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David Bokovoy

Social Justice in the Bible

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1. Where does the term "social justice" appear in Psalm 82?

That exact phrase doesn't, but the concept certainly does:

'How long will ye judge unjustly, and respect the persons of the wicked? Judge the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.

Rescue the poor and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither do they understand; they go about in darkness; {N}

all the foundations of the earth are moved.

2. How are you defining the concept?

Justice relating to the well-being of a community and society as an integral whole. Much like this: "the concept of doing 'justice and righteousness' in the literature of ancient Israel and the ancient Near East implies maintaining social justice in the society, so that equality and freedom prevail."

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I am. It simply means trying to create a society based on equality, usually involves a basic acceptance of human rights, and that recognizes basic human dignity. Nothing 'Marxist' or 'Socialist' about it.

Exactly.

A society that strives for social justice is a society that will provide the basic framework, in which justice and equality are valued and nurtured.

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I should add that I mean social justice as opposed to individual justice. You also need to bear in mind that Moshe Weinfeld was not American, and what offends conservative sensibilites for us in Israel is a neutral term.

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Yes, social justice is in the Bible - there is even something saying 'don't oppress hirelings in their wages' or something of that sort. It's definitely there.

At the same time, it's not one sided - the Bible is also very supportive of the concept of working for what you earn, and that if you don't work, you won't earn.

Going back though, it also says that people may not always earn the same for doing the same though, as it is God's wisdom who needs what.

Kinda confusing, but also intriguing =).

I have studied this and here are my conclusions. Take them as you will.

The Lord warns three groups to be careful in society because they can be corrupted more easily: the wealthy, the educated, and the clever.

The Lord condemns only one group, the idler. Whether it's the guys who made millions in his 20's and retired at 31 to a life of complete leisure or the trust fund baby or the government welfare junkie or just the lazy who try to live off hand-outs they are all condemned.

Brigham Young especially condemned what he saw in England where the idle landowners would pay 'what the market would bear' to work their land or factory but was barely enough to keep the laborer alive. He outright condemned the landowners for "stealing" (his word, not mine) from those who worked for him.

At the same time, King Benjamin gave the Lord's command that we are NOT to judge the beggar (because we don't have the knowledge needed to make that judgment) but to make sure he is fed.

The one crime in the Torah to which the Lord reserved the right to punish entirely on his own was to oppress or to ignore cries of the widows and orphans of the land and by the tone of the passage I don't think it was to be a light punishment.

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I am. It simply means trying to create a society based on equality, usually involves a basic acceptance of human rights, and that recognizes basic human dignity. Nothing 'Marxist' or 'Socialist' about it.

And yet the sentence above could have come out of the mouth of Marx himself, or any one of his 20th century disciples. The sheer vagueness of the sentence' meaning is perhaps the problem. Could you define the terms?

I agree with you in regards to answering for their own sins in the end but nevertheless God does often take vengeance on groups.

But only when "ripe in iniquity," which really then means that he's not taking vengeance on the group, but on each individual member of it as a collection of wicked individuals. Conceptually, the "group" has no independent existence or meaning outside of the members that comprise it. A group isn't "wicked", only an individual is.

Only if you insist on giving it the connotations you added to the term. I am for social justice. I don't think I'm for what you mean by the term but I find your definition nebulous.

Then both you and David need to begin using language in a much more precise manner. It might also be a good idea to stop using the traditional term of the progressive Left, if you do not agree with their premises and beliefs.

I suspect that in heaven everyone rejoices at every success and triumph as if it were their own. Every enjoyment, every pleasure, every bit of happiness is shared. Yet we are gloriously individuals partaking in this great bounty together. A theory of mine based on what I've read and experienced.

That's not collective salvation. Indeed, it still isn't in any sense "collective" experience. Each god experiences his joy in others joy individually and in harmony with others. Its "collective" only in the sense that it is experienced among a group of individuals; its not isolated. There is not a "group mind' or collective consciousness in the Celestial world, but many perfect individual minds united in perfect understanding. Even in Heaven the collective is not an entity, or an organism (as in leftist thought), but a collection of individuals in harmony as individuals

through
their perfect exalted attributes.

