Glenn Beck & the Christian Church (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday’s post.

While I agree that the N.T. has no plan for governmental action, the statement that it does not call us to action is patently false!

Matthew 25:34-40 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Acts 2:44-45 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

In Jesus’ famous illustration about the sheep and the goats the reason he gives as he separates them are based upon their compassionate response to the down-and-out and dispossessed (the thing that grass roots “social justice” looks the most like). Also, immediately after Pentecost, the community of Christians set up a non-governmental form of Christian socialism in that everything was owned by everyone and no one had need. The people that did have things beforehand sold them, they gave up what was rightfully theirs, so that those who had need would be taken care of!

This was effective at spreading the Gospel, so much so that the 4th Century Roman Emperor said both (emphasis mine):

These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their love-meals, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes.

Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love-feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods.

This was good. This is good. But I do agree with Mohler as he states the other side of the issue:

The church is not to adopt a social reform platform as its message, but the faithful church, wherever it is found, is itself a social reform movement precisely because it is populated by redeemed sinners who are called to faithfulness in following Christ. The Gospel is not a message of social salvation, but it does have social implications.

Until then, the church must preach the Gospel, and Christians must live out its implications. We must resist and reject every false gospel and tell sinners of salvation in Christ.

On Glenn himself… honestly, I think he overstepped his right to weigh in on the issue. Quite simply, he is not a part of the orthodox Christian church and has no say in what goes on in it. In 1999 he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – the Mormon church. Despite also revering Jesus, Mormonism and historical orthodox Christianity are not the same religion. We hold differing views on the nature of God, who and what Jesus was and is, the nature of spiritual reality, and the meaning &  method of a number of pivotal words: justification, salvation, sanctification, holiness, etc. If a Mormon wants to follow his advice, that seems fine with me – I have no authority to speak into that situation at all.

I have to reverse the statement that Beck said and state it as someone at least within the Christian church and say this:

If you attend a church that is basing what they teach off of Glenn Beck rather than the New Testament or the Jesus that does talk about giving up what is rightly yours to care for the poor, the oppressed, the widowed, or theforeigner, you should find a new church.

Glenn Beck & the Christian Church (Part 1)

I’ve been holding out on posting this until I was chill out a bit and think about it without simply ranting. I think I’m there today, helped by a link posted by a friend(/mentor/coworker/boss).

Albert Mohler: Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Limits of Public Discourse

Mohler does a good job of weighing out the history behind the “Social Gospel” in the past 103 years. The Social Gospel movement in the Christian church has been one that has removed the Gospel of eternal salvation and replaced it with a “Gospel” of charity work and social justice politicking.

I suggest that everyone reads his article as he points out some things that need to be pointed out, particularly in the realm of the limits of public discourse (hence the title of his post). But he misses on some things and on them he misses by a wide margin.

First, the smaller, he doesn’t differentiate effectively between social justice and the “Social Gospel.” Though the Social Gospel movement is concerned about social justice, it does not have the corner on the Church’s concern for social justice.

Second, I think he grossly misstates the New Testament’s instructions on Christian-faith based social justice (emphasis mine):

The New Testament is stunningly silent on any plan for governmental or social action. The apostles launched no social reform movement.

(Mohler does agree later that we are supposed to seek justice at some level, but he apparently bases this on nothing in particular.)

I felt the need to break up this post, since it was so long, the rest of this post will be up tomorrow morning.

Fermenting on Advance09

I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week in the Durham, NC area at the Advance09 conference. It was a conference about the resurgance of the local church. I’m not talking about a political power and I’m not talking about something that involves violent war metaphors, protests and bait-and-switch events. In the past decades the Church has failed to take it’s role and responsibility seriously and has largely lost its direction.

The conference included some of the most powerful and cogent pastors and teachers who are bringing the message of Jesus into some significant and historically dificult places. Some of this difficulty comes both apathetic arrogance and from innoculated ignorance, both of which are our own fault. In the north and the west we’ve failed to engage the cultural conversation with anything significant to say and in the south we’ve assumed that everyone should know better and have engaged using blunt arguments that don’t address people’s hearts or minds.

I’ve been thinking and dwelling on some of the messages that I heard and I’m hoping to post a series of reactions to the conference and its implications.

A Book that Every Western Christian Should Read

the Lost History of ChristianityJust before Christmas I read an article that was recommended by a friend that works in the American University’s chaplain’s office. It was written by an author that works at Penn State as a history prof who focuses on the history of Christianity and particularly focuses on non-Western Christianity.

The article referred to a book that he had written that had been recently released, called The Lost History of Christianity that focused on what happened to the “Jesus movement” in Asia and Africa after Acts ended. Let me just say that this book is fascinating and eye-opening. It outlines a lot of things that we are happily ignorant to in our own histories and which is absent in most of our minds as we think about how the message of Christ has spread to the parts of the earth that are not European in historical and cultural origin.

I read some of the reviews on Amazon – yes, some of the churches that he outlines are ones that have been historically designated as heretical, but there is still value to understanding reality in relation to where the Gospel has gone before and how & why the rest of the world sees and interprets its history. The chapter that I have just finished even talks about the fact that Arab Christians were major players in the Palestinian Movements of the early 20th Century and much of the pro-Arab Identity movements that continue today. It will shed some light on how fellow followers/worshippers of Christ still influence into the wars that we’re fighting now… both on “our” side and on the side of our opponents (either explicitly or implicitly). And, it shows how complicit our own nation and government is in the martyrdom of thousands of Christians in the past 50-ish years alone.

Again, I recommend the book as a history book (as opposed to a “Christian book”) that I think that every Western person who calls themself by the name of Christ (“Christian”) should read this book – especially those who have dreams or callings towards the Middle East or Asia.