“Every wrong that we make right brings God pleasure, as we, together, are bending the arc of the universe towards justice.Statement on God’s Justice, A Refutation on the Statement of Social Justice and the Gospel
Things are made right through communities of people.
WE BELIEVE AND WE AFFIRM: Social justice is the will of God. This is Good News.”
The religion I knew while growing up was about being right(eous), and I believed it was the only way to do religion. It didn’t sit well with me at times, but I didn’t think there were alternatives. I thought the Good News was that some of us, if we believed (and even though it wasn’t our goodness that saved us, we still had to be very good), we would be “saved.” The only thing that mattered in eternity was how right we were in our beliefs. Putting an end to injustice on earth wasn’t as important as convincing people of our certainty that we were right(eous).
I was starting to think that maybe it wasn’t possible to be a Christian and believe in science and gay rights and feminism and justice. I started thinking maybe it wasn’t possible to be “saved” and still be me.
And then I found PAAC.
PAAC believed that the Good News wasn’t for some but that it was Good News for all. Climate change was real, and so was racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia.
So many people in PAAC had steadily been doing the work of pushing back against oppression and pushing for liberation. They were clergy, theologians, laypeople, activists, poets, artists, teachers. Some had been doing this work for decades. Others, like me, were coming out of decades of Right(eous) Religion and looking for some actual Good News. It was so validating and affirming to find this space.
But outside of that space, Right(eous) Religion still existed. They declared that social justice was antithetical to God’s justice. They claimed that some cultures were simply more Godly than others, that racism, sexism, poverty, imperialism, and injustice were petty things to be concerned about in the light of eternity. Homophobia and transphobia were right(eous).
A Statement on God’s Justice
In September of 2018, 35 members of our community decided to craft a statement on God’s justice (which you can read and sign here). The story of how and why we crafted that statement (in 48 hours!) is pretty epic.
But we quickly realized that our statement wasn’t a mic-drop. It was the beginning of a conversation. After reading our statement, people had so many more things to say. What about environmental stewardship? What about ableism in holy spaces? What does a just immigration policy look like? How should we read the Bible? Why did Jesus really die? What’s the role of ritual and cultural practices in our faith?
That’s why we made Living Justice.
Living Justice is a space to continue the conversation. Through articles, interviews, book reviews, and even the occasional meme or two, we wanted to remind people that there is truly Good News.
We’ll be highlighting the justice work that PAAC members do, diving into the personal and theological motivations behind it. We’ll explore the many different paths justice can take and how PAAC community members are bringing their faith to life by advancing justice in its myriad of forms.
We aren’t here to decide what the “right” answer is but rather to explore our understanding of what a living, justice-oriented faith looks like. Some of our works might be provoking or push boundaries, but the heart of this conversation is that, as image-bearers of God, we have a responsibility to ourselves, to each other, to all that has been created, and to all that will be made. We matter to God and to one another. We are loved.
Friends, there is Good News. Let’s bend that arc of justice.
Stella Won Phelps
Living Justice Editor