on the issue of social justice

Pastor Geoffery Lentz, a Duke grad, wrote a blog post in response to Glenn Beck and his rantings about social justice in churches where Beck asserted that if you see the words “social justice’ on your church’s website, “run as fast as you can.”

Well, Pastor Geoff agrees!  Here is part of his response that I thought was awesome:

The radical social justice theme of Christianity is troubling.  The Old Testament is filled with troubling ideas like the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) not to mention the prophets.  What would happen if we “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everlasting stream” (Amos)?  It wouldn’t work out very well for me. I wish this “social justice” theme was limited to the Old Testament, so we could explain it away with dietary laws, but Jesus has to bring it all up again.  The Sermon on the Mount (Sermon on the Plain in Luke) is terrifying—blessed are the poor?  Not to mention Jesus’ ministry theme in Luke 4.  If only Mary could have sang a different song (Luke 1).  This year as my church is focusing on the Gospel of Luke (from the lectionary), it has surprised me to find such a focus on the social implications of the gospel.

He then writes:

Wouldn’t it be nice if Christianity was only about spiritual matters?  Loving God would be much easier if we didn’t have to love our neighborsUnfortunately “social justice” is not peripheral to the gospel it is central.  Maybe Beck misspoke, or maybe he said what we’ve all been thinking—following Jesus is hard work—too hard.    Reading the story of the rich young ruler (Luke 18), can keep you up at night.  One really can’t blame Beck or anyone else for wanting to go a different direction, the real challenge is for those that want to follow him.

Ha Ha Ha!  Excellent!  Now if we can all just get out there and live like Jesus!   He wrote a pretty good follow up post here on the issue of social justice in John.   I found Geoff’s blog via Dave Black.

6 responses to “on the issue of social justice

  1. Yes, with tongue-in-cheek Lentz agrees with Beck. What Glenn Beck cautions against is that many of the churches that promote social justice want the government’s helping hand in their ministry. No one is denying the holistic implications of the gospel message–spirit, soul, body–to others, but the difference is who or what entity is doing the ministry and proclaiming the gospel. Whose responsibility is it–the Church, the Government, or the Church and government? There is a difference in opinion. For one to deny that there are Christians who embrace the social justice message (focusing largely on OT Scriptures and Matthew 5-7) who want a big assist from government (which Beck argues against) is either disingenuous or ignorant.

    I am inclined to agree with Beck on this issue. The responsibility lies with the Church and Body of Christ. I never felt comfortable with Samaritan’s Purse receiving federal money to do their ministry and I don’t like the idea of our government taking tax payer money to do what the Church should do in the name of “social justice.”

  2. In the spiritual end, the Gospel is about salvation for the sinner within a broken, fallen world. It is true also, that the Christian Community lives and thus offers a much different life of discipleship under the Lordship of Christ herein. But the Church is not here to present a social gospel, or to really change the sinful world. If the Judeo-Christian Gospel and Ethic however is accepted and lived within this fallen world, sometimes this can really effect the culture. But, that is not its first effort and effect. (Acts 6:1-7)

  3. no but I think the gospel has plenty of implications at the social level – I don’t think Geoff was preaching a social gospel but is advocating we think seriously about the social implications of the gospel.

    sheryl, aww come on, I thought you’d like him because his got his MDiv at Duke! lol! just kidding but to be real honest, I think Glenn Beck is a hack. I agree we need to be concerned and seriously bothered about those religious groups that take money from the state – i think the point Geoff in his bog post was trying to get at is the the pursuit of social justice isn’t something to run from but something to ardently and unapologetically pursue – but on the level of how Jesus presented it and not how it has morphed in modern senses. To pursue true social justice is not communistic, or socialistic or atheistic – it is Christian.

  4. Brian,

    I disagree, the Gospel is not about social justice itself, but the salvation of the sinner, first and foremost. When we look to the Gospel as a way to change man or the culture, and without the centre of regeneration, it turns into a false gospel. Regeneration not religion! (Note 2 Tim.3:5)

  5. true, it is about salvation of the sinner – but the practical outworking of people getting saved from their sins can be seen in Jesus proclamation if Isa 61 as the theme of his ministry in Luke 4. Salvation is for the whole person not just their spiritual lives.

  6. Brian,

    My point (after many years as a pastor & priest), it is always the spirit of man first. The other simply follows from that. Or as Augustine said, will (voluntas) first. We should note also today the lack of authority in the West and Western Church! It is the auhority of being, or ontology.. toward both the Holy Scripture, and the Holy Church. And the only real lasting authority for both is the redemptive God, over the redemptive man (Church).

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