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On Biblical Justice

WHEREAS, God is holy, righteous, and just, and He requires His image bearers to live consistent with His character and to pursue the reflection of His character in every sphere of creation; and

WHEREAS, Scripture declares God’s purposes for creative and redemptive acts are that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s glory, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14) and that “justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream” (Amos 5:24); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message states that we should live under the Lordship of Christ in our individual lives and in human society, trust the transforming power of the gospel as the primary means of implementing justice and affecting social change, and work to care for those who are hurting and are in need (Article XV); and

WHEREAS, We live in a world with urgent social, cultural, and economic challenges, and in our society, people of goodwill possess commendable desires to ease the impact of injustice and oppression so that all people may prosper; and

WHEREAS, We recognize that in the face of these pressing issues, people—even Christians—have adopted ideological solutions that address these challenges in ways not fitting with God’s creative order and the redemptive hope found in the gospel, and consequently, social problems are addressed in ways that are antithetical to the Christian faith; and

WHEREAS, Scripture provides humanity the hope of freedom from all kinds of oppressive and unjust entanglements and idolatries, which are ultimately derived from the pervasive impact of sin in every spectrum of society that prevents people from experiencing the glory of being made in God’s image and adhering to their full dignity in cultural, economic, social, and political spheres; and

WHEREAS, The gospel is the good news of God’s redemptive work to reconcile and restore a people for His own possession (Titus 2:12–14; 1 Peter 2:9–10) and reconcile all things to Himself (2
Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 1:9–10; 2:14–16; Colossians 1:19–20) and to ultimately free creation from its groaning and subjection to sin (Romans 8:19); and

WHEREAS, Scripture states God requires of His people “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly” (Micah 6:8) and directs all Christians to function as salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13–16, 40–42; 17:24–27; 22:21); and

WHEREAS, Scripture contains examples of spiritual leaders addressing injustices in the world, such as Amos, who confronted social injustices (Amos 5), and Paul, who insisted on justice from civil authorities (Acts 16:35–39); and

WHEREAS, Biblically unfaithful pursuits of justice notwithstanding, Christians should maintain an attitude of compassion toward the tragic and pressing problems in our society that cause real pain and prevent human flourishing; and

WHEREAS, Our witness to the truth of the gospel includes obedience to Christ demonstrated in giving our lives to evangelize the lost around the world and in becoming involved with the struggles of our neighbors as well as our believing brothers and sisters (Genesis 18:19; 1 Peter 2:11-12); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, June 11–12, 2019, commit ourselves to be holy as our Father in heaven is holy (Leviticus 11:45; 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we pray for the glory of God to fill the earth and for justice to be an overflowing stream for all people; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we grieve the reality of brokenness, resulting from sin, that is present throughout our world and subjects God’s image bearers to oppression and injustice, resulting in pain and burdens that inhibit human flourishing; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we reject solutions for social brokenness that depend upon ideas that are antithetical to the Christian faith, for they ignore the lasting transformation only found in the gospel; and be it further

RESOLVED, That in light of the urgent needs in our world, we commit to address injustices through gospel proclamation, by advocating for people who are oppressed and face wrongs against them, acting justly in our own dealings, and by insisting that spheres of society should operate according to “principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love” (The Baptist Faith and Message, Article XV); and be it further

RESOLVED, That with love and compassion, we address people who have been negatively impacted by oppressive realities, and that this love and compassion lead us to apply the sufficiency and fullness of the gospel message to their situation; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That our concern for the needs and aspirations of humanity—expressed in their joys and their hopes, their pains and their struggles—is rooted in the truth of the gospel and in our hope that through our love for others, they too may receive the gospel and share in the joy of salvation.