The Celestial Kingdom, in other words, is not a Borg.

I wasn't talking about the left. I doubt they'd accept your definition of 'social justice'

Yes they would, in private, as its their definition. Rare indeed, is the leftist who would ever tell the truth regarding what he really believes in the public square.

either nor do I believe that they are all so blatantly dishonest and/or ignorant that they believe it to be so

.

Believe what you will. Their books don't exist. Their lectures don't exist. The societies they created never existed. History is an illusion.

I would honestly prefer a more advanced standard of living then we have now and I don't believe living the gospel would lead to technological degradation.

No, but the ideas both you and David espouse, economically speaking, in relation to your highly iconoclastic, fringe (following Nibley) interpretations of the nature of the UO, most certainly would, as would attempting to reinstate the ancient Israelite Jubilee (which again, as the Law of Moses has not been in force for some 2,000 years, shouldn't be a cause for concern).

It might destroy the 'modern economy' as you understand it but I would consider Zion with its consecration infinitely preferable in any case. I suspect Zion would advance more quickly then we are now if it is to grow in beauty, knowledge, and all the rest as prophesied.

I see no reason, no reason whatsoever, to believe that Zion would grow more quickly, or at all, under conditions of hardship, want and poverty. Indeed, the worldwide missionary effort of the Church would largely cease under those circumstances (and as the modern economy collapsed, our health, well being, life expectancy, and opportunities to reach our individual potential as children of our Father in Heaven would be severely truncated (my wife, with her particular set of serious medical problems, would soon be dead in your world (as electricity and other forms of modern energy became scarce and unreliable)). Of course, the environmentalists may just see to that before you and David ever get a chance to.

Still, I'd rather have the gospel then the modern economy. That I do admit.

A false choice, in all likelihood, but you may pose it as you wish.

I don't have a beef with all environmentalism (though some of their actions are too extreme for my taste or are so poorly orchestrated they seem calculated to fail). I am not happy at how much beauty I have seen destroyed in my lifetime to improve efficiency, extract resources, and produce goods and services.

No comment, as it would take up far too much bandwidth and its far too late to go into it.

And I don't agree that decadence is the source of everything opposed to 'dynamic capitalism'.

Civilizational exhaustion and generations of uninterrupted affluence and peace have generated an effete decadence that is the source of precisely the kind of modern society that ceases serious contemplation of the real infirmities and problems of the human condition (individual sin and moral weakness, real enemies both within and outside our borders seeking our destruction), and concentrates most of its energies on the creation of diversionary phantoms such as anthropogenic global warming, overpopulation, and other such "causes" with which to compensate for the loss of serious religion.

The continued chasing of such ideological, political, and psychological phantoms will, if not restrained and brought under control, eventually lead to human calamity and degradation far in excess of the spectral problems such causes and movements were created to address.

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That exact phrase doesn't, but the concept certainly does:

'How long will ye judge unjustly, and respect the persons of the wicked? Judge the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.

Rescue the poor and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither do they understand; they go about in darkness; {N}

all the foundations of the earth are moved.

Fine, but until you define the concept, all of this is rather pointless.

Justice relating to the well-being of a community and society as an integral whole.

What does this mean?

Much like this: "the concept of doing 'justice and righteousness' in the literature of ancient Israel and the ancient Near East implies maintaining social justice in the society, so that equality and freedom prevail."

Very good. Thoroughly vague and completely tautological. Let's let the rubber meet the road here. What do you mean, clearly and in detail, by the term "social justice"?

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The Lord groups people salvationally according to how much fruit they bear or in other words, how productive they are.
I disagree here. The parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard seems to say otherwise.

The mere fact that we are rewarded according to our works proves it. As for the parable, it does not change the requirements for each degree glory in the resurrection, it merely tells us that it does not matter how long we have labored or when we are converted so long as we have produced the required outcome. Dallin H. Oaks, "The Challenge to Become", Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32

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From a biblical perspective, both salvation and morality were very much a communal affair. As witnessed through the priestly performances connected with the Israelite sacrificial system, communal responsibility and salvation represents a fundamental biblical conception.

