Acton Institute Powerblog

Love Glenn Beck as you would love yourself

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Acton welcomes new blogger — and long time friend — Rudy Carrasco to the PowerBlog. He also writes at Urban Onramps. Don’t miss Rudy at Acton on Tap on March 31 (6 p.m. at Derby Station, East Grand Rapids, Mich.) — Editors


I haven’t seen the video of Glenn Beck’s call to “run away” from churches that teach social justice. Nor have I read much on the responses by the many – see the Sojo God’s Politics blog for a round-up – who disagree with Beck. (So how do I know these things, you might ask? I scan twitter feeds and email subject lines and pick up the plot.)

Nevertheless (famous last words), here’s what was on my mind when I woke up this morning:

Love Glenn Beck as you would love yourself.

That’s a take-off from Matthew 22:36-40. If you are a Christian, you are supposed to love people first. Not agree with them first. Or disagree with them first. Or speak truth to their power first. You are supposed to love them first. This is an equal opportunity, ahem, encouragement. On both the center-left and the center-right I hear ugly caricatures of the opposition-du-jour. So a question to the wise: “What does it mean to love Glenn Beck as you would love yourself?”

As for Beck himself, he seems to have really stepped in it this time (did he mean to? that’s always the question with show hosts), because it isn’t just so-called left wingers who affirm social justice efforts in churches. As an example, The Heritage Foundation created and just released a DVD series for use in churches entitled – wait for it – “Seek Social Justice.” (Disclosure: Yours truly appears in the video and study guide.)

By the way, here’s some bonus sermon illustration material. You can substitute all sorts of people, and groups of people, for “Glenn Beck” or “your neighbor.” To wit:

Love illegal immigrants as you would love yourself.

Love oil industry executives as you would love yourself.

Love President Barack Obama as you would love yourself.

Love President George W. Bush as you would love yourself.

Rodolpho Carrasco Rodolpho Carrasco served for two decades at Harambee Ministries, an incarnational urban ministry in Pasadena, Calif. He is a member of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Alumni Hall of Fame, has written for Christianity Today and Discipleship Journal, is a member of the World Vision U.S. board of directors, and is the U.S. Regional Facilitator for Partners Worldwide.


  • almond603

    very good thoughts. thank you very much for this encouragement. Jim Wallis perhaps sort of addressed this by saying to pray for Glenn Beck, though he does it with the reference where we are encouraged to pray for our enemies ( but I think your take on it is much more helpful. we should not view those on the opposite side of us (no matter which side you’re on) as your enemy.

    thanks for the thoughts.

  • I nevertheless agree that we should run away from churches that replace the Gospel of repentance and conversion with the false gospel of social justice and peace at any price. We need to remember 2nd Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew 6:33:

    “…and if my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land.”

    “But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”

    We as a country deserve neither social justice nor peace until we repent of murdering babies, extolling the perversion of homosexuality as normal, legitimatizing ponrography as free speech, stealing from the tax payer, and replacing God in our public schools with the false facade of science.

    NO SOCIAL JUSTICE! God has only ONE kind of Justice: His eternal Justice, and we as a nation are about to find out just how much He loves the 50 million unborn babies we have murdered since Roe v Wade as he administers His Justice to us as He did to the Children of Israel and Judah.

    Repentance and conversion come BEFORE and NEVER after social justice.

  • Jeff Studebaker

    I am a frequent listener to Glenn Beck; I also am using The Heritage Foundation’s “Seeking Social Justice” series in an adult Sunday School class which I am teaching. In session one of that series, I feel the authors have done an excellent job in outlining the ambiguities of the phrase “social justice” and I doubt that Glenn Beck would suggest running from the class which I teach (although I suppose I could be wrong!) Kudos to The Heritage Foundation for developing the “Seeking Social Justice” series, even though I feel the heat of the fire to which it holds my feet! Check it out if you have not yet done so.Kudos also to both The Acton Institute and The Heritage Foundation for providing resources to this liberty-loving, free market capitalist who can’t buy into Ayn Rand’s atheism!

  • Ken Day

    Our Anglican sending out prayer after the Eucharist says ” Fill us with your Spirit that we may follow Jesus in all we do and say, working for justice and bringing your peace to this world that you have made.”

    Social justice and peace go together. But conversion and repentance first, then it brings peace with God. Then follows justice, as we go out in the power of the Spirit.

    Yes Rudolpho, it’s not just left or right who affirm social justice. It is a given from God to all.

    Yes Paul, it’s God first. Jesus said the first commandment is to love God first. The second is to love our neighbour like we love ourself. We cannot even love ourself, unless we know God’s love for us. Matthew 22:36f.

