"I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. 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. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"Now, I don't know what kind of churches he wants us to flee to, but any church that does not preach or work toward social justice or economic justice in one way or another is simply not fulfilling the Church's ecclesiological vocation. It doesn't matter what model your church follows, social justice is simply part of the gospel and it is built into the very word, "salvation." A church which leaves justice out of the story of salvation, leaves the humanity out of Jesus and perpetuates a disembodied gospel; the same kind of gospel which allowed genocide in Rwanda, torture in Chile, and many other historic injustices to persist including, in fact, the holocaust. If Jesus' words, "on earth as it is in heaven," don't have something to do with justice then I don't know how to make sense of them. If the proclamation of the church is simply about going to heaven when you die, saying a magic prayer, or perpetuating the status-quo then its' proclamation is simply not of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't imagine how many pages of the Bible you'd have to tear out in order to really ignore the message of justice and salvation. Indeed issues of poverty and God's solidarity with the poor take up more ink in the bible than any other issue. Desmond Tutu once said,
"I don't preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn't say, 'Now is that political or social?' He said, 'I feed you.' Because the good news to a hungry person is bread."I trust Desmond Tutu's words over Glenn Beck's. Even if you marginally agree with Beck on occasion, don't join him in his brand of paranoia which looks for "code words" for communism even in the language of love.
Michael Hidalgo, Lead Pastor at Denver Community Church, wrote a really good hearted and warm response to Becks words. His gracious response really helped me keep my temper. Read his post A Pastor's Response to Glenn Beck's Call to Leave 'Social Justice' Churches at Sojourners. Scot Mcknight also posted a great post on this.