About a week ago, I was listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR, where there was an interview with an author of several books about Black Liberation Theology. One thing he said was that contemporary Christianity, as often practiced in the United States, tends to focus on righteousness -- one's relationship with God -- while African-American Christian congregations tend to lean towards the teachings of Jesus that relate to social justice.
The statement really got me thinking. So many evangelical Christian congregations seem to place an emphasis on sin, homosexuality, sex outside of wedlock, and the other evils of secular life, while any references in the New Testament about helping your fellow man is given short shrift, or even dismissed as "socialist." Meanwhile, congregations emphasizing social justice occasionally seem to do so in a condescending manner.
I think there's a third point, though, aside from righteousness and social justice; self-enrichment, enlightenment, education, or whatever you want to call it. Basically, making yourself a better person, and living up to your potential as a human being.
Among the many things that drew this somewhat agnostic soul to Reform Judaism is that there is a balance between righteousness, self-enlightenment, and "tikkun olam", or repairing the world -- social justice, in a sense. Buddhism seems to strike a balance between social justice and self-enlightenment, with less of an emphasis on righteousness.
I know this post is worded awkwardly, but I'm not really a theologian. What say you? Should there be a balance between the three points of faith that I've described? Are there more points? Should one be more important than the other, and if so, why?