Public Justice Review (PJR) explores in depth specific questions of public justice, equipping citizens to pursue God's good purpose for our political community. 

Vol. 8, Issue 2: What Is Public Justice? 2018

Robert Joustra (Contributing Editor)

6. Public Justice: A Visual Exploration

Sean Purcell

Sean Purcell shifts gears and visualizes for us a "graphic novel" on public justice. Drawing together themes and ideas for our final series installment, Purcell draws for us a guide for how to think about, practice, and visualize the work of public justice. 


5. The Postures of Public Justice

Kyle David Bennett

What if we treated our hostile postures as a matter of justice, as a matter of what others are due? In our everyday encounters with others, argues Kyle Bennett, how others stand before us and move in response to us is either right or wrong, fair or unfair. We anticipate and expect right and fair treatment. When events don’t go according to plan—whether at a park, museum, theatre, or municipal parking lot—we are offended, angered, and most likely hurt. This goes for the politician, lobbyist, midwife, and the security guard. I have yet to meet anyone who likes to have rolled eyes thrown at them, enjoys having a finger pointed in their face, or feels edified by shrugged shoulders. Rather, we long for the opposite: kind eyes, beneficial hands, and self-controlled shoulders. We all want more than a justice that is legislated, promulgated, and put down on paper. We want a justice that is lived out in the everyday movements of a person. 


4. Improv for the Kingdom: What Does it Mean to Equip People for Public Justice?

Kristen Deede Johnson

As important as our conviction about public justice is the manner in which we seek public justice. Today, Kristen Deede Johnson invites us to attend as much to our means as our ends in the work of justice. As the people of God, she argues, we are called to manifest such things as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in all of our endeavors. 


3. Are Principles Enough? Virtues in Public Policy

Kevin den Dulk

Today, Kevin den Dulk argues that a first-principles approach assesses policies by comparing biblical/theological expectations to the outcomes of those policies. A policy outcome is “good” when it meets those expectations. But, he asks, what if we shift focus from outcomes to the practices and dispositions embedded in the policy process itself?  What if we think in terms of not only the values that define policy outcomes but also the virtues that shape policy analysis and implementation? 


2. The Social Justice Wars: Where Does Public Justice Fit?

Richard Mouw, PhD

Richard Mouw argues today that the efforts at promoting social justice within each of the areas of public life will be most effective when they occur in a general societal climate shaped by active patterns of public justice. This aspect isn’t simply about crafting legislation—although the need for laws is often a necessity in guaranteeing that individuals get their “due” in specific areas of civil society. But as Gideon Strauss nicely puts it, public justice also requires “shaping a public life for the common good.” Such a public justice both shapes but is also necessarily less than the totality of what we call social justice today. 


1. Public Justice Review: A Manifesto

Robert Joustra

In this introductory manifesto beginning my time at the Public Justice Review I want to connect, as it were, how this thing we call public justice might fit with the provisional work of public policy, and how this perspective can meaningfully, and purposefully, equip not only Christians but citizens for the public work of the American project. Contrary to the declinists and the pessimists, we are ruthlessly optimistic about that project, and we hope you’ll join us in a clear-eyed but unflinching vision for its own intergenerational reformation and renewal. 


Vol. 8, Issue 1: Families, Nations, and Immigration: Who Comes First?

Stephanie Summers (Contributing Editor)

7. Valuing Families in the Immigration Debate: An Interview with Jenny Yang

Jenny Yang and Chelsea Maxwell

Over the past several weeks the Public Justice Review has been exploring the historical and current reality of family-centered immigration policy. Today, we interview Jenny Yang, who has been working with World Relief for about twelve years. She began her time with World Relief as a case manager in their refugee program providing oversight for their cases and operating as a liaison between the World Relief domestic offices and the US State Department. Now, she serves as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for the organization. In addition to her passion for engaging the Church in considering its role in the national conversation about immigration, she is also passionate about “ensuring that our government provides good structures and laws to ensure that the individuals and families [World Relief] serves are able to thrive.”


6. Faith, Refuge, and Resistance: The Innovations and Impact of the Modern-Day Sanctuary Movement

Catherine E. Wilson

In what ways do faith-based and community organizations serve immigrants and refugees as families in the United States? In this article, Dr. Catherine Wilson examines the role that faith-based organizations play in providing refuge and engaging in acts of nonviolent resistance for immigrant populations at the local level. Using Philadelphia as a case study, Wilson presents distinct kinds of micro-innovations advanced by those organizations involved in the modern-day Sanctuary Movement. 


5. The Memphis Immigration Project: A Testimony

Rondell Treviño

Rondell Treviño, the founder of the Memphis Immigration Project, gives testimony of his own experience and work with immigrant families. Arguing that family unity is a bedrock belief, he tells the story of how his work led to launching a special project in February 2017, a faith based organization that exists to engage issues of immigration from a biblical perspective in order to help the church–a people on a mission - to be better equipped and challenged to think, dialogue, and act biblically about immigration issues.


4. Will Family-Based US Immigration Survive?

Meredith Owen

Families are at the foundation of our nation, yet increasingly family-based immigration services are being challenged. Already in 2014 the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement began to detain mothers and children, in cases separating them to deter others. Family detention, separation, and capricious and retrospective terminations of family unification policies are all major challenges to an immigration system that, Meredith Owen argues, is in desperate need of support and renovation.


