Glenn Beck, an American radio and television host that I’d never heard of till this week, has set off a firestorm of web commentary after denouncing social justice as a ‘perversion of the gospel’. Well, what do I say to that? I’m lost for words. But others aren’t:

Jim Wallis: An Open Letter To Glenn Beck: Social Justice And The Gospel – “Glenn, could you please dispense with the personal attacks and get to the substance of what you and I are saying about social justice? Let’s have a conversation about whether social justice ‘is a perversion of the Gospel,’ as you say, …”

Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and Supply Side Jesus – “I realise even talking about this is futile. Facts, logic, and other trivial details of rational analysis are utterly lost on anyone who finds Beck persuasive. And Beck himself is laughing all the way to the bank. But, whatever. His recent bit of idiocy was to condemn any church that advocates social justice.”

Youtube: Glenn Beck’s Social Justice Conspiracy! – “Glenn Beck launches his latest crusade against social justice, a term he believes is code for communism and is now infecting all faiths and religions” 

And the Bible isn’t silent either.

Tell me, what are your favourite social justice verses from the scriptures? What would you suggest Glenn Beck reads tonight?

38 thoughts on “Glenn Beck and Social Justice

  1. Isaiah 32: 5 No longer will the fool be called noble
    nor the scoundrel be highly respected.
    6 For the fool speaks folly,
    his mind is busy with evil:
    He practices ungodliness
    and spreads error concerning the LORD;
    the hungry he leaves empty
    and from the thirsty he withholds water.
    7 The scoundrel’s methods are wicked,
    he makes up evil schemes
    to destroy the poor with lies,
    even when the plea of the needy is just.

    Like

  2. Matthew 25:35 (New International Version)
    35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

    Like

  3. Luke 3:11 John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” (Context: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance”)
    James 2:14-17
    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    Like

  4. I’ve seen various people on Twitter wondering aloud who the heck is Gleen Beck, so I’ve pointed them to your post.
    My favourite verse for social justice?
    Proverbs 29:7
    A righteous man knows the rights of the poor: a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

    Like

  5. Here’s a few that I think are pretty hard to walk past:
    “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. (Exodus 23:6)
    Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 16:20)
    “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deuteronomy 27:19)
    The LORD is known by his justice (Psalm 9:16)
    I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. (Psalm 140:12)
    But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)
    “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. (Zechariah 7:9)
    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23)

    Like

  6. God addressing religious institutional injustice of the spiritually arrogant, whilst levelling out the playing field so to speak:
    “Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heavan and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you work”. Mt 11:25
    And Paul to a group of Corinthian Christians who had become so full of themselves religiously:
    “It’s written: I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I’ll expose so-called experts [many self-proclaimed] as crackpots”. 1 Cor 1:19
    And I’ll paraphrase this bit of 1 Cor 1:26 a little myself for dramatic effect:
    “Take a bloody good and honest look at yourselves you, my Corinthian brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t see many of the “brightest and best” among you, not many influential bigwigs from the top eschalons of high-society. So surely it must be obvious that God deliberately chose man and women that culture ooverlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these `nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the `somebodies'” (Thanks Eugene Peterson, The Message, for the bulk of this quote from 1 Cor. 1:26-28).
    Not necessarily my favourite verses about social justice, but suitable comments in terms of confronting self-appointed know-alls like Glen Beck who must have shut his eyes when reading the 2000 odd verses where God advocates practising and promoting social justice in the OT and NT bible. Has he even ever read the Bible?

    Like

  7. On building faith community:
    Isa 28:17 “I’ll make justice the measuring stick and righteousness the plumb line for the building. A hailstorm will knock down the shantytown of lies, and flash flood will wash out the rubble”.

    Like

  8. In Micah 3 the prophet berated the political-religious leaders of Israel and Judah:
    “Don’t you know anything of justice? Haters of good, lovers of evil: Isn’t justice in your job description…Jacob’s crime and Israel’s sin…leaders contemptuous of justice, who twist and distort right living [e.g. with their `spin’ on words and corrupt dealings from positions of influence and power, while] all the while posturing and pretending dependence on God”.
    I’ve substantially summarised here, but reckon this is the gist of what people like Beck are doing, probably to be seen as “controversial” and “provocative” to enhance their own pop celebrity status among those who have the most to lose from the promotion of social justice – rich, greedy, powerful and evil people who corruptly abuse their resources and power to exploit the poor, the needy, the vulnerable to “feather their own nests” at the expense of all the others.

    Like

  9. I believe there are thousands of bible references to social justice and caring for the poor. It is interesting to note that in the 19th century and before, the church was at the heart of providing caring support ministries, health care, and education, as well as campaigning for improved social legislation in many areas. There was no division between providing care, and sharing the good news. There were, I believe, several factors that took the church out of the social ministry realm:
    1) A reaction against liberal theology, whose proponents suggested that the only role for churches was a social gospel.
    2) Increasingly rich and more socially-minded governments were able to take over health care, social provision and education. In any case, as these things became more expensive, they could no longer be provided for by the charitable efforts of the church.
    This switch happened in the early 20th century, leaving a bit of a vacuum for churches.
    3) The tendency for evangelical churches to be middle class, educated, and not located in deprived inner city areas.
    A reading of the history of the Salvation Army for instance, shows how far-reaching their practical caring ministries went, as well as social activism and political campaigning. They transformed inner city conditions in UK and elswhere.
    There is a strong biblical defense for felt needs evangelism, and indeed research shows that a considerable percentage of Christians started their spiritual journey as a result of a life problem.
    See InternetEvangelismDay.com/felt-needs.php
    Blessings
    Tony

    Like

  10. Beck, along with Russ Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter etc etc, and Fox “news” are now the public face of what is now called the “conservative” side of USA politics–including many right-thinking religionists.
    The politics of fear and loathing and the search for scape goats. If only we can get rid of or purge the cancer of left-liberal progressives from the USA body politic, then everything will be hunky dory again in red state Norman Rockwell America.

