Toward an Adventist Theology of Social Justice

"In contrast, I have seen the faith of those who followed the pied piper of “social justice” end in ruin."

How, and why, did it happen in your opinion?

1 Like

Is it possible in your mind to form an SDA theology that is more closely aligned to social justice concepts? Or do you feel that the church is doing a great job in this area and does not need to be examined?


"Have you looked at the countries of Scandinavia recently? They aren’t as happy as it appears you think."

Scandinavian countries are in the top 10 of the “happiest” in world according to many polls…if you are referring to “perfection” that, of course, does not exist.

"By the way, venture capitalism has given you a long and growing list of benefits."

William- “venture” capitalism and “vulture” capitalism are not the same thing.


Scandinavia includes Norway, Sweden and Denmark. According to the 2018 index over happiest countries Norway ranks as #2, Sweden as #3 and Denmark as #9. USA is ranked #18

Drowning in debt?? FYI: Norway has no debt. On the contrary, The Norwegian “Oil Fund” has over US$1 trillion in assets, including 1.3% of global stocks and shares, making it the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. This leaves each of us with more than $195,000 each.

If this is a “long-term path of decline” I must say I enjoy the decline…


Hi @1QOL, unfortunately Discourse (the commenting platform we use) does not always pull articles and formatting over correctly. If you will take a look at the actual article on our website, rather than the Discourse auto-created version, you will find the footnotes to @JAORourke’s article intact.

Hope this helps,


That is the problem with the social justice definition that took up a full paragraph and ended with no real definition. Freedom of religion then becomes social justice. Anything good becomes social justice. It becomes a totally subjective definition which is as far as a definition goes meaningless. Communists, socialists, even the new Nazi party use social justice in their basis documents. Is it all the same thing, is it the same as freedom as you seem to indicate in the above religious liberty reference. No I don’t think so.

1 Like

Thank you for your comment:

If you read my article, i give you my defintion of social justice as follows:

Therefore, for me, social/societal justice activism means engaging the political system for the sake of moving that system from injustice to justice via the means of legislative policy change, protest, boycott, etc .

Does religious liberty fall into this category. yes, in that it involves engaging with the legislative body to ensure such freedom as a matter of justice for liberty of conscience.

God bless you

1 Like

Yes I saw that, however that is a definition of

Activism changes it, as what would be the difference between your social justice activism and political activism?

1 Like

Thank you for your response.

I attempted to present such a description between the example fo the prophets and the life of Jesus. I confess that this article is too short to actually go as in depth as many woud like. However, there is this:

“ Therefore, so long as there is a church-state separation, Christian ministry can be solely apostolic and cataphatic. One can do like Jesus and be socially responsible by feeding the poor, healing the sick, visiting the prisoner, etc. If, however, the church is the theological foundation of state oppression, one’s Christian duty is to also be apophatic and prophetic. One must then work for economic justice, not just give free food. One must work for health care equality,[[xxvi]] not just teach people how to eat better, which natural remedies to use, or how to use hot-cold treatments. One must not only visit those in prison, one must also work toward criminal justice reform.[[xxvii]]”

I am wondering if this does not beging to address your concern? However i accept that your concern may also just be the use of social justice as a phrase and an emphasis.

God bless you

The Pax Romana gave a long list of benefits, as well. It is scathingly critiqued in Revelation for its underside of human injustice, inequities, exploitation, and misery in which it also trafficked, in order to produce its benefits.

To claim that the benefits of American capitalism come only from freedom and hard work is to ignore this similar underbelly of our nation’s history and present. Our economy was initially built on slave labor, and shortly after, the exploitation of immigrants…an exploitation that still goes on today, by some of the very same people that want to keep or run them out of the country. To not acknowledge this is to then not take seriously the call of a book like Revelation, to not be complicit in the sins of human exploitation that undergird the prosperity of the predominant culture.

I am not suggesting that this is not a problem in all societies, to a greater or lesser degree. It’s just that in the zeal to castigate socially democratic nations, some of which happen to be doing quite well in taking care of all sectors of their people, there is a zeal to uncritically tout the American dream/myth. That dream is true…for some. It has also victimized the many. Begin with 100,000,000 Native Americans.

Economic prosperity and its accompanying comforts are not the final measure of a society…especially from a kingdom perspective. Justice, mercy, and fair treatment are. That is a large component of the prophetic voice from within the scriptures. Both testaments.




