Economics, Nationalism, and Justice

Glenn Beck of FoxNews and Jim Wallis of Sojourners have been in a battle of words of late. This is a recent post from Sojourners responding to another rant by Best, “We Won’t Back Down from Beck.”

The controversy has even made the Daily Show and the Cobert Report. Glenn Beck, on his FoxNews program and his syndicated radio show, over the last several months has taken to trash talk about any religious institution or leader that advocates for “social justice.”  He recommended that anyone who attends a church that talks about social justice needs to leave that church right away.  Of course, even his church (he is Mormon) has publicly stated that Beck does not reflect the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints position on justice.  Yet, he continues on.

All economic systems in this world come from theories of Man.  They all look good on paper, but on the group, well, not so good.  They all fail at one point or another.  When Christians decide that God sanctions one or another of these Systems of Man and demand that all others are therefore ungodly or evil, we get ourselves into all kinds of trouble. Wars, rumors of wars, greed, hording, violence, retribution, ad nauseum, result, despite that each of the Systems during certain periods of time and under certain conditions might actually be the best System to benefit the most people. We tend to attribute to God what fallible people create, and that never ends well.

So, when a Christian-Liberationists demand Socialism or Prosperity-Gospel people demand a form of Laisse-faire Capitalism (and I don’t think Wallis or Beck go to either of these extremes), we are off track.  When someone like Beck demonizes religious institutions and leaders who advocate for justice, he is off track.

What does God require of us, really?  Micah 6:8 gives us a clue:

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
       And what does the LORD require of you?
       To act justly and to love mercy
       and to walk humbly with your God.

I think somewhere in there is a call for Christians to be concerned about justice issues, but that does not mean that we equate an economic or social system devised by Man with God’s will.  The approach we take being in the Kingdom of God is different.  What does Jesus call us to?  Jesus’ call goes something like this (Matthew 22:36-40):

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We can believe in Socialism or Capitalism, we can be a liberal or conservative – I don’t care what.  What I care about is whether I and all of us who claim Christ love God, love our neighbor (even our enemy), do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.