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. 3, Issue 1: Health and Human Flourishing (2017)

Michelle Kirtley (Contributing Editor)

5. The Way of the Gospel, Health Care, and Religious Freedom

Grattan T. Brown

Why is it important that medical professionals and faith-based health care institutions are not compelled to violate their consciences? Grattan Brown responds to this question by beginning with a rich exploration of the formation of conscience and its critical role in soul-shaping institutional engagement that upholds human flourishing. Brown contends that wide institutional pluralism and protections for religious freedom are particularly necessary in science and medicine, where medical technology offers more power and more options for modifying the body and for curing diseases in the human body and psyche.

This greater power draws into sharper relief both human limitations and fundamental human questions, especially regarding the meaning of suffering and the specific characteristics of human dignity. Institutional pluralism allows for religious and philosophical traditions to help people form their judgments about the real value of new possibilities and to discern what medical interventions and institutional arrangements best assuage suffering or restore health in the patient. 


4. Becoming a Healer

J. Todd Wahrenberger

In the United States, the journey to become a physician is an arduous and expensive process. It shapes and sets most physicians on particular and specialized paths that are very difficult to later change. In this article, Dr. J. Todd Wahrenberger reflects on his path to becoming a primary care physician, now attending to a patient population with severe and persistent mental illness. Although primary care doctors are often the best positioned to provide whole person, integrated care, only about fifteen percent of US medical students choose to enter into a primary care residency. Dr. Wahrenberger discusses current and potential changes in the training process to help more students choose primary care, particularly for vulnerable populations, where integrated care has the potential to significantly reduce health care costs while reaching people with the highest needs. 


3. How Should We Measure Human Flourishing?

Joshua Bombino and Chelsea Langston Bombino

Human flourishing is inextricably connected to the health of individuals and communities, but too often, we only debate health care policy in terms of medical health care and interventions provided after people get sick. But what if our definition of health care took into account social determinants of health such as housing, public transportation, strength of the family unit, and connectedness to civic and spiritual groups? This article explores several initiatives that illustrate a more holistic approach to promoting health and human flourishing. These initiatives draw on strong partnerships and collaborations between government and other civil society institutions to serve the needs of the whole person and whole communities.  Read the article >>


2. How Individualism Undermines Our Health Care

Clarke Cochran

American culture’s commitment to individualism obscures the communal foundations of health care and hinders creative ways to transform a broken and deeply unjust system. In this article, Clarke Cochran explores these communal foundations and argues that our entrenched individualism is particularly problematic in health care and is largely why we are embroiled in this highly contentious, partisan, and emotional debate today. Cochran urges Christian citizens to examine our own individualist assumptions and to advocate for health care policies that advance the well-being of the whole community. 


1. To Repeal or Not to Repeal: Why That Is NOT the Question

Michelle Kirtley

The rancorous debate over health care reform has been reduced to a few provocative and often misleading claims. While health care policy is exceptionally complex and multidimensional, what are some guiding principles that Christians should hold our lawmakers accountable to as they enact changes to our health care policy? In this introduction to the series, Contributing Editor Michelle Kirtley responds to that question and explores how these principles can inform our understanding of the current policies under debate. She argues that applying the principles of human flourishing together with an emphasis on institutional pluralism can inform a compassionate and just health care policy that includes multiple sectors and institutions and can help us ensure a sustainable system for future generations. 


Vol. 2, Issue 1: A Just Welcome (2017)

Matthew Soerens (Contributing Editor)

7. Refugees, Security, and the Task of Government

Steven Meyer and Stephanie Summers

In this final article of the series, Steven Meyer and Stephanie Summers discuss the task of government in responding to the refugee crisis. Meyer and Summers outline the context for the development of US and international agreements regarding refugees and the intended scope of these agreements. In light of that, they argue that we must encourage our government to address two of its important responsibilities simultaneously: that of providing for the security of the nation’s citizens and for the protection for those whose own citizenship must begin afresh elsewhere.


6. A Church's Journey with Refugees: From Sponsors to Friends to Advocates

Claire McWilliams

Claire McWilliams tells the compelling story of how her church congregation has partnered with a resettlement agency in Chicago to welcome a family from Homs, Syria. As cosponsors with the agency, the church community has provided the family with emotional and social support as they adjust to their new life. McWilliams describes how transformational this relationship with the refugee family has been, and how it has been a catalyst for action and advocacy on behalf of the larger refugee community.  


5. The Religious Act of Welcoming the Stranger

Chelsea Langston Bombino

The elements of President Trump’s Executive Orders that pertain to refugees raise a number of questions about the right roles and responsibilities of the government, churches, organizations, and citizens in responding to the refugee crisis. In this article, Chelsea Langston Bombino discusses how the biblical call to “welcome the stranger” has particular implications for faith-based organizations serving refugees. She argues that helping to resettle refugees is a key response to this call, and the limits placed on refugees entering the country limits the abilities of faith-based organizations to exercise one of the core tenants of their faith. 


