by Susan Stilley
Glenn Beck and the charity he founded, Mercury One, will be holding a three day event, 'Restoring Love', this July in Dallas, which Beck describes as, "an historic convergence of faith, giving, and inspiration." The 'giving' portion refers to a day of humanitarian work for the needy in the DFW area to be carried out by participants. The 'inspiration' refers in part to the large rally planned at Dallas Cowboys Stadium featuring a roster of speakers and musicians. There will likely be video montages of the previous day's 'mission work' displayed on the enormous screens, as well as videos of patriotic themes.
As for the 'faith' portion, this is open to interpretation. Beck explains that the purpose of the rally is to "unite people of different faiths and beliefs on the idea of freedom - to preserve it for ourselves and our posterity. Also, to make sure we preserve history and keep that preserved."
This all sounds well and good. Who isn't for freedom? Who isn't for helping the needy? Who isn't for love? What concerns me is the ill defined notions of God and faith. In 2010, Beck began to interject a nebulous and often confusing spiritual tone in his programming. At times he referenced doctrines particular to his Mormon religion while at other times he spoke the language of universalism. In lamenting our country's condition, he told his television audience, "We need a Jesus or a Buddha", as if the two are interchangeable.
In the wake of his, 'Restore Courage' rally in Israel and his move to Texas in 2011, I wrote, 'Glenn Beck's Great Commission' in which I detail the acceleration of not just spiritual confusion, but outright deception, perpetrated by Beck in his supposed quest to 'reclaim America'.
Now that Glenn Beck is my neighbor of sorts (okay, his zip code is a bit more upscale than mine), I am appalled that he has so successfully used patriotic/conservative rhetoric to worm his way onto the very pulpit of many churches. Just as he flattered and schmoozed the rabbis in Israel last summer and the cardinals at Vatican City on his recent trip, so he charms evangelical church leaders here at home. He invites them on his GBTV program, promotes their books, documentaries, praises their 'spiritual wisdom', and asks them leading questions that he knows will elicit the exact response he wants to make his own point. He has mastered 'gospel terminology' and established such a feeling of comradarie and a sense of 'mission', that I imagine the hapless pastor floating out of the GBTV studio with a wide grin, sighing, "Ah....Glenn and I really do believe in the same God!"
No, Hapless Pastor. You don't.
Mormons are polytheists. They believe in many gods. The particular god of planet Earth is Elohim, or 'God, the father', who was once a mortal being like us but worked his way through eternal progression on a different planet. He has many celestial wives. He came to earth and had sexual relations with the virgin, Mary (while she was betrothed to Joseph) and Jesus was born. Mormon 'scholars' are not in complete agreement if Mary was allowed to be one of Joseph's eternal wives, or if she took her place among God, the Father/Elohim's celestial harem.
Glenn Beck recently appeared on James Robison's program, Life Today, and stated that 'God' told him he needed to have a rally at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Glenn also claims that back in 2010, he was speaking to a crowd in Florida when just five minutes into his speech, God interrupted and told him, "It's all wrong. (referring to the 'Restoring Honor' rally in Wash. D.C.) It cannot be just political. It must be about the spiritual."
Since this god of Glenn Beck seems to be so opinionated about the location and content of these rallys and since Dallas Cowboys Stadium is practically in my backyard, I thought it best to go to the Mercury One website and check it out. Prominently displayed on the top of the main page are various 'Restoring Love' ticket packages for a donation to Mercury One. You can buy tickets for $10.00 per seat. (not bad) Then there is the Builder Packakge for $1,000.00. The Leader Package for $5,000.00, and the Merit Package for $25,000.00. I checked the website the next day and they had added two more. Perhaps Elohim had talked to Glenn again and urged him to expand the choices. We now have The Heritage Package for $250,000.00 and The Founder Package for (gulp) $1,000,000.00.
