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Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  6,149 ratings  ·  467 reviews
Author of the New York Times bestseller The Reason for God and nationally renowned pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church Timothy Keller with his most provocative and illuminating message yet.

It is commonly thought in secular society that the Bible is one of the greatest hindrances to doing justice. Isn't it full of regressive views? Didn't it condone slavery? Why look to
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Viking (first published January 1st 2010)
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 ·  6,149 ratings  ·  467 reviews

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Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A few months ago, I was invited to preach at my church, and I decided to talk about social justice because I was a Christian who worked as a public defender. I tried awkwardly to highlight the problems with the "we should help poor people with material goods but never talk about Jesus" extreme and the "poor people are kind of scary - we should pray for them to meet Jesus, maybe preach from a safe distance, but not get physically involved" extreme, and I hoped to describe a view of social justice ...more
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ethics, theology
Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller (author of the best-selling The Reason for God, and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City) is a clear, convicting, and compelling case for the assertion that "there is a direct relationship between a person's grasp and experience of God's grace, and his or her heart for justice and the poor." (p. xiii). In his Introduction, Keller says that he wrote this book for four groups of people: (1) young Christian ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic, christian
The opening to the synopsis on Goodreads is "Author... Timothy Keller with his most provocative and illuminating message yet."


Maybe it's just me and the church I attend... but I didn't find this message to be provocative or illuminating. Not that's it's a bad message or anything... but none of it felt "new" or illuminating to me. In fact, the book itself felt a tad repetitive.

An upside: this book would be good to hand to someone who thinks that all Christians are uber Conservatives who hate
Jordan Shirkman
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How does Tim Keller write the most well researched, enjoyable, biblical, challenging book on every topic he addresses?

I appreciate his examples and his paradigms. Doing justice means becoming disadvantaged for the sake of those who are disadvantaged. Tons of practical steps, questions to ask, and scriptural basis for everything he shares. I feel convicted and empowered to be a better contributor of doing justice. (The stuff about personal salvation not being the final solution for systemic inju
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this short book about caring for the poor and fighting for justice profound. Being interested in social justice, I thought the book was sort of preaching to the choir at first, but then Keller, a minister in NYC, began to make me a little uneasy with my own comfortable views of social justice. For instance, he questions whether most Americans are "middle class in spirit" rather than "poor in spirit." Do I somehow feel that I have earned my place in society? Do I think my own hard work ha ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it did not like it
Years ago a friend asked me to read this book and I finally got around to reading it as part of my research on social justice and the woke movement.

Generous Justice suffers primarily from (1) a misapplication of Mosaic Law for Israel to the New Testament church, (2) equivocating spiritual and physical realities thereby obligating Christians to practice mercy tangibly in ways that God does spiritually, (3) an egregious misunderstanding of common grace, and (4) incredibly sloppy - perhaps even dis
Mike E.
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In this book Keller calls Christians, but especially Christ-centered, Bible-saturated evangelicals, to care for the "quartet of the vulnerable"--widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor. The biblical foundation for caring for the poor is Genesis 1:27--every human being is created in and a shareholder of the image of God. We help the poor not because they are deserving but because humans are made in a unique way like God. We help to glorify Him by helping them.

The call that Keller puts forth is
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Loved this book. 100% recommend for any follower of Jesus who already has a heart for justice, or even just wants to see more of God’s heart for justice. Tim Keller does a great job of unpacking not just what the Bible says about justice, but how that applies to us in the current day. He includes real world examples of people who are obediently following the Lord by seeking justice in different ways. He also does a really good job of not taking one “political” side in this book and explaining th ...more
Will Barbour
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book calls us to live a life of generosity towards the poor and marginalized. While pulling from a wide range of diverse sources but constantly coming back to the Bible, Keller gives a compelling case that a follower of Christ must prioritize justice in her life. I would recommend this book to anyone contemplating how the Christian faith informs their view of justice. Instead of engaging in polemics, Keller shows how care for the poor has been a defining mark of Christianity from the time o ...more
Anda P
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Among the most helpful books I've read. A great balance between the priority ministry of the church to introduce Christ and the role of believers in the search for social justice. Philosophical and practical, in addition to being strongly Biblical. Lots of helpful direction, textual reflection, and personal illustration.

A must read for those whose eyes and heart are ready to see a broken world and do something about it.
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. So powerful and eye-opening to the purpose of the church and what we are to do about the social/poverty issues surrounding us in a Biblical manner.
Keren Threlfall
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-reading
Keller draws from a broad overview of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, teachings of church history (most frequently referring to Jonathan Edwards’ teachings), and specific teachings of Jesus as he lays out the beautiful picture of the righteousness/justice of God, showing God’s heart and identification (particularly through Christ’s incarnation) with the vulnerable and helpless of society. Throughout the book, he also draws out the beauty of the Gospel, and the amazing grace that God has sh ...more
Justin Roland
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
If you are comfortable with your materialistic lifestyle, this book isn't for you. If you are a Christian, and you think you work hard for your money and it's all yours, you might struggle with this book. If you think social justice is just a cause for someone else to do, this book isn't for you.

