The God Question
August 12, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
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.
The point of Romans 1, and what Williams seeks to highlight, is that such acts of sinful injustice are rooted in a rejection of God as God (Rom. 1:21). He says, “The first commandment, to have no gods before God, is where any authentically Christian vision of justice begins” (p. 17). In evaluating the Aztecs and the conquistadors, Williams says, “The Aztecs bowed to the gods of sun and rain. The conquistadors exalted gold and power. That turn from Creator to creation worship was the first injustice of the Aztecs and conquistadors, the broken command that formed the essential premise and toxic fountainhead of all their other injustices” (p. 17). Therefore, he concludes, “All injustice is a violation of the first commandment” (p. 18).
If we want to confront injustice and seek true, biblical justice, we must understand the “toxic fountainhead of all other injustices,” the rejection of God as God. I see two implications of this “God Question.” First, we can understand that worship and Bible study and Gospel proclamation are not antithetical to seeking justice, they are foundational to seeking justice. The Church does not need to choose between deep study and enjoyment of God and doing justice. The enjoyment and worship of God is the fountainhead of all true justice (I will speak more to this on Sunday in my sermon on Psalm 112).
Second, in our pursuit of justice we must discern the fountainhead of any effort for justice. As Williams states, “If our vision of social justice does not take the godhood of God seriously, then it is not really social justice” (p. 19). Not everything that claims to be justice is true, biblical justice. We can and should evaluate movements and efforts for justice, whether they spring from the fountainhead of acknowledging God as God or from the toxic fountainhead of rejecting God as God.
Let’s seek to do justice, while glorifying and enjoying God forever.