What really caught my attention was a selection of three 'Restoring Love' posters you could purchase as a means of supporting Mercury One. Two of them didn't raise any eyebrows but the first one, 'Reflections of Christ', caused me to wonder. It was done by fine art photographer, Mark Mabry, and depicted a risen Jesus dressed in white, nail marks shown in the hand as seen from a side/rear profile. It was simple, yet the portrayal of Christ exhibited strength.
Curious about Mabry's other work, I did a quick google search and discovered that 'Reflections of Christ' was actually a collection available in a coffee table type book of nearly thirty photographs. Mabry took models/actors and created a very poignant depiction of scenes of Jesus' life as recorded in the New Testament. I am a fan of art/photography so I appreciated his use of lighting and the way he captured certain moments befitting the characters and the story. A video available with accompanying music of the hymn, 'Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing', as the photos are displayed added still more to the sense of drama and emotion.
The reflectionsofchrist.org website gave some info on the artists involved and their vision for the project but not much else on Mabry's other work or his personal bio. I wondered about his own faith background.
Back to google I go. I soon came upon another video put out by the same company, Reflections Media Group. When I saw the title, a work also done by Mark Mabry, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. The title read, 'Another Testament - Reflections of Christ'.
Another testament?? I immediately thought of Paul's letter to the Corinthians about accepting another gospel: "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough." (2 Cor. 11:2-6)
To the Galatians, Paul was even sharper in his warning about the false prophets who were even at that early stage, already circulating among the churches.
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel - not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:6-9)
'Another Testament - Reflections of Christ' turned out to be what I suspected. Mabry depicts a Christ who appeared in the Americas, according to the Book of Mormon. This is the account that was supposedly recorded on golden plates and buried in upstate New York. Joseph Smith claimed to discover such plates at the direction of an angel, Moroni. Smith reportedly translated the plates with divine help from 'reformed Egyptian' (a language no reputable linguist confirms ever existed), of the Nephites (a race of people unknown to archaelogists or historians) into English, and filled with thousands of plagiarisms from the King James Version of the Bible, even though the plates were supposedly buried centuries before King James! (Christian apologist, Walter Martin, has done much research on errors within the Book of Mormon. My friend, seminary professor and former Mormon, James Walker, has also written extensively.)
What I found so disturbing was that this second 'Another Testament - Reflections of Christ' exhibit had the same look, feel, and ambiance as the first. Same model/actor portraying Jesus. Same photographic techniques, same uses of lighting. The same type of expressions he emphasized in his depiction of the characters of the historical, Biblical record, he now employed in the portrayal of the ancient peoples of the Americas whom Joseph Smith claimed was visited by this latter arriving Jesus. The 'Another Testament' montage of photos picks up the depiction quite seamlessly from the first, inviting the viewer to join in appreciation and worshipful reflection.
The problem is, the artist is rendering a distinctly 'Mormon Jesus'. The problem is not artistic, but theological and historical. The real Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, was crucified, shedding his blood as a sacrifice to make atonement for man's sin so that we could be restored to a right relationship with God, which had been lost due to the Fall. For two thousand years, Christians have pointed to the empty tomb as evidence of His defeat over death and as the prophesied Messiah. Believers have experienced the 'new birth' (John 3:3-8) into a spiritual kingdom and received the promised Holy Spirit. "...and he will send you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth." (John 14:16,17)
The Mormon Jesus, by contrast, is a clever caricature of the Original. The Mormon Jesus follows the general outline of teachings and miracles in order to gain the trust of the initiate. Yet the Mormon Jesus has a different pre-incarnate state - he was once 'working his way to godhood'. He has a different family lineage - brother of Lucifer. He has a different marital status - engaging in polygamous sex with spiritual wives. He has a different definition of salvation and mode of making atonement for sin - not on the cross, but in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he merely made it possible for others to begin their own 'working their way to godhood'.
