Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Is Justice Possible?, by J. Paul Nyquist

Is justice possible?  That is the question J. Paul Nyquist, president of Moody Global Ministries, asks in his new book, Is Justice Possible?: The Elusive Pursuit of What is Right.  Nyquist, writing as a theologian, is not writing about social justice, as theologians tend to do, but about "justice we see in the courts: legal justice."   Nyquist discusses what justice is, why it is elusive, and what Christians should do in a world where justice will never be perfect.

The most compelling parts of Is Justice Possible are the stories Nyquist tells about times when justice was not served.  Truly we live in a fallen world, and our efforts to do justice, no matter how noble or righteous, will fall short from time to time.  Whether from imperfect knowledge, implicit bias, or evil intent, many men and women have been convicted of crimes they did not commit.  Despite the imperfection of the system, "God still expects justice to be served through our government, leaders, and judges."  God provides the measure of justice, for "without a righteous standard of measurement, we can believe certain actions are straight when they are crooked."

We can look forward to perfect justice, but not until the final judgment.  "We can and do make mistakes in our rendering of justice today.  We lack knowledge, are plagued by sin, and have implicit bias.  We do our best, but we make mistakes.  No mistakes will be made on that day.  Every judgement will be perfect and right."

The hope Nyquist offers contrasts sharply with the many examples he gives of justice gone awry.  But he doesn't leave us without hope for justice in this life.  We can vote for elected officials whose platforms reflect biblical justice, we can advocate in defense of underrepresented or marginalized groups, we can acknowledge implicit bias and work against it.  Nyquist's legal and political perspective is insightful and his theological perspective is welcome.  Christians seeking a solid theological treatment of legal justice would be well-served to pick up Nyquist's book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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