues. They are contemporary expressions of our insuppressible religiosity” (p. 30). ... Keep Reading

The Imago Question

August 19, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part 2 of a multi-part series reviewing Thaddeus J. Williams’ book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. This book is published at a critical time when many in our nation, including Christians, wrestle with the concept of justice. Williams starts with the clear biblical command that Christians must “do justice” (Micah 6:8) and “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Not everything labeled “justice,” however, is necessarily biblical justice. Therefore, Williams poses twelve questions to help Christians discern true, biblical justice, while calling us to do true justice. I commend this book if you want to dig deeper and be more faithful in seeking justice. The second question Williams poses is the “Imago Question.” He asks, “Does our vision of social justice acknowledge the image of God in everyone, regardless of size, shade, sex, or status?” (p. 21). He raises this question against the backdrop of a naturalist worldview. A naturalist seeks to make sense of the universe, including issues of justice, with reference to other things inside the created universe. In this naturalist culture we live, the tendency is to reduce people to their bodies or ideologies. Williams gives some examples, “We don’t see a human being so much as we see social justice snowflakes to our left and neo-Nazi fascists to our right. Or we see and treat people on the basis of their skin color or gender or whom they want to sleep with” (p.23). ... Keep Reading

The God Question

August 12, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part 1 of a multi-part series reviewing Thaddeus J. Williams’ book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. This book is published at a critical time when many in our nation, including Christians, wrestle with the concept of justice. Williams starts with the clear biblical command that Christians must “do justice” (Micah 6:8) and “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Not everything labeled “justice,” however, is necessarily biblical justice. Therefore, Williams poses twelve questions to help Christians discern true, biblical justice, while calling us to do true justice. I commend this book if you want to dig deeper and be more faithful in seeking justice. The first question Williams poses is the “God Question.” He asks, “Does our vision of social justice take seriously the godhood of God?” (p. 15). In addressing the atrocities of the ancient Aztec Empire and the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, Williams turns the attention of the reader to Romans 1. Paul writes, “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness” (v. 29). That is a pretty accurate description of most, if not all, injustices committed in this world. ... Keep Reading

EXTRA-Ordinary!

August 5, 2021 | by: Bill Burns | 0 Comments

The first Sunday after John Calvin returned to Geneva from temporary exile in his native France, he is said to have returned to preaching from the precise point in the scripture text where he had left off prior to his fleeing the Swiss city-state some four years earlier. That’s one long, “Now…where WERE we?!” Calvin strongly believed in the power of the “ordinary means of grace,” such as the preached word, the sacraments, and prayer. These are called the ordinary means because, well, they are the normative ways the Church is to be nourished in our faith. Since Calvin’s time, many churches, Oak Hills included, have engaged in what I like to call, ‘extra-ordinary means’ to help edify the Church. One of those extraordinary means is our Adult Christian Education classes (aka Sunday School for a fair number of you). ACE is an opportunity for us to take a moment to delve into the riches of God’s Word and see more closely and learn more about the Word we hear preached each Lord’s Day, and hopefully that you are imbibing on a regular basis in your own personal devotional studies. It’s also a great way for you to get to know some of the folks you sit next to on Sunday mornings and to hear and learn from their questions and grow through their engagement with scripture in a more focused setting.... Keep Reading

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Guest Writers

Train Like an Olympian

July 29, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

We enjoy watching the Olympics in our home. I marvel at the athleticism of the competitors as they complete incredible feats of strength and skill. For these athletes to compete on the Olympic level, they have dedicated huge amounts of time and effort to practice and hone their abilities. In one sense, they are far from normal as humans. The apostle Paul as captivated by athletic competition as well. Several times in his letters he invokes the imagery of athletes as a model for Christian living. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Notice a couple of parallels between athletics and the Christian life: ... Keep Reading

Show Us the Father!

July 22, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Right after Jesus gives his infamous statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me,” Philip requests, “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:6, 8). What is Philip thinking when he makes this request? Considering that Philip was a Jew, the Old Testament would certainly have shaped his understanding of his relationship with God. Let’s think about his request, “Show us the Father,” through the lens of the Old Testament. There is no exact equivalent in the OT to Philip’s request, but that are several places where seeing God is highlighted. Moses cries out, “Show me your glory” in Exodus 33:18. This is in the context of the Golden Calf. As punishment, God declares that he would not go up to the Promised Land with Israel because of their sin (Ex. 33:3). Moses pleads for mercy and for God to remain with the people. God responds that his presence will go with them (v. 14). After receiving this gracious promise, Moses declares, “Show me your glory.” God’s glory is linked with his character, the core of who he is. So, Moses was requesting for assurance that God would keep his promises. ... Keep Reading

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