"The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak justice.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their steps do not slip."
- Psalm 37:30-31
I was excited when I scanned a headline recently indicating that a group of pastors had put out a statement on social justice. I believe in the power of social justice! Pastors are my people! A statement combining the two must be life-giving and encouraging!
Then I clicked and read. Instead of encouraged I was by turns confused, disappointed and enraged. The statement on social justice turned out to be a screed against social justice, not (as I had, perhaps naively, expected) a proclamation in favor of it. You can probably find it too, if you look for it, but the language is so dismal and hateful that I can't recommend it.
Among the statement's offensive claims was the hint that progressive Christians are responding to the changing values of culture, rather than working actively to co-create them. Since Moses led the people out of slavery, God's people have been speaking and acting at the forefront of social change movements. Our long and prayerful and at times dangerous work is bearing fruit not in spite of the gospel, but because of it.
As an antidote to the first statement, I was heartened to read another one by UCC President John Dorhauer and Bishop Annette Kurschus, Prases of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia. This one I will link to. It's a potent reminder of the gospel values that sustain those have worked, are working, and will work for positive social change in God's name.
Dear God – The wise have always cried for justice in your name. Amplify their voices, we pray. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.