Recently Glenn Beck said, “If you find the words social justice or economic justice, on your church website, run as fast as you can.” He suggests that congregants in churches that teach social/economic justice should leave their churches and find new ones, and that these words are code words indicating communism or Nazism.
“Good god, are you kidding?” Nope. Watch this.
Beck is ignorant. Rather than running from churches that preach social justice, people should be flocking to them. It is the church’s job to shape society, to hold it to a higher standard. The church, more than any other institution, should be calling our social and economic systems to account.
It is simply indisputable that Jesus cared deeply for the poor and the disadvantaged, and devoted his life to serving them, challenging his followers to do the same. There is room, perhaps, for disagreement on how a faithful follower of Jesus should respond to this challenge — whether by asking more of our social and economic systems on a government level, or whether by working for justice through private organizations. These are two responses to that challenge from Jesus that are determined not by any objective command from Christ, but rather by one’s own political point of view. Those who believe that government has a responsibility to structure itself on behalf of the “least of these” will see Christ’s words as a command to ratchet up government programs. Those who do not believe government should be involved in helping the poor will see Christ’s words as a command to do all one can for the poor voluntarily, both as an individual and through support of private programs.
But I almost forgot my main point, which of course is that Glenn Beck doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. I am a pastor, a counselor, and a college instructor, therefore I avoid giving people advice on how to fly airplanes, or play rugby. Glenn Beck is not a theologian and should probably consider not advising people on what is and is not appropriate for their churches to teach. As you see from the video, he apparently does not even understand his own religious tradition’s take on this.
Every church should teach social justice, because it is simply indisputable, looking at scripture, that the poor and disadvantaged are close to the heart of God. Biblical Christians can certainly disagree over what should be done, but not that the commands are there to do something. In fact, any church that neglects this teaching is missing what is apparently a key priority for God, if 2300 verses in scripture about money and/or poverty bear any weight at all. (More verses on money and poverty than any other topic in scripture.)
For anyone interested more in reality than in hysterics, you might check this out: