What is social justice? How should Christians advocate an effectual social justice rooted in Gospel and natural law? The Institute for Religion and Democracy is hosting a blog symposium in which millennial Christians examine those and other questions related to social justice.
In their first entry, Acton’s Dylan Pahman attempts to define social justice:
The term social justice, for many Christians today, has come to be synonymous with correcting economic inequalities (usually through the apparatus of the state) out of solidarity with the poor. As inspiration, no doubt many, such as the biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, would cite the Old Testament prophets’ many denunciations of exploitation in ancient Israel and Judah. Others might also draw fromWalter Rauschenbusch’s A Theology for the Social Gospel (1917) orGustavo Gutierrez’s A Theology of Liberation (1971). And it is fair to assume that others, whether knowingly or not, are heavily influenced by the political philosopher John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (also 1971).
Historically, discussions of what is today known as social justice were first occasioned in the industrial era by what was, in the nineteenth century, known as “the social question”—the plight of the factory worker in a time before unions, forty-hour work weeks, child labor laws, safety regulations, and so on. It expanded from there to include the problem of poverty in general, from localities to nations to worldwide. And today nearly any issue of justice in society, real or imagined, falls under the umbrella of social justice.