October 19, 2017

Book Review: Welcoming Justice

Today’s review is by Ryan Cordle, Michael Spencer’s son-in-law. Thanks, Ryan!

For two years I have worked at a ministry as a high school teacher. In these couple of years I have seen how God’s movement for reconciling people is real. At our school, we have students from everywhere, quite literally. Our kids come from all over North America, and from Africa, Asia and Europe. The historical significance of what I see on a daily basis is not lost on me. We have African American students who share rooms, meals, and time with their best friends who happen to be white. I have seen Korean students forget their racial prejudices with which they were raised, and act charitably toward their Japanese classmates. There is no explanation as to why this happens except that God is working.

In Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community, Charles Marsh and John Perkins join an impressive list of authors, which includes Stanley Hauerwas, Jean Vanier, Emmanuel Katongole, and Chris Rice, who have written as part of Duke’s Center for Reconciliation book series published by IVP. The goal of the series is to theologically and practically explore reconciliation. Naturally with Marsh and Perkins as authors, Welcoming Justice gives insight into the necessary racial reconciliation that should sit at the top of any American church’s agenda.

Marsh and Perkins alternate chapters in the book, as is the case in the other two books in this series, which seek to give equal time to both an academic and a person doing reconciliation work on the field. Perkins comes across to the reader as nothing short of a sagacious prophet, who is graciously sharing his wisdom with the world. His anecdotes are at once enjoyable, and theologically dynamic.

Marsh summarizes Perkins’ powerful work, “…(Perkins) shows us to read the Bible faithfully is to read the Bible as the comprehensive divine plan of human liberation from the perspective of God’s Kingdom” (106). For Perkins, we must realize that God will move through broken communities in broken places in order to fulfill his divine plan. Therefore, reconciliation must start with brokenness, and it must find its source of power in community through the Holy Spirit.

I pray that the series of books IVP and Duke are producing will become standard reading for pastoral students, and for those with any heart for Christian community. I believe the upcoming generation of (Post-)Evangelicals will do a lot of great things in showing the world that the church can lead by example in the relationship between races. In a world where brokenness is real, the only power the church has is to offer the healing love of Jesus. Perkins and Marsh communicate this clearly, and I can think of no better voices for young Evangelicals to learn from in the field of reconciliation.

Comments

  1. John Perkins is a good and faithful writer and well worth reading on almost any subject. The theme of a reconciling community ought to be a hallmark for any Christian. In Galatians, Saint Paul record his visit to the Jerusalem authorities in order to be approved. Notice that at the end of his visit, they asked him only one thing, to “remember the poor.” It is a call to us as well. John Perkins reminds us of that call, remember the poor.

  2. Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

    Surprise, surprise.

    Most white evangelicals feel that this is issue is not even worth discussing. Hence very few comments on the board. They have voted with their feet.

    I wonder how many readers of the post said to themselves: “Jeez, we got a black president now, why do we keep talking about this?”

    Thanks Ryan and Chaplain Mike for bringing this up again. We need to keep talking about this stuff. Regardless of what the white folks say.

  3. David Cornwell says:

    I share your hope that younger Christians will be, and are, of a reconciling spirit. From what I have witnessed thus far, this is a sound hope. For this we need to pray.