About This Issue
“Justice” has become a rallying cry for many Christians today. And for good reason: justice is at the heart of the kingdom of God, as Jesus and the Hebrew prophets made abundantly clear.
Yet once our eyes have been opened to the gospel’s demand for justice, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Child poverty, mass incarceration, oppression of women, human trafficking, religious persecution – these and many other evils cry out for redress, making legitimate claims on our conscience. Where is an individual or a church to start?
More fundamentally, what is the nature of the justice we ought to be pursuing? Obviously not all that goes by the name “justice” in our culture is necessarily the justice of God’s kingdom. How can we tell the difference?
Jesus teaches us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”– or in scholar N.T. Wright’s translation, “Make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life.” God’s justice, in other words, is not a goal to be achieved through successful projects or viral campaigns. (As Pope Francis has reminded us, the church is not an NGO.) Instead, God’s justice is a new life, one that the first Christians called “the Way,” a vocation we are to live out every day – first in our life together as the church, and then through our work in the world.
This issue of Plough Quarterly explores how to build this kind of justice. In compiling material, we soon realized we’d never manage to be comprehensive; many important topics (for example race, the environment, criminal justice, and war) will have to wait for future issues. All the same, since justice is not merely a vague ideal, this issue addresses a number of concrete questions: wealth and private property, care for the marginalized, marriage and children, restorative justice, and immigration. While our contributors hold diverse views on many subjects, they each cast light from a different angle on how to put God’s justice into practice – and challenge us to get started.
As you may know, Plough is much more than an online oasis. Many of you will have first encountered us through our magazine, or as the publisher of books on discipleship and life issues, or as a group of people trying to put Jesus’ teachings into practice together. For those new to Plough, we feature reviews and excerpts of our forthcoming titles, as well as other books we think deserve your attention.
This autumn we’re especially excited about the release of Their Name Is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World by much-loved Plough author Johann Christoph Arnold.
As always, we depend on your inspiration, so please keep the responses coming.
Peter Mommsen, Editor
Front cover: Cleaning up Debris in Minutka Square, Grozny, photograph from RIA Nowosti / AKG-Images