    Like

  11. I have to laugh heartily at the whole thing. Beck is a Mormon. I have some very dear friends who are Mormon and have been friends with them for nearly 20 years now. I remember way back early on in our friendship my girlfriend, Joni, telling me the story of her mom and how she was left nearly destitute by her dad and the Mormon church took better care of her than the state. They had better welfare and told me in detail about the system of tithes that every Mormon is expected to contribute, how they can give each paycheck (they had electronic deductions from their paychecks even back then), etc. And all of it was so that the church could take care of it’s people. So Beck’s assertion that his church would not engage in social justice is complete bull and proves he continues to wear his ass for a hat, causing him to speak out the wrong orifice.

    Like

  12. Well, if they are the public face they’re not penetrating that far globally. Steve is not the only non-American Christian to ask “who the heck is Glenn Beck” in the last few weeks. And I’d say the same for Russ Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as I’ve never come across them before. Legends in their own locale I guess but hardly global representatives.

    Like

  13. Beck (and Limbaugh, Hannity, et al) are a bunch of know-nothing (pardon me) assholes who are making a lot of money for themselves and FoxNews Network by stirring up fear and loathing amongst the ignorant masses in the United States. They are twisted, sick SOBs who care nothing for truth or justice or anything but filling their own coffers. And the coffers of Fox News. If it were not for the fact that we do have freedom of speech here, I would strongly suggest that they be run out of the country on a rail for sedition, treason and who knows what all else. They are that bad. Truly they are.
    They may not be global legends, but if you want to know why American behavior has gotten so atrocious in the last decade or so, you may count them as the cause. Go listen/watch a broadcast or two of any of theirs on youtube … if you can stomach it. I cannot get more than two or three minutes in before I have to turn it off or start breaking things in my house because they make me so angry. As a forewarning …
    And that is why I say that Glenn Beck wears his ass for a hat, causing him to speak out his anus. Which, in turn, causes him to spew manure. Logic is a beautiful thing sometimes.

    Like

  14. Curious that we don’t hear of them. We hear of your megachurch pastors and televangelists of course, but that’s all we hear of, so that’s all we tend to think there is to hear of. I take it that these people are more radio personalities than television personalities? That they have no churches? Not televangelists per se? Maybe that’s why. Not interesting enough for our evening TV news. Not able to compete with the visual antics of Benny Hinn and his ilk for our funny bones. Suddenly I feel blessed. They sound like your version of our Allen Jones and Mirandi Divine, except on ultra-right paranoid-delusional steroids.

    Like

  15. Glenn Beck has it right on this one (although he is Mormon and I pray he gets saved). He did not say that churches should not help the poor, rather, he was saying social works should not be the primary focus of the Church. Let me explain. What is the Gospel? The Gospel is that we are inherently sinful and because of our sinful nature, we do sinful things (Romans 3:23) and deserve punishment (Romans 6:23). The 10 Commandments prove this (Romans 3:20). No works can save us (Galatians 2:21). Jesus lived the perfect life, died for us and rose from the grave, so that we can be reconciled to God in Him by faith (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-9), that we won’t spend an eternity in Hell for sinning against the Eternal Being (Revelation 20:11-15). We repent and turn to Him (Romans 10:9). We can then be declared righteous because of what Christ has done (2 Corinthians 5:21) and can now spend eternity with Him.
    The Gospel is not doing good things, therefore it is not social justice; nor is the Gospel argued from the point of “changed lives.” The government also has no right in demanding anything from the Church. When something like this becomes mandated, it is just a return to the legalism that Jesus Christ set us free from (Galatians 5:1). Social programmes are not the emphasis of the Church. The Gospel is. When reading the Gospels, you will notice the first thing that Jesus did was preach the Gospel, then He performed miracles. Saving souls was His priority, it should be ours too. Reading Acts, you’ll see that the Apostles preached the Gospel primarily, after which they also performed miracles and helped others.
    Christians do good things as a result of the Gospel (James 2:18). Our lives are changed because of the Gospel. Yes, there is enough within Scripture for us to not oppress the poor, nor steal. Because such great love has been given to us by God (Romans 5:8), we then can love others. Many churches, mine included, have ministries where money and effort are set aside to help the poor and care is taken so as to not enable those who do not want to work. From this point, we are then able to preach the Gospel to those who will hear it and be saved. We must not neglect the Gospel at the expense of humanitarian effort and we must not emphasise social works over the Gospel.

