Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Ezekiel 22; Amos 5: 21-24; 8: 4-8; Isaiah 61; Jeremiah: 22:13-17
Like the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. expected faithful action from the church on the issues of injustice facing the world, and he lovingly criticized the church when it failed to fulfill this obligation. In his book, Strength to Love, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the following:
The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
Dr. King challenged people of faith to hold unjust systems accountable and not to be seduced into complacency or collusion. His challenge is grounded clearly in prophetic truth telling found in the Hebrew Bible. To understand the depth of this theme, we encourage clergy to look to the prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Micah, and Amos. These prophets were fierce champions of justice.
Under close observation of these texts, we see Ezekiel condemning the princes, priests, and officials for practicing extortion, oppressing the poor and the needy, and denying justice. We also see Amos who turns to religious leaders and pleads for greater attention to justice. In Amos, Chapter 5 verses 23-24, we hear God’s yearning for action: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
In short, we find time after time in the Hebrew Bible, a litany of stories and testimonies about prophets who are clearly critical of the political, religious, and economic leaders for failing to live up to God’s vision for fairness and justice. Today DART Clergy answer the prophetic call to do justice by organizing their people to powerfully call the systems back to what God created them to be.
For further study on the theme of the Prophetic Call to Do Justice, we encourage you to attend a local DART “Rethinking Justice Workshop”, and to read “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and “The City: A Work in Progress” an article by Dr. Walter Brueggemann.