Southern Religion

Faith’s response to Glenn Beck’s troll

Glenn Beck set out on a heretical publicity troll. Last Tuesday he said “the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site” are “code words,” linked to communism and/or Nazism, and you should leave the church. Thus provoking response from people who know silence in the face of falsehood can be seen as assent.

James Martin, writing for the Catholic weekly American, said:

Of course this means that you would have to leave the Catholic Church, which has long championed that particular aspect of the Gospel. The term “social justice” originated way back in the 1800s (and probably predates even that) and has been continually underlined by the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the church) and popes since Leo XIII, who began the modern tradition of Catholic social teaching with his encyclical on capital and labor, Rerum Novarum in 1891. Subsequent popes have built on Leo’s work, continuing the church’s meditation on a variety of social justice issues, in such landmark documents as Pope Pius XI’s encyclical on “the reconstruction of the social order,” Quadregismo Anno (1931), Paul VI’s encyclical “on the development of peoples,” Populorum Progressio (1967), and John Paul II’s encyclical “on the social concerns of the church” Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987). Social justice also undergirds much of Catholic social teaching on peace. “If you want peace,” said Pope Paul VI, “work for justice.”

The membership of the United Methodist Church must also flee en masse. It can be argued Kevin Watson observed last year, It can be argued from Wesley that their denominational devotion to social justice extends unbroken all the way back to the foundations:

Directly opposite to this is the gospel of Christ. Solitary religion is not to be found there. ‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness.
John Wesley, “Preface to 1739 Hymns and Sacred Poems”

Nor is it just Catholicism and Methodism one must abandon to meet Beck’s standards. As Martin observes, “Glenn Beck is saying something else, which might get lost in the translation: Leave Christianity. “

United Church of Christ pastor Daniel Schultz demonstrates at Religion Dispatches, “you can’t read the Bible for very long before you stumble into some concern for social or economic justice.” He offers a list of citations, although you can quickly build your own. You don’t have to agree that “God is a Liberal” to do it. You can ask Old Testament scholar Scot McKnight, for example.

To confront Beck on his own multimedia ground, The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good is raising money develop a short video of rebuttal.

[H/T: Bold Faith Type]


March 10, 2010 - Posted by | Politics, Religion | ,


  1. I guess Jesus would have to leave, too, because He told Peter to “feed my sheep.”

    Comment by Gerri Batchelor | March 11, 2010

  2. […] Block on Thought Re: Infrequent Co…Ruth on Thought Re: Infrequent Co…Faith’s respon… on Wesley Said It: the Necessity …Bradley on Too Close […]

    Pingback by Prooftexting Wesley « deeply committed | March 12, 2010

  3. I think in acts it says, all worked so that the poor man
    lacked nothing and the rich person had nothing to spare.

    Comment by james lamm | March 13, 2010

    • Are you referring to a verse or verses following Acts 2:42-45? Or associated with Acts 4:32-37?

      Comment by baptistplanet | March 13, 2010

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