Glenn Beck v. United Methodists, part deux

Yesterday’s post on Glenn Beck netted 20 comments, 12 retweets, and a mention on UMReporter.  Maybe I should try partisan sniping more often to get more readers.  Naah, the ends don’t justify the means, don’t worry.

But the responses here and elsewhere have been enlightening as to just how many people are looking for a reason to avoid talking about justice and society’s ills due to a suspicion it’s code language for Democrats.  Is that the true audience of Beck’s remarks?  People who are looking for a reason to leave their church that encourages them to set society to rights?   Being a pastor, I know all it takes is a little backup to self-justify behavior. Sigh.

But to revisit the issue, today (March 11th 2010) Mr. Beck addressed the issue again:

Today, Beck returned to the subject, insisting that the notion of social justice is “a perversion of the Gospel,” and “not what Jesus would say.”  He went on to say that Americans should be skeptical of religious leaders who are “basing their religion on social justice,” and explained his fear that concern for social justice is a problem “infecting all” faith traditions.

Here’s his specific words:

“There are members [of Beck’s church] who preach social justice all the time.  It is a perversion of the Gospel.  Nowhere does Jesus say, “hey if someone asks for your shirt, give your coat to the government”…That’s not what Jesus would say.  You want to help out, you help out.  It changes you.  That’s what the Gospel is all about you…you, you change it, not have the government dictate it.”

Again, Mr. Beck makes the same mistake: equating social justice as a code word for the Democratic platform.  From the blogtalk I’ve witnessed, it’s an equating of social justice with the social welfare programs so bitterly hated by that edge of politics. But as talked about 18 different ways on the internets, social justice is beyond Beck’s comprehension in scope and its reflection of the Gospel.

I like all of these, but I like what Eugene Cho says the best:

But [Cho’s church] Quest does speak (and attempts) of pursue mercy, justice, and humility not because they are code words for some sort of agenda but because they are central to the Triune God.  How can you read the Scriptures or examine the life and ministry of Christ and not sense that mercy, justice, and compassion – particularly to those who are marginalized – aren’t dear to the heart of God?

Please don’t leave your churches just because they have the words “social justice” on their website. If you want a good reason to leave your churches: Leave if the gospel of Christ isn’t being preached and lived out.  And thankfully, justice is an integral part to the gospel of Christ.

Boom.

Thoughts?

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Comments

  1. Timothy Bonney says

    You and Eugene Cho are right on target. Beck is missing the gospel because he is assuming the gospel is only about personal holiness and not also social holiness.

  2. Anonymous says

    After one day of misleading mishmash, I gave you the benefit of the doubt of being ignorant. Now I see you are caught in a web of deceit for those who would like to be inflamed by Beck's comments. Here again is the audio of Mr. Beck's original words.

    http://patrolmag.com/mp3/beck.mp3

    I beg you to come and repent for perpetuating falsehoods, leaving out Beck's words between "leave your church?" and "Yes!" Listen for the reference to Jeremiah Wright's church at about a minute ten seconds into it. Funny how you, Media Matters, The New York Times and others have conveniently left it out! No declaration of war on any specific religion was stated by Beck as you claim. The Holy Bible says to NOT bear false witness. A half truth meant to deceive is Satan's work for sure and the Father of Lies has obviously invaded your house. I neither endorse nor condemn all of what Mr. Beck says, but I do expect those of us who profess Christianity to be held to God's standard of truth. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. You would maybe be surprised who said that!

  3. Anonymous says

    Wow. Thank you Glenn Beck!! Had Jeremy Smith and Jim Wallis not attempted to skew the facts I might not have fully studied things out. I wish Beck had indeed declared war. I went to the official UMC website and really got an education of areas we are way off base under the header Economic and Environmental Justice. Beck was spot on in the analysis, but the delivery could have used improvement.

    Take global warming as one example. The UMC still oficially promotes that 11 of the last twelve years are among the twelve warmest years in recorded history! It has been proven for some time that that is simply not true. Ah but who cares about the truth in the UMC? Do we no longer have a watchdog?

    http://www.umc-gbcs.org/atf/cf/%7B689FEA4C-8849-4C05-A89E-C9BC7FFFF64C%7D/Global%20Warming%20110.pdf

    This is scary. We have become a pawn of Al Gore. OMG!!!
    It has been verified that not only was data modified, manipulated and destroyed contrary to true scientific research, they contiue to feed the lies. Dr. Jones has been found again a liar in testimony to the House of Commons.