    Good one Almond. Love comes before identifying our enemies.

    The Catholic Catechism says ” Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour. Justice toward God is called the ” virtue of religion. ” Justice toward men disposes one to respect the righs of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. ” #1807.

    Me too Jeff am a free market man. We need to promote the virtues, as all have sinned, and we still do. “A vitue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good.” #1803.

    God bless.

  • Ken Day

    I forgot to say – Thanks Rudolpho for the bit where you said we must love people first, not agree with them first. Or disagree with them first. I will remeber these words.


  • Cathy

    Teaching social justice is an imperative, unless we totally disregard the 4th through the 10th commandments.

  • Patrick

    I am reminded of my high school physics teacher who announced to my class: “Gentlemen, the natural law requires me to love you, but it does not require I like you.” The laws of nature and human nature control us. Beck, the Top 1% of wage earners, and the Poor, deserve our love, in the sense of Agape, according to the natural law.

    Free Will is an component of human nature, according to Catholic Anthropology. As such, to be virtuous (Just), we can only be virtuous by our free will. It may be virtuous to give to the Poor or Uninsured, but if we are forced, or wealth is taken from us at the point of a gun, we are not virtuous individuals. There is, in my opinion, no more virtue in a gang who robs a bank to give to the poor, than elected officials who take from one class of citizens through the “legal” machinations of the IRS, to benefit another class of citizens.

    Those who believe social justice may be best achieved by government programs are free to contribute to government programs above their tax rates. Those who prefer the Rotary, parish, medical chartiy, the Acton Institute, or other group for social benevolence, should be free to do so, without taxation for government social programs.

    There is little in nature or history to suggest, much less prove conclusively, that governments are any better at distributing wealth for the common good, than the freely given donations between private citizens acting in concert through charitable associations.

  • Roger McKinney

    What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?

    Francis Schaeffer wrote a good book about it–The Mark of a Christian. In part, it means to not covet and not steal from your neighbor. It also means not bearing false witness against your neighbor, which Jim Wallis does on his Sojo web site. Wallis is fully aware of the ambiguity in the term “social justice”. Today it means nothing because it means whatever the user of the term wants it to mean. To “progressives” like Wallis, it means charity when that convenient, such as when attacking Beck, and it means state redistribution when convenient, such as when applied to the health care bill.

    Every progressive knows about the two definitions and uses them cleverly. When people like Beck use the state redistribution definition (the historical one), then Wallis can claim that Beck hates the poor and wants them to starve to death. In other words, Wallis bears false witness against Beck by insisting on only the charity definition of “social justice.”

    Then whenever people like the Heritage Foundation use the charitable defintion of “social justice”, Wallis insists that the term means more than charity and includes state redistribution because the state must enforce justice.

    By bearing false witness against Beck, Wallis convicts himself of failing to love his neighbor.

    Jesus gave the Good Samaritan parable in order to delineate what loving your neighbor means so that we wouldn’t be able to fill in the term with whatever we wanted to put there. The Good Samaritan did not run to the Roman government and insist that it pass a bill giving relief to victims of robbery on the highway. Neither did he go to the inn keeper and steal funds to give to the victim. The Samaritan took care of the wounded Jew with his own funds.

    The Good Samaritan illustrates loving one’s enemies because the Jews and Samaritans were enemies.

  • Sam

    If you haven’t seen Glenn Bedk, why are you commenting on him? I think he goes over the edge at times but what he meant – mentioning Jeremiah Wright and his Church – was Wright’s kind of ”.social justice’, ranting ‘God …. America! And what about ‘social justice’ for the millions of babies slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers while ‘Catholic’ politicians such as Pelosi are permitted by their Bishops to receive Holy Communion. Must Pelosi take up a scalpel and kill the unborn baby herself before she is told not to present herself for Communion? She fought to have abortion funding remain in the bill, she gleefully proclaimed that ‘Catholic’ nuns supported the bill…she is permitted to continually foster and advocate for abortion and receives no reprimand…will you write about this?

  • Richard

    Mr. Beck observes that the term “social justice” has come to mean government taking wealth and transferring it elsewhere. I suspect that the various terms like “social justice”, “economic justice”, “educational justice” are as meaningful as “biologic justice”, “physical justice”, or “cosmological justice”. Justice like charity comes from the heart of an individual.

  • Neal Lang

    “As for Beck himself, he seems to have really stepped in it this time (did he mean to? that’s always the question with show hosts), because it isn’t just so-called left wingers who affirm social justice efforts in churches. As an example, The Heritage Foundation created and just released a DVD series for use in churches entitled – wait for it – “Seek Social Justice.” (Disclosure: Yours truly appears in the video and study guide.)”

