Is Social Justice a Good Thing?

cts_wiwwsjOn April 8, 2014, Energion authors Henry Neufeld, Shauna Hyde, and Chris Surber discussed missions in a Google Hangout on Air. You can see the video (without titles) below.

One of the phrases used frequently in this discussion was “social justice.” Energion author Elgin L. Hushbeck, Jr. was listening, and commented to me that he objected to the term “social justice,” because, he said, once you added the adjective, it was no longer actually justice.

I, in turn, suggested that this sounded like a good topic for a volume in our new Topical Line Drives series, and the result was the book What is Wrong with Social Justice?.

Unsurprisingly, other authors disagree with Elgin’s position, and we’ve started a discussion on the topic. Besides the video above, you can read a review of Elgin’s book by Energion author Bob LaRochelle. Here’s some extracts:

In the interest of full disclosure, it is important that I tell you that over the course of much of my life, I have held the position that social justice is important. In fact, I have long seen the pursuit of social justice as a ‘given’, i.e. as a constitutive aspect of both my religious faith and of my responsibility as an American citizen. I still do!

….

As I read Mr. Hushbeck’s brief work, part of Energion Publication’s Topical Line Drives series, I found myself deeply impressed with the quality of his presentation. His approach to government and his application of Biblical teachings to questions of justice within a society are well thought out and demonstrate strong, heartfelt religious conviction and philosophical consistency. As he notes, some of us who identify as liberals and are Christians all too readily characterize more conservative Christian believers as lacking appropriate compassion for the poor and marginalized. This characterization is often unfair and most certainly does not apply to Mr. Hushbeck.

….

With respect to one of the major social issues of our time, health care, I would contend that there is something UNJUST when one’s health or the health of one’s children might be totally contingent upon one’s income and, in the case of those children, the income of one’s parents.

Read the whole thing.

This discussion should not be just about the terminology we use, but rather about how we deal with significant issues in our society, and what those issues are. Is justice to be applied to groups or to individuals? Can we provide health care to all irrespective of income (as the last extract from Bob’s review suggests) and still be “just,” “fair,” or “equitable” in how we deal with individuals?

Bob LaRochelle and Elgin Hushbeck are going to try to help us work out some of these issues when they discuss this topic in a Google Hangout on Air on October 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM. Don’t miss it!