Social justice rooted in the Bible
Q:Fox News commentator Glenn Beck claims that faith-based calls for "social justice" are really ideological calls for "forced redistribution of wealth . . . under the guise of charity and/or justice," and that Christians should leave their churches if they preach or practice "social justice."
Rev. Jim Wallis disagrees, saying social justice is a faith-based commitment "to serve the poor and to attack the conditions that lead to poverty," central tents of the teachings of Jesus and at the heart of biblical faith.
Who's right? How does the pursuit of justice fit into your faith? Is 'social justice' an ideology or a theology?
Well, Glenn Beck is simply wrong if he does not recognize and understand that social justice is a key part of both Jewish and Christian thinking. When we look at that Golden Rule 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself' from Leviticus, we need to be clear it really means that you shall love your neighbor: he is like you.
In other words, you have to recognize the common humanity in people who are in very different circumstances from yours. No one is arguing - or very few - that you can completely eliminate poverty. But that you have to try is made perfectly clear. You leave the corners of the field for the widows and the orphans to glean. You provide dowries for orphaned girls. You don't keep the poor man's coat with you overnight if he has given it to you as a pledge for a loan. You have to practice 'tzedakah.' That's often mistakenly translated as charity - the word deriving from the Latin caritas. But it actually means an evening up operation. And, in Jewish tradition, everyone has to give tzedakah, from the richest to the poorest - a minimum of 10%. So the idea of social justice is well established. Not only that- but you have specific obligations - burying the dead of people in your area (if they can't afford it), helping with the poor and with orphans, giving social support. If Beck does not think this is about social justice, I am not sure what he thinks it is. It's deeply ingrained throughout the Hebrew Bible and was taken on into New Testament thought as well as being developed by the rabbis. And the obligation to give is made much of by rabbinic teaching, including the famous Maimonides' teaching about the eight orders of charity- tzedakah. We all have to give, but the best form of giving, the highest order of charity, is to give in such a way that the recipient never needs to ask for charity again, because you have given in such a way as to make him self sufficient. Giving in such a way as to even up the inevitable inequalities of life, and in such a way as to make the recipient not feel embarrassed (you give without the recipient knowing who you are) are cornerstones of living a good Jewish life, and we should be proud of them.
Posted by: IgnorantHillbilly | April 15, 2010 10:45 AM
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Posted by: soochaz | April 13, 2010 11:50 AM
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