On Justice

A confession: I am not a philosopher.

And I realized this in a fairly ironic place – in philosophy class. My final semester of college, I took a philosophy class on the topic of global justice. Now, the problem was not the class, but in the first few weeks I began to feel frustrated; and the more we read, the more frustrated I became. I was frustrated with all of the explanations that were offered – all the inadequate, inconsistent, or just-plain-wrong explanations of what “justice” is. But at some point I realized the crux of the problem: I approached these thinkers asking for something they simply could not provide, however hard they may try.

When I began this class, I came with the wish to find, not simply a philosophical explanation of justice, but one I could live by. I wanted, not a system of justice that I could rationally accept, but a system that described using reason the understanding of justice that I already have.  I wanted a secular justification for a conception of justice that is founded in faith. In Christ.

It was then that I began to realize that I wanted something that did not exist. I was falling into the same trap that had caught some of the thinkers I had read: the desire for a Christian-compatible justice without Christ. But God’s justice is not man’s, for what man would choose the gospel Jesus preached?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of Jubilee.”

I am not a philosopher; I am a practitioner. I have come to the conclusion that what I as a Christian have to offer the world is not a well-reasoned, well-articulated system of conceptualized justice (though there is definitely a place for this role in the Church). What I have to offer is my participation in a body – the Church, the body of Christ – that lives according to a different narrative of justice. And the proof for this narrative does not come out of a logical system of reasoned explanation. The proof of this narrative comes from the fruit, from the physical, tangible, historical, pragmatical, practical acts of justice performed by the body of Christ. And if the world truly saw this, others, I believe, would be convinced.


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