SOCIAL JUSTICE 1: Intro Biblical Principles for Why Christians Should Protest Injustice & Take Action!

We’re so glad you’ve come to the Connect Adventists 4 Social Justice Sabbath School to find out, speak out and take actions on major injustices that face individuals, families and our planet!  Throughout history, Jews and Christians have worked to rescue people from injustice and oppression. As a result, they pioneered nearly all major human rights in history. What they did was so radical that critics complained that they “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

These actions of Bible believers throughout history influenced many intellectuals from various backgrounds such as former atheist philosopher Rene Girard at Stanford and Indian scholar Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi to conclude that the Bible is “The Book that Made Your World” especially in the area of human rights. Another atheist professor, Dr. Walter Block, said, “All enemies of the [totalitarian] state…would do well to embrace religion and the family as their friends, whether they are themselves atheists or not, parents or not.” [1] He referred to the famous agnostic libertarian economist Murray Rothbard who, “ascribed the concepts of individualism and liberty to Christianity (and almost everything else good in Western civilization).” Without the godly sacrifices of believers in the past, most/all of our rights and freedoms (and most scientific progress) would not exist.

Every generation has new challenges and deceptions have sadly influenced unbelievers and also some believers to follow tragic injustices in the past and now. The Bible predicts terrible times in the period before Jesus’ comes (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 2 Tim. 4, 2 Peter 2 & 3, etc.).  But the Bible also tells us, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27

SDAs have continued this biblical tradition of opposing injustice. We became a denomination in an atmosphere of intense conflict on the issue of slavery (1863). Dr. Baker explains that our SDA founders considered slavery and the governments treatment of Indians to be one evidence that America was a beast and opposed it vigorously in word and action.[2]

Because of this, almost every SDA supported abolition and many (along with Quakers) were involved in the underground railroad. Dr. Baker rates SDA leaders a 10 out of 10 in their opposition to slavery, but also recognizes later tragic failings that we need to correct.

Adventists4Social Justice is a group of passionate SDAs that came together in 2016 to bring more visibility to social justice problems. It is organizing to influence SDAs to have a more significant impact on the structural causes of ongoing injustices in our world. People can join chapters in the USA and abroad (http://adventists4socialjustice.org/index.html).

Today we’re going to start a journey together, learning from God, sharing insights and knowledge with each other and especially looking for practical ways we can take action to reduce injustice in this world. We’re excited you are here!

REFERENCES

[1] Ayn Rand Was Wrong. Walter E. Block. https://www.lewrockwell.com/2008/06/walter-e-block/ayn-rand-was-wrong/

[2] The Adventist Pioneers and Slavery. Dr. Ben Baker. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UsVDq7GTyU

DISCUSSION:

  1. Why are you interested in and what experience do you have with social justice? Which topics most concern you?
  2. Why is social justice important for you, the church, the community, the nation and world?
  3. What is your favorite Bible verse, story or quote on social justice? Why does it inspire you?
  4. How many biblical principles relating to social justice can you think of? Share the Bible verse that supports it and briefly explain how it is practical/relevant now. What do they show about the importance of social justice?
  5. Read the Bible/EGW quote on the next page and discuss what they mean for today.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE?

  • “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Prov. 31:8-9
  • “A private faith that does not act in the face of oppression is no faith at all.” W. Wilberforce

Throughout the Bible, God has given us many practical solutions to injustice at all levels of society that science is confirming. The most crucial is genuine love which is not just an emotion, but also action for those who are oppressed. This kind of love is actually quite dangerous. At a lecture at Syracuse Peace Councils, Dr. Noam Chomsky (MIT) said (~8:08):

“…this concept of sympathy and social solidarity is considered extremely dangerous [by the most powerful and wealthy people, the top 1%]. There’s a major propaganda effort to try to drive into people’s heads that you should only be concerned for yourself…There’s been a tremendous effort over the years to somehow drive that into people’s heads and to drive out all normal human feelings…That’s pretty dangerous. If it was happening in a small country, it would be a shame. But when it’s happening in the richest most powerful country in history, it’s very dangerous [to the general population].”
https://youtu.be/o5xkp8ce7DQ?t=8m8s (starts at ~8:08)

Matthew West sings a song with profound insights about the relation of God and His people to social justice. Let’s listen and meditate this week about how God wishes us to join the heritage of people of faith who have worked against oppression throughout history and what He wishes us to do.
“Do Something” by Michael West:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_RjndG0IX8

NEXT WEEK/FURTHER READING: Next week we’ll do a brief overview of the history of how godly people pioneered social justice.  Think about what godly social justice actions and movements in the past and present you admire most and principles we can learn from them to deal with issues that we face. Invite friends to join us too!  Read these sites as you have time and Join Adventists 4 Social Justice on facebook. http://adventists4socialjustice.org/, http://blog.truth-is-life.org/human-rights/socialjustice/, https://www.facebook.com/groups/282472782107504/

HANDOUT–10 BIBLE FOUNDATIONS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
Read these Bible & EGW quotes. What principles of social justice do they illuminate for you? How can we apply them now?

1. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27

“The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.” Prov. 29:7

2. “Native-born Israelites and foreigners are equal before the Lord…” Numbers 15:15

“..you are equal as brothers and sisters.” Matt. 23:8

“The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ. The reason for all division, discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ.”  1 SM 259

3. “Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.” Leviticus 19:15
“…the Lord detests double standards of every kind.” Proverbs 20:10

4. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Prov. 31:8-9 (see also Matthew 25:31-45).

