Spectrum of social justice


Good Samaritan story

The gospel story does not attempt to survey the causes of highway banditry. The Samaritan provides temporary and immediate relief to someone in need.

Social service . . . Charity

  • private, individual acts
  • responds to immediate need
  • provides direct service:
    food, clothing, shelter
  • directed at the effects of
    injustice (symptoms)
  • usually noncontroversial


Homeless shelters, food pantries, clothing drives, emergency collections.


Exodus story

Moses does not ask for food and medicine for the laborers. He challenges the institutional system of slavery. Message: "Let God's people go."

Social change . . . Justice

  • public, collective actions
  • responds to long-term need
  • promotes social change in
  • directed at the root causes of
    injustice (search for cure)
  • often controversial


Legislative advocacy, changing a corporate policy, church-based community organizing.

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