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/03/05/phil-jones-called-out-by-swedes-on-data-availability/

    Thank GOD for honest scientists like Steve McIntyre who only want to verify scientific results (part of the scientific method). He has a great website here and a great review of "The Hockey Stick Illusion"
    Anyway since the Methodist Church does not seem to care what the facts are, I question it in entirety. I no longer wish affiliation with the organization, I only desire affiliation with Jesus Christ. Thank you Jeremy Smith and Glen Beck for helping to open my eyes. I was once blind but now I do see! I wonder if the Church of Anti-Cap and Trade is taking applications. If they will allow me to offer Christ, we can take what was wasted on Global Warming/Climate change and give it to the poor, find cures for diseases and so on. Amen and Amen.

  4. Anonymous says

    Since Jeremy has failed to reply to the post about leaving out the part "if your church is that of Jeremiah Wright" and has created a new blog part deux (probably better named part DUH), then I accept that he feels his church is that of Jeremaih Wright and that Beck encouraged him to leave specifically the Methodists. I had not considered it from that perspective. How silly of me. Better run from Jeremy's and Jeremiah's church!!

  5. Carolyn says

    Wow, you guys are seriously vicious. How dare you treat a brother in Christ like that. It's just un-Christian. I pray you will be convicted by the Spirit and repent of your meanness and disrespect.

    What on God's green earth is the problem with creation care? We are commanded to take good care of it in Genesis 1 and 2. Now you are disputing theoretical facts. Climate change is one thing, but what of the violence done to ancient forests in mere days? What of the women and children in Latin America, China, and Somalia that literally live in your trash?

    Christ tells us the greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We will be held accountable for the well-being of our Somalian neighbors. We will be held accountable for destroying God's earth rather than caring for it. The Last Judgment is not just about the content of our hearts; it will pertain also to the ethical ramifications of our actions.

  6. Anonymous says

    Carolyn,
    Your brother in Christ has at the very least perpetuated gossip by posting that Glenn Beck has declared war on the Methodists. I have posted the deliberate omissions from what Mr. Beck actually said and there was no mention of Methodists, Hindi, Mormons, Baptists, Lutherans, etc.!!!
    Mr. Beck specifically said to leave your church "If it was Jeremiah Wright's church!" This was an egregious omission of the facts and a falsehood, intended or not. My Bible says "Thou shalt not bare false witness."
    Jeremy Smith has had ample opportunities to make an honest correction, yet fails to do so. By not doing so, his pride not only gets in the way of his sin, but he has created a rift in the minds of some very good Christians who felt that this was true, a Glenn Beck assault on Methodists. A FALSEHOOD, A LIE.

    Yes, God commanded stewardship over this earth and as a Boy Scout, a father and a grandfather, I have taught being environmentally friendly all my life. I also have Cherokee blood coursing through my veins. The Cherokee could teach the white man "Christian" a thing or ten about care of our resources.
    You state these posts are meanness or disrespect. Do you intend that when injustice occurs, that we should stand idly by in silence? Was Nathan silent when his King took the life of Uriah to gain Bathsheba? Did Christ remain silent at the money changers in the temple? No, His was righteous indignation and pretty violent at that. I guess you could even call it meanness. I cannot tolerate a falsehood perpetuated when it especially causes hurt in people I love because they too Jeremy Smith at his word. He goes ahead with part deux as if nothing happened. Where is integrity? Where is truth? Did I miss the part where God said it is now OK to lie? Or if you lie in ignorance, it is still OK to perpetuate it since it was never intentional? If so, book, chapter and verse PLEASE?
    My prayer for you is that the Spirit will descend upon you and other faithful Christians and will stand up for what is right at all times and all places. WWJD?!!
    My prayer for Jeremy Smith is tht he too like David, has a confidant who will help him like Nathan to see this evil that hath been committed and that he will repent before God and publicly acknowledge the error. Some of his damage, he will never be able to restore, but he should do what he can.
    From 1 Tim. 5:13 we learn that busybodies, speak things which they ought not.
    In 1 Peter 4:15 we see that busybodies are classified with the thieves, evildoers, and murderers. The Lord knows how grevious thing a lie can lead to. Intentional or not.
    Now, lest you think I am Becks greatest fan , know this that if a friend emails a beautiful, moving, or patriotic, or faith promoting story as a truth, and I discover through Snopes.com and others, that it is not, I will reply to all in the email sent to correct the wrong as best I can. I believe that emails I blindly forwarded without verification, but were ultimately false, convicted me of false witness. I have repented. Part of my penance is to risk making friends and strangers mad because I have to stand up for truth.
    Jeremy Smith as well as Glen Beck are both our Fathers children. I am compelled to treat them individually with respect. On the other hand, their actions, if not in harmony with the Bible, I reserve the right to not tolerate sin, but love the sinner. I hope that is not above comprehension to most readers here.

