The ‘Thesis’ statement of Romans, part 1; the 11thand 12th occurrences of ‘pistis/faith’ in this letter/book. “God’s saving justice was witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, but now it has been revealed altogether apart from law: God’s saving justice given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22 New Jerusalem Version.
It is a difficult thing for the modern mind to grip— this thing of Justice and Righteousness being one and the same. Most especially among the English speaking people of the earth. Again, it is the New Testament Theologian C. H. Dodd who reminds us, yea even calls it ’embarrassing’ that the English language has not given provision for a proper translation of this biblical word when it is used as ‘just’.
Look then, at the Philosophical writings of Plato where he discusses the character of a good city. Some recognize this as the very first citing of ‘4 Virtues’ when he states that “clearly this (good city) will be wise, brave, temperate and just.” Others who dig deeper find the non-canonized book ‘The Wisdom of Solomon’ where 8:7 reads: “(Wisdom) teaches temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life.”
It is no small thing, then, that the Church Fathers would institute as a very fundamental part of the teachings of Christianity these ‘Virtues’ as a means of transmitting life in faith. Among those early Christian scholars, Ambrose is seen as having first used ‘Cardinal’ as he too, named 4: “temperance, justice, prudence, fortitude”. Augustine offers a definition of each and all four using the word “Love”.
Saturday, I attended the “100 City National Day of Action Vigils” which is driven by ‘race’, but is clearly a ‘call for justice’. In looking at the crowds that gathered across this nation— from New York City where Organizer, Rev. Al Sharpton and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother were met by Jay-Z and Beyonce among others; to Atlanta’s MLK Jr. Federal Bldg; Los Angeles; Nashville; Philadelphia; New Orleans —I could see the call to ‘Justice’ and the ‘righteous’ indignation coming together to find it’s telos.
So much so, that US Attorney General Eric Holder from the Nation’s Department of Justice made an appearance in Nashville. But, even as I look at the faces of the local Pastors who met with him, I have a more grave concern for the (Black) Church’s failure to transmit these “4 Cardinal Virtues” to a generation in dire need of ‘THIS Faith’. In Chicago, black youth are killing black youth. In Cleveland, black men are killing black women. When we talk “100 cities” we talk ‘interconnectedness’! And the fact that it can, and it will happen in Nashville! Instead of killing and dying— “The JUST shall LIVE by FAITH”.
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