Glen Beck’s Comments Highlight the Need for Thinking Christians

Glen Beck’s recent comments calling on Christians to leave churches that reference the term “social justice” highlight the desperate need for thinking Christians to evaluate thoughtfully claims made by those in the media.   Too often we Christians are not know for our thoughtful reflection on current events.  When we get our talking points from the ideologues on cable news channels and talk radio we become as shrill and reactionary as they are, and just as divisive.

The vacuum that is our failure to think independently is filled with a myriad of voices in our culture. When we merely parrot back the talking points of our culture (whether conservative or liberal), we fail to engage culture as thoughtful Christians.  Feigning thinking through repetition of others thoughts is not a proper substitute for thinking.

Of course, there are occasions when someone in print or media expresses our thoughts on a subject better than we could.  These articulations can and should be recognized if it is helpful in expressing our own thoughtful reflection, but should never be a substitute for thoughtful and biblical reflection.

Sometimes we also sacrifice thoughtful reflection on the altar of a quick reaction.  We think that we must respond immediately to every issue that arises, even before all the facts are in.  This often makes us look foolish and uninformed.

The other danger, of course, is to live in a constant state of equivocation, never taking a stand on the controversial issues of the day.  Each of us by temperament is prone to one extreme or the other.  By Christian commitment we must purpose to be both thoughtful and courageous, or in Biblical terms, to be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  To do this, we must be able to think about the biblical and logical implications of ideas and actions and respond appropriately as the situation warrants.

8 comments

  1. Well said Steve, Bravo! The need is great to “evaluate claims made by those from the media.” I think where many Christians struggle, including myself, is finding those in the media who are actually telling the truth. The media world would have Christians believe that if we watch Fox News we will at least know what are the important current events and the facts surrounding those events. Of course, this is not true. Fox puts forth its own special bias and encourages Christians to continue in the right/left paradigm of thinking, effectively influencing well meaning Christians to take positions that later they will regret. We cannot engage culture and respond to current events unless we know what the current events actually are and the facts surrounding them. Furthermore, much Orwellian thought pervades the news today and Glenn Beck is a perfect example. One day he sounds like a hero of the Christian faith, another day the enemy of the church. Confusion over the current events themselves and the Orwellian commentators of culture understandably confuse Christians and cause a paralysis in thinking; or as you put it can lead to a “constant state of equivocation, never taking a stand on the controversial issues of the day.” Adding to this right/left paradigm, Orwellian, corporately controlled media influence is also the fear of many evangelical pastors who somehow think that to preach against the evils of Ceasar violates Romans 13. The size of the government, the Federal govenement in particular, means that to address current events one will inevitably come up against the State. And to many pastors, this is off limits. Whether influenced by Biblical interpretation or fear of losing a corporation status for their church, somehow the governement has become off limits to pastors and their pulpits. Once those issues go untouched by the church, the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs wait in the wings to inform the Christians.

  2. You would do well to include the context in which these words were spoken. “Social justice” has long been a code phrase of the Marxist left that more entails redistributive economics and outright socialism, in which the state is God. Beck did not invent this. If Christian’s were more historically and politically engaged, they would know that and wouldn’t have to rely upon the media. Highlight the need for thinking Christians, indeed. Oh, the irony.

    1. Sem,

      Please note that I didn’t necessarily say that Beck’s comments were wrong, I said this was an occasion for Christians to practice discernment. Apparently, you did not read my post discerningly. :)

      I think I share Glen Beck’s concerns that often churches that use this terminology are simply promoting a political agenda, without a concern for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus that involves the forgiveness of one’s sins. That is not always the case however, and it is a bit simplistic to tell people to run from any church that uses those words. A little nuancing is required, and Glen Beck, Keith Olberman, Rush Limbaugh, etc. are not usually given to nuance.

      I hope this clarifies what I mean and what I don’t mean by the above post. Sorry for the confusion.

  3. Touche.

    In context, Glenn Beck told people not to immediately run away but to ask their church leadership what they mean when they use the phrase “social justice”. Other than that lack of clarification, you and I are on the same page.

  4. This is the first time I’ve actually been on your site and I am struck by the even and humble way in which you conduct it. It’s so rare these days on the internet. In comparison, my comments seem rather high-handed and blunt. I’ve gotten so used to the “hand to hand” combat mentality that most sites have. Thank you for the way in which you interacted with me. I will probably be thinking about it for awhile.

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