    Like

  16. Patrick:
    Yes, Jesus preached the gospel. But much of that preaching focused on loving one’s neighbor, and helping those in need. I always find it curious that many evangelical Christian seem to ignore that in the parable of the sheep and goats, it is not beliefs that is used to separate the two, but consideration of how they “treated the least of these.”
    This idea of “saving souls” as something distinct from Jesus’s greater ministry of reconciliation and helping those in need has always struck me as strange and, dare I say it, un-Biblical. Because even Jesus’s preaching had a lot to say about the latter.

    Like

  17. Patrick
    Glenn Beck went a lot futher than saying “social works should not be the primary focus of the Church”. He said, and I quote, “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.”
    This is not a mincing of words, this is an assertion in no uncertain terms that it is heresy to give social justice ANY focus, even secondary focus, even a vague mention. Now, if Glenn Beck had been more temperate and wise in his comments, if Glenn had said, “Look, I think some people over-emphasize social justice to the point it compromises the gospel,” then I would have had no beef with him. I would actually have agreed with him! But no, he insisted we should abandon our churches at the mere mention of social justice.
    To this I say: in condemning Christians for caring for justice Glenn Beck directly contradicted the commands of God.
    Now, just so it is clear, let me say in black and white: I affirm we are saved by faith, not works; I affirm social justice cannot save; I affirm each and every one of the passages you just quoted as binding on Christians. If you think our disagreement is over this you are mistaken.
    Rather, our disagreement is over the consequences of the gospel, or at least what we think Glenn Beck is saying are the consequences of the gospel. Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23) From this and many other passages I take it that Jesus is saying God’s love for us should inspire us to love others, and that sometimes this love takes the form of caring for justice as an “important matter.” For Glenn Beck to dismiss justice concerns so scathingly is what I call unbiblical.
    So I ask you, do you care for social justice? In any way?
    It sounds like you’re a man who conceeds social justice at least secondary importance.
    So, are you a man to run if you find the words “social justice” mentioned secondarily on a website?

    Like

  18. Jarred,
    Thanks for your reply. There seems to be some confusion in your statement about what constitutes the Gospel as opposed to Jesus’ other teachings. For example, Jesus’ teachings on paying tax, dispute settlement and even loving God and your neigbour are not part of the Gospel; they are results of, or flow from, the Gospel. Everything the Christian does must be centered on the Gospel. This includes feeding the hungry, helping the needy, etc.
    The sheep and the goats parable, which speaks of judgement, has nothing to do with the Believers’
    “judgement.” We, as Christians, will not be judged, as Christ was judged in our stead and the wrath of God poured upon Him. If this parable taught that the righteous enter the Kingdom by what they did (the text would seem to indicate this), then this is “works righteousness” and Jesus would have died for nothing. Christians get rewarded or no reward according to what we did after being saved, but we will not be judged by it (2 Cor. 5:9-11). As concerning “reconciliation,” Paul mentioned we have the Ministry of reconciliation and summed it as “Be reconciled to God.”

    Like

  19. Patrick:
    Please bear with me as I challenge your claims by quoting the actual passage in Matthew:

    “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He R955 will sit on His glorious throne. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
    “Then the King will say to those on His right, `Come, you who are blessed of My Father, INHERIT THE KINGDOM PREPARED FOR YOU FORM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. `For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
    “Then the righteous will answer Him, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? `And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? `When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
    “Then He will also say to those on His left, Depart from Me, accursed ones, INTO THE ETERNAL FIRE WHICH HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
    “Then they themselves also will answer, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’
    “Then He will answer them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
    “These will go away into ETERNAL PUNISHMENT, but the righteous into eternal life.”
    —-
    Please note that I added the emphasis. I find it strange that you say this has nothing to do with the judgment of who goes to heaven and goes to hell. I would think phrases like “eternal fire” and “eternal life” are pretty clear.
    I agree this really poses a problem with a strict “saved by grace alone” gospel. But then, I’m not sure how many evangelicals believe in salvation by grace alone. (As Slacktivist once pointed out, many seem to really believe that BELIEVING that salvation is by grace alone is what saves people.)

    Like

  20. Mr. Stone,
    Thank you also for your reply. I do agree with your comments and know that our argument, as such, is not based upon salvation by works. The point that Mr. Beck was saying (on which he elaborates further) is that when a church advocates social and economic justice, they have already chosen political activism and are less concerned with the Gospel. This is true; look at the Methodist church compared to John Wesley’s teaching and some Anglican/Episcopal and even some Baptist churches compared to the Reformers’. It is
    easier for people to leave a church than to reform it; one should leave if they have not been called by God to reform.
    The terms social and economic justice do not seeem to be fully defined (they originated from Roman Catholic liberation theology based on Marxism), however it can help us to understand by firstly defining “justice”. The word “justice” is defined as “the administration of law or some other authority according to the principles of just behaviour and treatment” (Oxford). Justice is applied as a punishment for wrong doing. This is accepted terminology. Social and economic justice is then punishing one person for having more money, goods or status than another (based on economic and social factors), which is far from equitable. It also presupposes innocence on those who don’t have and guilt on those who do have. This is prejudical, which Jesus condemned (Mat. 7:1-5) and is different from the Biblical perspective in that if one were to exploit and oppress those under their authority, even witholding pay or whatever was rightly deserved, then they would be guilty of injustice and oppression (James 5:1-8). We see this in every Socialist, Communist and Islamic State. We typically do not see this rampant in the West, as our laws are established upon Biblical principles, but I will not say it doesn’t occur. If I did, I would be ignorant of man’s sinful nature. This is why we have the Gospel. When people get saved, they start behaving Biblically and don’t oppress others. We do not achieve this through social and economic justice as it is just as possible to oppress the rich as it is to oppress the poor.
    Two good examples of Biblical justice is found in Amos (esp. chap. 4) and Zechariah 7:9&10. The fact that social and economic justice wasn’t an issue for the Church until recent times shows us that social and economic justice aren’t Biblical doctrines, as the
    Church has been standing for those who couldn’t stand for themselves for 2,000 years. To say otherwise would be ignorant of Church history. The priests of Malachi’s time (2:7-9) and even the Pharisees of Jesus’ time (Matt. 23:13-32) were partial in justice toward the wealthy and oppressed the poor by demanding money for prayer, etc. In other words, they perverted justice.
    To answer your questions, I do care about equitable treatment as we are all created in the image of God, but not at the expense of others through relative morality. I give the Gospel to those I help.
    I would not run from my church if these phrases appear on our website, rather, I would stand ground and discuss what constitutes Biblical justice. I would leave if my position weren’t even considered.

