Why Formation and Justice?

by Bishop Todd Hunter

Looking back at my journals, I have for years wanted the last era of my work to participate with the biblical vision of:

Luke 4: to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Matthew 25: I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.

James 1: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I have been seeking my own spiritual formation and working on the edges of the spiritual formation movement for 30 years. While I have made good progress, I am far from perfect. I want the transformation to deepen. During the same decades I have observed and honored colleagues who worked in various justice movements. My passion is to get these two great traditions—formation and justice—in conversation with each other.

Why? This is a bit of a caricature, but too often formation is merely personal, and justice-seeking too often leads to burnout, anger at the Church and cynicism about the world.

Through my new book Deep Peace and its outflow—this Center for Formation, Justice and Peace—I am going public with what has been rattling around for so long in my heart and brain. I long to become a truly good person, doing the true good, in a community of people who seek the same.

God’s final revelation in Jesus does not leave us hanging, waiting for heaven, merely stuck in a broken world. The words and works of Jesus cover the full range of human suffering and need. This means evangelism, mission, formation, justice and peace-making go together as strands making one strong kingdom-of-God-cord.

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