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Last Thursday Glenn Beck started a little firestorm over the topic of “social justice” and the Church. MSNBC hammered him…

First off, I have trouble listening to Rev. Jim Wallis talk about justice when he has no regard for the plight of the unborn. His “gospel” is good news for the trees on the planet but bad news for the smallest most vulnerable people on the planet. But putting that aside, he does what any marginally Biblically literate person could do, he lays out a watertight case showing that the Bible speaks volumes about justice and God’s heart for the poor. However, Wallis refuses to acknowledge that much of what passes as “social justice” is rooted in politics, humanism and the rejection of Jesus as the Savior of the World.

But he does do a good job of making Glenn Beck look like an idiot. Beck says “social justice” has become a code word. Here are those controversial comments;

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,” he said, referring to the incendiary black pastor who led the church attended by the Obama family members when they lived in Chicago. “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?’ 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.”

“Social justice was the rallying cry–economic justice and social justice–the rallying cry on both the communist front and the fascist front.” … “Nowhere does Jesus say, Hey, if somebody asks for your shirt, give your coat to the government and have the government give them a pair of slacks.”

I wouldn’t say the term “social justice” is a code word and I disagree that each time it is used that it is a veiled Communism or Fascism. I do think however social justice is a thoroughly Biblical theme that has been undeniably hijacked by humanists who reject the revelation of Jesus Christ as THE answer to what ails the poor of the world. It’s unfortunate (for Beck) that he dove head first into this seemingly lacking a broader understanding of what he was getting himself into – theologically, Biblically, and historically.

Listening to these clips of him speaking on this topic makes me think he’s not aware the debate and controversy these past 125 years over the notion of a “social gospel” – something which has divided mainline and evangelical churches for a century.  As you can see in the video he set himself up for a major smack down. I saw that coming a mile away. 

Fire away at me for saying this but I view Glenn Beck as an emerging prophetic voice to a nation – he is the loudest voice right now pointing this nation back to its Christian Foundations – and yes I am aware he is a Mormon. God can speak through donkeys.  And right now the MSM wants us to think he’s an ass.

It’s not true that every church that uses the term “social justice” is speaking in code. However, it IS true those who have no tolerance for how the Bible says justice will come to the earth have hi-jacked the term. And, in my view, it is true that many evangelicals are falling fast into a false justice movement that is taking root in the earth.  In my view, Beck is on to something, although it appears to me that he’s not fully aware of what he stumbled onto.

At the End of the Age a counterfeit justice movement will emerge that will set the poor up to receive the anti-Christ (Rev. 13:16-17). Stuart Greaves writes;

…a false justice movement is emerging in the earth that will seek to serve the poor, but will end up seducing them with lies and leading them to eternal ruin. Multitudes of the poor of the earth will bend the knee before a demonized man… the very movement that claims to be motivated by compassion to serve and liberate the poor is, in fact, preparing them to be swept up into the harlot religion and receive the Anti-Christ…

In that article (sited below), Greaves differentiates the false justice movement with the Christ-Centered Justice Movement. Greaves says:

Pursuing social action outside the context of the apostolic gospel is opening up the door to preaching a false version of Jesus, a Jesus who is nothing more than a sympathetic humanitarian with a gospel of social reformation.

The basis of the false justice movement will be in humanism and in the rejection of Jesus Christ but it will appear compassionate.  To quote an important book from a couple decades ago – there is a beautiful side of evil —and that is how many will be deceived – counterfeits are masked as the real thing.  The stage is set for that and Beck, though hardly an articulate spokesman on the topic of the false justice movement, has, for better or worse, stumbled onto it. Regarding Jesus (as the One who returns to bring true justice to the earth), the Bible says righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. The false justice movement rejects righteousness – they “pursue social activism at the expense of holiness of heart.” (Greaves)

Here is the link to the Stuart Greaves article Pursuing Christ-Centered Social Justice.  Greaves also has a good teaching on God’s Vision for Justice.

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At least once a month I consider giving up blogging all together. Every time I hit “publish” I realize I’m drawing a great big target on my back. The reason I keep doing it is because I try to focus on the 300-500 people a day who read this and the many who write me or comment to me saying what I’m writing is helpful to them in terms of thinking through what they believe. I’ve discovered it’s really a form of discipleship that didn’t exist ten years ago. For that reason I think pastors need to be blogging, and especially on controversial and relevant current event topics.

