Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Glenn Beck, Jim Wallis and Social Justice - Revised

I've been following this whole Glen Beck vs. Jim Wallis battle royale over Social Justice, and the use of that term by Christian institutions. I also just finished reading an article written by the Rev. Wallis on The Huffington Post entitled, "What Glenn Beck Doesn't Understand About Biblical Social Justice" .

Glenn Beck makes a great point about the use of the term social justice. At the same time Rev. Wallis also brings up some good points. Read the article and you'll see what I mean.

My problem with the term social justice is its use and implementation in the work of the Gospel, when the work of the Gospel (spreading the good news) should stand on its own. In other words, stick to the original formula. The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it is transcendent and eternal. No ideological system can touch it, because it is simply true and because it goes beyond mere ideology.

So why take something so simplistic, so earthly, as the idea of "social justice" and add it to the language of the Gospel? The only reason I can think of is to force similar sounding ideology to a truth that doesn't need it. When that happens, we can only assume something is up; there are games afoot.

“Our political philosophy is, representative democracy and social justice in a well planned economy.” So said Fidel Castro, on camera, in English, just prior to the success of the revolution.

So we have the use of the term "Social Justice" tacked on to the ministry of the church, followed by Christian college and seminary students all over the U.S.A. wearing Che Guevara t-shirts and celebrating socialism because gee, it sounds really good and besides, that t-shirt looks really cool.

Here's another quote:

"Fascism and Communism, like all other evils, are potent because of the good they contain or imitate... And of course their occasion is the failure of those who left humanity starved of that particular good." - C.S. Lewis

Redistribution of wealth sounds really good in the context of the church, meaning the Body of Christ. As Christians we believe it, and we should live it. In fact I think we do, though of course, maybe not as well as we ought to be (the point Lewis is making above). We can always do better, but that's part of the growth process; our walk of sanctification.

But in case some Christians missed it (especially those who study and teach the Bible for a living), the Bible is a mirror. Looking into it, we see that we are broken, full of sin, and unable to do any good outside of Christ. I'm not speaking of doing good acts; anybody Christian or not can do good works on occasion. The Bible speaks of something deeper, and shows us our true nature. Our hearts betray our best wishes and good intentions. We are full of darkness, and this is what the Bible teaches us.

Social justice as defined, can only work in the context of Gospel believing Christians, at best. By at best I mean, it is still flawed because we will not achieve true social justice in this world. As long as we are here, it won't work. Do we stop being the Christians God called us to be? Of course not. As the church, we strive to live out the Gospel, to serve, to love and to give until it hurts. But, unless the church is in the business of assisting tyrants to rise to power, I would suggest staying away from adopting terminology that will end up being used as justification for conquest, control, and ultimately slavery. Some would say this is a stretch; that I am simply exagerating. However to say that I am exagerating is the same as saying there has been no past, current, and will be no future attempt to undermine the message of love and redemption offered by the Gospel. To say that, my friends, would be ignorant and naive at best, foolish and disastrous at worst.

Redistribution of wealth, outside of a Gospel context will always result in oppression, not equality and certainly not justice.

Finally I would just like to go on record and say that while I agree a lot with Glenn Beck, he is the last person Christians should be listening to in matters of the Gospel because well, he is a Mormon and not a Christian. Regardless, as Americans we should listen to Glenn Beck because his warnings on the deceptive nature of social justice are true.

To the Rev. Wallis and other Christians who should know better, stop trying to be relevant and re-package the Gospel as if it were something to be sold. Christianity is and always has been relevant because it is true, and transcendent truth does not require our assistance. The Gospel is the very definition of justice. Leave it alone.

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