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Generous Justice

April 25, 2011

I recently began another book by Tim Keller called, as you may have guessed by the post title and the picture, Generous Justice. As was the case with The Prodigal God, this book is already a must read, and I’m only on chapter 3. The subtitle of the book does well to sum up the point of the book: “How God’s Grace Makes Us Just.” Keller’s point in this book is that as Christians, we should be the most lavishly just and caring people that there are. The following are a few notable quotes from the first couple chapters:

“Most people know that Jesus came to bring forgiveness and grace. Less well know is the Biblical teaching that a true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world” (Keller, ix).

“I also want to challenge those who do not believe in Christianity to see the Bible not as a repressive text, but as the basis for the modern understanding of human rights” (Keller, xxi).

“God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to “do justice” (Keller, 5).

“[after quoting Ezekiel 18:5, 7-8a] This just man does not use his economic position to exploit the people who are in a weaker financial position. Most interesting is how the text pairs ‘he does not commit robbery’ with the explanatory clause that he actively gives food and clothing to the poor. The implication is that if you do not actively and generously share your resources with the poor, you are a robber. You are not living justly” (Keller, 17).

I hope that whet your appetite for this book. You need to get it and read it. Hopefully I will follow up on this book after I have finished, but for now, find a copy for yourself, and see what the big deal is with Generous Justice.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. vickie permalink
    April 26, 2011 3:53 am

    “Less well known is the Biblical teaching that a true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world” (Keller, ix). Soooo…this means that a person not doing what Keller says is NOT a Christian? Like Piper saying that a person who does not treasure Christ when coming to Him is probably not a Christian? Are we not adding works to salvation w/ these things we “must” be doing or being in addition to believing and confessing? I absolutely believe that good works follow salvation, and I do believe that Christians ought to be involved in the affairs of men to make things better, but I also believer that some of these preacher/writers also go overboard in their zeal and make everyone feel guilty for not sharing their passion for their particular point of view.

    I will leave you w/ what the Prince of Preachers CH Spurgeon said, which is a comfort to me when I read of what others say, which “guilt” people into doing what they say we should do–“Remember Sinner, it is not your holdof Christ that saves you–it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you–it is Christ; it is not even your faith in Christ, though that is the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not to your hope, look not to your faith but to Christ–the author and finisher of your faith; and if you do that, ten thousand devils cannot throw you down…It is not prayer, not our faith, it is not our doings, it is not our feelings upon which we may rest, but upon Christ and on Christ alone. We are apt to think that we are not in the right state, that we do not feel enough, instead of remembering that our business is not with self, but with Christ. Let me beseech you, look only to Christ; never expect deliverance from self, from ministers or from any means of any kind apart from Christ; keep your eye simply on Him. Let HIS death, HIS agonies, HIS groans, HIS sufferings, HIS merits, HIS glories, HIS intercession be fresh upon your mind. When you wake in the morning, look for Him; when you lie down at night, look for Him.”

    Again, I agree that we should be working in the world to help others, but to say that you may not be a true Christian if you do not, I have to disagree. Social justice seems to be one of the new buzzwords. Many of these social justice people believe that we are to renew the world, so Christ can come back. It’s Dominion theology. The world is going to burn up w/ everything in it, and God is going to make a new heaven and new earth.

    Keller also doesn’t believe in a literal six day creation and has mystical teachings in his church (The Way of the Monk) and has endorsed books written by mystics. So, I would be careful about believing everything he says, if you do. 🙂

  2. April 26, 2011 9:46 am

    First I would say that you should really get the book and take a read. Does Tim Keller have his flaws? Sure he does. Is his theology and doctrine perfect? Of course not. Neither is mine and neither is yours. However, what he seems to have right every time is the gospel and it’s implications for life.

    To your points: No, I don’t think that is what Keller is saying in that quote (“that a person not doing what Keller says is NOT a Christian”). Judging simply by what I’ve seen, heard and read from/on him, that is not the case (I’ll leave the Piper one alone for now 🙂 ). What he is saying is that when you understand God’s grace and you understand His focus on doing justice and loving mercy (found throughout the pages of Scripture), it will “motivate” you to be more just, more generous and more merciful. I’m sure we would both agree with that. I really don’t think Keller is trying to make anyone feel guilty, and you will see that when you read the book. What he is doing is making what can seem like a radical call for Christians to love what Jesus loves, to care about what God cares about, and to see His heart layed out for the oppressed in the Bible. The call is to give all people their due as men and women made in the image of God.

    I think it can be more dangerous to be on the side of “well, everything is just going to burn” then to say, “we should work hard to improve the lives of people on the earth by practicing justice and doing what God calls us to do.” To me it’s not about Christian Reconstructionism, but about, how do I love/practice/pursue the things that Christ loved/practices/pursues? Keller is explicitly NOT about having a Christian world where everything is fine and we return to some kind of theocracy of the OT world and we don’t need a new heaven and earth. He actually believes Christians should be less involved in politics and more involved in service.


  1. Examining misgivings about giving to the poor. « Only Hitler Goes to Hell

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