Book Review: Is Justice Possible?

Is Justice Possible?:  The Elusive Pursuit Of What Is Right, by J. Paul Nyquist

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

If you view this book as a call to mercy and reform of the legal system [1] in ways that cut against the partisan grains of our time, and appreciate that, then you will likely enjoy this book as much as I did.  This is a book written with an agenda, but the agenda is not a partisan one even if it is highly political in nature.  Much of this book feels like a consistent appeal for a legal order that corresponds to a culture of life, one that seeks opportunities for redemption for those who have done wrong and paid the price, even as it seeks to defend what it sees a biblical worldview that pays special concern for the vulnerable of society–migrants, the unborn, the poor, minorities.  Fortunately, the author shows enough concern for godly morality to make the book’s obvious desire to appeal to issues of social justice easier to support wholeheartedly.  This is a book whose desires for justice are not mere left-wing pandering, and that is quite a relief.

In about 150 pages or so the author discusses justice while focusing on issues of the creation and enforcement of those laws.  The author starts by pointing out that God is the starting point of justice and not man, but that mankind has a role in living justly and enforcing standards of justice that we all too often fall short of.  The author then gives four reasons why justice is elusive:  we make unjust laws (legislative), we have limited knowledge (cognitive), we have darkened understanding (spiritual), and we have implicit bias (neurological).  These reasons hit home, and then the author then turns to the question of how we should do justice given the enduring divine requirement in the political, public, and personal arenas.  The fourth part of the book ends this challenging book in a discussion of how we will finally see justice in the reign of the just king Jesus and receive the verdict of the righteous judge in the final judgment.  An afterward as well as resources for participating in efforts at showing mercy to former prisoners follows, pointing the reader to apply the book’s discussion in personal activism and community service.

This book is a powerful discussion of what makes justice elusive–ourselves.  Without pandering to the supposed insights of philosophers, this is a book that is both uncompromising in its defense of the biblical ethic as well urging mercy for fellow sinners and evildoers, people not so much unlike ourselves.  In reading this book I get the feeling that this book is being written to white Christians of at least middle class background who have had a life that is filled with the blessings of intact families as well as education and a generally high degree of blessing, but who have the idealism that would lead them to support a more just world for those who have not been so fortunate due to circumstances beyond their control.  This is a book that combines an appeal for the legitimacy of the Christian moral worldview while also pointing out that the biblical worldview includes a concern for those who are vulnerable and outsiders within society, concerns that are not always addressed by those who claim to be Christians in the public sphere.  Rising above the false dilemma of social justice on the left and a personal morality combined with a certain degree of harshness towards the poor and unfortunate on the right, this book is a good example of how to strive for justice in our imperfect world.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Book Review: Is Justice Possible?

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Life In Community | Edge Induced Cohesion

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