Friday, 29 July 2016

JESUS AND JUSTICE: A 10 Point Reflection

By Njonjo Mue

Recently, I've been reflecting on the subject of Jesus and Justice. I am still walking along this exciting journey, but I have reached a few tentative conclusions which I'd like to share with you:

1. Our God is a God of justice. As the Old Testament reminds us, justice is the foundation of his throne.

2. Many people, and even whole societies, that claim to be Christian deny this foundational attribute of God in their actions, if not by their words. They preach and practice an incomplete gospel of individual salvation without any reference to the social implications of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. 

3. Whether you embrace the purely individual gospel or the holistic gospel referred to in 2. above depends in part on your Christology and your eschatology.

4. If your Christology emphasises only the deity of Jesus Christ and his triumphant resurrection, you are likely to miss out on what God has to say about the pursuit of justice in the here and now and instead merely focus on defending Christ's deity while ignoring or excusing injustice and encouraging yourself and victims of injustice to await the second coming of Christ when all wrongs shall be made right. 

5. Your eschatology is also likely to point only to a future end-time  when all things will be made right with the return of Christ instead of getting actively involved in the pursuit of a more just world in the here and now. 

6. But if in addition to acknowledging the deity, resurrection and return of Christ, we also recognise him as a very human servant of God who spoke prophetically to the unjust religious and political authorities of his time,

7 And if we can be inspired by his bodily suffering due to the injustice he encountered and endured, yet overcame,

8. And if our eschatology not only looks to the establishment of God's kingdom in some distant future, but as an ongoing and unfolding reality, 

9. Then we begin to see ourselves not just as lucky members of a privileged club of the 'saved' whose tickets to heaven have been booked and who can therefore sit back and relax while we await the trip aboard 'Rapture Airlines'; we instead come to understand our mandate to work for the creation of a new cosmic and social order in the here and now that is radically different from the one over which the powers and principalities of this world preside. 

10. As the author Jerry Folk writes in his book, 'Doing Theology, Doing Justice', "Those who live in and preside over this world are perhaps willing to accept the idea of God's reign coming sometime - but not here, and not now. Yet it is precisely this here-and-nowness that Jesus announces.... The life, death and resurrection of Jesus calls the new creation into existence here and now, in the midst of the old.... The old is already beginning to pass away. It is the presence of this end-time reality here and now that principalities and powers object to, not the abstract idea of an end time."

Friday, 22 July 2016

DR. WILLY MUTUNGA: A FRIEND, A MENTOR, A SOLDIER OF JUSTICE

I was privileged on 18th July 2016 to say a few words on behalf of ICJ-Kenya and the wider civil society community at a farewell party for Dr. Willy Mutunga as he retires as Kenya's Chief Justice. Here's a transcript of what I had to say:

Thank you Willy for mentoring many of us, for me, from when I was a foot soldier in the street battles in the early push for a people-driven constitution-making process in the mid-1990s. Although we were impatient, hot-blooded, young men and women then, we went out onto the streets knowing that you, our leaders, always had our backs, and we could be patient with your leadership as we knew that throughout, you had the interests of Kenyans at heart.
On behalf of ICJ-Kenya, whose board I am privileged to chair, I wish to thank you that during your leadership of the judiciary, you have made life much easier for us and for all other CSOs that work on judicial reforms. You have made justice more accessible to the poor and the marginalised by operationalising the Court Users Committees (CUCs), and you have demystified the office of the of the Chief Justice by maintaining an open-door policy. Thank you for the work you have done to humanise the judiciary.
I want to congratulate KHRC for convening such a diverse range of civil society actors here tonight. There are colleagues here whom I have not seen in years! This is a testament to the many colleagues who call Willy a mentor and a friend. But while we meet here tonight to celebrate one Willy, I remind us that just two weeks ago, this community came together again to mourn another Willy - Willy Kimani who alongside his client Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver Joseph Muiruri - was brutally murdered in a case of extra-judicial killings allegedly by the police. Their tragic deaths are a stark reminder that although we now have one of the best constitutions in the world, the struggle to create a truly just, peaceful and democratic society is far from won. We re-commit ourselves to this struggle and to staying true to the cause until the battle for constitutionalism is won.
Freedom fighters tend to make terrible post-independence leaders This is because they come to office with a sense of entitlement and once they discover that they do not have what it takes to lead their followers in the new dispensation, they try to make up for it by unlawfully extending their stay in power. Our continent is not short of examples of this kind of leader.
But Willy Mutunga has proved to be the exception. Not only was he a freedom fighter offering great leadership to the constitution-making process in the 1990s, but he went on to become a great first Chief Justice in the new constitutional dispensation. And when he had made his contribution, although many would have been delighted to have him stay on until his retirement age in a year's time, he chose to leave in good time to give the JSC time to recruit his replacement well ahead of the next General Election. ICJ-K expects no less transparency in the process of recruiting the next CJ than the process that gave us Willy Mutunga.
And so tonight, as a great man leaves to go and do more great things, I am not here to say farewell because Willy Mutunga, you are really not going anywhere. But as a solder of justice, you are merely going on to march with a different detachment of the same army to which we all belong. For now I can only wish you God's blessings and guidance in that next season of your life of service.
I thank you