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    In the Christian Tradition, Another Boycott:  Wallis vs. Beck

    In the Christian Tradition, Another Boycott:  Wallis vs. Beck

    It all started last week when Fox News commentator Glenn Beck told people to leave any church that mentioned social or economic justice because they were just trying to preach a socialistic message.  Beck, a Mormon, seemingly ticked off Jim Wallis, president of the progressive Christian group Sojourners.  And the response... the very biblical "Christian Boycott".

    According to a CNN article:

    Wallis says Beck perverted Jesus' message when he urged Christians last week to leave churches that preach social and economic justice.

    Wallis says at least 20,000 people have already responded to his call to boycott Beck. He says Beck is confusing his personal philosophy with the Bible.

    "He wants us to leave our churches, but we should leave him," Wallis says of Beck. "When your political philosophy is to consistently favor the rich over the poor, you don't want to hear about economic justice."

    Wallis says he wants to go on Beck's show to challenge the contention that churches shouldn't preach economic and social justice.

    Social and economic justice is at the heart of Jesus' message, Wallis says.

    "He's afraid of being challenged on his silly caricatures," Wallis says. "Glenn Beck talks a lot when he doesn't have someone to dialogue with. Is he willing to talk with someone who he doesn't agree with?"

    I love the line that Glenn Beck talks a lot when he doesn't have someone to dialogue with.  Don't we all.  Don't we all.

    What do you think about Beck, Wallis, and this new boycott?

    Todd

    Here's the article

    Comments

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    1. Leonard on Tue, March 16, 2010

      Sigh…  Rearranging the chairs on the titanic…

    2. Pastor Shelton on Tue, March 16, 2010

      Wow, Glenn can’t be more wrong on this.  I wonder what he does with texts like Isaiah 58, or Matthew 25:31-46, or Jesus’ proclamation of his mission that “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,” or how about the entire book of Amos.  Obviously I could go on and on with text after text that says over and over that the Kingdom of God is all about social justice.  Why else were the first Christians selling their properties and giving the proceeds to meet people’s needs.  While he can debate till he is blue in the face that this type of concern may not be necessary for the US government, it is absolutely not debatable that social justice is to be a chief concern of the church.  Any such argument against social justice as a concern of the church is rooted in a partial reading of scripture or, as Walls suggests, an eisogetical reading that approaches scripture with preconceived notions of what it says.  Sorry for the rant, but this strikes a nerve.

      Shelton

    3. Leonard on Tue, March 16, 2010

      Shelton, Glenn doesn’t use those texts… He is Mormon.

    4. Pastor Shelton on Tue, March 16, 2010

      Oh, and boycotts are so last century.  Obviously Walls’ tactic is spurred on by the overwhelming success of the SBC in bringing Disney to its needs during its Biblical Boycott of anything with mouse ears on it.  Me thinks there might be better ways…

      Shelton

    5. Jerry on Tue, March 16, 2010

      The ‘social justice’ in churches Glenn talks about is not the loving, share-because-there-is-a-brother-in-need kind that is/should be the way of the Christian church, but a government-forced brand of taking from the haves and giving to the have nots. He is talking about the the kind of social justice that demands payment for past societal mistakes and the forcible redistribution of wealth to pay for those mistakes. He was NOT talking about what Jesus was teaching. Did he over-generalize? Sure. I don’t believe, however, that he was speaking out against Jesus. The bottom line is there are churches out there that are more concerned with economic and social justice than they are with Jesus.

      I would much rather take care of those in the church first, then make an opportunity to witness to the down-trodden members of society by showing the love of Jesus, than have the government take my money by force so they can give to many who have no intention of listening to the Word of God.

    6. JD Eddins on Tue, March 16, 2010

      Personally, I’m not a fan of boycotts.  Bumper sticker theology and Facebook groups against _________ aren’t the way to approach things like this.  While I agree with Wallis’ statement that Beck is presenting a distorted view of the Gospel, I will be taking a different approach.  I don’t view ceasing to watch Beck’s show as a boycott, rather, he simply does not reflect my values, therefore I would rather use that time for something more productive. Maybe that’s splitting hairs, but that’s just the way I see it.

    7. sgillesp on Tue, March 16, 2010

      Perhaps I’m putting words in Wallis’s mouth, but I think this is just one of many, many reasons Christians shouldn’t be watching/listening to Glenn Beck, except to take notes so as to help their brothers/sisters in Christ give up a dependence on Beck.  He is either extremely fearful himself, or a cynical fearmonger, but the result is that he makes all sorts of claims and threats that no one makes him accountable for, and he spurs his audience to xenophobic hoarding and self-righteous fear of the “other” - which is pretty much everyone.  There is nothing, nothing Christlike about that, and it is devilish to put Christian lingo around it as though it were.

    8. CS on Tue, March 16, 2010

      “Social and economic justice is at the heart of Jesus’ message, Wallis says.”

      No, no, no.  The heart of Jesus message is salvation.  Besides that, the words, “social justice,” when used to describe generosity, charity, and goodwill, is an improper use of the terms.

      Imagine that someone stole something from you. That person winds up getting away with the crime, and nothing happens to them. But, as a nice gesture, a stranger gives you a replacement item. Is this justice? No.

      Justice is when the proper punishment or reward is given in a righteous way. In the case above, justice would be fulfilled if the thief was caught, sentenced, and the item was returned.

      So, when we administer goodwill under the guise of, “social justice,” we are not fulfilling justice in its empirical sense. We may be trying to right a wrong, such as in the example of helping someone who was fired by a company unfairly, but that doesn’t vindicate the victim.

      And, sometimes, “social justice,” are words that that don’t even apply to a situation. For example, if a poor country is trying to get through a famine, there is no oppressor there against whom justice could be sought.

