When I was in my late teens, I believed that salvation was all about having a personal relationship with Jesus so I would get to heaven when I die and avoid hell. While social justice was good, it was not the main game, as people’s eternal destiny was surely infinitely more important.
I don’t believe that today. I still believe that a personal relationship with Jesus is crucial – the human heart needs just as much renewal as society does – but today I believe that any ‘salvation’ that stops there is not biblical and is not honouring God for who God is. Any kind of ‘salvation’ that stops at a personal relationship with Jesus is too small and does not understand how much God loves everything that God made. Salvation is spiritual, sure, and it is physical, emotional and social as well.
In September 2010, World Vision Australia held a theological forum looking at the question of what social justice has to do with salvation. The speakers were Tim Foster from Ridley College, Merrill Kitchen, former Principal of the Churches of Christ Theological College, and Siu Fung Wu from World Vision. Each of them gave a presentation on their view of the topic, and papers of each of their presentations, along with a response by me, have now been published online in Ridley College’s Centre for Applied Christian Ethics paper, BriefCACE. Click here to check them out.