Citizen: Your Role In The Alternative Kingdom, by Rob Peabody
[Note: This book was provided by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]
For a variety of reasons that are too lengthy to explain in a book review like this one, I read a large number of books that relate in some fashion to questions of social justice and attempting to show God’s nature in our just and fair dealings in this world . Although I have no knowledge as to how successful these books have been in sales (since I get almost all of my books for free), clearly the fact that Christian publishers publish a large quantity of books relating to social justice suggests that there is a considerable hunger both in teaching about the ethical and moral obligations of living God’s ways in our regular lives as well as considerable desire to learn and apply God’s justice in our lives. This can be true whether we have experienced aspects of brokenness and alienation like being a stranger in a strange land, or experiencing poverty or sexual abuse or economic exploitation (or even all of the above), or whether we are simply observant and sensitive souls who wish to embody the fullness of God’s ways and not merely be weekend warriors for Christ.
There is a lot that this book could stand to add. Often, books like this tend to focus on questions of politics, as well as seek to justify their position on very limited scriptures and a lot of quotations of church fathers as well as other contemporary thinkers. There are grave weaknesses with this approach. For one, many of the church fathers (like Augustine, but hardly limited to him) were particularly inclined to beliefs in the great worth of Hellenism as opposed to the biblical worldview of apostolic Christianity that sprang from the Hebrew scriptures. This particular book cites a considerable number of Church fathers, a few scriptures dealt with rather superficially, and a lot of contemporary believers in Hellenistic Christianity. The book, as does many others of its kind, seeks a wide ecumenical approach to those who agree with certain doctrinal essentials (which often involve a rejection of the biblical doctrines of the Sabbath and the nature of God in exchange for their gnostic/Hellenistic counterfeits). Had the book wished to convince believers of its points, there would have been plenty of good biblical passages it could have examined in detail, if the authors have wished to do so.
Leaving that aside, though, it is important to recognize that this book (and others like it) make an important point that has to be realized. Our faith is not merely to be a matter of private salvation, but it is supposed to have an influence on the way we live every aspect of our lives. The principles of godly justice and righteousness can be found throughout the scriptures, most bluntly in the Law and the Prophets (along with their occasional application in the Gospels and Epistles). These scriptures do require that we treat the outcast and stranger, the fatherless and widows, the poor and the exploited, with respect and compassion, and that we speak and act on their behalf and that we avoid taking advantage of others. This is true whether we look at the law, the prophets, the Gospels, the epistles, or the writings (see, for example, Ruth). Therefore, it remains for those of us who defend the continuing validity of God’s law as a model for Christian behaviors to seek to act justly and to defend the justice of God and not to allow ourselves to be caught up in partisan wrangling that seeks to pit personal morality against social morality when God’s righteousness involves both. Let us therefore follow this book’s call to live justly, to seek love for others, and to show ourselves as the children of God and as citizens of His kingdom by being fit ambassadors of His ways, all aspects this book talks about with passion and eloquence, if indeed not enough specificity about the content of the laws and covenants of the kingdom to which we belong.
 See, for example: