Many Christians and churches are rediscovering that God cares deeply about justice, but opinions abound as to what an approach to biblical justice might look like in contemporary society. What exactly does the Bible mean by justice, and what does it have to do with poverty, racism, and other issues in our world? More importantly, how do we become the kind of people who practice justice?
Biblical scholar Michael Rhodes argues that the Bible offers a vision of justice-oriented discipleship that is critical for the formation of God's people. Grounded in biblical theology, virtue ethics, and his own experiences, he shows that justice is central to the Bible, central to Jesus, and central to authentic Christian discipleship. Justice stands at the heart of Scripture. Following Jesus demands that we become just disciples in an unjust world.
"The voice of Michael Rhodes is fresh, clear, and strong. With a deep foundation in theology and a strong grasp of biblical scholarship, he skillfully brings texts from across the scriptural canon to bear on contemporary issues of racial and economic justice. Writing in an accessible style with plentiful examples, Rhodes issues a timely challenge to the church to become just people in a deeply unjust world. I recommend this book highly: it is a creative and provocative invitation to embark on a journey of change."
"Jesus says that the kingdom is not for all who say 'Lord, Lord,' but for those 'who do the will of my Father.' Just Discipleship takes seriously Jesus' call to heed the Father's will by tapping into the justice-rich lodes that fill Scripture's pages. Rhodes's study is deeply personal, rigorously exegetical, and inspiring. Rather than leaving readers depleted and disheartened by the insurmountable problems of injustice, Just Discipleship will leave readers captivated by the gospel's scope and vision for holistic discipleship. I pray that churches—especially those with privileged legacies—take up the challenges and opportunities that this book offers."
"It is rare to find scholars with expertise and experience in biblical studies, theology and ethics, and practical theology. Michael Rhodes is among them, and in Just Discipleship he demonstrates how all these disciplines contribute to our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Rhodes models how Scripture is to be read theologically and missionally, and in doing so he provides clear direction for those on the path of discipleship today. All followers of Jesus will benefit from this book."
"This timely volume is born out of personal involvement in race relations, grounded in insightful readings of passages across the breadth of Scripture, and concrete in its applications. The topic is discipleship, which Rhodes convincingly defines as the formation of the people of God around the virtue of justice. This is a clarion call to faithfully, wisely, and courageously embody God's justice within the socioeconomic and political realities of life. A necessary and supremely helpful book!"
"The church today urgently needs to be discipled by the Scripture's vision for justice. Michael Rhodes illuminates passages across the Old and New Testaments to show how the call to justice is central to God's vision for the community of faith. It will challenge pastors, seminary students, and many others to discover a costly but rewarding vocation."
"One of the things that most impressed me about Just Discipleship is the diversity of voices that Michael Rhodes engages with to both inform and challenge readers. The author engages in rigorous biblical, theological, and missiological analysis without being pedantic. Rhodes is a wise, compassionate guide for any and all who desire clarity on what the notion of justice can mean for contemporary Bible readers."
"With admirable clarity, wide learning, and practical conviction, Just Discipleship narrates justice as a biblical story, one located in the rich details of Scripture, the deep history of Israel and the church, and the virtuous lives of ordinary people. At once powerfully convicting and unfailingly gracious, this book invites readers to encounter a conversation with God as clear-eyed prophet and gentle teacher."
"True to one of his dominant passions, Michael Rhodes has provided another feast of applied biblical insight on what it means to live out the justice of God in our fallen world. There are some whose handling of Scripture is creative but unconvincing. This book is not only freshly creative in exploring the formative power of a wide range of texts, but also challengingly convincing in applying their ethical and missional demands. Rhodes combines faithfulness to the centrality of the gospel, thorough biblical scholarship, and the courage of prophetic critique."
"Michael Rhodes's exploration of justice is real and insightful, born out of hard-learned lessons, careful theological inquiry, and humility. He speaks concretely from his life and work—giving his book clarity and power—without straying from the conspicuous and unyielding call of Scripture to embrace 'justice and righteousness.' Just Discipleship sounds its own clarion call for those who have neglected justice as an essential category of discipleship and welcomes them into a conversation about how God's people might be more faithful disciples in an unjust world."
"Upon reading this book, my first thought was, My elders, deacons, and congregation must read this! Any Christian who does not understand that the Scriptures call them to deep relationships of economic solidarity will understand by the end of their reading of Michael Rhodes's excellent text. Bringing together Scriptural texts not often looked to for ethical guidance, such as Job, the Psalms, and Deuteronomy, Rhodes reminds us that the people of God are a people, and the way of comprehensive salvation requires a deeper understanding of justice and community than is currently broadly on offer."
Part I: Just Discipleship: Mapping the Terrain
1. The Story Behind (and the Story of) this Book
2. "Justice to Victory": Reclaiming the Old, Old Story
3. Becoming Just: Mapping Moral Discipleship
Part II: Becoming Just Disciples
4. Consuming Character: Justice Begins at the Feast
5. Singing Our Way Towards Justice
6. Justice without Wisdom is Powerless, Wisdom without Justice is Predatory
7. Becoming Just in the Meantime: The Gift and Task of Discipleship in 1 John
Part III: Becoming a Just People
8. A (Jubilee) Case for (Ecclesial) Reparations?
9. Justice on the Way: Jubilary Improvisation in Ever-Changing Circumstances
10. Re-Arranging the Chairs in the Beloved Community: Just Discipleship and the Multi-Ethnic Church
Part IV: Discipling Politics: Just Discipleship Amidst the Nations
11. Into Egypt: Contemporary Evangelical Politics and "The Joseph Option"
12. Embracing the Daniel Option: Moral Discipleship for the Exercise of Political Power
13. "For the Joy Set Before Us": Concluding Reflections on Just Discipleship