  7. Joel Zimmerman says

    Perhaps we've missed the point entirely. Does Beck call the UMC out by name? No. Does he attack the way in which we live out our faith? Yes. Perhaps Glenn would prefer that we call Social Justice, the Gospel Justice because that's what it is, but then we're arguing simantics. The Gospel calls us to love one another, and for many of us this means doing something to show that love, and not just saying it in a card. This is of foremost importance to us and not what political party it aligns with. To preach what candidates to vote for is not what the Gospel calls us to do, and shame to the preachers that do this. However, to call our congregations to the specific loving actions that the weak, the lame, the downtrodden and struggling need is not political but Gospel. If someone views this as a political manuever they are sorely mistaken. Glenn is a political commentator, commedian, and a political organizer (tea party) and his agenda is much different than ours. He will say and do what he needs to raise his ratings, keep his viewers, and push his agenda. That's his job.
    The comments on this post and part one's post are missing the point. As a community of faith, we have a common calling to love and to express that love through action as a community of believers of and in Christ, not Glenn Beck or any politician, or political party.

  8. Carolyn says

    @ Joel, you said exactly what I would have said.

    @ Anon, 1) Why is the 9th commandment in the Decalogue more important to you than The Greatest Commandment, "love your neighbor as yourself?" You are continually quoting Moses and Paul rather than Jesus. I question whether you do indeed take Jesus seriously, as you claim. If you actually did what Jesus would have done, you would sell all you have, give it to the poor, and go out to minister to those on the fringes of society, bringing only your coat and staff (Luke 9).

    2) Why will you not put your name to the things you write? It seems to me cowardice. Either stand behind what you have written or do not write such nefarious accusations.

  9. Anonymous says

    Carolyn,
    Wow are you missing the boat.
    First of all the greatest commandment is:

    And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

    The second was like unto it, to love neighbor as self.

    Are you remotely suggesting that Jesus would approve of lieing as long as one loved the person they lied about?

    The two commandments wrap all of the ten commandments into two more complete ones. All of the 10 fit into the two.

    John the Revelator understood this plainly that the Law is not done away at judgement
    Rev. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
    Doesn't appear too good for the liar does it?

  10. Carolyn says

    So, anonymous poster, we agree on two things:

    1. The greatest commandment is to love God and love others, which in many instances demands the same action.

    2. People will be judged by their inner character and their outward actions according to God's justice.

    Thus, given that God demands justice for the poor and outcast, we agree that social justice is important. If I'm missing the boat, then you are too!

  11. pastorbecca says

    Wow, Jeremy, you've been equated with Jim Wallis (comment 3). I'm so jealous!

    The quote from Cho is right on. Thanks for posting and keeping up a discussion, even and especially in the light of folks who'd rather sling insults and debate the gospel of Glenn Beck rather than answer your questions.

    Becca

  12. Anonymous says

    OK, no fooling around. I was convinced to fight for social justice by listening to my minister preach again and again on "what you do for the least of these", on the Sermon on the Mount, on James ("faith without works is dead", or "don't just claim you're a Christian. Live like one").

    That was in the late '50s. It in-formed how I absorbed what I read, even the plain old newspaper.

    It told me that I had to choose sides, since I lived in a segregated state. It made me listen to the Civil Rights workers who asked questions about the War in Vietnam.

    I still read the Bible. I read of people crying out for a messiah who will bring God's righteousnes to this world.

    And the there is Glen Beck. Poor deluded TV person who thinks Christians ought to work for injustice, torture, misery, and starvation.

    Oh, for other Methodists who have strayed here, do you really think that John Wesley could have preached the program of the British Labour Party, 1945? Do you think that Wesley chose not to call for socialized medicine in 1780, or maybe that no one had even imagined the British government as anything but a monopoly of force to be used in defense of the interest of gentry and aristocracy?

    Do Methodists expect Wesley to talk like anything but an 18th century Tory with a deep empathy for the people in pain?

    I'm a seventh generation Methodist, and you social injustice people don't belong in my church. Be-gone. Go worship Glen Beck somewhere else.

    Why you're making a fuss now is baffling. The National Council of Churches, founded by Methodists and others, has always had a set of "social principles". They date back to social principles adopted by the Methodist Church around 1910. Yes…100 years ago. The original principles called for an end to child labor, called for a six-day work week, asked that unions have some freedom to organize. Radical stuff.

    We had the social principles when you sneaked into my church. You don't like them? Go ask Pat Robertson.

    John Welch
    SP&SA UMC
    OSA ELCA

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