If you want to be challenged to be just, and learn what the Bible demands of us concerning social justice, read this book. Social justice isn't just a cause for those who are passionate about it. Keller
Emma Sharon
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Holy smokes. This is required reading for all Christians. Keller articulated things I’ve thought about for years, far better than I ever could. I don’t know how anyone could look at poverty, race, the treatment of “the other,” etc, the same after reading this.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Challenging and convicting. How we are to love our neighbor (the city, the lost and the poor) and die to self.
Wes Smith
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book that shows that justice is not just punishing those who do wrong but biblical justice is caring for the weak and poor as well. He also talks through the balance of word (evangelism) and deed (service) Ministry which is helpful. I think his explanation of justice in the OT is very helpful
Tom Bazan
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
Generous Justice, as the title would imply, is about justice. Keller argues that Christians must be just--it is ingrained in the grace that God gives; it is the response to the person of Christ. He does not argue that justice and a passion for helping those who need it is solely a Christian endeavor, but he does argue that all of that passion is from God (through grace common to everyone). Further, he says that if we are going to follow God for who he is--not as some manifestation or some image ...more
Jon Harris
Aug 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: social-justice
Theologically weak.
Dianne Danielson
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book has such great arguments for why we need to be involved in serving the poor. Keller breaks down both liberal and conservative viewpoints to get at the Biblical heart of doing justice to the poor and needy among us. Great read. Don't quite know where to start in responding to his call to action! ...more
Alan Rathbun
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Maybe I’m biased because I’m a big fan of Keller’s writings, but this is another gospel-rich book from him. Keller provides a solid overview of justice and righteousness throughout Scripture and provides ample description of how it is the generous grace of God to us in Christ that is the best motivator for acting justly in the world. He also makes a great case for holding evangelism and justice together. The renewal of salvation tills the soil for justice to grow and holding them together demons ...more
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A few months ago, the elders of my church read this book. They almost immediately decided to appoint deacons to facilitate mercy ministries (social justice; taking care of orphans and widows and the poor) in our church. According to Acts 6, the church chooses from amongst themselves, so our elders asked us to nominate people that we thought were already actively ministering mercy to others.

In my mind, I was a little dismissive of the process. I thought to myself (and said aloud to a few friends)
Mar 11, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff Garrison
Feb 16, 2016 rated it liked it
In the introduction to this book, Keller identifies the his audience: young people interested in social concern but live lives separated from their “volunteer†interest, those who see the church’s involvement I social justice as being in conflict with the gospel message, those involved in social justice and see it as separated from the church’s message of salvation, and those critical of Christianity in general and see it as a poison. In a good Reformed theological persp ...more
Rick Davis
Dec 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian-living
Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just is an overwhelming book by Pastor Timothy Keller. “Overwhelming in what way?” you might ask. Overwhelming in the sense that there is so much to take in that I’m not exactly sure where to begin. The book is also overwhelmingly Biblical, putting forth the case that social justice is not only the realm of liberal Christians, but a concept and duty that are at the very heart of the gospel itself.

Pastor Keller begins by showing that the words our Englis
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Leslie Newbigin begins one of his books describing what it was like when he first visited India. He entered a sacred temple that was full of various idols and as he was wandering around, he noticed that in the midst of these, among them, was a statue of Jesus. Hmm, he thought, they really didn't understand the Bible. They had taken in Jesus and placed him alongside all these other gods, not realizing that this was not possible since Jesus taught us there was only One God. Then Newbigin describes ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Read this book with my small group: one chapter every two weeks, which means this book took about 4 months to finish. I think reading it over such a long time weakened the content a bit, it was hard to link back to what I had read two or three months ago. But on the whole this is a challenging and convicting look at justice in the Church and the wider culture. I will likely read it again, faster, in future, and recommend it to anybody willing to challenge themselves about the way they think abou ...more
Glenn Crouch
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed reading this book on Justice by Tim Keller. I think the Author correctly examines many of the different approaches Society / Political Systems / Churches take when it comes to dealing with poverty and social justice - and I liked that he pointed out strengths as well as weaknesses. Whilst the Author is American, I think this book works well for most of us in the Western World and perhaps even further. Also whilst the Author is Evangelical, he points out the strengths in Liber ...more
Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all Christians
Recommended to Kristin by: Tim Keller, John Wood
This was a wonderful read and not too cerebral. Keller didn't borrow as heavily from other authors (*coughCSLewiscough*)as he did in Reason for God. He gave great info for pushing farther with our justice and generosity, and realizing that people who have lived their entire lives in certain ways ren't going to just 'get it' and start living in a more sustainable way immediately. He gave great examples, and encourages giving people multiple chances, while rethinking how we live all aspects of our ...more
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended. Thought-provoking at the least. Potentially action-provoking, we'll see. Chapter 7 (Doing Justice In the Public Square) was particulary well written and enlightening with respect to why we are often in the USA unable to conduct meaningful discussions of flashpoint political issues. The short discussion on common grace and cultural engagement (in art, music, philosophy, film-making, journalism, etc.) hidden away in note 152 at the end of the book is also quite useful - citing argumen ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons. For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.

He is also Chairman of Redeem

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16 likes · 2 comments
“We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need - regardless of race, politics, class, and religion - is your neighbour. Not everyone is your brother or sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbour, and you must love your neighbour.” 36 likes
“If a person has grasped the meaning of God's grace in his heart, he will do justice. If he doesn't live justly, then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God's grace, but in his heart he is far from him. If he doesn't care about the poor, it reveals that at best he doesn't understand the grace he has experienced, and at worst he has not really encountered the saving mercy of God. Grace should make you just.” 29 likes
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