The “Faith Food Friday” forum is in its second year. A program of the Village Square, the slogan for FFF is “Improbable Conversations for People of Faith and No Faith at All (because talking politics wasn’t hard enough). I’ve been to several of these discussions which are lead by a panel of local religious leaders composed of Fran Buhler (First Baptist Church) Jack Romberg (Temple Israel) Darrick McGhee (Bible Based Church) Dave Kileen (St. John’s Episcopal Church) and Betsy Ouellette (Good Samaritan United Methodist Church).
Sometimes the panel brings in another person to help with the discussion. Dr. Richard Mashburn did an excellent job this month leading a discussion about racial inclusion in religious congregations. For the February 8th meeting I’ve been asked to lead a discussion about social justice.
I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but I do regard “the promotion of social righteousness and the exhibition of the Kingdom of heaven to the world” as two of the “Great Ends of the Church.” Whatever I say has to be brief and targeted to a mixed audience of believers, non-believers, seekers, and people who just like to take part in a stimulating conversation. Here are some points I want to make:
- Social justice is key to Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
- Biblically speaking, “justice” or “righteousness” is both individual and social.
- Genuine “spirituality” demands justice. Perhaps you can be spiritual without being religious, but you can’t be spiritual and ignore the call to justice.
- Biblical justice involves both the right administration of law (judicial) and the fair allotment of the earth’s resources (distributive).
- Biblical “prophecy” is not about predicting the future as much as it is a call to justice.
- Jesus stands in the line of Biblical prophets. Although Christians believe he was more than a prophet, he was at the very least a prophet.
- Christians distort the gospel when they emphasize “charity” to the exclusion of “justice.” (Christmas baskets for migrant worker families are good; just wages for farm works are better.)
- The way forward for inter-religious dialogue lies not in papering over our dogmatic differences, but in pursuing a just society together.
- From a Christian point of view, it doesn’t matter if we don’t win on every issue. The point is faithfulness. (For Calvinists the point is gratitude!). Ultimately, God’s will shall be done with our without our help.
If I have time, I want to mention justice causes right here in Tallahassee that need the attention of our faith communities.
What do you think? Send me your ideas. I could use all the help I can get. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The program on February 8 at First Baptist Church begins at noon and is free to the public. If you want to eat the excellent cooking of the First Baptist cooks, come at 11:30 and pay $10.00. To register, go to www.tothevillagesquare.org.