    Like

  21. Jarred,
    I don’t mean to create controversy about this issue, but my comments may. The key problem
    with your interpretation of this passage is that you believe the reason that the “righteous” inheret the Kingdom is by their works. This absolutely negates Christ’s Work on the Cross. It would have been insufficient and Jesus would be a liar after declaring “it is finished” if it weren’t the case (John 19:30). We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-10 and John 3:16-18, 14:6, Titus 3:4-8). Nowhere is works mentioned as a requirement to eternal life, only belief. God would be a liar if He tells people in His Word to believe on Jesus for salvation, then turn some away because they didn’t do enough. This in itself is unjust. I did not say that it has nothing to do with who goes to Heaven or Hell, as the text clearly mentions the Kingdom and eternal punishment. I said that the Christian has been judged, put to death and then resurrected, all in Christ (Romans 6), so we will not be judged for sin, but we will give an account to Jesus as to what we had done after being saved (Romans 14:10-12, 1 Cor. 3:10-15, 2 Cor. 5:1-10).
    The common interpretation for your text is the Judgement of Nations after Jesus has
    Raptured the Church, Tribulation has passed, we come back with Christ, Who conquers His
    enemies and rules from His throne. We get the general sequence from Revelation,
    especially chapter 20. It is seen that God, after the Millennial Reign of Christ, will
    judge the Nations as to their treatment of His brethren. This all occurs after the Age of Grace, which we are in now. Of course, not everyone believes or behaves the same in every Nation, so this necessitates separating the sheep from the goats. Remember, the Christian has already been judged in Christ. Just because some guy says that “many seem to really believe that believing that salvation is by grace alone is what saves people,” does not mean it is true. The Bible is all we have in determining truth (Psalm 119, John 17:17). After saying all this, does not negate the fact that Jesus expects us to love others (Matt. 5:43-48), which may include doing something (James 1:27, 2:15&16, Titus 2:11-14).

    Like

  22. Patrick and Jarred, whenever a conversation turns towards faith versus works I always find it helpful to look at what scripture says about the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN faith and works.
    First of all, consider James 2:14-18, which says,
    “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
    Then consider 1 John 2:4 which says,
    “If you say you have come to know Him, yet you do not keep His commandments, then the truth is not in you and you are a liar.”
    When read in conjunction with Paul’s writings, such as the passages you cite above Patrick, the message seems clear: We are saved by faith and faith alone. So no argument from me on that score Patrick. But, but, but, scripture makes clear that the truth of our faith can be seen in our works. Or to use an ancient metaphor, the quality of the tree and its roots can be tested by the quality of the fruit it produces. So I think you’ve been too hasty in dismissing the salvic relevance of the sheep and goats parable. Might I suggest this as an interpretation that more fully accounts for all the data: the sheep are saved by faith, not works, but the truth of their faith is REVEALED BY their works. By rejecting the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the prisoners, the goats revealed the shallowness of the faith they professed in God’s graciousness, and were thus judged as faithless. By accepting the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the prisoners, the sheep revealed the authenticity of the faith they professed in God’s graciousness, and were thus judged as faithfull.
    I cannot recall where, but it has been said, “Therefore, we are justified by faith. That is, we are made righteous in the eyes of God by faith as is amply demonstrated by Romans. However, that faith, if it is true, will result in deeds appropriate to salvation.” Works are important then as a litmus test of authenticity. The gospel sends out shockwaves that we should be able to sense in the lives of people who profess it.
    Which brings us back to the topic of justice. Witnessing against injustice in our society can’t save us, but it is something that’s reasonable to expect from those who are saved … if they are truly saved. When those who claim to be God-lovers are silent (or worse still, defensive) in the face of lovelessness, I’ve got to question how deep they understand God’s love. I don’t dispute Glenn Beck was saying, “that when a church advocates social and economic justice, they have already chosen political activism and are less concerned with the Gospel,” but I have to say that, at best, that’s gross ignorance on Glenn Beck’s part. For it implies that evangelical Christians who “advocate justice” as “one implication” flowing from the gospel and liberal Christians who “advocate justice” as “equal to or above” the gospel are basically saying the same thing. Which is not true at all. In effect, he’s used a nuclear bomb for a job that called for a sniper rifle and inflicted a great many “friendly fire” casualties in the process. Many of the justice advocates he’s condemned do NOT hold the anti-grace position he claims they do. In doing so he’s violated the commandments, specifically the one about bearing false witness.
    As for the term “social justice”, I think you’re being pedantic there scouring through dictionaries. It just means justice in a social context rather than a personal context. When you’ve been wronged by a person you seek “personal justice”. When you’ve been wronged by a system you seek “social justice”. But at the end of the day social justice just means justice.
    Now you say social justice is “is different from the Biblical perspective in that if one were to exploit and oppress those under their authority.” I say, you’ve utterly misunderstood us if you think that. So let me say it clear, social justice IS the exploitation and oppression of the vulnerable by authorities. That’s precisely what we mean. For Beck to say our advocation of social justice is unbiblical is to say our advocation of liberation of the exploited and oppressed is unbiblical. So either Beck misunderstands the Bible or he misunderstands us. Personally I think its both.
    When you say, “The fact that social and economic justice wasn’t an issue for the Church until recent times shows us that social and economic justice aren’t Biblical doctrines,” again you misunderstand. Justice has been a concern of the church from its inception. Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Saducees for their oppression, it goes right back to the beginning. Please, get over the language. We’re just talking justice.
    For me the ultimate irony is in your last statement. You said, “I would not run from my church if these phrases appear on our website, rather, I would stand ground and discuss what constitutes Biblical justice.” In doing so, you’re just as condemned by Glenn Beck as me.
    Or then again, should I say the penultimate irony, for the ultimate irony for me is evangelicals talking instruction from a Mormon on what the authentic gospel is. Honestly, don’t let your distrust of liberal extremism blind you to the dangers of the opposite extreme. Pay heed to Deuteronomy 5:32: “So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.”

