The Justice Project – A Review

Posted: January 12, 2010 in books, change, justice, poverty, spiritual formation, theology

This is a review of ‘The Justice Project’ which I posted at Viral Bloggers.


If you are looking for a primer on justice, then “The Justice Project” is a good place to start. Another entry from the “Emersion” partnership between BakerBooks and Emergent Village (which I heard was dead), “The Justice Project” props the megaphone against the mouth of faith practitioners who are deeply immersed in justice issues. Edited by lightening-rod, Brian McLaren, as well as Elisa Padilla and Ashley Bunting Seeber, ‘The Justice Project’ sets out to connect what Christians know about the gospel and what we practice.

In approach, ‘The Justice Project’ walks readers through six large sections; (1) The God of Justice, (2) The Book of Justice, (3) Justice in the U.S.A., (4) A Just World, (5) A Just Church, and (6) Conclusions. At root, the work is trying to light a fire under a slumbering church arguing both through theology and history. These large sections are broken down into shorter, smaller chapters – oftentimes simply too short – with individual authors adding their insight and theology.

The great strength of ‘Justice’ is it’s sheer breadth. In readable bursts, the authors take the reader on a global tour of justice and injustice through the dual lenses of the theology and contemporary culture. Here one finds all they need to (1.) form a glimpse of what justice is and how the church does and does not participate therein and (2.) have her or his heart quickened to the means and ways they themselves can become performers of justice in local and global context. This reading, should the young reader have a tour guide to navigate through peppered seminary language, would be wonderful for older high school and college-aged students. This work will challenge all those who are stepping newly into conversations concerning justice a great deal, while simultaneously deepening those who have more deeply engaged these issues.

The great weakness of ‘Justice’ – and this is sure to sound odd and opposing – is that the chapters are just too darn short. The reader gets the sense that individual authors hit her or his word count before they really got rolling, much like the preacher whose sermon never got out of the box because the clock-watchers were beginning to wiggle in their seats. I wanted to pull over to the side of the street and chat awhile – both about the portions I agreed with and the portions I suspected to be stretches of the text yet very imaginative. This, I argue, is the best writing can offer, to pace and lead and argue. ‘Justice’ does this well.

In the end, ‘Justice’ is well worth the time and dollars. I have deliberately been brief here because I am more desirous to prompt you to purchase and read ‘Justice’ than I am in having me recount its contents. Even in that, my ultimate aim is to lend a hand to a more just church, leading – as only it can – as to a more just world. You and me working for the justice of God, this, ultimately, is ‘The Justice Project’.


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