Friday, February 01, 2008

Proclaiming Truth and Justice

There was an interesting piece on NPR yesterday (via BBC radio) about the crisis in Kenya. The BBC had a bishop from a Pentecostal church in Kenya as their guest and various other guests and callers were questing him as to the role of religious leaders in recent events.

What I found interesting about this was that the other Kenyans addressing the bishop were basically asking why the religious leaders (Christian and Muslim) weren't proclaiming truth and justice but were instead calling for dialogue. The bishop said that they were being pragmatic and seeking long term solutions. It seemed like a very reasonable response. What was less clear was whether it was properly a Christian response. Is it the role of the Church to seek pragmatic, long-term solutions? Or is it the role of the Church to proclaim truth and justice?

I am obviously very far removed from the situation in Kenya. I don't know what any of these people are facing. It sounds as if the religious leaders would be putting themselves in a very precarious position if they openly proclaimed truth and justice. They lack freedom of speech. I cannot judge them.

What I can do is try to apply the lessons I observed to my own situation. It was breathtaking to hear the voice of the people crying out to a representative of the Church, asking him to proclaim truth and justice. The American mainline protestant denominations are very big on seeking social justice these days. The question remains as to what the Church's role should be in seeking justice. What I saw yesterday is that it is not our place to enter into political compromises and negotiation. Our place is to proclaim truth and justice in word and deed.

I was reminded of a story Jim Wallis tells about Martin Luther King Jr. King had just returned from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and was meeting with Lyndon Johnson. Johnson told King that he didn't have the political capital to push for voting rights legislation. He told King to wait. King responded that he could not wait. He went to the streets and proclaimed truth and justice. The Voting Rights Act was passed the next year.


The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

You ask a real tough question here. On the outside I see the point of the bishops; but as somebody who has been in much smaller points of conflict I sure want to win and see my truth hold the center stage.
Jesus sure had guts in the marketplace of ideas; only a very few, like MLK, Kai Munk, and Bonhoeffer will follow so boldly knowing the risk of confronting terror or power. In the end in cost Jesus and many followers their earthly lives.
I think the Bishop is following an ancient Christian principle of working for peace in the short term to lead to reconciliation in the light of truth in the long term. Its tough because the truth matters; but we can undervalue any life as we search for it.

Tom in Ontario said...

I don't know if you're into the ‘meme' thing. I was tagged and sometimes I'm a "follow the rules" kind of guy and number 5 says "Tag five other people" and you're one of the five blogs I read who hasn't already done this meme. So here it is. Do with it what you will.

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five other people.