Book Review: Generous Justice

Generous Justice by Timothy KellerTim Keller is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, and the founding pastor of the 5,000 person Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Generous Justice takes the issue of God’s justice and guides us through a conversation of what justice means biblically and how it should be applied today.

Why should Christians perform acts of mercy and justice? According to Keller, we do it because serving the poor honors and pleases God. There is a direct relationship between a person’s grasp and experience of God’s grace, and his or her heart for justice and the poor.

Keller says that we do justice and mercy when we give all human beings their due as creations of God. Doing justice includes not only the righting of wrongs, but generosity and social concern, especially toward the poor and vulnerable. This kind of life reflects the character of God and includes radical and generous giving of our time and resources and activism that seeks to end injustice, violence and oppression. God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to “do justice”.

Frequently Christians separate evangelism from justice. Many believe justice work should only be a means to further evangelism. Keller points out that this does not seem to fit in with Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable and his charge not to give to needy people in order to get something in return. Deeds of mercy and justice should be done out of love, not simply as a means to the end of evangelism. Yet there is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than by doing justice.

The author contends that when a community perceives a church as existing strictly for itself and its own members, the preaching of the church will not resonate with outsiders. But if neighbors see church members loving their community through sacrificial deeds of compassion, they will be much more open to the church’s message.

Generous Justice is a challenge to the way we “do justice” in the church today.