Acton Institute Powerblog

Issues of Justice

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

What would it take to make a society fully just rather than merely settling for moving society toward justice? In this week’s Acton Commentary, John Addison Teevan considers that question and how we can respond to social justice demands in biblical terms.

Seeking the peace and harmony (Shalom) of God as the highest good for man, Keller indicates that doing justice means “to live in a way that generates a strong community where human beings can flourish … The only way to reweave and strengthen the fabric is by weaving yourself into it.” Keller, the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, continues : “Human beings are like those threads thrown together onto a table. If we keep our money, time, and power to ourselves, for ourselves, instead of sending them out into our neighbors’ lives, then we may be literally on top of one another, but we are not interwoven socially, relationally, financially, and emotionally … Reweaving shalom means to sacrificially thread, lace, press your time, goods, power, and resources into the lives and needs of others. ”

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • Social justice as it is used today though, all too often is disguised,when it is in reality communism. A wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.

    • kt

      David Horowitz calls that ‘socialist justice’

  • Irving H Bennett N

    Social Justice is a term with no concise definition and as such it’s much abused. Legal justice, commutative justice and distributive justice have very precise meanings and together make up “social justice”, but it needs to be used by who understands the first three and how they come together in the Christian tradition to form the concept of “social justice”. In the last analysis, it comes down to the justice of individuals, of persons, and their communities. No political science system can work without moral constituents. To leave this in the hands of Big Brother is to relinquish our personhood.

  • Joe Cobb

    “Richard Stearns, president of World Vision United States, is to be commended for nothing, in his book The Hole in Our Gospel” — I am sure there is a typo in the 14th word in that sentence.

  • AK-47

    The law was given through Moses. Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ. – Bible
    Judge not, lest ye be judged. – Bible
    There will be an unmerciful judgement on those, who have not shown mercy. – Bible
    Mercy triumphs over judgement. – Bible
    Who the Son sets free is free indeed. – Newsboys

    • So if we are not supposed to judge other people, why did Moses create a government with nothing but courts in it?

  • Mike Bell

    “We may also think of how the social aspects of the gospel were separated from evangelism and how they are currently being reunited, with an emphasis on social justice helping with that reunion. While interesting, this line of thinking does not help move us to a coherent response to social justice issues in the “real” or material world.”
    I’m confused by this quote. Does he mean this line of thinking doesn’t move us to a coherent response because we’re not all clear on what “social justice” means, or because “social justice” is the wrong target BECAUSE of what it really means, or because he doesn’t think that conversation takes us in an actionable direction, or…? It seems to me, exposing the history of the separation of the social from the spiritual, and re-examining the Bible in light of the wholistic reality of the Gospel of the Kingdom, goes quite a ways in helping people to understand the “why” of where we are, and how to continue getting to a better place in our engagement in compassion and justice issues as Christians. Many people are reading Stearns, Chan, Claiborne, Platt, getting all bunched up about such issues, with no framework for why they weren’t previously, and scant theology on why they should be now. To say this line of thinking is only interesting, but doesn’t move us to a coherent response in the real world, seems….incoherent to me. But again, maybe he simply means in relations to “social justice”, not necessarily Biblical justice.