Advocating for Justice

An Evangelical Vision for Transforming Systems and Structures

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About

Christians are increasingly interested in justice issues. Relief and development work are important, but beyond that is a need for advocacy. This book shows how transforming systems and structures results in lasting change, providing theological rationale and strategies of action for evangelicals passionate about justice. Each of the authors contributes both academic expertise and extensive practical experience to help readers debate, discuss, and discern more fully the call to evangelical advocacy. They also guide readers into prayerful, faithful, and wise processes of advocacy, especially in relation to addressing poverty.

Contents

Part 1: The Problem Defined
1. An Evangelical Approach to Advocacy: Definitions and Underpinnings
2. Transformational Advocacy: Past Foundations, Current Challenges, and New Frontiers for Evangelical Action
Part 2: An Evangelical Theology of Advocacy
3. Theology of Advocacy: God, Power, and Advocacy
4. Transformational Advocacy and Power: The State and Social Institutions
5. The Role of the Church
Part 3: An Evangelical Practice of Advocacy
6. Transformational Advocacy Practice: Witness of the Local and Global Church and the Parachurch
7. Challenges and Tensions in Transformational Advocacy and Steps for Overcoming Them
Conclusion
Appendix: Case Studies in Evangelical Advocacy
Index


Endorsements

"This book respectfully equips evangelicals with a deep theology for advocacy that moves beyond just an identification of need. Instead, the authors embed the call to action in the nature of God, who yearns for justice. It is a welcome book at an opportune time."

Sandra F. Joireman, Weinstein Chair of International Studies and professor of political science, University of Richmond; chair of the board of directors, Bread for the World

"Jesus spoke up on behalf of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and the voiceless. By offering clear biblical foundations, Advocating for Justice lights the path for Christians seeking to discern what it means to follow Jesus's example. It shows how wise advocacy practices can and should flow from authentic Christian discipleship and become part of evangelicals' broader witness to the good news in this world."

Lynne Hybels, advocate for global engagement, Willow Creek Community Church

"This stellar book asserts that evangelicals are anemic with regard to structural evil. We don't know how to think about power, so we settle for strategies that are too simple. Yet we have resources, and most importantly, we are animated by the God who both creates and conquers powers. Clear, orderly, theoretically rich, theologically vibrant, and full of examples, this book is a must-read."

Miriam Adeney, associate professor of world Christian studies, Seattle Pacific University; author of Kingdom without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity

"I long for the church to put the poor at the center of its concern as a missional priority. Advocating for Justice helps us understand how we can engage in this vital work, historically, theologically, and practically. This new book does not push confronting injustice to the periphery of our witness or advocate for justice simply because it's trendy. It will be a constant companion for those of us who love God and feel burdened to see his justice made visible in the world."

Noel Castellanos, president and CEO, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)

"A watershed book for anyone seeking to bring change, Advocating for Justice tackles the root causes of poverty, oppression, and injustice and offers both a theological and practical vision for overcoming the most intractable challenges of our day. I highly recommend this book!"

Stephan Bauman, president, World Relief

"An excellent book that meets an urgent need. In recent decades, evangelicals have greatly expanded their concern for the poor and oppressed. To a large extent, however, we have not understood how advocacy for improved public policies could produce important change in the lives of the poor. This very readable, solidly biblical book shows us how to do that. Every Christian should read it."

Ron Sider, president emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action

"A groundbreaking book for the twenty-first century, Advocating for Justice blends biblical, theological, and historical foundations in presenting advocacy as integral to the work of justice. True justice does not take place without systemic change. The authors lead us to understand and embrace advocacy as part of our spiritual journey and call to discipleship."

Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent, The Wesleyan Church

"This is a remarkable and much-needed book! It is robustly researched yet deeply personal. It is focused on the character and example of God rather than partisan versions of social strategies. The book will help me as a pastor lead my church in a more effective public witness of Christ's love and service and help us impact the systems of this world."

Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor, Northland--A Church Distributed

"Forty years ago Ron Sider introduced us to the insidious and pervasive presence of structural sin that generates so much of the world's poverty and hunger, but the Christian community has yet to coalesce around a strategy to overcome these dark structural forces. Now, in this compelling and inspiring book, the authors present a persuasive case for advocacy as an essential tool that the Christian community must no longer shy away from. Building on a Trinitarian foundation to describe why followers of Christ must become advocates to the powers and principalities of our day, the authors explain what advocacy looks like, how it can and should be done, what organizations are currently engaged in advocacy, and how we can resolve some major concerns, including how to integrate evangelism into the work of justice advocacy. Well-researched, well-written, and timely, this book will have staying power to inform, educate, and advise the Christian community for many years to come."

Roland Hoksbergen, professor of economics and international development, Calvin College

"Scripture is filled with examples of God's people being called to speak up and defend the rights of the vulnerable and oppressed. Advocacy is not an option for us; it's a biblical responsibility and an integral part of our discipleship and witness. But advocacy is not easy, and Christians have struggled (and often failed) to do it well. This timely and practical resource offers a robust vision of what faithful advocacy can look like today. Read this book if you want to understand better how to renew our witness for justice, peace, and the flourishing of all creation."

Ben Lowe, activist and coauthor of The Future of Our Faith


The Authors

  1. Stephen Offutt

    Stephen Offutt

    Stephen Offutt (PhD, Boston University) is assistant professor of development studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

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  2. F. David Bronkema

    F. David Bronkema

    F. David Bronkema (PhD, Yale University) is interim dean of Palmer Theological Seminary at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania.

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  3. Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy

    Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy

    Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy (MTS, Weston Jesuit School of Theology) is senior associate for national Catholic engagement at Bread for the World in Washington, DC.

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  4. Robb Davis

    Robb Davis

    Robb Davis (PhD, Johns Hopkins University) is the mayor of Davis, California.

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  5. Gregg Okesson

    Gregg Okesson

    Gregg Okesson (PhD, University of Leeds) is dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

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Resources