Some friends of mine recently published a wonderful book entitled Advocating for Justice. I was an outside reviewer for the text and got to speak at the book launch last week.
I thought I would post here my three favorite things about the book.
- We not me
There are quite a lot of books on Christian advocacy which follow the narrative arc of individual transformation in which the author was ignorant of a particular subject (religious freedom, AIDS, trafficking), has an experience which reveals the subject matter, and is then transformed and becomes an activist on the particular subject. This is not that book. This book focuses on advocacy as appropriately embedded in Christian communities – something that we all do together – in local churches, para church organization and denominations so that advocacy can become a form of discipleship. By embedding it in community we can get to the place where the church is a witness to the state and to society.
- Theological grounding of advocacy
I loved the focus in the book on the trinity as a model for us in our advocacy for others. This is not just a call for us to act on behalf of the suffering; this is an advocacy in which we try and conform to the image of God. Advocacy not as a technique but as a theology -something Christians do to faithfully image Christ in the world. At one point the authors argue that God is the subject of our advocacy. I read that as saying that advocacy is a form of worship not of charity, though charity is not discounted. Those with a theological bent are going to love the way this argument is made in the text.
- Politics as multilayered
The reader is compelled to look beyond the suffering of particular individuals and the problems that exist in localities to think about the structures that enable suffering to occur. I am a political scientist and I appreciate the fact that local and national political structures are not neutral, but form and enable behaviors which can cause harm. These structures need to be challenged and the church can do that if we think differently about the church.
This is a book which motivates us to give voice to the concerns of others, but also reveals a different imagination as to why we should do so, and why we should do so together as Christians in community.