A Brief Review of
The Justice Project.
Brian Mclaren, Elisa Padilla and Ashley Bunting Seeber, Editors.
Hardback: Baker Books, 2009.
Buy Now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
The Justice Project is the newest book in the “emersion” series from Baker books. Following in the footsteps of its previously-released companion volume An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, The Justice Project is an excellent introduction to the various facets of justice (and injustice) that are being wrestled with in the emerging church movement. However, consisting of 35 very brief chapters by writers from throughout the world, it is a difficult book to review. The contributors include many names that will be familiar to these in/or around the emerging church conversation: Brian Mclaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Will and Lisa Samson and Bart Campolo. There are also many pieces contributed by lesser-known – though no less insightful – thinkers and churchworkers. Overall, the mini-essay format is a bit disappointing in that the writers never really are able to get very deep into their given subject. The positive side is that it does allow for the introduction of a vast array of diverse justice-related issues in the theology and practice of church communities. Some of the finest essays were Sylvia Keesmaat’s (a co-author of the excellent book Colossians Unmixed) piece on justice in the biblical epistles and Annemie Bosch’s piece on “Suffering for Justice” (Annemie is the widow of the late, renowned South African missiologist, David Bosch). I also really appreciated the pieces on justice in the city by Jorge Tasin (of Buenos Aires, Argentina) and my friend and fellow Indianapolis Eastsider, Chad Abbott.
Having been an observer of (and sometimes a participant in) the emerging church conversation for almost a decade, I know well that the longing for justice is one of the key virtues that defines these churches. I am thus pleased to see the many facets this passion for justice surveyed in The Justice Project, thereby beginning the work of fleshing out a vision of justice across the movement. I hope and pray that this vision of justice will continue to be pursued and more richly embodied in the years to come.