    Like

  23. Actually, in getting beyond the language issues it may help to have a practical example. One example of what is meant by social injustice is slavery. Slavery is a type of injustice that is systematic. It involves personal acts of injustice to be sure, but it also has an institutional dimension that transcends individual acts. Now, its interesting to note at this point that meany of the leading voices in the fight against slavery were Christians. In fact the song “Amazing Grace” was written by such as person. He, a former slave owner, began fighting this social injustice after a conversion experience where he was struct by the grace of God. Now, I say this is something to emulate, that this fight for social justice, that this fight against slavery, was worthy of a person claiming faith in Christ. Now if you’re opposed to slavery then I would say, you care about this social justice issue too. If you don’t, well then I suppose our positions truly are irreconcileable. But if you oppose slavery then you are what I would call a person who cares about social justice, at least as far as this issue is concerned. If you’re going to condemn social justice advocates, be aware, your condemning people who use the word in this way, you’re condemning people who self identify as “social justice” Christians because they oppose slavery. Is slavery an issue of the past, no child sex slavery is prevelent today. In condemning social justice Christians you’re condemning, liberals, but also condemning evangelicals who oppose sex slavery. Consider that carefully, please.

    Like

  24. Mr. Stone,
    Thank you for your comments. Please forgive both the delay in, and the length of, this reply, but it is simply not a subject that can be handled in so few words. I do agree that injustice and their Biblical solutions is an important discssion. I don’t intend to have a rebuttal for everything mentioned, either. In discussing important topics for the Church (all who are saved by the atoning work of christ), I don’t want others, especially a brother in Christ, thinking I am heartless; it is very easy to “win” an argument and appear cold. I will also try not to drag things on, which I have a tendency to do.
    I fully agree that our salvation will result in good works, to which we have been ordained before the foundation of the world (Eph. 2:10). Jesus stated that we will know them by their fruit (Matt. 7:15-20, Luke 6:43-45), whether it be doctrine or behaviour. There are churches (local body of believers) who demonstrate great theology but do not act on their knowledge of God, while there are other churches who do great things, but lack the proper reason and motive as to why, which is the Gospel. I do not want you to think I have immediately dismissed all of the sheep and goats parable. The problem with Jarred’s interpretation, is that it implies that we are saved by our works, even though we know this to be incorrect when taken in context of the rest of the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that we as Christians, should feed, clothe and care for the poor and the imprisoned, which would agree with the interpretation you gave.
    Glenn Beck may have chosen his words a little more carefully (I’m certainly not his apologist), but his manner of speech does raise a few important points. I feel that we will agree to disagree on that one point. Our churches should never abandon society’s outcast and downtrodden, but some have abandoned the Gospel as they have been so fervent in their declarations on human rights. It is important to know what words mean, which is why I rely on my dictionary, but the point I was making has somewhat to do with even our current international political climate (but not based on it). There is a move within the world (which we are not part of), which has slowly bled into our churches. It is a move to mandate certain actions from both the saved and lost, which we know cannot be done, as pagans behave like pagans and Christians behave like Christ.
    It is clear that you refer to social and economic justice (don’t forget that Mr. Beck used both phrases) as being the exploitation spoken of in the Bible. The one problem is that social and economic justice are Marxist ideologies and did not originate from the Church, much less from the Bible. This is the history of the movement. Social and economic justice is defined by Marxists, we cannot redefine it, although many are trying.
    The aim of social and economic justice is to eliminate poverty and also the wealthy, in order to create one egalitarian social and economic class. This is the “gospel” of Jim Wallis, Richard Cizik and Rick Warren and it is radically different to your and my Gospel. Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us (Matt. 26:11). Through social and economic justice, today’s wealthy will become tomorrow’s poor and vice versa, so poverty will never be eliminated.
    There are many followers of Marx (and others) in our churches who are intent on using the Church as a tool of the State. If this continues, then we have placed our heart’s desires on what we want rather than on what Christ wants for His Church. The question is then “is this control of the Church by the State, Biblical?” The problem with social and economic justice is that it is exacted from the Church, churches and the lost by the government and is therefore, not a work of charity and nullifies much of 1 Cor. 13 (esp. v.3). What I meant by social and economic justice not being an issue untill late, was that the Church has been caring for the poor for 2,000 years and is termed an “act of mercy” or “act of charity,” not social and economic justice; they are complete opposites. We cannot apply any political ideology to redefine Christian behviour.
    All the verses quoted in this blog are great for helping us with Biblical justice, charity and mercy, but not for social and economic justice. I also noted in my last response, as did you, that Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for oppression and perverting justice, so, I agree that justice has been an upfront issue of the Church – even Micah instructs us to love justice. When one is saved, God will give them a new heart to follow Him (Romans 2:28-29), but we cannot mandate it. If social and economic justice is justice and personal justice is justice, then why the separation of the two? Justice is simply punishing the wrong-doer. Social and economic justice punish those who are wealthy for being wealthy. As an evangelical Christian, I’m not instructed on Biblical issues by the lost, but as God deals with them, He can reveal certain truths to them found in Scripture, by the Holy Spirit, in order to bring them to Jesus. We, as followers of Christ, must behave according to the Bible and not any political ideology, whether it be Labor, Liberal, Greens and Socialist or Democrat and Republican. This is an accurate comparison of Biblical justice and social and economic justice:
    http://www.wretchedradio.com/daily_update_archives.cfm?id=342

