I always appreciate the viewpoints expressed by Dr. Tony Evans of The Urban Alternative. He has an engaging way of addressing controversial issues that challenges me to keep listening — or reading with his compelling voice narrating in my mind. This small paperback tackles the sensitive subjects of “freedom, justice, economics, racism, education, and politics from a kingdom perspective” (as noted on the back cover) and draws on wisdom throughout the Bible to illustrate how the secular and sacred were never meant to be divided. It is only when a society acknowledges God’s rule in every sphere of life that all individuals will be free and empowered to live up to their highest potential. Running government apart from God leads to abuses of power and lawlessness because His commandments and principles are no longer being followed.
While this may be true, I know that the Church has also grown stronger in times and places of persecution, and the opposite has occurred with state-sponsored religion. So while it seems that our nation leans toward ungodly rule, what would happen if morality was legislated but hearts remained unredeemed? I wonder if this book proposes an extreme and unrealistic way of approaching broken worldly systems. While the kingdom of God will eventually reign and restore the earth, I am not sure something resembling a theocracy is either required or desired in our world today.
Consider the parables of the mustard seed and yeast, in which the smallest of common things yields the greatest fruit. The paradoxical message of the gospel gaining ground in a hostile world is that it does so in gentle and graceful ways, . . . “Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord God Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). John 3:8 says that the Holy Spirit is like the wind, invisible but working within a person for regeneration. Many similar passages convince me that a religion-based societal system forced upon unwilling people will not yield holiness at all but only greater rebellion. “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).
I did enjoy the chapter on Biblical justice, as distinguished from social justice, which may lack a divine frame of reference. The author defines true justice as “the equitable and impartial application of the rule of God’s moral law in society” (p. 74). If fully established, this would positively impact every arena of social life and promote the best for all people; but again, I think that this is unreasonable to expect apart from the acceptance of spiritual truth.
The Biblical concepts of restitution, reconciliation, and responsibility are given as the means to ensuring justice for those who have been wronged. These may seem like radical approaches to individuals steeped in a system that emphasizes personal choice, rights, and entitlement. Self-centered mindsets that esteem comfort, convenience, and control over the self-denial, sacrifice, and surrender required by a Judeo-Christian ethic are not likely to accept a definition of justice based on such extreme absolute values. Fortunately for those who love God’s Word, it is only a matter of time until everlasting Justice is established.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through the Moody Press blogger review program in exchange for an honest appraisal.