Glenn Beck: Liberation Theology and Social Justice

Watch Glenn Beck weekdays at 5p & 2a ET on Fox News Channel

I have taken a lot of hits from people like Rev. Jim Wallis on "social justice." But I needed you to know there is a poison in some of our churches. Social justice — the way Jim Wallis and Jeremiah Wright understand it — isn’t in the gospel, neither is redistribution of wealth.

Jesus never said, "Take from the rich and let the government redistribute it." Take the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan chose to take it upon himself to help; he took on the bills himself. The government never told him to do it. Anything else is a perversion of Christianity and the perversion of the principles of God.

You don’t need to be a Christian to believe this. You need to understand this because a perversion of God is extraordinarily dangerous.

Tonight, I have to take it a step further.

We are living in dangerous times and unless you understand what people are saying and why they are saying it and how they arrived there, then too many Americans are going to be fooled.

We start with James Cone. He’s one of the founding fathers of liberation theology. Liberation theology is a brand of Christianity based on the liberation of the oppressed from unjust economic, political or social conditions. It centers around the idea that people are in one of two categories: the oppressor and the oppressed. Poverty, according to this theology, is caused because the poor are "victims of others."

James Cone is credited with starting the same liberation theology behind Rev. Wright’s church:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CONE, ADVOCATE OF BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGY: Any group that has institutional power, they are violent. Therefore the mainline denominations in this country have been violent against black people.

The crucifixion of Jesus was a First Century lynching.

America has a tradition of lynching, in which America lynched more than 5,000 black people in this land. The Christian church said very little about it. It was very violent lynching. So, if we understand the cross correctly, we will see it as Jesus being a victim of lynching, a victim of violence. So at the heart of the Christian faith is God taking upon God’s self the suffering of the victim.

When you see a lynched black body, that’s who God is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

This is kind of complex, because Jesus did identify with the victims. But Jesus wasn’t a victim, he was a conqueror. Jesus conquered death. He chose to give his life. Jesus didn’t come back from the dead and make the Jews pay for what they did. That would have been an abomination.

Straight from Cone: "Black theology refuses to accept a god who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community… If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill gods who do not belong to the black community."

It gets worse from here. So how does a white person get salvation in that system?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONE: If the powerful in our society, the white people, if they want to become Christians, they have to give up that power and become identified with the powerless — if you’re going to be a Christian, you can’t be identified with the powerful and also a Christian at the same time…

The only way in which your repentance, your forgiveness can be authentic, your reception of it can be authentic, your repentance can be authentic, is that you give back what you took — and white people took a lot from black people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Got it? The only way you can be saved according to this theology, if you are the oppressor, is to give back what you took through reparations. Step down from that job you "took" from someone else. Give back that money you "took" from someone else.

Do you notice anything that’s missing here? Well, for one thing, merit. And when it comes to salvation, how about the concept of grace? Saved by grace. You cannot earn your way into Heaven. There is no deed, no random act of kindness, no amount of money to spread around to others that earns you a trip to heaven. It’s by God’s grace alone that you are saved. Now, that doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to do works and deeds — "faith without works is dead." Our work is a demonstration of our faith.

But right now I just want to show you how liberation theology has completely perverted Christianity and teaching something radically different. For example, Cone himself has argued that the Bible is insufficient to know what social justice is and that you need Marxism to understand what Christianity means. I think I speak for most Christians when I say, God’s word is sufficient for me; you can 86 the Marx — thank, but no thanks.

Now, I know people will say, Oh, Glenn Beck is a Mormon! He’s not even a real Christian.

OK, fine. You can believe what you want. I am a man that needed atonement more than most people. But I know the game, so I called Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. I wanted to make sure that mainline Christianity has the same definition of individual salvation that I have. He agreed that salvation is an individual relationship between a person and God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth and the light." I can’t be saved for someone else and they can’t be saved by me. When Jesus died on the cross he died for everyone that ever lived, but individually. It was one act for the entire collection — it was for each person individually.

Another perversion is the concept of collective salvation. You’ve heard Barack Obama say that his "individual salvation depends on collective salvation." What does that mean?

According to liberation theology, it means that salvation and redemption bought by Jesus comes in the form of political and social "liberation" for minorities from white oppression. Salvation is realized with minorities achieving economic and political parity, via redistribution of wealth with whites. Minorities are "saved" in the sense that white people constantly confess and repent of being racists and meet the economic demands of minorities, via redistribution as a consequence of some form of reparations.

That’s quite different than the gospels and their message of being saved by grace. It actually sounds a little more like Marxism.

