Archives For Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck drives people nuts.

Love him or hate him, most likely you’ve got an opinion.  He doesn’t produce fence-sitters.  That fence is POINTY, baby.  You’re going to fall on one side or the other pretty quickly if you spend any time listening to his show or watching him on the telivizzle.

And believe it or not, the rest of this post will have nothing to do with politics.  So you can exhale.

At the end of August I posted “glenn beck: the new voice of evangelical christianity” as a follow-up to his non-political/spiritual revival pro-America rally on the national mall on August 28, 2010.  My main point was to say that I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable with Glenn’s religious rhetoric, because he’s a Mormon, and therefore means something very different when he claims to be “listening to the voice of God” or leading us to “do the will of God.”  We believe in and follow different Gods, me and Mr. Beck.  Therefore, I urged my fellow evangelicals to listen if you must, but exercise discernment… it’s dangerous ground.

The post generated some good discussion at the time, but I just received a new comment today, and it was a good challenge.

The gist was this:I’m confused.  You seem to often call for unity between churches.  Mormons believe Jesus is the Son of God, too, right?  How come we shouldn’t listen to Glenn Beck, then?  Should we not listen just because he’s a Mormon?”

Fair question.  Here was my response:

I understand your confusion. Let me clarify a few things…

First, Im not saying no one should listen to Glenn Beck simply because he is a Mormon. I love to listen to Dennis Prager, for example, and he’s Jewish. There is wisdom to be found in all kinds of people, and truth is truth… meaning, if I say the sky looks blue, and The Pope says the sky looks blue, and Christopher Hitchens says the sky looks blue… we are all saying something true. Our philosophy or religious affiliation doesn’t make it any LESS true when Chris the atheist says it. Right? So, Glenn Beck’s Mormonism, per se, doesn’t necessarily disqualify him from my listening list.

What I am uncomfortable with – and that’s putting it mildly – is Glenn Beck’s increasingly bold “spiritual leader” talk.  He throws around phrases that indicate he believes he is doing the “will of the Lord,” and that he speaks for God and is encouraging people to do His will.  He SAYS the name Jesus, but his belief is very different than mine.  My caution is to listen critically, and be very careful not to confuse his Mormon “word from the Lord” with the authority of the ACTUAL Word of God, given to us in the Bible.

Now, to briefly clarify the difference between my calls to the church for unity around the core doctrines of the Christian faith, and my stiff-arming of Mormonism, it is important for you to understand that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a cult. It is NOT in any way a branch of the Christian church, like Baptists or Lutherans or Methodists. Nope. Mormons are often wonderful people, productive citizens, kind to their neighbors, and raising good kids in strong families. I’m not saying they are “bad” people – any more than you and I are sinful people – in the way that EVERY soul on the planet is born corrupted by sin. But they tend to be “good people” all the same. Even so, Mormonism is a false religion that diverges from Christianity in several KEY ways.

Christian core doctrine has remained grounded in the Word of God and been basically unchanging for 2000+ years. Cults change their core doctrine often – when it becomes necessary to do so. There have been about 4,000 changes to the Book of Mormon since it was first published in 1830, and some BIG ones to boot. They have changed their stance on Polygamy, for one. And they now support the religious equality of African Americans, which required a huge change in their doctrinal positions.

Mormonism is poly-theistic (many gods) and Christianity is monotheistic (ONE God). They believe God the Father was once a man who *progressed* to God-hood. We believe God is the unchanging “I AM.” They believe the Trinity is actually three separate gods… we believe in the three-in-ONE. They also believe that we, as humans, can progress to God-hood status. This is the FIRST LIE from the Garden of Eden, when the serpent told Eve, “You can be like God…” All of the sin of the world followed that lie and it’s line of reasoning. It is the CORE poison of the human soul.

Mormons believe Jesus is the child of God the Father and a heavenly Mother, and that he was born incomplete and had to *progress* to God-hood status in the spiritual realm. They deny the incarnation of Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ unchanging nature as God and His condescension and virgin birth are foundation truths Christianity is built upon. While Mormons DO believe that Jesus is God’s only Son, their understanding of what that means and the very nature of God and Jesus as our Savior is a mess – and dangerous, theologically.

Mormon’s see Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden as a noble act, enabling man to become mortal – a key step forward in the process of attaining deity status. They believe that Jesus atonement basically grants everyone salvation and immortality, whether we believe in Him or not. There are many, many other important differences, as well.

This stuff is important. Mormons market themselves as another Christian option. But it is not at all Christian. We have no reason, of course, to treat Mormons with disrespect, OR to disregard everything they say simply because of the religion. However, I WILL disregard anything they say with “the authority of the Lord” behind it. Glenn Beck’s Jesus is NOT my Jesus. Therefore, when He speaks about the “will of God,” I know he’s not listening to the same voice of God that I am. Therefore… I turn him off.

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“mormons are christians, too, right? :: glenn beck might be right… and wrong” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

There was a little get together this weekend on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Attendance reports vary from 87,000 (CBS news) to over half a million (Sky News) largely conservative (including many evangelical Christians) gathered for… um… a non-political, pro-conservative, limited government, support-the-troops, uh… revival meeting.

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.]