    Like

  25. “Justice is simply punishing the wrong-doer.”
    I soundly reject this claim. Justice requires far more than punishing wrong-doers. If the wrong-doer’s victims are left in misery, then no justice has occurred, regardless of whether the wrong-doer was punished.
    In fact, I tend to think that punishing wrong-doers is the LEAST IMPORTANT aspect of justice.

    Like

  26. Jarred,
    Exodus 21-23 is replete with principles of justice, where the emphasis is on punishing the wrong-doer. The punishment may be physical, monetary or derived from possessions. 22:1 shows us the principle of restitution/reparation. 22:25-27 gives us an example of non-oppression of the poor. After the wrong-doer has been caught and made restitution (after which he may be poor), what else would you demand from the wrong-doer? Justice sides with the victims. I do not define “justice,” the Bible does. If you reject the Bible’s statements, then you are in rebellion to the Word of God and need to repent. I do not say this joyfully.

    Like

  27. In rebellion to the Word of God? Has the Bible now become the fourth person of the Trinity? Besides, I’m not convinced I disagree with the Bible so much as I disagree with YOUR INTERPRETATION of the Bible. It seem to me that you’re cherry picking a specific passage that supports your claim — and then only if you define concepts like “reparation” and “restitution” in terms of “punishment” rather than in a more straightforward understanding of the concepts of reparation and restitution in which things are made right again.
    But Isiah talks about justice in terms of defending the orphan and pleading on the widow’s behalf, and even links compassion with justice (30:18). In fact, I constantly see justice linked with compassion, equity, and fairness. This says to me that these things are inseparable.
    So again, I challenge your claim that justice is simply about punishing wrongdoers, but is a much more complex concept. In fact, I’d say that interpreting justice as merely punishing wrong-doers requires a rather selective reading and narrow interpretation of Scriptures.

    Like

  28. Patrick, I am not sure if you’ve realized yet but Jarred is a neoPagan. So whatever else needs to be said here of the Christian social justice tradition, please understand that Jarred is not a representative of the Christian social justice tradition and that any deficiencies you see in his understanding of the gospel should not to be taken as representative of the Christian social justice tradition.
    I intend no disrespect to Jarred here, I just wan’t to make it clear it’s a three way debate.
    So, I agree with you over and against Jarred on some matters of interpretation. Jarrod’s interpretation of the sheep and goats passage did indeed seem to imply that we are saved by our works. I was not surprised by that, and hopefully my above explaination now explains why. But though I did not critique Jarred directly you’ll note my interpretation as a socially conscious evangelical was different on precisely this point: grace.
    Indeed, the more I hear of you the more I wonder if the disconnect between us is less a matter of theology and more a matter of language. Specifically, it is clear to me now that we are both using the words “social justice” very, very differently. You are speaking as if Maxists have a monopoly on the word, as if they own that part of the English language. My gut response is to say bollux, but I could see that would only decend into unconstructive tit for tat. Which leaves a conundrum. How can we communicate if we disagree over how language is used?
    What I would ask you to just consider at this point is this: that not everyone using the word “social justice” is using it in a Marxist way, and therefore, while you may charitably critique them as poor linguists, critiquing them as Marxist Christians is far less charitable. This is not to deny that there are Marxist Christians out there, but to ask you to consider that some using the word “social justice” are not heretics but just people you find difficult to understand given their “faulty” language use. Yes “social justice” is not in the bible but the same could be said for “atonement”.
    It encourages me that you conceed Beck could have chosen his words better. From what I’ve seen I doubt his capability on that score, but it suggests you can which is good. So how about this: I agree Marxist Christians have been guilty of compromising the gospel. You’d still need to convince me that Jim Wallis and Rick Warren are Marxists, but, well, there’s an opener for you to send me some evidence.
    As for the phrase “economic justice”, that’s more of a phurfy for me as I don’t use it because I don’t see it as necessary so I don’t have to defend myself against false witness by Beck on that score. As for your question “is control of the Church by the State biblical”, I’m theologically Anabaptist so I’ll let you do the math on that.
    Now Jarred, on your last comment I agree. Most social justice advocates I’ve ever heard differentiate between at least two aspect of justice: punitative and restorative. Punitative justice has to do with punishment and is very past orientated. Restorative justice has to do with reconciliation and is very future orientated. The crucifixion and resurrection involves them both.

