Friday, March 19, 2010

Beck, Wallis, & Social Justice

Glen Beck and Jim Wallis are polar opposites who are now in a public cat-fight, yet they share a common trait: both men fail to grasp biblical Christianity and its teachings on social justice.The war of words between the two men started when Beck, on his radio show, said, "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 I am going to Jeremiah Wright's church. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop."

Wallis fired back in a post, saying: "Beck says Christians should leave their social justice churches, so I say Christians should leave Glenn Beck. I don't know if Beck is just strange, just trying to be controversial, or just trying to make money. But in any case, what he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show. His show should now be in the same category as Howard Stern." Wallis went on to accuse Beck of having that political philosophy that "consistently favors the rich over the poor."

Yet it seems neither man truly understands Christ's teachings.  For one, neither man holds to an historic understanding of the Christian faith.  Beck is a Mormon and Wallis has a faith system that is reminiscent of classical Liberalism. It seems odd, then, that each of these men would claim to speak on what constitutes the "true" Christian perspective.

Beck's version of Christianity appears cold and heartless. It is a rugged, 'pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps' religion that seems to have more faith in the political idea of free enterprise than in the historic Christ. To deny that the Church is to advocate for the justice and well-being of the poor and oppressed is to deny key teachings of Christ, not to mention a clear element of Old Testament Mosaic law. James 1:27 tells us that part of "pure Christianity" is looking after "orphans and widows in their trouble".

Wallis, conversely, confuses the pursuit of justice with extreme left-wing ideaology. Wallis's version of social justice would keep abortion legal and force the nation to recognize the 'rights' of married gay couples.  With one breath he condones the rampant and often brutal Communism in Central and South America (which strips people of justice), and with the next breath condemns American military intervention overseas (which seeks to bring justice to the people). It is one thing to have faith in the cross of Christ, it is another thing entirely to have faith in an expansive totalitarian government program.

Christians must not retreat from the political arena.  The myth that politics should be 'religiously neutral' is one of the main tenants of secular humanism--a philosophical system that has declared a cold war on all perspectives but its own.  In that respect, we should be glad that Beck and Wallis are bringing faith into the public square.  The only problem is that what they are bringing isn't the Christian faith. We are still waiting for our modern day William Wilberforce.


  1. Josh,

    For the most part I agree with you when it comes to the views of both Beck and Wallis. However, Wallis is somewhat more conservative in the areas of abortion and gay marriage then you are painting him. He is still an evangelical/mainline liberal, but is not to the degree of a Brian McLaren. Here is an interview that Christianity Today had with Jim Wallis a couple years ago where he clarifies his views on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, poverty, and war......

  2. If Mr. Beck were to listen to himself, we would walk out of the Mormon group (it's not a "church") as well - see this essay promoting "economic justice" for women on the LDS site:

    My take, painting with far too broad a brush, I know, is: liberals tend to place far too much faith in the State. Conservatives tend to place far too much faith in Business. Both State and Business are populated by fallen men. Both liberals and conservatives deny the effects of the Fall on the matters of both State and Business.

  3. Joel,

    I did read that CT article before I wrote this post. His views on abortion and homosexual marriage are almost exactly the same as Bill Clinton's. As for abortion, while he is "personally opposed to abortion", he still thinks it should be legal. While he believes marriage is between a man and woman, he endorses government sanctioned "unions" that are the legal equivalent. In fact, he goes further than Clinton and endorses that Churches "bless and sanction" these Unions. He believes this shouldn't be a divisive issue within the Church, and that conservative churches should warmly embrace those churches that perform gay ceremonies.

    Anything left of those positions would drown you in the Pacific.