Friday, October 16, 2009

The characters of covenantal justice

Max L. Stackhouse's article on covenantal justice underlines the covenant between God and his people. According to him, the purpose for this covenant is to direct the world to acquire its intended glory.

"This God’s laws and ends do not change from age to age, even if our understandings of them do. This God limits the divine capacity for infinite freedom and does not alter the basic pattern of existence whereby life is sustained, even if that life is always changing. Yet this God also may freely blot out human failures to live up to what is required, and reaches out again and again, dynamically renewing the covenants of life by seeking to restore the principalities and powers to their intended form and end so that those who live within them live more responsibly in relationship to God and neighbor."

Stackhouse lays out further the character of this covenant as "stable and dynamic" on one end, while "pre-given yet unfinished" on the other.

'Stable' because God is self-sufficient, and hence when he says that he is for his people, his promise remains. 'Dynamic' because his people are not self-sufficient. And when his people at different time and place encounter his covenant, they adjust.

'Pre-given' because we cannot explain values and morality. Therefore the givenness of the covenant which humans are still debating over and over is assumed. 'Unfinished' because we don't know what how exactly the end glory will be, and when that end will come. That implies that we shall not have the final say of what the end will be like. However there should not be tentative say about the end.

The covenantal justice testifies to God's continuous acts of restoration of social, economic, and political systems. The covenant reaches out to humanity beyond our tinted past and the unforeseen future, from within our own experiences of the fallen reality and aspiration for a better one. In the scale of a local multi-ethnic community, this outreach widens our openness and acceptance of individual differences and liberty, with a firm and prudent recognition of responsibility we owe to our creator, neighbor, and nature.

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