Dennis Hiebert


Social justice is best understood as distributive justice, distinct from other forms of justice. It is inherently ideological in both the neutral and negative sense, inherently moral in its dedication to fairness and to care for others, and inherently political in its structural embodiment of values in a society. Christian conceptions of and commitments to social justice have vacillated the past two hundred years as its importance relative to personal salvation and sanctification has constantly been contested. Debate between the Christian conservative right and Christian progressive left has intensified again recently, as ever more theologically conservative Christians champion social justice, however guardedly, triggering ever more alarm from socially conservative Christians. The debate is elucidated here from the perspective of critical theory, first linguistically by noting alternative translations of the biblical text, then theologically by the imago Dei and Christology, then ethically by contrasting Christian views of social ethics, and finally sociologically by the duality of personal agency and social structure.



critical theory, history, ideology, morality, politics, public theology, social justice

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