Get into your church and demand, demand that your minister, your priest, your rabbi, your pastor talk about individual rights. ~Glenn Beck
If Beck’s understanding of social justice is as flawed as I think it is, the alternative that he is proposing is no better and it may be even worse than the idea he is attacking. The point here is not simply to beat up on Beck, but to make an important correction to Beck’s idea that there is something evil or Satanic in understanding the salvation Christ accomplished as something collective. As he did with social justice, he makes such a sweeping rejection of what he calls “collective salvation” that he promotes something he calls “individual salvation,” which is a doctrine that none of the Fathers would recognize or accept. Because he is reading political categories back into theological questions, which is the very thing he finds so offensive about liberation theology, he gives the impression that he is repudiating what most Christians would consider to be a core teaching of their faith.
Traditional soteriology in the patristic era taught that Christ assumed human nature like ours in every respect except for sin, which meant that He assumed a sinless humanity that was substantiated in His Person, the Person of the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity. Many of the early doctrinal controversies centered around the assumption that Christ must have assumed the whole of human nature in order to heal it. Through the Incarnation and Resurrection, Christ united our nature with God and redeemed our nature from death and sin. Christ’s saving act was already accomplished then. Of course, it is our responsibility to respond to God’s condescension by willingly entering into and remaining in communion with Him in His Church, but properly speaking the New Adam lifted up all of humanity through His saving Passion and Resurrection. God accomplished our salvation collectively in our nature before salvation could be realized personally* through free will. Indeed, the one had to come before the other was even possible.
Maybe Beck doesn’t really mean what he seems to be saying, and my guess is that he is so busy confusing political and theological categories that he doesn’t see what he’s doing. That would explain how he jumps from discussing salvation to discussing rights. I have no idea what it is that he thinks the minister, priest or rabbi is going to say about “individual rights” that would be relevant to their teaching.
* Maybe I’ve read too much Zizioulas or relied on too many Neo-Thomists over the years, but I automatically react badly whenever people use the word individual when they should use the words person and personal.