Archive for July 3rd, 2022

Confronting Justice


Written by Thaddeus J. Williams, a contemporary professor of theology and ethics. This is an excerpt from his book “Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth.”

Paul refuses to interpret any inch of reality apart from God. To cut God off from our understanding is to block out the sun and bump around in the dark. We see everything in its truest light when we view it in light of God’s existence. That includes the way we see humanity’s grim track record of injustice as well as our own underrated capacity for evil…We pretend otherwise, but a transcendent power runs the universe, and deep down we know we are not him. God is God and we are not. We aren’t the Creator; we are the creatures. But we suppress that most fundamental truth about the basic structure of existence. This blurs out our vision of everything else…Refusing to give the Creator the honor and gratitude he is due, we turn and bow to the cosmos. We endow created things with an ultimate value that they are not due. This is a double injustice. We fail to give both the Creator and the creation what they are properly due. In Paul’s language, we “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…This tragedy plays out in gruesome detail throughout the Old Testament. Slavery, murder, rape, child abuse, and theft happen when people worship idols instead of God. The first commandment, to have no gods before God, is where any authentically Christian vision of justice begins. Devalue the original by putting something else in his place and it’s easier to treat the images of God like garbage. That is what is so profound about Paul’s take on injustice in Romans 1. He does not merely note that humanity is “full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, [and] maliciousness,” then blames all that injustice on society and dream up a utopian political solution the way Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels did. Paul does not look at the bad fruit on the human tree and then suggest replanting it in the different soil of some new political ideology. Paul knows that the human tree is so hopelessly sick that whatever soil you plant it in, toxic fruit will form. No amount of political revolution, social engineering or policy tweaking will stop envy, strife, deceit, and maliciousness from sprouting out of our sick hearts. Why were all the utopias of the modern era doomed to fail? Because the evil did not originate in politics, society, or the economy. It is expressed there, but evil originates in human hearts that “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” and the sun and water and gold and sex and power…This is how Paul adds deeper hues to our picture of injustice. Look deep enough underneath any horizontal human-against-human injustice and you will always find a vertical human-against-God injustice, a refusal to give the Creator the worship only the Creator is due. All injustice is a violation of the first commandment.


Written by William Temple (1881-1944), a bishop in the Church of England and Archbishop of Canterbury.

O Almighty God, the Father of all humanity, turn, we pray, the hearts of all peoples and their rulers, that by the power of your Holy Spirit peace may be established among the nations on the foundation of justice, righteousness, and truth; through him who was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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