      So, if churches are using this term to mean charity, that’s a wrong application and should be corrected.  Unless, of course, the true goal is to bring balance to the haves and have-nots, as Beck would allege, in which case I would indeed agree with him that people should flee, because that is a message akin to Communism.


      CS

    9. Gerry on Tue, March 16, 2010

      Regarding the comments of sgillesp, the worst response to someone who overgeneralizes is to overgeneralize.  Beck was the first media person to speak out against Acorn and Van Jones and he was right.

    10. Josh R on Tue, March 16, 2010

      I sure wish somebody aside from Wallis would get the spotlight on this one.  I am sure that most Pastors agree that Beck’s statement was idiodic, and over the line..  Wallis is saying exactly what anyone who knows Wallis would expect Wallis to say— Seems like there are a lot of voices who would have more credibility.

      The church should stand up for the oppressed and the weak.  In general I don’t think they should promote a political solution, but a generosity solution.  Some things elimination of slavery or abortion however are going to require a political component in order to be accomplished.

    11. sgillesp on Tue, March 16, 2010

      no, no, no - the message of the gospel is not JUST “salvation” - the message of the gospel is the Kingdom of God.  The church is to be the representation of the kingdom while we await its fullness in the return of Christ.  Thus whatever we do or don’t do needs to be seen under the Lordship of Christ as representative acts of the kingdom. 

      In response to someone else’s post - voting for government programs that help us when we are in need, is not letting “others” do it - although I am a citizen of the kingdom of God, I still live and act among this people, so it is an action of “we” that I am voting for or against. 

      And about taxes being ‘theft” - that’s certainly not the way that Jesus, nor Paul, saw it.  In fact, I think you would agree that the money I have is not mine, it is the Lord’s (all of it, not just the tithe).  I don’t think the Lord is pleased with Christians who suddenly become tightwads about money when we start talking about taking care of others, particularly when the discussion veers toward whether or not they are deserving.  There is far more in scripture about grace than there is about the “deserving” poor. 

      So again, you might argue that there is a better or more efficient or more grace-filled way of lifting up my neighbor (while at the same recognizing that there but for the grace of God, go I - and I may be there yet in my life!).  It is profitably argued, for instance, that micro-credit works far better than direct aid.  But I truly believe that once we are arguing about “socialism” and taxes being theft, we have left the realm of scripture and are arguing about something else.

    12. Peter Hamm on Tue, March 16, 2010

      CS,

      The idea of justice is indeed at the heart of Jesus message.

      Imagine that you stole from somebody and then lost what you stole and were caught and had to pay it back but couldn’t possibly do it… and imagine somebody else paid it for you, because the debt must be paid or you die… oh, you get the picture. God’s justice becomes mercy and grace…

      As far as what some refer to as justice for the poor, God talks about it a lot in the Old Testament and Jesus re-iterates it in the new. He has a higher standard of justice than our sense of fair play can contain. His idea of justice for the poor involves those who have much blessing them with some of it. If you can’t see that, I might be reading a different Bible than you.

      I have never really listened to anything Beck has said, and doubt now that I ever will.

    13. CS on Tue, March 16, 2010

      Peter:

      “Imagine that you stole from somebody and then lost what you stole and were caught and had to pay it back but couldn’t possibly do it… and imagine somebody else paid it for you, because the debt must be paid or you die… oh, you get the picture. God’s justice becomes mercy and grace…”

      You’re right that justice is at the heart of Jesus’ message, but that’s divine justice, not, “social and economic justice.”

      “As far as what some refer to as justice for the poor, God talks about it a lot in the Old Testament and Jesus re-iterates it in the new. He has a higher standard of justice than our sense of fair play can contain. His idea of justice for the poor involves those who have much blessing them with some of it. If you can’t see that, I might be reading a different Bible than you.”

      Again, that’s charity, goodwill, and benevolence.  And unlike the social and economic justice movement which is going on now, where money is taken from the rich by the government and given to the poor, that is done as an expression of the heart due to a saved life.


      CS

    14. Peter Hamm on Tue, March 16, 2010

      CS,

      I think we agree. It’s merely the semantics that may be at issue.

      What you and many of us call “charity”, God seems to call “justice” for the poor in the OT. A quick romp through a Concordance and check the uses of that word bears that out.

      Blessings
      Peter

    15. CS on Tue, March 16, 2010

      sgillesp:

      “And about taxes being ‘theft” - that’s certainly not the way that Jesus, nor Paul, saw it.  In fact, I think you would agree that the money I have is not mine, it is the Lord’s (all of it, not just the tithe).  I don’t think the Lord is pleased with Christians who suddenly become tightwads about money when we start talking about taking care of others, particularly when the discussion veers toward whether or not they are deserving.  There is far more in scripture about grace than there is about the “deserving” poor. “

      Yes, our money is not our own—all of it belongs to the Lord.  I agree there.  And I would agree that some of our tax base serves a popular need through things like roads and defense.  But as the government is not Christian, I do not endorse it as a means for helping the poor (bridges onto the other post today).

      In a Christian perspective, if someone is in need, then that believer should, out of the wealth God has given him and in line with his conscience, assist that person.  But if a person has no inclination to give because of his conscience, or if that money will go towards things that are contrary to God, and someone says that that person has no choice but to give his money, that looks like theft to me.  That’s not giving from a Christian heart, but that is coercion or compulsion.

      Do we give to taxes?  Yes, we render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.  But taxes are not the same as the type of charity Christ described.  Otherwise, we wind up blending the line between Caesar and Christ in purpose and function.

      So when Jesus says to give to the poor, I totally disagree that He would have done so under the veil of, “social and economic justice,” as it’s now described.


      CS

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