As I said in the beginning, there are those in the country that need to divide us for power. They will make this about race. But this has almost nothing to do with race; it has everything to do with power. It has happened over and over and over again — it’s a formula: same outcome, different group of people.

— Watch Glenn Beck weekdays at 5p & 2a ET on Fox News Channel

  • http://www.facebook.com/spitster0877 Arvin Canlas Lising

    Glenn Beck you definitely have a different lens in reading who Jesus is.  The Gospels you read come from a set of lenses that are very classical and triumphalist.  You may use your upbringing of your evangelical faith to read who Jesus is, but sometimes you have to look back at history to understand Jesus further.  And history tells you a lot of who Jesus is, and the world he lived in.

    And more than a conqueror of death (which was how post-Easter Christian see it, and it’s not wrong…), he was a victim of the first century Jewish and Roman political system. He was a radical teacher, a revolutionary (in a non-violent way), and a man of the people. He would never patronize power, and even was against political overtones of his era, seeing that the Kingdom must first come from the transformation of society from within. He wouldn’t do the Temple thing nor call Herod Antipas a fox if he agreed with what was happening in his context. More than spiritual he was also real living the ideals that were counter to the socio-political culture of his time.

    Which prompts me to say this: America in your eyes has lofty ideals and I admire many people who stand for it.  But for some of us in the Third World, most of your Americans betray these same principles in the name of these same ideals found in religion, democracy and freedom just because they say they are right, and that WE ARE WRONG.  And often, we suffer for your myopic vision of these good ideals.  Have you ever stayed long, lived in and tried to understand the shoes of the poor, the oppressed and the victims of the Third World countries in Asia and Africa?  It’s easy to say who Jesus is according to your lens, but have you considered looking for Jesus using our lenses.

    It’s not always about debate Glenn, it’s also about open-mindedness, dialogue and being aware to know where humanity ends and where God begins. And frankly, right-wing Americans are not like that especially to us Third-Worlders and to ecology which God has given us. You may feel not agreeing with me, but we live worlds apart. And there’s a big difference.

    I rest my case…

  • Anonymous

     In John chapter 12:8 Mat 26:11 Jesus says the poor you will have with you always. Mat 26:13 Jesus gives an order to tell what this woman did which Judas called waste. It was the will of the father that Jesus died on the cross read Mat 26:39&42 and Luke 22:42.
    Regarding James (there is no indication that he was a disciple of Christ I believe he was a son of the widower Joseph and through the adoption of Jesus by Joseph, James became his brother.  James is wrong when he says faith without works is dead, Rehab was not saved by her works she was saved by the faith of hanging the red ribbon out of the window. Go with Paul 100% grace God gets all the credit you get none.

  • Anonymous

    Arvin

    Re:  “And more than a conqueror of death (which was how post-Easter Christian
    see it, and it’s not wrong…), he was a victim of the first century
    Jewish and Roman political system.”

    Funny thing–my Bible has Jesus putting it this way:

    “17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

    He was a victim of nothing.  If He was, then He was not Who He said He was.So, you have a basic decision to make…either Jesus was the Lamb or the Marxist social reformer.

  • Anonymous

    1. “Anything else is a perversion of Christianity and the perversion of the principles of God.”  Praytheetell…what principles? The Bible is filled with contradictions.The principles will always be “perverted” because we are humanly interpreting the Absurd.   

    2.”We are living in dangerous times”. I LOVE when people say this. We are living in one of the safest points in human history. Sure, we’ve got a zillion problems. But they aren’t the same problems our ancestors faced 1,000,000 years ago, or even 100 years ago. We are better equipped to deal with our problems than we ever have been. 

    3.”We start with James Cone. He’s one of the founding fathers of liberation theology.” WRONG. How can you write an article on something you don’t even know the basics about? Seems like bad philosophy to me. Liberation Theology has its roots in South America since… oh…the 1400s w/ Bartholome de las Casas. With the institution of slavery.

    4. “It gets worse from here. So how does a white person get salvation in that system?”. True, Cone is a bit extreme. Some Liberation Theologians are strongly against the use of violence (no matter what the situation), while some see violence as a necessary means to not, i.e., be destroyed. There is no coherence here, just like the Democratic & Republican parties are incoherent. Individuals believe different things.  What Cone is describing relates to the idea of “structural sin”. That means, social structures can be sinful, like slavery is a sinful institution. Cone would likely make the same case if it were whites who had been subject to slavery & social injustices that Blacks have had to suffer for years. P.S. I’m white. And even I can read through the lines. 

