But let us be cautions in labeling the Christian justice moment as 'new.' It may be new for young Christians. It may be new for some Christian denominations. It may be new for Christians of privilege (particularly white Christians). But Christian justice is not new.
Those whom we marginalize in our societies have always been central to the heart of God. King David declared that "the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy" (Psalm 140:12) and John the Baptist insisted that "anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).
Indeed, the very beginning of Jesus's ministry was marked with the words "He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free" (Luke 4:8).
|St. John Chrysostom|
More recently, representatives of the the Church have continued the tradition of Christ-driven justice in the modern world. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, was a prominent advocate for prison reform and abolitionist movements in the 18th-century and it was a Christian that coined the term 'social justice' in the 1840s.
Others, like John Ryan, Dorothy Day, Geoffrey Griffin, Toyohiko Kagawa, and Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, stewarded Christianity's justice advocacy in the 20th century. The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern was written in 1973, with the formation of Evangelicals for Social Action that same year.
It is important that we acknowledge these seasoned leaders (particularly role models of color), because failing to do so undermines the very message of solidarity the we attempt to claim (see post: White Savior Complex). Let's celebrate, and not forget them. Christians have made grave mistakes when it comes to our stand for justice in the past, but we have also accomplished great things in Christ.
I know I've just grazed the surface. Who has inspired you as a Christian committed to justice? Who do you wish I had included?