This fact is also apparent in the Psalms of Communal Lament where Israel accepts communal responsibility for sin and petitions God to forgive the community as a whole. Examples of these psalms include Psalms 44, 74, 80, 83, and, to a lesser degree, Psalms 58, 106, and 125.

"O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old" (Psalm 74:1-2).

In terms of the public performance of these Communal Laments,

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One of the great texts illustrating the biblical view of communal and individual responsibility in maintaing holiness is Isaiah 6:5:

"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."

Isaiah's unworthiness to look upon the Lord of Hosts was due to the fact that his own lips were unclean, and that he was part of a group of people whose "communal" lips were unclean.

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For an LDS analysis of Psalm 24 as a communal prayer circle performance, see

Don Parry

These type of communal religious efforts as reflected through ritual are fundamental to the LDS concept of Zion.

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I should add that I mean social justice as opposed to individual justice. You also need to bear in mind that Moshe Weinfeld was not American, and what offends conservative sensibilites for us in Israel is a neutral term.

I never realized that "social justice" was a bad thing until Glenn Beck started making a big deal about it (and consequently other conservatives as well).

While it is certainly one catch phrase among many in various political crusades, I can't see anything wrong with wanting a just society.

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And yet the sentence above could have come out of the mouth of Marx himself, or any one of his 20th century disciples. The sheer vagueness of the sentence' meaning is perhaps the problem. Could you define the terms?

It could have and Marx would have meant many of the same things I did. I don't imagine Karl Marx to have been some kind of hellspawn. Social justice is what I described. The sentence is only vague if you want to politically spin it. I don't.

But only when "ripe in iniquity," which really then means that he's not taking vengeance on the group, but on each individual member of it as a collection of wicked individuals. Conceptually, the "group" has no independent existence or meaning outside of the members that comprise it. A group isn't "wicked", only an individual is.

No, both are.

Then both you and David need to begin using language in a much more precise manner. It might also be a good idea to stop using the traditional term of the progressive Left, if you do not agree with their premises and beliefs.

It is a traditional term. It means what it means. It includes the basic principles of equality, recognizes the value of human rights, and the dignity of each human.

I don't care how the 'Right' wants to spin what the 'Left' means when they say it.

That's not collective salvation. Indeed, it still isn't in any sense "collective" experience. Each god experiences his joy in others joy individually and in harmony with others. Its "collective" only in the sense that it is experienced among a group of individuals; its not isolated. There is not a "group mind' or collective consciousness in the Celestial world, but many perfect individual minds united in perfect understanding. Even in Heaven the collective is not an entity, or an organism (as in leftist thought), but a collection of individuals in harmony as individuals their perfect exalted attributes.

It is in that I enjoy each of their salvation as much as my own. I think we're quibbling minor points here that neither of us can (or should) speak definitively of unless you have had a lot more revelation on this topic then I have.

The Celestial Kingdom, in other words, is not a Borg.

Of course not. No unsightly cybernetics, no forced addition of unwilling others, no need to improve themselves because they are perfect, and if they do use starships (for recreation?) I expect they would make them more aesthetically pleasing.

Yes they would, in private, as its their definition. Rare indeed, is the leftist who would ever tell the truth regarding what he really believes in the public square.

I don't believe the Left is a conspiracy nor do I think they are hiding some kind of agenda as you seem to.

Believe what you will. Their books don't exist. Their lectures don't exist. The societies they created never existed. History is an illusion.

Wait, what?

No, but the ideas both you and David espouse, economically speaking, in relation to your highly iconoclastic, fringe (following Nibley) interpretations of the nature of the UO, most certainly would, as would attempting to reinstate the ancient Israelite Jubilee (which again, as the Law of Moses has not been in force for some 2,000 years, shouldn't be a cause for concern).

I disagree and as our ideas haven't been tried (with the possible exceptions of a few ancient historical people of whom we have little record) you can't say that definitively. The philosophies of men, including conservative ideology, are as foolishness to God.