Twenty-years ago I read a book by professor and sociologist Tony Campolo called “Twenty Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to Touch!” It had chapters on whether or not a Christian should own a BMW, or whether it’s okay for a Christian to put their aging mother in the county home, etc, etc. But whether or not I agreed with his conclusions (a few I don’t) what I most remember from this book is that he had the guts to write it and I resolved at that point to be a pastor who isn’t swayed by the fear of man. So pastors… blog boldly!!

In my view, blogging time for pastors is no different than Bible study leading time or visitation time. Ten years ago I’d think I only touched a couple hundred people a week. However with this venue, that number increases at least tenfold. A man in our church told me that even though I was gone this summer, he stayed “well-fed” just by digesting what I put here. Another Christian in town here recently commented how thankful they were for this blog because their church didn’t feed them on Sunday. I wish I could say to their pastor…. Pastor, your sheep are starving and you are only bringing more straw for them to lay on. Lead them into a greener pasture and deeper waters. Shepherd’s, take up the rod and staff and give the wolf a good whack!

For a couple days now I’ve been sitting on a post on the topic of “Christians and social drinking” (I’ve decided I’ll publish that shortly). I’ve been hesitant because I don’t need any more headaches. If I say I’m okay with social drinking for example, those who aren’t let me know why (and some express their disagreement by disfellowshipping! No pastor wants that!). If I say it’s wrong, another whole group is frustrated because there is freedom in the Scriptures on this matter. So most pastors say nothing. I think what conclusions pastors draw on a particular topic aren’t nearly as important as modeling the process of Biblical thinking.

I’m speaking this fall on James and I’m already thinking about how I’ll tackle the taming the tongue texts in chapter 3. I do know I’ll share my own journey these past two years in taming my keyboard – I’ve tackled the most controverisal subjects in America on my blogs and have come a long way in discerning the difference between taking cheap shots and writing with prophetic boldness.

Yesterday on my pro-life blog I made the comment, “Am I the only one who actually contemplated reporting oneself to flag@whitehouse.gov? I’m happy to be on their enemies list and go on record as a lead opposer of such systemic evil.” Pastors, God calls you to be a watchman and sound the alarm if one bearing a sword comes in to slaughter. Pastors should be key to alerting the elderly in their congregations of the impending danger. Pastors ought to be the loudest opposers of such evil (opposing medical murder – letting the elderly and the disabled die, and killing the unborn). This health care bill is really cash for clunkers in that the old and infirmed (useless eaters) are taken off the streets! And the church is quiet?? Pastors, God is looking for your name on the white house enemies list. I couldn’t agree more with my friend Randy Bohlender on this topic today – Randy, thanks for blogging boldly and taking Jim Wallis & Co. to task!

A number of times as I’ve traveled our state talking with pastors one will make a comment that they don’t talk about subjects like abortion because there are folks in the church who’ve had them and they don’t want to make them uncomfortable. I’ve started to reply to that comment by asking what other parts of the Bible they avoid because people might get uncomfortable. I talk about this stuff boldly and have women I’ve never met come up to me months later to thank me “for saving them from their own private hell.” When I ask what they are talking about they say most pastors only talk about love and God and “I didn’t want God to love me or forgive me because I thought what I did was unforgivable.” They go on to say that me addressing this and taking them to the mercy seat of God brought them into a place of healing and peace with God that sitting in the controversy-free church never did. That’s the story I’m telling these days when people want me to just stick to “preaching the gospel.” The gospel has great application to the post-abortive and the unborn! Pastor, who aren’t you reaching because you are afraid to lay the gospel over-a-top the darkest places?

Those of you following this blog this summer know I spent the bulk of the summer in Europe (among other things) visting the Reformation sites and reading a sizable stack of books about the key players in the 16th century struggle to change Christianity in one generation. I read about (and could relate to) the bloody controversies and found myself asking God: why can’t it be easier? What I’m learning is that controversy is one of the ways God gets us 1) to dig deeper into what the Scriptures really say while at the same time giving us an opportunity 2) to walk in love with those who see it differently. In my view, believers in the 16th century were successful with the former and failed miserably at the latter. I’d like to see the 21st century church succeed at both.

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