The Justice Calling

Where Passion Meets Perseverance

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Justice requires perseverance--a deep perseverance we can't muster on our own. The needs in our world are staggering and even the most passion-driven reactions, strategies, and good intentions can falter. But we serve a God who never falters, a God who sees all the needs, hears all the cries, and gives strength--through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit--to his people.

The Justice Calling draws us into the whole story of Scripture, inviting us to know more intimately the God who loves justice and calls us to give our lives to seek the flourishing of others.

Weaving together a comprehensive biblical theology of justice, authors Hoang and Johnson build on the whole of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation as they explore stories of injustice around the globe today. They spur Christians to root their passion for justice in persevering hope, fueled by knowing the God of rescue and restoration. The book also includes invitations to practices that can further form readers into people who join God's work of setting things right in the world. Now in paper with an added reader's guide.

Introduction: Justice and God
1. Engage the Whole Story
Justice and Righteousness
2. Receive God's Vision of Flourishing
Justice and Creation
3. Move toward Darkness
Justice and the Fall
4. Lament
Justice and Israel
5. Live as Saints (Not Heroes)
Justice and Jesus
6. Be Sanctified and Sent
Justice and the Church
7. Persevere in Hope
Justice and All Things Becoming New
Conclusion: Abide in Jesus
Justice and Perseverance


"This is a deep, wide, wise contribution to a truly comprehensive Christian understanding of justice. I can't imagine a better biblical and theological introduction to the topic of justice, combined with pastoral wisdom and the urgency that comes from direct engagement with the brokenness of our world."

Andy Crouch, executive editor, Christianity Today; author of Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power

"I suspect that The Justice Calling will become one of those books I turn to again and again. Its message is grounded not only in a few key biblical texts but in the full story of God's people from Genesis to Revelation. Weaving biblical truth with personal experience, the authors lead us from God's glorious vision of human flourishing, through the fall and our need to lament, to Jesus's renewed call to his church, and finally to the restored vision of 'all things made new.' As one seeking to live justly in places of deep brokenness and violent conflict, I am grateful for the thread that stitches this whole book together: the possibility and promise of persevering hope."

Lynne Hybels, advocate for global engagement, Willow Creek Community Church

"Many books on justice have appeared in recent years. Three things make this one stand out from the crowd. First, instead of quoting only a few golden nuggets from Scripture, the authors trace the theme of justice throughout Scripture. Second, they give concreteness to their discussion with harrowing true-life stories of present-day sex trafficking and slavery. And third, they explicitly address the need of those who struggle for justice, patience, lament, and hope. An important contribution."

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University; senior research fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

"We live in a time when conversations surrounding justice have become celebrated in the church. For this, we should all be grateful. But if we're not careful, the pursuit of justice can become more about us than about responding to the heart and character of God. In The Justice Calling, Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson have written a resource for the church that is theologically rich, biblically faithful, and practically engaging. I'm genuinely inspired by this book and pray that it will encourage, challenge, and inspire others not only to the work of justice but also to the God of justice."

Eugene Cho, senior pastor, Quest Church; founder, One Day's Wages; author of Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

"This is a powerful and timely book that shows us why the God of justice must be at the center of the justice movement in this generation. The authors have combined their years of national and global experience along with deep theological reflection to produce one of the best biblical theologies on justice that I've ever read. As an advocate for justice and racial reconciliation, I highly recommend it!"

Brenda Salter McNeil, associate professor of reconciliation studies, Seattle Pacific University; author of Roadmap to Reconciliation and A Credible Witness

"There is so much joy to be found as we follow God into his work of justice, so much strength to be gained in the Scriptures that he's given to us. The Justice Calling takes us deep into all of these gifts. As we face down the giants of injustice in the season ahead, this is a book I'd urge every follower of Jesus to dig into and carry close at hand."

Gary A. Haugen, president and CEO, International Justice Mission; author of The Locust Effect

"We often think justice is merely standing against and stopping what is wrong. It is no less than that, but it is far more. With tender passion and immense wisdom, Bethany Hoang and Kristen Johnson invite us to see that the drama of the Bible is about growing goodness as a means to thwart what is unrighteous. Their development of justice as a primary passion of God's is brilliant and breathtaking. Their personal journeys of addressing human trafficking will further open your heart to the wonder of how mercy and justice kiss in the person of Jesus Christ. This is a must-read, glorious book."

Dan B. Allender, professor of counseling psychology and founding president, Seattle School of Theology and Psychology

"I've been waiting for a book that blends the depth of Scripture's call to justice with the breadth of how God is using the church today. We now have that book. While the stories of pain and injustice will haunt you, this fresh exploration of God's vision for our world will make you want to get up and do something--and invite others to join you."

Kara Powell, executive director, Fuller Youth Institute

"It is one thing to do justice and another to become a justice-minded person. This is the textbook for the latter. We cannot understand the full meaning of words like holiness and righteousness without understanding God's heart for justice. Bethany and Kristen lead us through the metanarrative of Scripture in such a beautiful, justice-centered way that we cannot see justice as a tertiary topic anymore. It is central to the heart of God, but it is not, as we may have assumed, an invitation to be overworked and overwhelmed. Each of us has a justice calling of our own that only trusting in God can reveal. Beautifully written, beautifully lived!"

