by R. York Moore
Intervarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL, 60515, 170 pages, 2012, $15.00.
—Reviewed by Lynn D. Shmidt, DMiss, former mission practitioner in southern Africa; associate professor at Asbury University.
Global justice. Modern-day slavery. Human trafficking. These are some of the hot buttons today that sway the emotions of multitudes of university students and young people. We have heard the reports that make us aware of millions caught in the webs of evil, and we have listened to the speakers who move us to passionate concern. What we have lacked is a clear biblical call for social justice that demonstrates how justice for the oppressed and judgment of the oppressor are also encompassed in the good news.
R. York Moore convincingly lays out the story of God in a way that takes a fresh look at God waging war on the earth. Recognizing that God’s dream for the earth is a beautiful dream—a time and place of security, peace, and joy, how is one to reconcile God’s dream with the nightmare of reality—a world of despair, uncertainty, and want? Moore asserts that “the world we now live in is not the dream of God” (p. 17). Before the realization of God’s great kingdom, evil will be judged and justice will be established in the earth.
Moore places the likeness of “Jesus at war” (in Revelation) in contrast to the way Jesus is often portrayed as the bearer of mercy and forgiveness (in the Gospels). Jesus is at war against injustice, and therefore judges those who oppress others. Jesus is for those who suffer in order to establish justice among them. There can be no justice without judgment. This likeness of Jesus enables us to see that God’s ultimate intentions are to put a stop to human traffickers, enslavers, and all structures of injustice. However, our tendency is to associate the end of injustices with the end times, when Jesus comes to fully restore and renew the heavens and the earth, and to diminish God’s intent to confront injustice in the world today.
From the moment I read the subtitle, “God’s Dream for Global Justice,” I was hoping to find more than a dependable biblical exposition of eschatology. I have already read most of the end time tomes of the 1980s-1990s, which did little more than offer Christians a reprieve by suggesting a rapture to escape the ravages of evil. In his last three chapters, Moore gives one of the best pragmatic justifications for studying eschatology—that through one’s actions, one might join God in his mission of changing the world.
Two statements capture the essence of God’s struggle for justice. The first is what Moore calls the mission statement of God’s dream: “Proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for prisoners…” (Luke 4:16-21). The second statement is found in the last chapter: “When we join God in making all things new, we are participating with God in the end-time work of Christ. Christian mission is nothing less than an eschatological act…” (p. 155). Through Moore’s timely words, eschatology takes on a more compelling meaning for mission.
Check these titles:
Glasser, Arthur F. et al. 2003. Announcing the Kingdom: The Story of God’s Mission in the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.
Willard, Dallas. 1998. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
EMQ, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 501-503. Copyright © 2013 Billy Graham Center. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.