4. Refugees and the Politics of Holy Week

Matthew Kaemingk

This week, as we remember Jesus Christ’s final days on earth leading up to his death and resurrection, Matthew Kaemingk explores the political implications that Holy Week has for how we respond to refugees. Drawing on examples from the Dutch experience with refugees, and challenging the polarizing ideologies of nationalism and multiculturalism that have shaped the debate in the United States, Kaemingk reflects on five key spaces where Jesus demonstrates his alternative politics of hospitality. 


3. The Memory of One Drowned Boy: Canada's Response to the Global Refugee Crisis

Paul S. Rowe

Canadian culture and values are closely intertwined with those of the United States, and many of the same concerns and debates about refugees taking place in the United States are taking place in Canada as well. However, Canada’s overall response to the global refugee crisis and its commitment to refugee resettlement differs in a number of ways from that of the United States. In this article, Paul Rowe discusses these differences and explains how Canadians’ faith, culture, and political views have shaped their response. 


2. From Dislocation to Resettlement

Stina Kielsmeier-Cook

The refugee journey, from the time of dislocation to eventual resettlement, is arduous and fraught with complexity and uncertainty. In this article, Stina Kielsmeier-Cook describes the lengthy process through which refugees are processed and vetted as they struggle to secure safety and stability for themselves and their families. In particular, Kielsmeier-Cook focuses on the vetting process for refugee resettlement in the United States that has come under significant scrutiny lately. 


1. A Crisis and an Opportunity

Matthew Soerens

The number of refugees around the world has soared in recent years as millions of people have fled violence, persecution, and political upheaval in their home countries. As the world grapples with this crisis, the question arises: what does it mean to uphold public justice for refugees? In his introduction to the series, Contributing Editor Matthew Soerens describes the crisis and outlines the theological principles for how Christians should respond. Soerens also introduces some of the other issues to be explored in this series that inform the prudential determinations Christians must make to extend a just welcome to refugees.  


Vol. 1, Issue 1: Distinctive Christian Citizenship(2017)

Timothy Sherratt (Contributing Editor)

7. Flourishing in a Pluralist World

Bryan T. McGraw

How can we live together in the context of deep moral and religious differences, and can we flourish together in a society where we don’t agree on what it means to flourish? In this article, Bryan McGraw explores the various ways these questions have been answered with either exaggerated emphasis on commonality or a blanket celebration of diversity. McGraw suggests that we pursue the goal of “reflective discomfort” that sees pluralism, and its conflicts, clearly. In doing so, we can see where our commitments run up against those of others and where they can coexist and even complement. 


6. Protecting Minority Voting Rights

Kimberly H. Conger

In the second of two articles about loving our neighbors through politics, Kimberly Conger highlights the injustice of voter suppression among the poor and racial and ethnic minorities. Describing this intentional structural injustice that limits access to the ballot, Conger outlines concrete actions that we can take to ensure that our democracy appropriately values and upholds justice for these minorities and allows those voters a voice and representation in the political system.


5. Loving Our Neighbors Through Politics

Katie Thompson

In this first of two articles on loving our neighbors through politics, Katie Thompson tells the compelling story of how a faith community in Arizona addressed a major injustice through their political engagement. The work of this group of Christian citizens to help achieve a legislative victory against the predatory lending industry in their state teaches us powerful lessons about how we can seek the flourishing of our communities through the political process.


4. Citizenship in Community

Rachel Anderson

Many of us feel isolated in our calling to citizenship. While we may occasionally participate in marches or demonstrations, we largely live out our political lives as individuals, and not as a community. This individualism often leads to disappointment and a sense that our voice and action make no difference. In this article, Rachel Anderson outlines an inspiring vision for citizenship cultivated in community, sustained by a number of practices that can help us work together to pursue God’s good purposes for our political communities.


3. Political Discipleship for the Common Good

William Edgar

What does it mean to follow Jesus as a political disciple? Christians have responded to this question in a variety of ways, and after the contentious election season, disengagement or withdrawal into Christian community have been compelling options. In this article, Bill Edgar urges us to do otherwise, arguing that our political discipleship means deep engagement in the varied institutions we have inherited, rooted in Creation, with a view to fostering obedience to the Lord in each.


2. God's Good Purpose for Authority

Timothy Sherratt

The transfer of power and authority to a new administration naturally heightens interest and anxiety over the direction that the country will go. In this article, Timothy Sherratt explores the gift of authority and God’s good purposes for its use. As a new administration takes office in a political culture that often regards authority as a synonym for oppression, how might a Christian understanding of authority as a gift for human flourishing stand out?


1. Distinctive Christian Citizenship

Stephanie Summers

In this first article of the inaugural series of CPJ’s Public Justice Review, Stephanie Summers poses the question, “Is there such a thing as distinctive Christian citizenship?” The painful and contentious 2016 election season and the uncertain political landscape ahead has left many Christians wondering how best to live out their calling as citizens who faithfully pursue God’s good purposes for their political community. Summers responds to this question with two foundational principles and looks ahead to the important questions that the authors of the series will explore in the coming weeks.