Sara Groves, singer/songwriter and advocate for IJM

"By now, Christians should know that we are supposed to care about justice. But the deep conviction to stick it out, go the extra mile, and stay in the struggle long after the cameras have gone home haunts a new generation. I can't imagine a better book to give to a new believer, a college student, or anyone desiring to change the world. Thank you, Bethany and Kristen, for this important work; it is powerful and convicting and will be a staple book for the church for many years to come."

Gabe Lyons, author of Good Faith and founder of Q

"God calls us to show up and love with his love, and we can't do that if we don't know his word. This book takes us deep into God's word as God takes us deep into his world. The Bible is the living word of God, and we need to know the whole of it and live it. This is how God prepares us and sustains us in his work of justice--by his word alone."

Christine Caine, founder of The A21 Campaign and Propel

"In an age when justice is viewed by many as an issue of awareness, Bethany and Kristen embrace the reality of God's call to action. I am excited to see how this work will influence leaders as they face the biblical challenge to confront injustice head on at God's invitation. Thank you, Bethany and Kristen, for answering the call to this great need."

Tyler Reagin, executive director, Catalyst

The Authors

  1. Bethany Hanke Hoang

    Bethany Hanke Hoang

    Bethany Hanke Hoang (MDiv, Princeton Theological Seminary) engages leaders around the world with the critical connection between justice and spiritual formation. She advises and speaks on behalf of International Justice Mission (IJM) and served with IJM as...

    Continue reading about Bethany Hanke Hoang

  2. Kristen Deede Johnson

    Kristen Deede Johnson

    Kristen Deede Johnson (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is dean, vice president of academic affairs, and G. W. and Edna Haworth Professor of Educational Ministries and Leadership at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and professor of...

    Continue reading about Kristen Deede Johnson


Christianity Today 2017 Book Award Winner

"This paperback edition is enhanced with the inclusion of a reader's guide. The Justice Calling is thoroughly accessible, spiritually insightful, and highly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliation."

Midwest Book Review

"[The authors] offer powerful insights, based in scripture and Christian teaching, to help Christians to live out Jesus' teachings in a globalized, interconnected, but impersonal world. A focus on experience, biblical scholarship, and reflection runs throughout the book, with both Old and New Testaments drawn upon for guidance and wisdom. While the authors' erudite scholarship shines through, it never dominates the readable text. Cutting through the scripture, together they are able to explain complex exegetical work with aplomb and present their conclusions clearly for those without a background in biblical studies. . . . This book will especially appeal to young Christians who are searching for writing with some intellectual bite that speaks to their hunger for justice and faith."

Publishers Weekly

"[The authors] beckon Christians to live into God's justice in the world. . . . This book calls people from the comfort of their own homes into the terrifying realities of those dispossessed and violently used. Tracing God's presence among us in continual acts of justice and mercy throughout scripture, the authors confess a God who is not distant but desires the flourishing and safety of all of God's creatures. . . . The Justice Calling [is] essential reading for those who are beginning the journey of considering how justice is integral to the life of following Jesus. . . . [It] offer[s] a breadth of story and a language that invites readers into the difficult but necessary story of how our world has been shaped and what God calls us to do."

Brian Bantum,

Christian Century

"The Justice Calling is a remarkable book. Part manifesto, part theology, part call to action, it should make an immediate impact on churches and communities. Neither a political jeremiad nor a surface scan of biblical texts, the book instead paints a beautiful portrait of justice and righteousness as inextricably woven into the life of a faithful Christian. It avoids the twin dangers of gospel reductionism (saving souls, not bodies) and over-realized eschatology (if we don't do something, no one will). We see clearly how Christian faith supplies the motivation, the method, and the hope for pursuing justice, both where we are and around the world."

Samuel James,

Christianity Today

"Hoang and Johnson's book is written for a popular audience. . . . The final chapters and their heartfelt intertwining of passion and perseverance is where Hoang and Johnson contribute most to the conversation. . . . [This] is a good first read for the one just entertaining God's global renewal with a naive sense of compassion. I recommend this book as one that feeds compassion for justice with hope, but also nurtures it through the encouraging motivation where perseverance by faith is vital."

Kevin Book-Satterlee,

Englewood Review of Books

"Hoang and Johnson have contributed a rare gift to the global church in this critical book. Their unique voice in the world of justice is unmistakable, and this book stands as a powerful and important advancement in our deepening theology of kingdom justice."

R. York Moore,

Outreach (a recommended resource of the year for 2016)

"In a year with a handful of very good social justice resources that stand out, this one rises above them all. A must-read, beautiful, very insightful, and important book of truly lasting significance."

Byron Borger,

Hearts & Minds blog (best of 2016)

"Both [authors] are exceptionally well-schooled and committed to educating for lasting, formational transformation in learners so that they might be the kind of people who are empowered to be healthy activists in church and world. They understand the big flow of the Scriptures, the story, as we say, and place God's relentless call to do justice in that context. . . . The chapter titles of this new book illustrate the artful way it is written and the profound way it develops. The footnotes are extraordinarily interesting; there are nice pull quotes throughout making this quite useful. . . . This really is a fabulous new book and we can't recommend it more heartily."

Byron Borger,

Hearts & Minds blog