By now, most of you have heard the brouhaha regarding what Glenn Beck said on his radio and TV show recently:
“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”
Well, in light of my non-verbosive response to Pat Roberton’s devilish comments about Hait, I’ve got two words for Glen Beck:
Seriously, what do you think about what he said?
Okay, I have more than those above two words. Here are some brief thoughts:
1] Stuff gets lost in translation and the words “social justice” are classic examples. Unfortunately, these terms are thrown around as often as I rupture my Achilles tendons. Do people know what they mean because these words likely mean different things for different folks? I have had people get upset because their assumptions and presumptions about those words or my views. And while I rarely use the words “social” and “justice” together, the latter is an integral part of my understanding of the whole Scriptures. For example, I had several folks at my church get upset when I agreed to be on the cover of Sojourners during the last election season since Sojourners is associated by some as “those liberal folks that have left their Christian roots…”
2] But did GB really say that those words are “code words” for communism and Nazism? Even if you’re a supporter of Glenn Beck, you have to call that out as ridiculous. No?
3] I don’t personally like Glenn Beck. He may make the occasional “valid” points but he’s an example of extremism that’s not good but it’s apparent that in our sensationalistic culture is what captures the headlines, the air waves, ratings and -> money (viewers, advertisers, etc). Sadly, ‘centrists’ don’t get too much attention from folks. Maybe I should label myself as an “extreme centrist evangelical missional influence?”
Is he entitled to an opinion? Of course…but it does amaze me how “popular” he is.
4] Quest doesn’t have the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ anywhere on our website (to my knowledge) but we still have our share of folks that leave our church citing numerous reasons. Personally, I have been called a liberal, a heretic, an evangelical, a conservative, an angry asian man, a megalomaniac, a communist, and some other things but never a Nazi (just wanted to clear that up just in case you had doubts).
But Quest does speak (and attempts) of pursue mercy, justice, and humility not because they are code words for some sort of agenda but because they are central to the Triune God.
How can you read the Scriptures or examine the life and ministry of Christ and not sense that mercy, justice, and compassion – particularly to those who are marginalized – aren’t dear to the heart of God?
5] Please don’t leave your churches just because they have the words “social justice” on their website. If you want a good reason to leave your churches:
Leave if the gospel of Christ isn’t being preached and lived out.
And thankfully, justice is an integral part to the gospel of Christ.
Consider the words of Christ as he directly or indirectly explained the gospel to the disciples of John the Baptizer – who was so thoroughly convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and the One that he had been preparing the way for.
But Christ surprised him. He preached and more significantly, lived out the Gospel and was ushering in a Kingdom that he could not fully grasp. Get this: John the Baptizer was no theological or spiritual lightweight but he just missed it which is why he sent his disciples (while he was imprisoned by Herod) to ask Jesus:
“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” [Luke 7:21]
To which, Jesus replied:
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” [Luke 7:22]
That’s a beautiful Gospel. That’s good news…