    Like

  29. Further to my last comment (since you’ve both posted between me composing it and launching it) I thought I should make the observation I’m sensing more language disconnects here and it’s got we wondering. Patrick, if I understand you correctly, you’re not against the restoration of right relationships nor lifestyles characterised by righteousness. But you wouldn’t talk of it in terms of justice, you’d use different language. Would that be right?
    If so it’s got me wondering, how much do your dispensationalist leanings figure into your way of approaching words? I am right in concluding you’re theologically dispensationalist aren’t I? Dispensationalism isn’t so prevalent or prominent amongst evangelicals here in Australia so you’ll have to forgive my slowness. But from what I know dispensationalists tend to break scripture up into very distinct sections, far more rigidly than other evangelicals. I am wondering if that shapes how you approach words? What do you think?

    Like

  30. One of the reasons why this sort of issue creates so much controversy and opens the Church no negative critique is its inconsistent factional voices from within about political, moral and social justice issues.
    Sider says two things which have some bearing on whether we should, as Church be involved in political engagement and by inference, social justice matters today:
    “The theological reason for political engagement is even more compelling. The central Christian confession is that Jesus is now Lord – Lord of the entire universe. The New Testament explicitly teaches that he is now “ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5). “All authority in heaven and earth” has been given to the risen Jesus (Matt. 28:18). Christians who know that must submitt every corner of their lives to their wonderful Lord…One way Christians must live out our belief that Christ is Lord, even of political; life, is to think and pray for wisdom to act politically in ways that best reflect Christ our Lord”. To Sider, loving one’s neighbours includes engaging in their political processes (e.g. by voting, critiquing prophetically etc) in order to promote their well-being (e.g. as in pursuing social justice for them when needed). (The Scandal Of Evangelical Political Engagement, (2008), Baker, p.22).

    Like

  31. Jarred,
    Allow me to explain my position: The Bible is the Christian’s rule book, as it were (1 Timothy 3:16-17): the Bible was given to us by God the Father, through God the Holy Spirit, to reveal God the Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). There is what we Christians call the Scarlet Thread, running through the Old Testament which points to Jesus Christ. I encourage you to check it out. God’s Law? To show God’s Holiness and our inability to keep His Law due to our sinfulness (in nature, not just deed) and our need for the Saviour (Galatians 3:21-24). Sacrifices? Point toward Jesus Christ’s Perfect Sacrifice in place of our death (Romans 5:6-11). There are many prophecies regarding the time, Birth, Ministry, Death, burial and Resurrection of Christ. The Bible isn’t regarded as God, but it is His Revealed Word and all Christians must submit to its Authority. How much of the Bible do you agree with? If you do not agree with ALL of Scripture, then it is you who is cherry-picking. I also must be on guard for myself not to inject into Scripture what I want to hear (eisegesis). I have not interpreted Passages in any unorthodox manner.
    I agree that in all that Christians do, Charity and Compassion undergird our actions, such as in judgement. We aren’t meant to go out prejudicially condemning everyone, being partial toward certain people or take bribes. God’s Judgements contain His Charity. The Bible is where we in the West get the basis for fines. Reparation is punishment. If you’ve ever paid a fine, I’m sure you don’t enjoy it (I’ve paid some in my lifetime), as they are designed as punishment. If one can’t pay the punishment fine, then one must pay the punishment physically – usually jail. The Laws in the West are based on Biblical principles and the Lord has allowed us all to enjoy righteous judgement.
    If I sin against you, then I am the guilty party. Therefore, I must be punished, depending on the severity of my action against you. Let’s say I own a dog that ran out of my property and bit your leg and you needed medical treatment. What are we to do to make the situation and our relationship right? I should pay your medical bills. This is reparation; it is my punishment for doing wrong. However, if my dog was known for jumping my fence and biting others and one dies, what then? I should pay for all those medical bills, pay a hefty fine and the animal be put down. This is all based on the principles of Exodus 21:28-36. This is just one aspect of justice. Remember, it is not our justice that is dispensed, it is God’s justice. The punishment reflects the offence; the more harsh the crime, the more harsh the punishment. If one sins against the Eternal God, by rejecting Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18), then one must be punished eternally. Check out the link I posted on April 9, watch the whole video and you’ll see what I mean. If you can show me in the Scriptures where I am wrong, I will concede.