3. The Politics of a Shared Meal

Tim Hoiland

When many of us think about, discuss, and take positions on immigration policy, we do so in the abstract. But for families that include husbands and wives, sons and daughters living sin papeles, abstraction is a luxury they cannot afford. When elected officials debate immigration policy, the unity of the family – that “most basic of human institutions” – is seldom part of the conversation but is always at stake. How do we, for whom immigration policy is less of a daily concern, better understand the experience of being undocumented? How might citizens from across the political spectrum better empathize with vulnerable families who are constantly facing impossible choices? Is it possible that the dinner table is where we might learn what it means to be hospitable? 


2. Family Matters in the Deportation Discussion: A Theological Orientation

M. Daniel Carroll R.

At a time of such complex and heated discussions revolving around deportation, it behooves Christians to base their stance on the topic in their Scriptures. This article proposes that consideration of the person of God, the centrality of the family in the Bible, and its consistent concern for widows and orphans are grounds for questioning indiscriminate deportation that leads to family separation. These three scriptural points make it clear that the separation of families is contrary to the person and will of God. 


1. Why Immigration Is First About Families, Not Economics Or Security

Stephanie Summers

In the struggle between family and nation, now at the forefront of our national debate, who gets priority? The state’s power to decide, divide, and deport, is unmatched. But what is the state’s duty in the work of public justice to immigrants and their families? Does the American state, our civil society, its churches or citizens, owe anything to the millions of non-citizen families who reside here?

Center for Public Justice CEO Stephanie Summers serves as our contributing editor in Public Justice Review’s newest series, “Families, Nations, Immigration: Who Comes First?” The series explores what statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper and a long history of the Christian social tradition calls the fundamental community of politics, the family–a frequent and early casualty in the debates over immigration.


Vol. 7, Issue 1: How Should We Then Be Formed? (2018)

Jonathan Chaplin (Contributing Editor)

6. Citizenship as Craft

Rachel Anderson

How can we cultivate the craft of citizenship as an expression of the divinely given vocation to steward and order the earth? In this article, CPJ Fellow Rachel Anderson explores our political calling as Christian citizens and its implications for our practice of the craft of citizenship.

Anderson discusses the principles of CPJ’s innovative pilot curriculum, Political Discipleship, which guides groups through nine sessions of study to undertake one important civic task: generating and asking thoughtful and thought-provoking questions of a political office-holder around a particular issue of concern within the community. Grounded in prayer and reflection, Political Discipleship equips participants to practice citizenship with real stakes, to dialogue with each other about issues that matter, and to engage those with actual political power.

5. Caring for Elected Officials in Our Local Congregations

Jim Talen

Many elected officials find it difficult to engage with their local church congregations about their work in public service or about government and politics in general. In this article, Jim Talen, a Kent County Commissioner, reflects on his experience with this in his own congregation. Talen explores some of the reasons why he thinks this challenge is a reality for so many in elected office. Talen argues that if we recognize the appropriate role of government in our lives, alongside other institutions like families, businesses, schools and churches, then it follows that we can support, in a distinctive way, those in our congregations who labor in the political arena. Exploring what this might look like, Talen offers some suggestions for ways that congregations can support their brothers and sisters who are called to hold public office.


4. Educating the Political Disciple

Dr. Kevin den Dulk

Christians often assume that non-educational institutions, like churches and families, are the primary seedbeds of good citizenship. And while we have given some attention to what good citizens are and why they are necessary, we have not devoted the same critical energy to how we form those citizens through the pedagogies most prevalent in formal education.

In this article, Kevin den Dulk argues that formation is not held by any monopoly, and our schooling systems have unfolded as key cultivators of young citizens. Den Dulk explores the ways that our most prominent educational frameworks reproduce rather than meet key challenges to citizen formation in the current age, highlighting overlooked gaps that should matter to Christians who seek shalom through their citizenship and political discipleship.


3. Terrorism and the Politics of Worship

Dr. Matthew Kaemingk

How do wise and mature Christian citizens respond to national traumas like 9-11 or the events in Charlottesville? How can the church prepare its disciples to follow Jesus into a divided and traumatized world? Does what Christians do together in worship have political consequences? Matthew Kaemingk offers compelling answers to these questions in his article that explores the political nature of worship.

Kaemingk discusses six concrete ways that worship forms Christian citizens to resist the politics of fear, to humble their political agendas, to respond well to trauma, to reach across divides, and to seek and pray for the flourishing of their diverse and divided neighbors. 


2. Re-forming Citizens For A Just Politics

Dr. Jonathan Chaplin

How can the church form disciples for lives of public faithfulness and a politics of solidarity and justice? Jonathan Chaplin responds to that question in this article with a rich theological exploration of the dynamic summons of biblical justice. Chaplin discusses the implications of our being created as justice-seeking people whose God-given desire for and pursuit of justice has been dulled and twisted by the fall.

Chaplin argues that humans need just familial, cultural, economic, and political relationships if they are to fulfill their original calling to be images of God, tending and unfolding creation’s gifts. Therefore, one of the distinctive tasks of the church is to recalibrate our perception of justice and to re-shape and re-form our desire for it, equipping us for the practice of a just politics.


1. Awaiting the King

An interview with James K. A. Smith

Stephanie Summers, CEO of the Center for Public Justice, recently spoke with James K.A. Smith about his newest book Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology, the culminating book in his acclaimed Cultural Liturgies project. Summers and Smith discussed a wide range of ideas including the deformative powers of culture on us as Christians, our society’s move away from a sense of a shared life together, and how the church can be a community of political formation in which worship is central. His book provides a number of thought-provoking starting points that our writers will discuss in this series that explores Christian political formation in a pluralistic society.