    5. “Step down from that job you “took” from someone else. Give back that money you “took” from someone else.” You know, I had the same public school education that many of my Black peers had. I grew up in a Black neighborhood b/c my parents had no money. We were one of about 4 white families. I graduated HS, went to college, got a BA and an MA. And YET, my Black friends growing up– WITH THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES– aren’t able to cut it in the world. Why? Ask yourself: Why? Societal prejudice. Institutionalized prejudice. Given the choice to hire a receptionist/assistant/publicist white girl Vs. a black girl with the same qualifications, people will choose me. What industries are Black women working in? They are Nannies (not to black children), Nurses, basically….care givers. Yes, ladies & gentlemen. The ugly “mammy” stereotype rears its head again. Why are they still (by and large) in subordinate jobs in subordinate fields? Certainly, it’s a choice they make on an individual level. But it’s like any other situation where one chooses the path of least resistance.
    It’s not fair. And its this “culture of unfairness” on a massive level that has created James Cone.

     6. “For example, Cone himself has argued that the Bible is insufficient to
    know what social justice is and that you need Marxism to understand what
    Christianity means” Here I agree with Glenn Beck (w/ qualification). The Bible is insufficient to deal with social justice in the same way that its insufficient to double as an encyclopedia. You don’t go to the Bible to learn about the engineering it requires to put a man on the moon. However, Marxism is insufficient (and outdated as many revolutions have occurred since the publication of ‘Capital’) to explain current social/economic conditions. YOU WILL BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND A MARXIST WHO BELIEVES EVERYTHING MARX SAYS BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE DOGMA. Also, he insists on viewing everything from its Historical context. Aaaaaanndddd, a lot has happened since Marx. 
    7. “According to liberation theology, it means that salvation and redemption
    bought by Jesus comes in the form of political and social “liberation”
    for minorities from white oppression”. Again, the “white oppression” Cone refers to is the current social restrictions placed on Blacks. Also, there is not one “unified” liberation theology. There are, in fact, MANY. What they have in common is that they are not satisfied with the myth of “work hard & you’ll have everything you need and/or want”. The queer community & Women’s Liberation Theology are just two to start. And YES there is obviously a lot we can learn from them (and from using Marxist praxis to arrive at–perhaps– a not-Marxist alternative). See also, Lily Ledbetter. 

    8.”That’s quite different than the gospels and their message of being saved by grace. It actually sounds a little more like Marxism”. Liberation Theologians are not CONFUSED by what salvation is. They are not saying “there is no heaven nor hell, nor need for salvation outside of life on Earth”, which is something Marx would say. They are trying to bring the focus to people’s earthly needs. Hunger is real, Excess is real. Why are there more obese people in the world now than are starving? THIS is a sin.

    Whites (and I include myself) should be scared. Because we have ruled the world for centuries, and people who got the short end of the stick are finally equipped to make their demands known.  And worse, the privileged even distance themselves from the fray. Why shouldn’t people be jealous & angry? To see a middle-class lifestyle on TV, be told that’s “the norm”, and know in your heart you’ll probably never achieve it. We need to understand that personal, individual sin is real. But we should also accept that there are social institutions that are inherently evil because they divide God’s children against themselves.

    It would be to the “rich, white honky” ‘s advantage to not insulate him/herself from inequalities, and to instead engage with people less fortunate.
    Now that my parents are middle class, I have a 13 yr old brother who has NO black friends and is in ALL WHITE suburb. Do you think he knows or cares about the problems facing the Black community?

    And THAT is the idea of Liberation Theology: compromiso. Standing in solidarity with people who are not like you.

    I realize this article was written in 2010, but it’s still relevant, and
    I’d hope that Mr. Beck has not changed his position on any these points
    which he’s mentioned. Since then, we’ve seen numerous broadcasts and
    articles about “class warfare” (especially now in 2012), which is really
    just an oversimplification, and another way to talk around the problem.

  • http://twitter.com/superrustyfly superrustyfly

    “Jesus never said, ‘Take from the rich and let the government redistribute it.’” Then what happened with the rich man in Luke 12? That sounds like God deciding to take wealth away and put where thinks it good. Also, a good read of Isaiah and Amos would counter this claim. A read through Deuteronomy would cause someone to completely abandon this critique.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that social justice should not be the domain of the government. But to throw out the idea of all social justice based on that would be abhorrent. Wasn’t the God of both the OT and the NT an advocate of the orphans, widows, and the oppressed?