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Ben Leslie

Perhaps a better New Testament partner for the prayer of Jabez is not a prayer at all, but the parable of the Good Samaritan. There are perhaps a few, a very few, Christian readers left who have yet to experience the hype surrounding Bruce Wilkinson’s best-selling book The Prayer of Jabez,which first appeared in April […] Read More

Perhaps the poor will always be with us. And consequently, so must the merciful acts of Christian believers. After falling for four consecutive years, the official poverty rate in the United States rose from 11.3 to 11.7 percent in 2001. That translates into an additional 1.3 million human beings adding their number to a crowd […] Read More

In my hometown of Sioux Falls, S.D., a new initiative is under way allowing juveniles charged with a first-time misdemeanor to appear before a jury of other teens who will determine their sentence. Upon reading the proposal, I confess that my first reaction was disbelief. At best it sounded like a solution looking for a […] Read More

Sing a Song of Justice

Is social justice an appropriate theme for Christian worship, hymns and songs? If the Bible is our guide, then the answer can only be yes. A brief sampling of Scripture’s own hymnal, the book of Psalms, easily makes the case.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />  Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; […] Read More

Over the next few weeks, nearly 3 million Americans will receive a high school diploma. If recent trends continue, record numbers of them will enter programs preparing for praiseworthy careers in law, health care and business. There is another statistical trend, however, which is less encouraging—the decline in the number of students preparing for careers […] Read More

It was near the end of a semester in Christian ethics, and one of the students had never quite accepted the church’s obligation to the poor and the oppressed. He summarized his frustration this way: “Give a hungry man a meal, and you keep him alive for a day. Share the gospel, and you offer […] Read More

The resurgence of interest in spiritual practices signifies renewal in the church. But as Augustine recognized centuries ago, there is no value so good that it escapes the possibility of its own distortion. Spiritual practices have enjoyed a heightened appreciation over the last 30 or so years. Whether in response to the Christian secularism of […] Read More

The charismatic Hindu leader of India’s struggle for independence might appear an unlikely source for Baptist reflection on the ethics of social justice. But, Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) has already shaped Baptist life in a variety of ways. Gandhi’s most enduring contribution to the theory and practice of social reform is his principle of nonviolent resistance. […] Read More

Social justice is not the first thing most Americans associate with Baptist churches. Even among Baptists the connection is not a strong one. Yet, Baptists have consistently struggled for a more just society. Baptist progenitor Roger Williams advocated for Native Americans. Baptist theologian Walter Rauschenbusch struggled for the “social gospel.” Martin Luther King Jr. and […] Read More