Monday, March 15, 2010

Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and Your Church

If you pay any attention to the news, you are well aware of Glenn Beck’s comments concerning social or economic justice and the local church. If you haven’t been paying attention, or in case you just want to read it again, here is what he said on his radio broadcast two weeks ago.

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! If I’m going to Jeremiah’s Wright’s church? Yes! Leave your church. Social justice and economic justice. They are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, “Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?” I don’t care what the church is. If it’s my church, I’m alerting the church authorities: “Excuse me, what’s this social justice thing?” And if they say, “Yeah, we’re all in that social justice thing,” I’m in the wrong place.

I am politically, socially, and especially theologically conservative, but I’m not a fan of the talking heads – Beck, Rush, Hannity, Courter, etc. Many times I do agree with their opinion, but rarely do I agree with their presentation or delivery. I also think that “sound bite” narrative gets us no where, and that is the case with this latest bombshell from Glenn Back. I agree with Beck in the sense that “social justice” and “economic justice” are often if not always “code words” in many churches for a liberal – both politically and theologically – agenda. The way in which Beck couched his argument, however, was just plain stupid.

Local churches are to be people of the Gospel – not a “social gospel” but the gospel of Jesus Christ. This good news begins with bad news – all men are sinners and the penalty of sin is death; which is eternal punishment in a literal hell. This is what makes the good news so glorious. We deserve death and punishment for we are all guilty of sin, but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ alone is how we must respond to this good news in order to have victory over death through Christ and for His glory. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

This is the glorious grace of God which brings salvation to all who will repent and believe, and I think it’s important to hear what Titus says about God’s grace.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11-14 emphasis mine)

Notice that believers are to be zealous, to be eager to do what is good. Doing good is an emphasis of Titus’ letter; follow along with me as a show you the pattern:

  • Titus 1:16, “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”
  • Titus 2:7, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works…”
  • Titus 2:14, “…zealous of good works.”
  • Titus 3:1, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.
  • Titus 3:8, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”
  • Titus 3:14, “And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses that they be not unfruitful.”

In other words, there is to be about a believer’s life and a church’s life a distinctive, practical godliness that has to do with goodness. Yes, it is faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is not alone! We must understand that saved by grace means saved to do good works. Good works are not the basis of salvation, but they are certainly the evidence of it.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them, (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Churches are never to sacrifice THE Gospel on the altar of “social justice”, but the idea that churches are to be socially unjust is unBiblical.

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