What faith can offer secular society

Recently we recorded a vlog that sought to answer the question, what can faith offer secular society? This is something worth spending time on as it lies at the heart of what FACES is all about. We believe as people of faith, Christians, and Muslims, that we have something important to offer the secular society we find ourselves in. Hence these further reflections on this important subject.

We believe that as people of faith we have a valuable contribution to make on the topic of justice.

Everyone is calling for justice but there is no consensus of what constitutes justice. As people of faith, we not only recognise the central significance of justice, we also believe faith can help explain what justice is and contribute towards describing what a just society looks like, based on our understanding of a God of justice.

Behind any view of justice lies assumptions about human nature and its purpose, assumptions about morality and how we know things and can justify our beliefs. For us, as people of faith, these are revealed by God in our scriptures rather than just culturally constructed.

If life is just random then there is no purpose. Without an understanding of purpose, it is difficult to motivate people to make sacrifices for the good of others. Currently in society there is a residue of faith thinking but, when that has faded, we are left with little more than a spectrum of philosophies.

This is not to deny that religions have not been drivers of unjust systems and cultures. We would say that is because we have not properly represented our God of justice. We must keep listening and learning.

As people of faith, we believe in:

Community – others have a claim on my wealth, so I must give voluntarily.

The righteous are willing to disadvantage themselves to advantage the community; the wicked are willing to disadvantage the community to advantage themselves. The gleaning laws of the Old Testament are a case in point (Deuteronomy 24:17-22).

Equity: Everyone must be treated equally and with dignity, there is one human race given dignity by God.

You are to have the same law for the foreigner as for the native born” (Leviticus 24:22). Unfair business practises condemned in Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15; Amos 6:5-6.

Corporate responsibility: I am sometimes responsible for and involved in other people’s sins.

For instance, Daniel repenting on behalf of others in Daniel 9.

Individual responsibility: I am finally responsible for all my sins, but not for all my outcomes.

Outcomes are not all due to choices; poverty for example, but we are responsible for how we behave.

Advocacy: We must have special concern for the poor and the marginalized.

We do this because the playing field is not level and we need to give priority for those disadvantaged by it.

Working for justice

This is what motivates us to work towards justice. We start in our own faith communities and then seek to bring justice to the world. We do so with hopeful patience and informed listening but also by giving clear witness. We seek to do this where we see injustice, everywhere the powerful exploit the weak; in the areas of the abuse of children and the area of racism.

In doing so we seek to embrace complexity, learning from victims, recognising individual responsibility alongside systemic issues. We seek to see power dynamics transformed.

As people of faith, we believe we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to contribute to modern society. As FACES we take that responsibility seriously.

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