Olasky urges Biblical, not just social justice
March 18, 2010
“Social justice” is a topic that can divide conservative and liberal Christians, but Dr. Marvin Olasky urged a Bryan College audience to consider the term in light of “Biblical justice.”
Dr. Stephen Livesay, left, and Dr. Marvin Olasky
Dr. Olasky, editor-in-chief of World Magazine, visited Bryan March 18, at the invitation of President Stephen D. Livesay and spoke to a group of faculty, staff, students, and visitors on the matter.
“We have to ask, what is social justice and what we should be doing as Christians,” Dr. Olasky said. “Does it mean economic redistribution? Does it mean equality, and, if so, what kind: equality of opportunity, equality of rights, equality of results?”
He suggested several concepts to keep the discussion from devolving into an emotional argument:
- Think logically.
- Grant that there are people on the political right and left who care about the poor—and people who don’t.
- “If you are a conservative and say, ‘Whatever I earned and have is mine,’ remember that your parents and the social and economic environment you are in contributed to your success.
- “If you are on the liberal side and think goods should be distributed equally and the government should have a larger role,” consider the possible negative effects of receiving support that was not earned.
- Acknowledge that anything society does to help the poor, “and that is something Christians should do,” can either hurt or help. “In the 19th century, the poor were regarded as being in the middle of the (economic) ladder. They could either go up or down. Today, they are viewed as being at the bottom of the ladder.”
- The Bible is the source for wisdom in this area. “The Bible uses words for “justice” 150 times, for righteousness 100 or more times, and there is an understanding that justice and righteousness go together,” he said. The Bible teaches righteousness and justice that glorifies God. We are supposed to help the poor because it makes God happy, and biblical justice shows faith in God, not government.”
- “What about the rich?” He said Scripture condemns the rich who use their wealth to accumulate power and more wealth by corrupting government.
- “What do we learn from human nature? What the Bible teaches.” He said we are not to trust individuals, the free market system or something else, but to trust God.
In response, he suggested believers challenge individuals who espouse social justice “in an unbiblical way. If social justice is used as a hammer to push toward a political position, that is not biblical.
“Go out and start doing what the Bible says; help the widows and orphans, help immigrants, visit those in prison. Do it, don’t just yak about it.”