Education for Justice in the Christian Faith
The unprecedented degrees and forms of injustice and inequality found in the world today call for renewed concern to educate for justice derived from critical reflection on the complexities of our present social reality. Responding to this pressing need, this dissertation is built on the premise that the central criterion of Christian living in the contemporary world should be the pursuit of justice; in this pursuit, the role of Christian religious education, in a life-giving way, is more crucial than ever. This dissertation seeks a theological rationale and a pedagogical approach that promote a critical social consciousness and a commitment to work for justice out of compassion as prompted by Christian faith. Grounded in Jesus’s vision of the Reign of God, the Christian faith should attest that compassion and justice are integral to each other; justice must always be realized through compassion, and compassion ever needs to reach into the works of justice. Affirming such compassion-motivated justice in the Christian faith as care for others and commitment to the common good, this dissertation offers a reflective discourse and aims to renew an educational vision of being fully human in terms of the pursuit of justice. Rather than a theoretical delving into the definition of justice as an abstract concept, this dissertation addresses the questions of why justice matters, what justice should be sought in our historical context from a Christian perspective, and what crucial role Christian religious education can play in this quest. Chapter 1 investigates the hindrances to education for justice in faith found both in our sociocultural context and in distortedly shaped Christian faith. The following three chapters explore the constituent aspects of compassion-motivated justice in Christian faith in terms of partiality, emotion, and agency. These are in contrast with three tendencies commonly associated with understanding justice—impartiality, undue rationality, and impersonal principles— respectively. Chapter 2 emphasizes Jesus’ vision of the Reign of God as the foundation for Christians’ pursuit of justice and the contemporary theological attentiveness to the reality of unjust suffering. Chapter 3 discusses the possibility of compassionate anger in the face of social injustice as a constructive force for commitment to the work of justice. Particularly drawing upon John Wesley’s thought, Chapter 4 examines Methodism’s unique understanding of human agency in a dialectic relationship with God’s grace, and with emphasis on a person’s authenticity and integrity in seeking social transformation. Chapter 5 searches for a pedagogical approach to shape Christians’ commitments to the work of compassionate justice by promoting a way of knowing as praxis with which to integrate personal and social transformations in a life of lived Christian faith.