Tim Keller has a new book out, called Generous Justice. I enjoy Keller immensely, and I’m particularly excited about this book. In my experience, Christian books on justice, poverty, and social issues in general tend to go like this:
Pious Author: Poverty is bad!
Reader (Me): Yes. Yes, that is true. But I’m not aware that anyone actually disagrees with you on that. The issue isn’t whether we should help the poor, the issue is how do we do it while avoiding endless, corrupting welfare on the one hand, and callous indifference on the other. So what I want to know is, what do you think we as the people of God should do about it?
Pious Author: ….Poverty is bad!
And that’s how those books tend to go. I am tired of hearing about how I am too fat, too rich, too lazy, and too white. These sorts of authors deplore all the things I have earned or been given by God, and contend that I need to rid myself of such sinful wealth. Of course, if I’m giving my sinful wealth to the poor, doesn’t that eventually lead to me becoming poor and the poor becoming… well, rich, fat, and lazy? They don’t (can’t?) answer that, but I think Keller has a better approach.
Keller is that rarest of all creatures–a conservative preacher that I am completely comfortable recommending to believers and atheists alike. There are others like him (I happen to work at a church with several), but far too few. Keller is brilliant, literary, well-spoken, and thoughtful. I’ve seen video of him speaking to college crowds, and they have a remarkable respect for the man. Christian pastors are not always welcome at college campuses, but Keller has a knack for breaking down preconceived notions wherever he goes.
It’s my respect for his thought and for him as a person that makes me think that he will be able to write something on social justice that is finally worth reading. I’ll let you know when I finish it, but I’m expecting great things.