I see no reason, no reason whatsoever, to believe that Zion would grow more quickly, or at all, under conditions of hardship, want and poverty.

I don't necessarily either. Nor do I expect that Zion leads to poverty. In fact it is stated that there are "no poor among them". But then, Brigham Young did say at a time where the Saints were impoverished that his biggest fear was:

"The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty and all manner of persecution, and be true. It my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth."

-Brigham Young

Indeed, the worldwide missionary effort of the Church would largely cease under those circumstances (and as the modern economy collapsed, our health, well being, life expectancy, and opportunities to reach our individual potential as children of our Father in Heaven would be severely truncated (my wife, with her particular set of serious medical problems, would soon be dead in your world (as electricity and other forms of modern energy became scarce and unreliable)).

I don't think you've been listening. I don't think Zion leads to a technologically regressive society.

Of course, the environmentalists may just see to that before you and David ever get a chance to.

I don't see how a concern for protecting the beauty of the earth leads to technological regression either.

A false choice, in all likelihood, but you may pose it as you wish.

Most likely, it is a false choice. I expect the final Zion of our God to be more advanced then any civilization that has ever existed.

No comment, as it would take up far too much bandwidth and its far too late to go into it.

Fair enough. We've gone through that dance before anyways.

Civilizational exhaustion and generations of uninterrupted affluence and peace have generated an effete decadence that is the source of precisely the kind of modern society that ceases serious contemplation of the real infirmities and problems of the human condition (individual sin and moral weakness, real enemies both within and outside our borders seeking our destruction), and concentrates most of its energies on the creation of diversionary phantoms such as anthropogenic global warming, overpopulation, and other such "causes" with which to compensate for the loss of serious religion.

Ummm...you do realize we're still only maybe three generations removed from the most devastating war in the history of the planet. We are currently fighting several more. I don't think peace is the problem.

I agree that sin and weakness are problems and would argue they are tied to our problems with enemies. You and I have argued the justice of our current foreign wars too though and I doubt this discussion would go anywhere new.

I also disagree that many of the causes you would call phantoms are phantoms.

The continued chasing of such ideological, political, and psychological phantoms will, if not restrained and brought under control, eventually lead to human calamity and degradation far in excess of the spectral problems such causes and movements were created to address.

They can be a distraction I admit. Sin is our real problem. However I would put unbridled capitalism, excessively unequal distribution of wealth, continued offensive wars to keep us 'safe', the political 'war' between left and right, and other problems in the same category as dangerous distractions from more important concerns. In some cases, they are sins themselves.

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For an LDS analysis of Psalm 24 as a communal prayer circle performance, see

Don Parry

These type of communal religious efforts as reflected through ritual are fundamental to the LDS concept of Zion.

Most of this is clearly over my head, but I do find it interesting.

So, the "social justice" you speak of, is biblical, and has to do with God's people keeping themselves clean and pure...acceptable before God?

This really has little to do with a heterogeneous nation, like America, right?

Hope you don't mind the questions. Just trying to understand.

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Social justice is a doctrine of man. Please don't mingle it with scriptures. Not only does it corrupt the scirptures, but it gets into political topics that we can't discuss o this board.

Let's not try to read our political idealogies into the scriptures, but rather just accept what the scriptures say and do them.

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In regards to Zion economics, I really enjoy the insights from economist Lindon J. Robison:

"Economic Insights from the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1:1 (1992).

"'No Poor Among Them'," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14:1 (2005).

Capitalists have trumpeted the "individual freedom" rhetoric for so long that I think both themselves and their critics have forgotten how collective the market really is. Market systems represent what science writer Matt Ridley calls "collective intelligence: the notion that what determines the inventiveness and rate of cultural change of a population is the amount of interaction between individuals."

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The mere fact that we are rewarded according to our works proves it. As for the parable, it does not change the requirements for each degree glory in the resurrection, it merely tells us that it does not matter how long we have labored or when we are converted so long as we have produced the required outcome. Dallin H. Oaks, "The Challenge to Become", Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32

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I dislike discussing salvation in those terms. It seems one-sided and interested mainly in works. I would say it is more the atonement of Christ working through/with us to cause us to repent and to change us into the desired outcome.

