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Poverty and Biblical Justice

June 20, 2016

In the Biblical view, justice is a state of equity and fairness, integrity and righteousness, peace and wholeness, at all levels of society – governments, courts and marketplace – that protects the rights and dignity of all, particularly the most vulnerable. Justice is not merely a desirable state, but requires all people (and particularly those with authority, or social and economic power) to act in such a way as to preserve and promote this state of justice and to restrain and punish those who would disrupt it.

Without such attention and actions, the wealthy and powerful may capture or exploit aspects of governments, courts and markets for their own benefit and at the expense of those with less power. Or people in poverty might find themselves caught in entrenched poverty, insecurity, debt and vulnerability that leaves them with little hope or opportunity for change.

“Hear the word of the LORD, O King of Judah sitting on the throne of David — you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. Thus says the LORD: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood.” Jeremiah 22:1–3

Christians, in faithfulness to Jesus, seek to “love our neighbours as ourselves”. We do this directly, in face to face encounters with our neighbours. We also love our neighbours indirectly by seeking to ensure that the laws and rules, systems and processes that operate in our economies and societies protect the rights and dignity of all, particularly the most vulnerable.

Read the full discussion paper here.