Yes, I Believe in Social Justice!

Now, I don't normally give Glen Beck the time of day.  He's a hate monger, bigot, and disseminator of  misinformation.  But, I want to address his attacks on the progressive churches, because the statements are egregious and false.

In a clip that can be found here he not only tells people to leave churches that proclaim social justice, but equates this with both communism and nazism.  Now, I don't know which Bible Glen reads, but there are clear passages (many more than speak about homosexuality) that call for social justice.  Jesus himself declared:

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’(Luke 4:16-21).
In this passage, Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 61:1ff.  
Jesus tells the rich young ruler that if he wanted to be saved to sell all that he had, give it to the poor, and follow him (Luke 18:18ff).  In Acts we read that the early Christians shared all things in common (Acts 4:32-37), so that "no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything was held in common."  

I could go on, but I think that this is sufficient to respond to Beck's rant.  If you look through scripture we find it clear that God is concerned about social justice.  Indeed, I'll close with a statement from biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, defining biblical justice:

 Justice (mispat) in the Old Testament concerns distribution in order to make sure that  all members of the community have access to resources and good for the sake of a viable life of dignity.  In covenantal tradition the particular subject of YHWH's justice is the triad "widow, orphan, immigrant," those without leverage or muscle to sustain their own legitimate place in society. (Walter Brueggemann, Journey to the Common Good, WJK, 2010, p. 62).
That I think is sufficient.


John said…
God's justice is beyond human comprehension - ask Job.

But whatever it is, it's not about getting your fair share and its not about punishments and rewards. Instead of worrying about who's entitled to get how much of whatever, over and over again, in the the New Testament and the Old, God calls on those who have to take care of those who have not.

That's it - Goats and Sheep; kingdom living comes down to whether we care for the least among us for it is in their faces that we encounter the face of God. The rest of it is of secondary importance.

Funny that Mr. Beck would display a swastika. Isn't he at least a little concerned that people might draw certain obvious connections?

I think it's interesting that Beck points to priests, because the Catholic Church has a very strong social teaching, one that in the past has supported health insurance reform.

John, you are right about what justice is all about -- it's not about getting my "just desserts," what ever that might be.

Brueggemann goes on to define righteousness as actively intervening in society "to rehabilitate society, to respond to social grievance, and to correct every humanity-diminishing activity."
Steve said…
Bob, you sure nailed this one! And John added his usual substance. The fact of Beck's celebrity is disconcerting. It's just one more sign that Christianity in America has lost its way, even its heart. No wonder Third World countries are sending US missionaries! But we must take heart in the realization that it is always "the remnant" that comes to the rescue of God's people. I pray that the Progressive Churches keep their heart for justice and lead us out of this wilderness. The “city on the hill” has left the building.
John said…
Just to be clear, I know of a number of conservative congregations and denominations which are just as deeply committed to pursuing social justice issues. Frankly, it is these congregations which Mr. Beck is targeting - progressives wouldn't be listening to his drivel.

John, yes, you're correct -- he's talking, I think, to Roman Catholics. I saw today that there is a "Catholic Tea Party" group that wants to push the bishops to the right, not just on abortion and gay rights, but the entire package.

But, he's also talking to people who attend Rick Warren's church, for despite his conservativeness, he's been active in social justice causes.

Tis bizarre!
Anonymous said…
This guy's a clown (a scary one, but still a clown). Mr Bleck will get no google hits from my post (or views). David Mc
Curtis said…
If you want to practice "social justice", go right ahead. But do it with your own money and keep your thieving hands out of my pockets. It has always been the case that liberals love to be generous, as long as they can do it with the property of others.

How I share what God has given to me with those in need is MY business, not the business of anyone else, including the government.
Anonymous said…
Just a word of caution.. to start a post about compassion for others with the sentence "He's a hate monger, bigot, and disseminator of misinformation" leaves you WIDE OPEN for the critique of hypocrite. You are openly blasting someone b/c.. well.. they are openly blasting an issue you may agree with. Its just a word of caution... b/c it appears you simply jumping into the cesspool that he is swimming in.

Granted.. I will fall on the side that I believe social justice must always be lead by the church and not the state. Jesus lived under a dictatorship and he by no means preached revolution to this government. Nor did he plead to the officials to send out more aid to the poor. It is "harder" and requires real sacrifice for the church to do it.. but I feel it is ultimately the way to truly worship God. He is glorified in the weak not the establishment.

John said…

The question is whether social justice is a proper focus of the church, or perhaps the proper focus of the church.

Government spending doesn't enter into this discussion.

Anonymous said…
Hi Chuck! You're right of course. It's best to ignore and stick to principles. USA has freedom of speech, and life's too short. David Mc
Anonymous said…
Hey, as soon as I left I bumped into this. Take this advise and apology. David Mc
VC said…
There's a new book that proposes Christians have turned away from their social justice roots. In his book,'Cover-Up: How the Church Silenced Jesus's True Heirs.' ,Lawrence Goudge proposes that the Jewish followers of Jesus wanted social justice for the world. I have discovered a new book that shows how this social justice message was covered up by His Gentile followers. The church has blinkered its past. It's no secret that Jesus strove to bring in the kingdom of justice here on earth and his followers implemented it in the communal society we read about in Acts 2:44-47. The church’s dirty secret is that the Jewish followers of Jesus continued to hold his vision dear, later influencing such sects as the Bogomils and even, according to their own oral traditions, the Doukhobors. After exterminating the Jewish followers of Jesus, the church’s historians buried this history of justice-seeking but an author by the name of Lawrence Goudge has exhumed their story and presented it in 'Cover-Up: How the Church Silenced Jesus's True Heirs.' This book does the world a great service by illuminating for the first time this vital part of the history of social justice. I found it at

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