Theologians: What they say about social justice

“Seeking justice is absolutely central to Christian faith. Christians cannot escape participating in politics because seeking justice and the common good are absolutely central to their faith”.

‘We don’t speak about common good and justice because we think we have some automatic right to be heard,’ he said, ‘but because loving our neighbour places responsibilities upon us. We have responsibilities to speak, even when it might be easier to stay quiet, to point to injustice and to challenge others to join us in righting it.”

-Justin Welby Key note address to the conference “Tackling Poverty Together” Stratford, East London on Wednesday 13 November 2013.

“If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

– Martin Luther King Jr Chaos or Community? London: H&S, 1967

“…participation in the eucharist can never be a withdrawal from the struggle for justice but is always a dynamic making for anger, dissatisfaction with injustice, and a new commitment for realising the hope of justice, or fragments of justice,  in this world”.

– Nicholas Sagovsky Christian Tradition and the Practice of Justice London: SPCK 2008

“The covenanting God of the Bible protests, and invites us to protest”

– Walter Brueggemann A Social Reading of the Old Testament: prophetic approaches to Israel’s communal life Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994

“What is one to make of a church of no anger? If it knows nothing of anger in the face of an unjust world, the church itself must be indicted as unjust.”

Daniel Berrigan Daniel under the Siege of the Divine Farmington, PA: Plough, 1998

“The Christian record in the annals of reform, it must be granted, is not impressive. Christians have accepted, and sometimes actively supported slavery, poverty and almost every other common social  evil. They have often condemned such evils in principle but failed to oppose them in practice.”

– Glenn Tinder The Political Meaning of Christianity: an interpretation, Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1989

“There follows from this character of faith a political attitude, decisively determined by the fact  that man is made responsible  to all those who are poor and wretched in his eyes, that he is summoned, on his part,  to espouse the cause  of those who suffer wrong.Why? Because in them it is manifested  to him what he himself  is in the sight of God.”

– Karl Barth Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of God Part 1 Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1957

“In Mark Jesus is portrayed not as the answer to our private questions  but as the question to our public answers’.

Ched Myers: Who will Roll Away the Stone? 1994

We should ask the churches “whether they find it normal that the churches should be religious clubs, so to speak, where people get together to comfort themselves with fine traditions while they forget all that is happening  in the world.”

– Sergio Rostagno “The Bible: is an Interclass Reading Legitimate?” in Gottwald, Norman and Richard A. Horsley (eds) The Bible and Liberation: political and social hermeneutics Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books, 1993

“Justice is the way that we can discover God.”

– Dorothee Sölle On Earth as in Heaven: A liberation spirituality of sharing, Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993

“Every serious theological proposition has a political point directed at the state of the world.”

– Dorothee Sölle The Window of Vulnerability: A Political Spirituality Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990

‘There is no “social Gospel”: the Gospel is social.’

– Kenneth Leech The Social God, London: Sheldon Press, 1981

“Now Jesus was not a Roman citizen. He was not pro­tected by the normal guarantees of citizenship – that quiet sense of security which comes from knowing that you be­long and the general climate of confidence which it inspires. If a Roman soldier pushed Jesus into a ditch, he could not appeal to Caesar; he would be just another Jew in the ditch.”

– Howard Thurman Jesus and the Disinherited Richmond, Ind: Friends United Press, 1981