Missiology Book Review: Generous Justice

Tim Keller is a man after my own heart, which actually doesn’t say much because I have a wicked and sinful heart, but it is meant as a complement. In Generous Justice Keller presents a balanced and biblical approach to Justice and the Christian life. He doesn’t slide into political ideologies and shows that the Christian life is neither right nor left. This however is a side note, Keller’s main thesis is that Justice and Justification by faith are intertwined and cannot be separated. Keller takes the first four chapters to outline what the bible says about justice. He covers everything from the Old Testament to Jesus and his parables. His exposition of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is particular wonderful. The way he lift’s up Christ and his atoning death while explaining the parable shows how great Keller is in preaching the Gospel out of any text. In chapter five Keller proposes two things as the motivation for Justice in a Christian’s life: 1-The Beauty of God’s Creation and 2-Grace. He briefly touches upon the first but spends the majority of the space in Chapter five on Grace as motivation for Justice. He says that when a person has grasped the Gospel, and the meaning of God’s grace he cant help but be just. For we did not do anything to earn God’s love, and neither should we expect the downtrodden to earn our love. Keller says that guilt and pride cannot motivate us to be just, only the Gospel itself can motivate us. In chapter six Keller tackles the question of “how should we do justice?” Keller suggests that there are three levels of justice we should be engaging in: 1-Relief, 2-Development, and 3-Social Reform. He then moves on to talk about John Perkin’s three R’s and explains how they play into the 3 ways to do justice. Chapter seven is his most interesting chapter. Here he tackle’s non-christian definitions of justice and explains that most have at least a kernel of truth. He also explains what the Christian’s role should be in bringing about justice as he works alongside non-Christians. Finally in Chapter eight Keller concludes by relating peace, beauty, and justice. He says that only when we recognize God’s aim at “Shalom” (a technical word) and the beauty of His grace will we be able to bring about the justice God desires.

I highly recommend this book. For anyone who is frustrated with liberal and conservative politics, here is a vision of justice which transcends those petty differences. In this book we find that our identity in Christ and his work we can be people who are just. And in receiving his grace we will bring grace to others and glorify Christ’s work on the cross.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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