(Photo: The Christian Post/Napp Nazworth)
PHILADELPHIA – The Justice Conference was designed to redeem the word "justice," founder Ken Wytsma explained at a Saturday press conference and interview with The Christian Post. Too often "justice" was simply an arguing point in a political debate between liberals and conservatives, but that misrepresents justice, he explained.
Justice is similar to truth, Wytsma explained, in that it exists always, everywhere, regardless of whether or not one thinks about it or searches for it. But, the way that justice has been used in political debates misrepresents its meaning.
"In the communities I've grown up in, there is this kinda left/right, Democratic/Republican, whatever it might be, battle that has gone on for a very long time where justice was thrown in as an arguing point in that debate, which really destroys the nature of what justice actually is. It throws it into a category or definition that is not correct. Until we understand justice correctly, we can't really have the right conversation. So, The Justice Conference was really my desire to try to redeem the word 'justice,'" Wytsma said.
Justice cannot be separated from the gospel of Jesus Christ, he added. Justice is part of the fabric of the gospel.
"The whole idea of the gospel, or good news, is that unjust people are able to stand next to a just God as if we're just. I happens through a process of justification by which we are justified, which is what God promised Isaiah he would do to reconcile us to himself on his own right arm with justice, through the Messiah, and this was good news. How can you understand that whole story without the idea of justice? It's so interlaced," Wytsma said.
The third Justice Conference was held last weekend in Philadelphia. Wytsma is also the founder of Kilns College in Bend, Ore., lead pastor at Antioch Church, and has worked with World Relief and Food for the Hungry.
Today's debates among evangelicals on the political right or political left are over "means, mechanisms and strategies," Wytsma said, and he hopes it is not a debate over "whether justice matters or it doesn't matter."
"I hope everyone would say that justice matters," he said, "but they differ in their ideas about how best to reach long term sustainable justice in our society.
Wytsma believes that one reason today's politics is so polarized is because everyone cares about justice, and they see justice or injustice in different policy positions. "I take that as a sign it's universal. Everyone cares about justice."
He also believes, though, that better communication between the two sides of the political spectrum is required. "There needs to be a level of diplomacy if we're going to reach proximate solutions on a way forward," but it is difficult to do that because, "we're not trained in that in America. We're not raised to be diplomatic in that way."