    Like

  32. Mr. Stone,
    I understand that there are many, such as yourself, who use the phrase “social justice” in a different manner to Marxists, though Marxists originated the term. I’m certainly not suggesting that you are a Marxist and I don’t want to leave the impression that I think “social justice” Christians wear Che Guevara t-shirts and play Rage Against The Machine. What I am urging is that we all must be careful about those who are associated with certain teachings. For example, how much should I agree with Glenn Beck? As much as he agrees with Holy Writ and no further. It can be those ditches you mentioned earlier that we can all fall into. By rights, Marxists should possess that phrase to the degree that you and I, as Christians should possess the word “church,” although there are other religions calling themselves a “church,” but by their theology, have not been “called out” from anything and therefore carries a different meaning. We’re not disagreeing with how language is used as such, but rather another application of terminology which is accepted in it’s definition, more of which later.
    Although Jim Wallis and Rick Warren may not openly consider themselves Marxists, there are certainly elements of Marxism in Mr. Warren’s teachings. The most obvious being his PEACE Plan where churches are used as a tool of the State, confirming, to a degree, the Marxist adage, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” As for Mr. Wallis, he teaches outright Marxism. Another, Brian McLaren is very Marxist in his views and denies the Penal Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ. Those involved in “social justice” circles need to be careful of what is being taught by the main players. When Mr. Wallis uses (interchangeably) either “social” or “economic Justice,” he is calling for the classical, Marxist interpretation and he is the “go to” guy for the movement. They have redefined the gospel. This is why I stand against the social and economic justice as currently taught by these men. Just because you don’t use the phrase “economic justice,” does not mean the leaders of the movement don’t. So, naturally, when two people use the same phrase but with different definitions, there is much confusion and many people will be unable to discern the difference, unless they read their Bibles.
    I do lean more toward Dispensationalism than Covenentalism (I’m not a hard-liner), but I don’t think it influences how I approach words. I approach words the same way many Covenentalists do. The Dispensational/Covenental discussion is one of those convictions, or even opinions, that don’t affect our standing with God. I don’t think you’re slow on this, as I am an Australian currently living in the U.S.A., so I may get to see a bit more on the Beck/Wallis argument played out in the major news networks.

    Like

  33. Patrick, ha, now you’re showing your dispensationalist colours in a way I recognize! I would have said the Bible is given to us by the Apostles, who had God the Father revealed to them by God the Son, by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
    Now a question: how would you speak of the prevention of an injustice? Still in terms of punishment?
    Oh, and I must confess, I do play Rage Against the Machine. Not that I care for all their lyrics, but, yeah, you got me there. Guilty as charged. LOL. But I play right wing metal too if that’s any consolation.
    On language though, I disagree. For me social justice is not a technical term per se. “Social” is just an everyday adjective like “institutional” or “systemic” that I butt onto the word justice when talking about social, institutional and systemic issues. So, if I were talking about racism, I’d speak of a social injustice or institutionalised sin. But, if I were talking about road rage, I’d speak of personal injustice or individual sin. Simple as that. I don’t see why Marxists should have a monopoly on an adjective like “social”. Until they file a successful copyright on it they can buzz off.
    If you condemn Rick Warren’s PEACE plan as a tool of the state, what say you of military chaplains? Are they Marxists too?
    Sorry, not that familiar with the term ‘Covenentalists’. Is that slang for anyone who is non-Dispensationalist or does it refer to a positively defined position of some sort? If so, how would you define Covenentalism?

    Like

  34. Well, the Bible isn’t given to us by the Apostles…just the New Testament. We are both pedants. Of course, the Holy Spirit inspired certain men who we call Prophets (OT) and Apostles (NT) to declare His Word. I would say for the prevention of any injustice is to declare, “Thus saith the Lord.” If people still commit these acts despite the warning from God, then punishment is due. It is supposed to reflect God’s Wrath and resultant Punishment against Sin and, thereby, acts of sin. We are Sinners by nature, not by what we do. I would prefer to call sin what it is. Injustice itself isn’t Sin, but the result of Sin. The result of Sin is sinful acts. Injustice is a sinful act. The answer for this is, of course, the Gospel, because the Gospel is all we have. Remove the Law and the Gospel from our preaching and all that remains is legalism.
    Millitary chaplains are a non-related issue to Mr. Warren’s PEACE Plan. Remember that Western Law is based on Biblical principles. There is then nothing wrong with any State allowing ministers to preach the Gospel to it’s members. The difference is that Rick Warren’s Plan is to use churches to administer social and political doctrine. There is a difference in the flow of Authority. No State has any right to dictate to the Church, or any church, what it desires. This is what happened to the Roman church and later the English church. If the Millitary decides to prevent ministers from preaching the Gospel, then they should consider obeying God rather than man (Acts 5:25-29).
    The term “Covenantal” is used to describe one who isn’t a Dispensationalist and vice versa. That it is stated that God deals with people’s sin throughout history in one of two ways: before and after the Cross. Dispensationalists believe that even though God deals with people’s sin before and after the Cross, He has allowed laws and governance in order to dispense His Laws, as He reveals them. This is only a very basic description. It’s not derrogatory, just terms that men use to describe and label certain teachings. We certainly have the freedom in Christ to disagree on many topics, so long as we don’t compromise Biblical Truth, aka the Gospel. If one wants to feed the poor, bring the Gospel with you. If one wants to enter politics to ensure righteous leadership, bring the Gospel with you.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s