QFT.

If we're going to make the afterlife a meritocracy, we need to be clear about whose merits we're relying on.

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QFT.

If we're going to make the afterlife a meritocracy, we need to be clear about whose merits we're relying on.

I am curious to know how David (and others who are supporting him, including the author book he is promoting) actually define "social justice". As somebody else pointed out, the term "social justice" does not occur in the Bible, but the term justice does. So what is the difference between "justice" (without the prefix "social" added to it), and "justice" with the prefix added to it? What is the difference between plain justice and social justice? Why confuse the issue by substituting a biblical term, which is perfectly adequate for the discussion, with a non-biblical contemporary term with obvious socialist-Marxist overtones

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Once again, let me refer back to Margaret Barker and let her make some clarifications on what certain words in the Bible might mean, in this case, the words are "justice" and "righteousness."

THE ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND RELIGION - http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/Geneva2006.pdf (For some reason, my link button doesn't want to work.)

The Hebrew Scriptures are full of teaching about the glory and wonder of the creation, that everything exists to praise the Creator. The human being has a special role, and this brings great responsibility. This teaching is expressed in the vivid pictures and poetry of a pre-philosophical culture

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Once again, let me refer back to Margaret Barker and let her make some clarifications on what certain words in the Bible might mean, in this case, the words are "justice" and "righteousness."

THE ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND RELIGION - http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/Geneva2006.pdf (For some reason, my link button doesn't want to work.)

Bolding in mine.

That sounds at best like a questionable definition or description, with no exegesis or scripture citations provided.

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Fine, but until you define the concept, all of this is rather pointless.

Apparently, so is talking to walls.

What does this mean?

What it says. Social as an adjective relating to society as opposed to mere individuals.

Very good. Thoroughly vague and completely tautological. Let's let the rubber meet the road here. What do you mean, clearly and in detail, by the term "social justice"?

Ok, you've seen right through my plastic mac. What I really am calling for is a violent take over, lets redistribute all the wealth over and over and over and enforce multi-schizo-culturalism, we must all have only one emotion, the samme emotion, at a time, and all the conservatives will be put to work building a collosal idol to Marx.

To arms, citizens!

Form up your battalions

Let us march, Let us march!

That their impure blood

Should water our fields

Perhaps if you would actually read the posts you would understand what is meant by social justice in the Bible.

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I never realized that "social justice" was a bad thing until Glenn Beck started making a big deal about it (and consequently other conservatives as well).

While it is certainly one catch phrase among many in various political crusades, I can't see anything wrong with wanting a just society.

What, can't you see how diabolical it is?

Seriously though, regardless of whatever baggage it may carry in the US, overseas it is a neutral term, used by right and left alike.

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So what is the difference between "justice" (without the prefix "social" added to it), and "justice" with the prefix added to it? What is the difference between plain justice and social justice?

English stems from a society with a different judicial system to that of the Bible, and carries with it different connotations. Social has to do with a society.

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The terms and concepts David (and a number of others) have used to argue his case here can, contrary to your assertion above, only be understood in terms derived from or similar to a Marxian/leftist template. They are not gospel concepts and do not originate in the Restoration.

It appears in these discussions under this topic that we are always verboten -in our attempt to describe a unique social construct- to use the otherwise very useful words such as communal, cooperative, collective, corporate.

So, in order to play by your rules, what words are we allowed to use in substitution, for instance, to describe Brigham Young's cooperative, collective, and commun-ity?

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Seriously though, regardless of whatever baggage it may carry in the US, overseas it is a neutral term, used by right and left alike.

I try to not let my American upbringing muddy the waters. The uproar over the phrase is a very American response.

EDIT: For those interested, see N.T. Wright, The Last Word: Scripture and the Authority of God--Getting Beyond the Bible Wars (HarperCollins, 2005). As a Brit, he gives an outsider's view of the odd mixture and mating of scripture and political ideology in American society.

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