Ellen White writes, “Each neglect of the needy poor, the homeless, the fatherless, the prisoner, is neglect of Jesus.” (A Call to Stand Apart, p. 93).

5. “King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.” Daniel 4:27 (NLT)

“Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.” Ezekiel 16:49 (NLT) (see also Nehemiah 5, Psalms 72, Jonah 1-4).

6. “I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:21-24

“The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them…Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them. ” Hosea 8:3,11

‘Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through their honor and exaltation. If they had walked in the ways of obedience, He would have made them “high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.” But because of their unfaithfulness, God’s purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation.” Desire of Ages, p. 28

7. “Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:15 (See also the context of Sabbath observance principles in Isaiah 58:6-14)

8. “I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches…When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them. When you find those who are hungry, feed them. In doing this you will be working in lines of Christ’s ministry…All our praying and abstinence from food will avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this work.”

9. “If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet…if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” 10:41-42

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor. 2:9

10. The apostle John said, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13.

What had he written?
“…Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:2-3 (see also Rom. 13:8-10).

But biblical love was never just a feeling. It took action. John also said,
“If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister[a] in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?”  1 John 3:17(NLT)

Ellen White writes:
“Eternal life is the reward that will be given to all who obey the two great principles of God’s law,—love to God and love to man. The first four commandments define and enjoin love to God; the last six, love to our fellow men. Obedience to these commands is the only evidence man can give that he possesses a genuine, saving knowledge of God. Love for God is demonstrated by love for those for whom Christ has died….The Youth’s Instructor March 22, 1900

FINAL INSPIRATION: Watch and share final thoughts.
Is Justice Worth It?

https://vimeo.com/60349898

(For a more detailed version of the above quotes with comments about the principles and to comment yourself, go here:
http://blog.truth-is-life.org/human-rights/1b-10-bible-foundations-for-social-justice/)

Reading: Consequences of plutocracy:  https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/cost-of-inequality-oxfam-mb180113.pdf

HOW CAN YOU CONTRIBUTE TO OUR CONNECT-ASJ SOCIAL JUSTICE SABBATH SCHOOL?
Some of you may have valuable experience in the area of social justice and we’d like to know about it so all with useful knowledge can contribute and maximize our effectiveness. If you have academic training in any area of social justice, check the “Degree” box. If you have done significant study in a social justice area, check the “Study” box. If you have been involved in practical actions to solve problems in an area of social justice, check the “Activism” box. We’d like to make a database to draw on to use in this class and for members to contact as needed.

Please take this paper home this week and check which areas of social justice you are involved in. The golden rule of the Bible and the highest form of truth, wisdom and morality is to find solutions that bring the highest quality and quantity to the most people long term (compare 1 Thess. 5:15,21, 1 Tim. 4:8, Deut. 4:1-8, etc.). That is what we want to aim for to the best of our ability in this class in 3 basic ways: A) Find out/Be Aware B) Speak out/Share & C) Take Action/Care!

NAME:
CONTACT INFO (Phone and/or email/website):
AREA OF INTEREST: Which of these areas do you have helpful knowledge in?:

 

Degree Study Activism
Biblical theology on social justice (God’s laws of freedom)
Abortion (how should we maximize life for all involved)
Animal rights (what should we do to care for God’s creatures)
Atheism (exposing how it makes people vulnerable to exploitation)
Children’s rights (child labor, child soldiers, invisible children, etc.)
Creation science (Showing how it protects human rights.)
Death penalty (What can we do to reduce judicial injustice)
Economic justice worldwide (How can we work to reduce poverty, improve land justice/Jubilee economics, housing, reduce debt, make trade fair, fair wages, etc.)
Economic justice (US poverty)
Environment (pollution, global warming)
Environment care (What can we do to protect the environment better?)
Family stability (How do we help broken families recover and avoid exploitation):
Food/Hunger (How do we reduce starvation and malnutrition)
Gender issues (How do Christians assist single and married in living godly lives? How do Christians relate wisely to the LGBTQIA issues, etc.)
Genocide (What can we do to prevent genocide?)
Health justice (How can NEWSTART and health principles improve social justice, reduce poverty, etc.?)
Human/sex trafficking  (What can we do to reduce sex trafficking?)
Men’s rights (What can we do :
Peace activism (What can we do to reduce violence and war and increase peace?)
Police/judicial injustice (What can we do to reduce injustice in the judicial system?)
Political activism (How can we use our time effectively to change government policies in areas such as democratic rights, government waste and others):
Racism/prejudice/discrimination (How do we eradicate unfairness against minority races in ourselves and our culture?):
Refugee/immigration support (What can we do about the current issue of refugees?)
War/terrorism/military spending (Redirecting military spending could end poverty worldwide many times over. How can we influence change here?)
Water problems (Water wars and droughts are already a reality. What can we do to reduce these?)
Women’s rights (Women “hold up ½ the sky” Asians say. What should we do to bring women in our culture to equality?)
Worker justice (Many workers are exploited in various ways. How can we assist them?)
Other(s):

 

Other(s):

 

What topic would you most like to contribute to? How?

 

 

Experiencing how God’s truth energizes life!