Friday, March 12, 2010

Open Letter to Glenn Beck

Dear Mr. Beck,

This past week on your radio show you told your listeners to "run as fast as [they] can" from any church that teaches social justice. You said that social justice and economic justice are "code words" for Communism. I don't mean to question your faith, but I wonder what would possess you to say that, since there are so many verses in the Bible about justice.

I often hear Christians say Jesus only came to save people from Hell, and that he had no social agenda. While it's true that His main goal was to atone for our sins on the cross, there is a social aspect to the Gospel. As you may remember in Luke, Jesus announced His ministry after reading Isaiah 61:1-2 in a synagogue:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor

In case you didn't know, the "year of the Lord's favor" is a reference to the Jubilee Year that occurred every 50 years, which is when all debts were cancelled, and all slaves were freed. Some may say Jesus meant to say He was going to liberate us spiritual slavery only, and as I said earlier that was His main goal. However, if you take a look at His ministry, His spiritual healing was always accompanied by physical healing. Remember when the bedridden man was lowed from the roof? Jesus both forgave his sins and made the man walk again. That's why I believe the Gospel liberates us from both spiritual and physical bondage.

Some other verses to consider are Matthew 25:31-46, Micah 6:8, Deuteronomy 16:20, Psalm 89:14, and Proverbs 31:9. These are just a handful of the thousands of Bible verses concerning either the poor or justice. God clearly has a heart for the poor and marginalized in society.

I don't know if you know this, but social justice is actually not a new fad in Christianity. As Rev. James Martin, S. J. recently said on Huffington Post, "The term 'social justice' originated way back in the 1800s (and probably predates even that), and has been underlined by the Magisterium 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." Rerum Novarum condemned unrestricted capitalism, and supported the formation of trade unions. The document still influenced modern Catholic social teaching, particularly the themes of preferential option for the poor, and dignity of work and the rights of workers.

And what about the Quakers who played a major role in the abolition movement? Or the black churches who marched for civil rights in the '60s? Their belief in social justice changed the world. What about Rick Warren's current P.E.A.C.E. Plan? Should we report him as a Commie?

Mr. Beck, I pray that the Lord will open your heart to the Scriptures, and that you will see how God stands with the poor and marginalized.



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