When Christ was asked about the lawfulness of Jews paying taxes to Ceasar, his response was one of acknowledging both God’s will and Ceasar’s authority:
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
Christ was evidently drawing a distinction between God’s will and His calling on mankind, and the power of government. There is a legitimate question of whether the Church should use government to accomplish God’s will. In American culture, when a right-wing Christian advocates such an idea it is usually shot down as an attempt to impose theocracy on the people. Yet when liberal/progressive Christians or even secularists suggest Christ would support government programs purportedly designed to help those in need the general reaction is quite the opposite.
Recently there has been a controversy between Glenn Beck and the Rev. Jim Wallis, President Obama’s new spiritual advisor. One source on this controversy can be found on the Sojourner’s blog: ‘Jim Wallis Loves His Enemies’ (With a Little Help From His Friends). This is a most curious exchange. Beck’s criticism of “social justice” as code words for socialism and communism is historically justified. But Rev. Wallis, and many others coming to his defense, insist on misrepresenting Beck, the Bible and history.
Let’s start with history. The very idea of social justice was at the heart of Lenin’s and Stalin’s Soviet ideology, Hitler’s Nazi propaganda machine and every socialist regime in power around the world today. The concept of economic equality, not legal equality, was the basic premise behind the greatest evils of the twentieth century. Egalitarianism was the goal, the equalization of wealth, but not justice. Jews, the unborn, homosexuals, dissenters from the government agenda and others were denied their basic human rights by the regimes ostensibly designed to implement “social justice”. Justice had nothing to do with it because economic equality was the new definition of justice – an inequality of wealth equaled an injustice, almost as if this were a crime against humanity. Beck is right to warn that the term “social justice” has been the call of the greatest mass murderers of human history.
Beck’s comments, on the other hand, are also misrepresented by Rev. Wallis. Never have I heard Glenn Beck argue people should not help those in need, or that we should not give to the poor. The issue for Beck has always been on the historical record of government taking upon itself this benevolent role. History indeed shows us the government agenda to “take care of” the people ends up in the same place Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and other murderous despots brought their people – the opposite of social justice, the opposite of equality, the opposite of the place Christ would lead us. The aim of Beck’s critics on this issue is to make us believe Beck denies the Church’s role in helping the poor. Beck has never made such an outrageous assertion. What Beck does challenge is the insistence that government take on itself a role that rightly belongs to the Church. Please, anyone, find for me an example of Beck criticizing social justice in a way that is NOT also criticizing government oppression or its potential. Beck, and likewise anyone rejecting the notion of government as social savior, has never suggested the Church should NOT help the poor. Rev. Wallis knows this is not what Beck is suggesting, and yet he makes the accusation any way.
Then there is the Bible. From any number of blogs, news stories and more we can see a religious-left distortion of the proper role of the Church. What we see in this liberal/progressive revision of Christianity is a tragic replacement of God’s will with a mythical ideal of social justice. Remember, to the leftist, social justice is about economic equality. Christ was not about economic equality; he was about love. He was not about government loving the people, but about people loving God and loving each other. From government we should expect and if necessary demand justice, legal justice. We don’t really want justice from God, we want mercy. God’s justice would require that He reject us all, for we have all sinned. But, according to Christian belief, because of God’s love He sent his son Jesus, the Christ, to settle the debt owed by sin. Love is the integral part of God’s plan for humanity Rev. Wallis should be advocating – not justice, social or otherwise. Encouraging others to give to the poor or help those in need is not a matter of justice, but of basic human decency. Rev. Wallis is welcome to think “that most Christians believe social, economic, and racial justice are at the heart of the gospel” but even if that’s true (which I doubt) I believe this political interpretation is seriously in danger of perverting the gospel.
Love, the kind God would have us live and show to others, knows no bounds; and so social, economic and racial justice need not be forced on a people who are taught first to love one another. This is the Church’s failing. If Rev. Wallis has no faith in the ability of people to love one another perhaps he should devote less time to political activism and more time to his religious calling. After all, the problems of injustice and racism are a result of a deficiency of love among people, are they not? But I must ask, what does Rev. Wallis mean by “economic justice” if not the equalization of wealth? How is the equalization of wealth to be achieved without the use of tyranny?
Glenn Beck does not attack the heart of the Christian faith (for he does not reject love nor does he deny we should help others, nor does he deny Christ is the son of God who died as a ransom for many). But purposefully distorting that faith by pretending it is about social or economic justice, instead of love and mercy, does.
Christ’s command to help the needy seems aimed more at us individually, that we as individuals should have a heart of kindness and generosity. Government attempts to adopt such a heart require confiscation of resources we would use to help our fellow human beings. Government efforts to help those in need invariably end up trapping those same people in slavery, dependence on the state. Using government to do collectively what Christ told us to do individually robs us of the ability to help others. Government must tax the people to provide for the people, which in turn exacerbates the problem of being in need. Supporting government benevolence to this degree makes the social safety net a new idol and shows one’s faith is not in God to provide, but in government to care for us. This collectivist mentality leads us to an attitude of “in government we trust”. If a collective pool of resources is necessary to help the needy (as is often the case) wouldn’t it be better to give to the Church or private charity rather than corrupt government?
While Rev. Wallis and his supporters claim to love Glenn Beck (and this is quite possibly true) they unfortunately lie about him when they purposefully misrepresent his criticism of social justice. They, like the left in general, assert that to oppose government taking over your life is to reject compassion, or even the Christian faith. Rev. Wallis has suggested Beck lied to us just to boost his ratings. The end result of Wallis’s efforts is encouraging the American people to put our faith in government rather than in God. In effect, for progressives the state is the new Church. And in promoting this they mock and attack the heart of God’s plan for humanity – that we develop love and compassion in our own hearts for each other. But this requires putting at least a little faith in our fellow citizens. Glenn Beck is willing to do so, and in fact he encourages this, because he trusts freedom and acknowledges the giving spirit of Americans. America, who does Rev. Wallis trust more, you or government? If he trusts God, why does he put so much faith in the social safety net?
christian, culture, false, fraud, government, health care, hypocrisy, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, propaganda, religion, theology
Filed under: christian, culture, false, fraud, government, health care, hypocrisy, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, propaganda, religion, theology