Well said Frank. Thank you for your comment

1 Like

J, you said:

Additionally, the church has done that type of preaching for years and yet still picks and chooses which societal issues are worthy of its advocacy (sabbath, drugs, sex slavery, etc.) while leaving others as if they must be allowed until Jesus comes (health care inequities, criminal justice inequities, etc.)<<

It was not meant to be disingenuous or a deflection. There is a reason and it is this. For the church to attempt to make a “world policy” on “social justice” is about as valid as it having a “world policy” on Women’s ordination.
Indeed cultural norms are a consideration when there are issues that may not be “black & white.” I trust and respect the Dutch people to make their own “socio-economic-political” decisions for themselves through the voting process and legislative bodies. They don’t need to have the SDA’s churches input on the majority of issues such as health care and criminal justice (barring blatant unequal treatment.) I suggest these are in Caesar’s realm.
The people of the US look at socio-economic issues historically from a different mindset. We historically are a very independent in spirit from government help WHEN a person is able to provide for oneself. It traditionally has been considered charity and a gracious act to help those in need…not an inherent human right but grace shown on the part of some, “individuals or taxpayers” as the case may be for those unable to care for themselves.
We recognize that those who “give” can also “take away.”
Europe and other people groups may view that differently and pursue other socio-economic directions… Fine.
To those still wondering what the 2016 election was about, I suggest that was the core “historical” consideration to contemplate. We do not choose to give up our freedom’s to a large bureaucratic body in Wash., DC…or international body such as Brussels or the UN.

1 Like

It is the phrase, obviously the article is about political activism. But there is only one side of the political activism that likes to make the use of such things as “economic justice”, “Heath care equality” like social justice these are subjectively and politically used but rarely defined. I would love the economic justice to be equalized with Bill Gates, but there are a number of factors that make that hoped for economic justice impossible. Oh and on another note, you had said:

No, you don’t really have social justice warriors on the right. Not because they don’t want equality or freedom or justice but because the methods to achieve these goals are much different. William is right when he says that social justice is really related to socialism. Unfornately many think socialism is about being social as in social media or getting along with each other in society rather than its real definition.


Wonderfully articulate. and I dont disagree. This is why i stated we need a Theology of Social Justice, from which we as a people can be guided on when and how to participate in social jsutice issue. My conclusion is that when the oppressive state is undergirt in its oppression by the dominant religion and theology, it is time to protest. How that is applied globally is depended upon the local conditions and situations.
You mentioned earlier drugs and sex trafficing. Are these things done by the state, and theologically supported by the Dutch church and religion. The answer is no, so then social jsutice activism may not apply accordin got my description. however, compassionate social responsiblity (kingdom ethics and morals) definitely does.

God bless


I appreciate your perspective, even though i dont share it. As you mentioned, anyone can claim social justice. I submit that racist, Neo Nazis, etc. all contend that they are fighting for their social justice as their narrative has them as the poor white who is being displaced in every facet of society by all other ethnicities and races. thus they seek to create a society (social) when the laws will be in their favor (their viewe of justice), and they will do so violently (warriors)
One could add conservative white evangelicals/christians to this, except instead of violence they vote

Thank you.

1 Like

Really. Can you point me to one group of conservative (US political right wing) people that refer to themselves as social justice warriors?


Refer, no. Demonstrate ideologically sure. See above.

1 Like

The Dutch have chosen to allow lenient rules regarding drug use and the legalization of the oldest profession in the world. Am I wrong? Sometimes realizing how difficult it is to deal with issues in our own backyard should make us appreciate the difficulty of making one standard for the world.
Kingdom ethics (clear) applies to Kingdom citizens as the church’s responsibility…not the church directing the kingdoms of this world through legislation. That is the reverse side of “separation” of church and state for all but very few situations.

1 Like

I agree. Kingdom ethics and morals is simpy for me compassionate social responsiblity (or charity), not social jsutice prophetic acivism (engaging with legislation etc)

1 Like

Demonstrate with word substitution is not really accurate however. if political activism means being a social justice warrior you could use them interchangeably however they are not the same just as freedom is not the same as social justice and religious liberty is not social justice either. That is why you have to be able to define your words and subjective definitions never work.

1 Like