My friend John Meunier is holding me accountable…I can’t write anymore on Glenn Beck than I already have:
Unfortunately, UMC.org has us linked on their front page (see attached image) and I’ve already had a surge of comments in the past few hours, including some unfortunate ones whose authors have received prayer and comments have been deleted.
However, I hope the blogosphere will forgive me if I don’t really want to talk about Glenn Beck, or his sources, or who misinterpreted what. Let’s instead talk about Justice. Here’s some great links to read:
I also do not see social justice as antithetical to social holiness. My point is that social holiness is prior and broader. In Wesley’s understanding, I think social justice would come out of social holiness. It would be one part of it, but not the entirety. Or, as we become more holy we become more just. In some ways it may help if we remove “social” and think about holiness and justice. I think most people would agree that these two are not the same thing. However, most people would also agree that a holy person would not be unjust. Likewise a holy society would be a just society.
Just how familiar John Wesley was with the prisons of his day can be gauged from the fact that in a period of nine months he preached at least 67 times in various jails — institutions that he had been known to describe as nurseries of “all manner of wickedness.” Indeed, it was because of Wesley’s often fearless criticism of prison conditions that he was sometimes banned from visiting inmates there.
In 1759, Wesley walked to Knowle, near Bristol, to see a company of French prisoners of the Seven Years War. His report was revealing. “About 1,100 of them, we are informed, were confined in that little place, without anything to lie on but a little dirty straw, or anything to cover them but a few foul, thin rags, either by day or night …,” he said. “I was much affected and preached in the evening on ‘Thou shalt not oppress a stranger; for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.’ (Exodus 23.9)”
Justice is, by definition, social. Justice, by definition, is something that exists only between and among individuals and groups of individuals and groups of groups. One might argue that “social justice” is redundant, but one cannot oppose “social justice” without opposing justice itself.
Let me be clear: When Glenn Beck asserts that justice is incompatible with the Gospel and with the teachings of Christ, he is not following the Pauline/Augustinian argument that perfect love transcends justice (“Justice that is only justice is less than justice,” in Reinhold Niebuhr’s phrase). He is, rather, saying that justice itself is a bad thing.
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.
So, that’s a smidge of justice. It’s an inherent part of the Gospel, and an inherent part of Wesleyanism, an inherent part of practically every swath of Christendom, and an inherent part of every form of interpersonal interaction.
And I’m thankful for this whole situation so we can all better articulate what justice is and why it is important.
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