    You miss Glenn’s point entirely. Father Charles Edward Coughlin was also a talk radio hit, but only in the 1930’s when he had over 40 million listeners. His weekly paper, “Social Justice” promoted antisemitism and supported Europe’s supreme seeker of “Social Justice” the National Socialists in Germany, and his radio show promoted Nazism as a counter to Marxism. Coughlin founded the National Union for Social Justice. Interestingly, many of Glenn Beck’s critics on the left call him the present day Father Coughlin.

    The misunderstanding that I see is how one defines “Social Justice.” Glenn Beck, who is by nature a very “Charitable” in the Biblical sense, is very generous to those in need. Those who object to Glenn’s political and economic philosophy are also very generous, although not from their own pockets, but instead those of the public.

    And this is the rub – how do defend “Social Justice” and its end result “Charity.” If you believe Jesus, the Christ, taught that governments in order to practice “Social Justice” must coerce people into giving up their earnings so that those who will not earn on their own can have it, believe that Jesus, the Christ, was a Marxist, where the government redistributes wealth and calls it “Social Justice.”

    However, if you believe, as Glenn Beck apparently does, that the “Good News” of the message of Jesus, the Christ, was not about big government and tax-collectors forcibly taking from one person in order to give to another, but instead about “true Charity” where everyone decides for themselves to dig into their own pockets, and not the pockets of their neighbors to help the less advantaged, then the way some churches and most politician use the term “Social Justice” is neither Christian, Biblical, nor is moral. Forced Charity afford the giver no Grace, while true, unselfish giving affords the giver true Grace. It is an abomination to believe that Jesus, the Christ’s, message was Marxist. It was not, and nothing in His Words in the Gospel would ever led anyone to believe that false teaching of evil men was His ideal.

  • John

    Glenn Beck is correct. The “Social Justice”of the leftists I knew in college in the ’60s is just another term for Communism – although they would now hate the term.

    I think the issue is: Is a secular government-run charity equal to independently run or personal charity. First and foremost how is God most glorified? Second what is the nature of the spiritual transaction between the giver and receiver – does that edify the parties involved and glorify God.

    I think a secular government-run charity breeds resentment and contempt, while independent and personal charity builds relationships and understanding of our brothers. I think that we and not the secular government are called to be our brothers keeper. Overbearing government programs are nothing more than prideful human-centered efforts designed to create a Utopia, all without God’s will and His glory as the center of the effort. The humanistic, secular, worldwide Utopian effort to redistribute wealth and manage humans as sheep is simply a modern day Tower of Babel. Nothing is new under the sun.

    Different terms should be used to differentiate between “Social Justice” as directed by the government and “charity” or “fairness” promoted by brothers in Christ.

    Glenn Beck is correct – we must make sure the goal of our charity or fairness – or Social Justice – should be to glorify God, not to glorify the works of the hands of man.

  • Ken Day

    The Scales of Justice symbolise ” balance “.

    A set of scales can be balanced. The same weight on the left as on the right. Justice is a big subject. But in essence it means balance, we should strive for balance in all human endeavours. Wow, what a task this is. How do we get balance, so everyone is equal? We could talk about it till the cows come home.

    As I mentioned in my post above ” harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. ”

    All I can say is ” God help us. ”

    The next best thing I can say is ” Jesus come back quick. ”

    Alleluia !

  • Neal Lang

    Before Justice can prevail, the “Truth” must be established. There can be no justice without “Truth.” I believe the word of God establishes this very well. Once using Solomon in his role as judge when he proposed dividing the disputed baby, and again when Pontius Pilate interrogated Jesus, the Christ, at his trial when the Roman Equestrian procurator and final judge in matters of “live and death” asked: “Quid est Veritas?”

  • Neal Lang

    In the case of Jesus, the Christ, before Pilate, He was telling the Truth, however, the judge didn’t recognize it. In the case of Solomon, his ploy established the Truth by revealing a mother’s love. The Bible also instructs us about the common good. It does this by the story of Joseph in Egypt and the requiring the farmers to store grain in government warehouses for the “lean years.”

    Another Biblical reference for assisting the poor comes from the “gleaner laws” for the Hebrew Nation found in Deuteronomy. Here the law required that the farmer most not “glean” his crop (pick every bit of it), but instead leave the hardest to gather in the field to the poor and needy:

    “Deuteronomy 24:19. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. 20. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 21. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 22. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.”

