Biblical Posture in Public Life: Witness & Injustice
Today we’re pleased to share this presentation from Dr. Esau McCaulley, who provides a careful survey of texts from the Old and New Testament as a basis for an approach to public life – in particular, believers’ approach to the practices and systems at work in our world that were shaped in the forge of injustice. As he concludes, he walks listeners through truths in the Beatitudes, locating our mourning and thirst for justice in the persistent hope of the Kingdom of God.
He says, “This intuition that something is not right is justified by close reading of the biblical text. First Timothy 2 and Romans 13 are not the entirety of the Christian political witness. Jesus’ words to Herod, Paul’s testimony, John the revelator’s vision for the future, Jesus own commands in the Beatitudes, call us to witness to a different world. The Christian who hopes and works for a better world finds an ally in the God of Israel.”
Dr. Esau McCaulley is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. He is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America where he serves as a canon theologian in his diocese. He completed his Ph.D. in New Testament at the University of St. Andrews, where he studied under the direction of N.T. Wright. He is a sought-after speak and author whose works have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and Christianity Today among others. Read more from Dr. McCaulley by clicking here.
Further excerpts from his presentation:
To mourn involves being saddened by the state of the world. We can be so bombarded by pain that the natural instinct is to say, “I’ve done enough.” But mourning calls on all of us to recognize our own complicity in the suffering of others. Mourning is the intuition that things are not right, that more is possible. I think the Christian lives with a certain “joyful sorrow.” But I can always pray.
Hungering and thirsting for justice is nothing less than the continued longing for God to come and set things right. The resurrection has to inform our plausibility structure. We tend to think – white nationalism is a big problem. So is being dead. And God called a dead thing back to life.
Peacemaking cannot be separated from truth-telling. The church’s witness does not involve simply denouncing the excesses of both sides and making moral equivalencies. It involves calling injustice by its name. If the church is going to be on the side of peace in America, there has to be an honest account of what has happened to black and brown people in this country. This peacemaking must be corporate and it must be personal. When it is corporate, we’re testifying to the universal reign of Jesus. When it is interpersonal, we’re being witnesses to the work God has done in our heart.
“Have I now become your enemy from telling you the truth?” – Galatians 4:16
Peacemaking bears witness to the King and his Kingdom. The outcome of peacemaking is to introduce people to the kingdom of God. Therefore, the work of justice when understood as a direct testimony to God’s kingdom is evangelistic in its ultimate aims. It is part, not the whole of, God’s work in reconciling all things to himself.
Featured photo by Benjamin Thomas for Unsplash.