In a world which seems to be getting increasingly polarized with short, pithy and charged statements, such as "you are exhibiting ____ fragility"; "all injustices in this world are due to____________"; "everything is a Gospel issue, so if you are a good Christian then____________"; "you must do more about _______injustice"; "you have bought into a ___________worldview" etc. Thaddeus J. Williams, professor of Systematic Theology at Biola University enters into the fray. This article is a brief review of his recent text Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice.
The approach that Williams takes is to pose challenging questions, and he minces no words that the calling of Christians is to "truly execute justice." He carefully defines what that means, and then shows how what he calls Social Justice B has many things partially right, but suffers from massive pendulum swings. He also asks the question, "What triggers your anger buttons?" and uses this as an acid test to see whether the injustices we are angry about are those of ultimate importance, or of secondary importance.
Another convention that Williams uses to his advantage is that he is not afraid to engage with the likes of John Perkins who wrote a strong endorsement for the book, not to mention a short testimonial at the end of each chapter. These testimonials have a theme, which shows that the flagellating nature---my words---of unbalanced social justice warriors can be a new form of self-righteousness, which is either self-punishing or punishing of others.
Another convention that Williams uses to anticipate objections is the phrase "So you are saying that?" Taken from a Jordan Peterson interview where the interviewer attempted to put words in Peterson's mouth, he deftly had to correct the person. In the same way, Williams prevents a quickly dismissive attitude and engages with the hard questions from his readers.
By using a number of appendices to provide more detail if the reader so desires, Williams keeps the reader engaged without getting bogged down.
Globally, Williams has done the Body of Christ a great service---see the testimonials from a wide range of teachers and pastors on Amazon---to lament the failures of Christians without self-flagellation, to fight for what is right in the power of the Spirit without the cynicism and fatigue when one fights these battles in their own strength and most importantly, to avoid the all-too-common downward slope of starting with the Gospel and ending with human-powered humanitarianism all for humanities' sake.
Questions for reflection:
1. Williams laments that recommended reading materials on the subject of Critical Theory and social justice are often very skewed. Is the CRCNA providing a wide range of reading materials on this subject?
2. Williams notes that in a day and age of sound bites, the media can exert considerable influence on popular opinion. If the CRCNA prides itself in its academic theologically Reformed rigor, how can it avoid overly facile statements?
3. In a day and age when some authors, such as Monique Duson, who Williams features, assert that Social Justice 'B' as he calls it, constitutes a new religion with a new priesthood, a new Gospel, a new assurance of salvation, a new method of atonement, and a new canon, how does the CRCNA make a theologically informed analysis of what is going on?
Here are Duson's words from the promo materials
"I have begun the painful process of untangling my faith from Critical Race Theory. I’ve put up a good fight, but God is gentle, faithful, and kind. He walks by my side on a liberating journey out of Critical Race Theory. I am learning that God has a much better way to bring justice and unity than I do. And there’s grace for all of us."