ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. -- Popular conservative political analyst, Glenn Beck, recently received heavy backlash after decrying those who would hold social justice in high esteem, describing it as a code word for communism and Nazism. He even encouraged listeners to leave their church if the leaders value social justice. Ken Eastburn, a leader within the simple church movement thinks Beck is wrong, but is glad he said what he did, "Social justice plays an incredibly important role in the Christian life, but it is not the only role. Beck's comments were out of line but serve to bring this issue to the forefront."
"Social justice" is a term used by many Christians to describe their philanthropic efforts such as alleviating poverty, feeding the hungry, and caring for the sick. According to Beck, both communists and Nazis operated under the banner of social justice. In response, Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners and adviser to President Obama, started a campaign through his blog to encourage readers to "Tell Glenn Beck: I'm a Social Justice Christian."
"The Bible has a lot to say about social justice. It is clear that the people of God have a responsibility to care for those who are marginalized and downtrodden," says Eastburn, "But many Christians today have made social justice the end-all and be-all of Christianity. That's why you have groups of Christians serving locally and globally, improving the lives of many, but never sharing with them the message of the Gospel."
Eastburn is a leader with The Well, formerly a traditional Southern Baptist church that transitioned in 2005 to a network of home-based churches.
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He continues, "Quite frankly, evangelism has become passé and social justice is the new cool thing for Christians to do. Not that social justice is bad, by any means, but when we release someone out of the chains of poverty while neglecting to care for their eternal well-being, it is not the Gospel we are spreading."
The Well hosts 5-15 members at each of its seven locations on a weekly basis. Eastburn and others within the church post their experiences on a blog maintained by the church, www.leavethebuildingblog.com, with the purpose of interacting with people from traditional and house church backgrounds.