I’ll put my cards on the table. More and more, Glenn Beck is giving me the weebers. And, as a conservative (socially, economically, politically), I actually agree with him on many issues. But still… weebers.
On the uncomfortability scale, I think “the weebers” fall three steps past the jibbilies, two degrees beyond the heebie-jeebies, a full stride beyond the willies, but not quite all the way to “freaked out.” This tension is growing in me the more I listen to Mr. Beck. A rising score on the creep-out scale that has nothing to do with his political views – but much to do with his rising influence as a leader of evangelical Christians.
That’s right. A mormon calling evangelicals to revival. What?
“Something beyond imagination is happening. Something that is beyond man is happening,” Beck said to the crowd on Saturday from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. “America today begins to turn back to God.” And later, “For too long, this country has wandered in the darkness…” What does he mean by darkness… the Biblical variety? With the earnesty of a gospel revival tent preacher Beck urged the crowd to “Realize that He is our king. He is the one who guides and directs our life and protects us.”
He. Him. “He” is our king. Even the term “God” can remain a little nebulous, right? I mean, how many of us stand shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers and sing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch at our local ball park? Surely at least of few of the assembled 53,000 some other people at the last Twins game I attended were Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Muslim, or agnostic. There’s no way no how we were all sold-out Christ followers. America has made a deal with each other… the “God” in “God Bless America” can remain user-friendly and non-threatening to people of many faiths because we recognize our Judeo-Christian roots while affirming religious freedom. “In God we trust.” Yes we do. But that means something very different to ME than it does to Mr. Beck.
His Mormon faith believes in a different Jesus. Not the one and only Son of God, Savior of the world. Not the Jesus of authentic Christian faith. And yet, Glenn Beck’s rhetoric is increasingly becoming more and more a blend of spiritual guidance and political ideology. He frequently uses the name of Jesus Christ, as if he is just one of the evangelicals who rally with him. He talks about “The Lord,” a name reserved only for the One true King of Kings, as someone that he knows personally and follows with devotion. And I hear a growing boldness in his faith-talk. More and more he challenges believers to return to God, listen to the Lord, do His will… which Glenn has figured out and is sharing with a growing audience on the radio, television, and various live venues across the country.
My hypothesis: Glenn Beck continues to increase in boldness as a “spiritual advisor” to the masses because evangelicals have not pressed back, not urged their fellow Christians to be cautious. Many evangelicals seem to be comfortable with Beck’s increasing spiritual language, because he is influential, and his conservative principles are on an uptick on the political clout meter. Many Christians seem happy to ride the band wagon, driven by a Mormon spiritual advisor, because they like the music the band is playing.
My word to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ: DANGER. DANGER. DANGER.
When people accuse Christianity of being exclusive – of claiming to be the ONLY path to God – my response is always the same: exactly. To be more specific, JESUS is the only Way. The only Savior. The only Lord. The only King of Kings. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is core evangelical Christian doctrine. While churches may disagree on whether to use wine or grape juice during Communion, or when is the appropriate time to baptize someone, evangelicals agree on this: we believe in the exclusivity of Jesus, the ONE and ONLY.
I’m not trying to pig pile Glenn Beck in the avalache of negative press and hate that seems to be pouring down on him right now. I think he’s brilliant, and a smart marketer of conservative ideas. And I don’t have any hatered for Mormons, either. As far as I can tell, most Mormons are family-loving, well-meaning, kind-hearted good citizens. I have had good friends in the Mormon faith. We simply believe different things about who Jesus is, and in a spiritual sense, that makes all the difference in the world.
As an evangelical Christian, I want to be led by the Holy Spirit, and encouraged in the Truth by the Word of God and by others who know the Word and hear the Lord’s voice. Glenn Beck claims to know and hear the Lord’s voice. He has a HUGE platform, and for some reason, scads of evangelicals lean in to hear his intepretation of what the Lord’s will is for us. He may be hearing some inner voice, some guiding spirit, something “bigger than man” may be going on here. But without Jesus, he can have no indwelling Holy Spirit. So if it is not God’s voice Glenn Beck is hearing, who is he listening to… and why are evangelicals so quick to follow?
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glenn beck: the new mormon voice of evangelical christianity by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
[NOTE: For another excellent post about Glenn Beck’s influence on evangelicals, click here for a great piece from RELEVANT.]