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Adding an “R” to John Perkin’s Three Rs

August 22, 2007

In his book To Live in Peace: biblical faith and the changing inner city, Gornik rehearses John Perkins’ (Voice of Calvary) well-known “three Rs” for justice and reconciliation: relocation, reconciliation, and redistribution.

  • Relocation – following the example of the incarnation, we are to live where we want to make an impact.
  • Reconciliation – pursue vertical and horizontal reconciliation with God and man, across barriers of gender, ethnicity, class, and culture
  • Redistribution – use your resources as a Christian to promote justice for the poor through sharing time, money, gifts, and skills.

Many have used the three Rs in pursuing justice in the city. This framework is undoubtedly biblical and helpful, challenging and redemptive. However, it is not meant to be a prescriptive program but a descriptive ecclesiology. As Gornik notes, justice and reconciliation are not programs of the church; they are the church, a community that is “constitutive of ecclesial life in union with Christ and in action in the world.”

Yet, in Gornik’s pursuit of an authentic, gospel-driven urban justice and reconciliation, he discovered that another R was needed–repentance. This R, he claims, needs to precede the other Rs. “Repentance means owning sin ans an offense against God but also moving forward to a new way of obedience, a turning in a different direction…” Repentance in taking responsibility for the brokenness, pain, and oppression in the city.

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