Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beck instigates "Social Justice" debate over codewords at churches

Originally posted on

Glenn Beck created a frenzy again with this statement:

"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...Am I
advising people to leave their church? Yes! If they're going to
Jeremiah Wright's church, yes!

"If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another
parish, go alert your bishop and tell them, 'Excuse me are
you down with this whole social justice thing?' If it's my church, I'm
alerting the church authorities: 'Excuse me what's this social justice
thing?' And if they say, 'Yeah we're all in on this social justice
thing,' I am in the wrong place."

The fury raged across the Internet including a close minister friend of mine who vows that "social justice" and "economic justice" are essential to his mission as a Christian.

I really don't care what Beck says, but I agree in that "social justice" is a CODEWORD for socialism and "economic justice" is NOT CHARITY.

Let's dig a bit...

Social justice From Wikipedia:

Social justice is the application of the concept of justice on a social scale.

The term "social justice" was coined by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in the 1840s. The idea was elaborated by the moral theologian John A. Ryan, who initiated the concept of a living wage. Father Coughlin used the term in his publications in the 1930s and 40s, and the concept was further expanded upon by John Rawls' writing in the 1990s. It is one of the Four Pillars of the Green Party upheld by the worldwide green parties. Some tenets of social justice have been adopted by those on the left of the political spectrum.

Social justice is also a concept that some use to describe the
movement towards a socially just world. In this context, social justice
is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution, policies aimed toward achieving that which developmental economists refer to as more equality of opportunity and equality of outcome than may currently exist in some societies or are available to some classes in a given society.

Let's review: progessive taxation, income redistribution and property redistribution....but let's go back and look at Wikipedia's definition of economic egalitarianism:

Economic egalitarianism is a state of economic affairs in which
the participants of a society are of equal standing and equal access to
all the economic resources in terms of economic power, wealth, and
contribution. It is a founding principle of various forms of socialism, communalism and cooperative economic organization.

Jerry Falwell delivers a succinct response:

"Jesus taught that we should give to the poor and support widows, but he
never said that we should elect a government that would take money from
our neighbor's hand and give it to the poor"

and pastors who preach economic and social justice "are trying to twist the gospel to say the gospel supported socialism."

Rev. Jim Wallis disagrees and has been making the rounds:

"The God of the Bible is the God of justice. Though the poor are in the
center of God's concern... Poverty breaks the heart of God. And it
breaks the heart of the church. So, this is about Christians who may
disagree on politics. Republicans, Democrats, it doesn't matter. Left
or right. We have different views on the role of government. Doesn't
matter, But justice is integral to the gospel. And across the spectrum,
Christians are saying Glenn Beck got it wrong." (Wallis on MSNBC's Countdown)

Wallis and other pastors doing EXACTLY what Falwell and Beck claim: twisting the Gospels.

Wallis' statement is correct as it states "GOD of JUSTICE" not justice by means of the government, government intervention or a government program.

From Rev. Wright's Trinity United Church's mission statement:

"It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation."

That is the dividing line: how are you expecting injustice to be fought and by what means?!?!

The Christian Reformed Church has an "Office of Social Justice" and here's a separate example from a Riverside Church under Missions and Social Justice beneath the heading of "Get Involved":

  • Global Justice and Peace: which is support for the UN, task groups to battle "injustices toward undocumented immigrants; and 2) anti-torture and Guantanamo detainees; and 3) environmental protection."

  • Marantha: "promoting equity for Lesbian, Gay,
    Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning people. To these ends, we have
    organized our ministry to serve, advocate, and support the LGBTQ community."

Not all of the goals and missions have political overtones (prison ministry, outreach to Africa) but to deny the churches' directives are politically aligned is completely dishonest.

I never thought I'd agree with Glenn Beck and Jerry Falwell on any topic, but churches need to be honest with regard to the political bias in their directives, especially with socialist terms that use the word "justice" to describe an ends.

From Ronald Nash in "Social Justice and the Christian Church":

"...being a Christian does not obligate one to adopt a liberal and statist
dogma in order to aid the poor. Helping the indigent is definitely a
foundational Biblical ethic, however, there is also a Biblical ethic
which will guide our personal polity concerning government."

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