    Some Progressive like to compare Social Security to the “storing grain for lean years” in the story of Joseph. However, the analogy doesn’t work because while Joseph and the Egyptian government saved the grain for years of famine, our government spends every dollar it collects from Social Security every year. Additionally, grain is a commodity and is therefore pretty “inflation proof,” especially if you wait until “lean years” to use it. The cash that we all pay into Social Security is not inflation proof – therefor it should be invested in ways that will earn a return to protect against inflation. Investing in government will not accomplish that, hence the so-called Social Security “Trust Fund” does not contain sufficient dollars to met its “lean years” obligation for all its participants. Like the required storage of excess grain during the “fat years,” the Social Security program was sold as a “savings plan” for the “common good.” Unfortunately, it never was.

    As for the “gleaners laws” of Deuteronomy, it said to support the modern concept of welfare programs. However, this too is an incorrect analogy. Modern Welfare works by forcing the productive people of society to pay substantial portion of the earnings by the “sweat of the brow” to government who redistributes it to those it deems needy. Unlike the Biblical “gleaners,” however, the modern welfare recipients are not required to work in order to reap their benefits. The Bible teaches us, both in the case of the stored grain and the “gleaners” that self help and not government handouts are the better way to promote the “Common Good.”

  • Neal Lang

    “Love Glenn Beck as you would love yourself.”

    Query: Does the Bible admonish us to love “evil?”

    Would we then be required to substitute the “devil” for say, Glenn Beck?

    “Love the Devil as you would love yourself.”

    Sorta has a “ring” to it, doesn’t it?

    Does innocence on the part of the beloved matter?

    Does the abortionist love the innocent unborn child that they murder?

    As Pilate asked Jesus, the Christ, “what is Truth?” how would He answer the question: “What is love?”

    God loves sinners and saints, after all Jesus, His Son, died for all our sins. However, His judgment for each, we are told, will be different in the end. Does loving someone mean that we can’t also judge them, and admonish them to mend their errant ways?

    Can there be Justice without first an admission of wrong?

    Can there be forgiveness without an admission of sin?

    Will God forgive those who ask His forgiveness but don’t believe in their hearts and minds that they have done wrong and will correct their ways?

    Should we forgive those who wrong us, but who do not admit their wrong and ask our forgiveness?

    Are we required to be more merciful than God?

    Is loving someone the same as forgiving them?

    Do we owe our neighbor the duty to inform them of their “evil ways?” If not, why not? If not, kindly explain how Christ Church on Earth must operate.

  • almond603

    comparing Christ’s commandment to love our NEIGHBORS as ourselves to loving the DEVIL as ourselves means that you’re equating that humanity is comparable to the devil. classic orthodoxy does not tend to agree with you, and I think that’s why in scripture we’re told that we cannot overcome Satan without the help of God. we are of a different order. this would be like saying we need to love ANGELS as we love ourselves. how do we do that? why would we do that? the fall of humanity does not involve any type of separation from the devil. but we have been separated from each other. that’s why Adam and Eve immediately covered themselves when they had sinned. because they were no longer comfortable being vulnerable with each other anymore.

    also in scripture we are instructed NOT to judge those outside the church (1 Corinthians 5).

  • MaryAnn

    The Social Justice Glenn Beck is refering to is redistribution of wealth; the government taking wealth from the people who earn it and distributing as the government sees fit. That is theft. That is Marxism. He is not talking about Churches that encourage its members to care for their neighbors, or work at soup kitchens. I was very disappointed that the Catholic Church’s only objection to this Marxist health care bill was abortion. What happened to subsidiarity? There were some Bishops who spoke about it, and the questionable morality of such extreme taxation in order to pay for it, and thank God for them. The USCCB said nothing. Disappointing.

  • Ken Day

    Only God can forgive sins. We cannot forgive sins.

    Lot’s of good questions you had there Neil. ” Should we forgive those who wrong us, but who do not admit their wrong and ask our forgiveness? ” you asked. Yes we can. Our forgiveness is not the same as God’s.

    By giving an enemy a drink, we are not excusing his misdeeds. We’re recognising him, forgiving him, and loving him in spite of his sins – just as Jesus did for us.

    He can only be truly forgiven, if he repents with faith. And it’s only God who can truly forgive him.

    Good one again almond. Yes, we are different to the devil. He is an angel. A fallen one at that. Sometimes we forget too, that the devil can only act because God allows him to. Isn’t that amazing.

    It’s a mystery really, but anyhow ” God works for good for those who love him. ” Romans 8:28.

    Goodness, all this blog on Satan, sin, justice, Marxism, and love. And even the Health Care bill. All because we decided to comment on Glenn Beck!

    God does work in mysterious ways.