Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Write-Up: Pursuing Justice

Ken Wytsma with D.R. Jacobsen.  Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live & Die for Bigger Things.  Nashville: W Publishing Group (An Imprint of Thomas Nelson), 2013.

This book is about why social justice should be important to evangelical Christians.  Wytsma goes into the biblical passages about God’s concern for the poor and the vulnerable, the historical reasons why many conservative Christians have had an aversion to churches focusing on social justice, how rampant consumerism in the United States has warped people’s perceptions, and the importance of—-not just refraining from harming others (the silver rule)—-but of actually caring about others’ well-being (the golden rule).

My favorite parts of the book were Wytsma’s narration of his own personal religious journey, his scenarios of good Christian people in Nazi Germany and Jim Crow South who were caring yet blind to the injustices around them, and his analysis of how certain Christian approaches to charity in the Third World are misguided: they are paternalistic and they do not listen to the people receiving assistance.  Wytsma strikes a fine balance between optimism and an acknowledgement of the horrors that many continue to face.  He notes that poverty in the global South has declined, and yet he talks about problems that a two-week mission trip alone cannot solve.

My main problem with the book is that I wish that it had mentioned concrete things that people can do to help address world problems.  Occasionally, Wytsma did this, but, so often, he spoke in terms of pouring one’s life into other people and being willing to die for justice.  As laudable and as admirable as this is, I doubt that most people (even most evangelical Christians) will be willing to go that far.  What are some manageable steps that they can take to pursue justice?

Note: I received a complimentary review copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers ( book review bloggers program.  The program does not require for my review to be positive, and my review reflects my honest reaction to the book.

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