Nowhere on Glenn Beck's 'Mercury One' website is the Mormon nature of the 'Reflections of Christ' poster explained. If Beck is going to ask as much as $500.00 for a framed print, signed by both Mabry and Beck himself, should he not include the teensy weensy detail that the portrayal is of a Mormon Jesus? Should not his largely non-Mormon audience be informed of this fact before they shell out big bucks and display such art in their homes? For Glenn Beck to speak so much about truth and how he seeks to be a man who stands for truth, this rather glaring omission strikes me as hypocritical.
Now one might object that you can appreciate an artist's work without agreeing with his theology, and that is certainly true. I have several pieces of art in my home and I have no idea as to the artist or sculptor's religious worldview. I only know that I appreciate the beauty or truth of the moment they captured via film, canvas, or clay.
But Christian art is different, for it seeks to go beyond appreciation of truth and beauty, and to inspire faith and devotion. The obvious questions are...faith in what? Devotion to whom? That is why I consider Beck's non-disclosure to be not only hypocritical, but deceptive. He and Mabry are effectively pulling a theological/artistic 'bait and switch'. Bait the client to fund your charity by purchasing a poster, the assumption being that it is a depiction of the Biblical Christ. Only later, might the client do a bit of search as I did, and realize he bought a Mormon inspired Jesus, whose origins lie in the strange imagination of Joseph Smith, or possibly a dark spiritual entity even more dangerous.
There will likely be thousands of people who purchase the poster online or at the 'Restore Love' event at the stadium. What happens when many of them later discover the full scope of the 'Reflections of Christ' work - 'Another Testament' included? Many will likely feel duped by the bait and switch. Once I watched the, 'Another Testament' video presentation of the photographs, I would not be able to separate my single poster from the overall imagery. I would not be able to hang it on my wall. In fact, it would go in the trash, be it $15.00 or $500.00
More troubling are those who purchase the print, later discover the Mormon intents and vision of the artist, but do not have the background or information to understand how the Mormon Jesus is a counterfeit. After all, they suppose, this talented artist sure makes it appear that the same Jesus they trust (or is at least open to trusting) is the same one spoken of in the Book of Mormon.
This type of concealment is not surprising, given that Mormonism often uses such tactics. There is a reason that the reflectionsofchrist.org website has no mention that the artists are part of the LDS church and no reference to 'Another Testament - Reflections of Christ', even though the style, content and even title deem it to be a continuation of the original exhibit. They don't want to scare people off. Likewise, the travel packages Beck offers on his website for the 'Restore Love' rally do not emphasize the travel company. On one page it appears in small print at the bottom - Voyager Travel. Only with some outside digging, do you discover that Voyager Travel also goes by the name, LDS Travel and is based out of Utah. Should Beck not be more forthright with his fans about where their travel dollars end up, so that they can make an informed decision?
Concealment is part of the Mormon DNA, it's purpose to gain trust. Once trust is achieved, it is much easier to emotionally manipulate until the time is right to make a strike. In the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 in southern Utah, the strike was actually physical - Mormons coordinated with the local Paiute Indians, disguised themselves as natives and attacked the Baker-Fancher wagon train of settlers traveling from Arkansas to California. A five day seige ensued. Fearful that settlers had recognized 'white men' among the attackers and that the Mormons had been discovered, they flew a white flag of truce into the camp and promised to escort them out of the territory safely. To supposedly appease the Paiute, the settlers were required to relinquish their weapons/supplies. Once the settlers were led out of their fortification, the Mormon escorts turned and shot the men. Others Mormons hiding in the bushes then came out and slaughtered the women and children. Over 120 innocent settlers were killed.
While this was a horrific physical assault, the same Mormon methodology continues today in the form of spiritual assault - a massacre of the soul. Conceal. Gain trust. Attack. Indeed, this was Satan's tactic toward Eve in the garden. He appeared to be chiefly interested in Eve's well being and her gaining of wisdom. He played on her emotions. Then he led her to the Fall.
Ironically, Mormon doctrine has a very strange view of the Fall. Too convoluted to review in detail here, but the basic teaching is that God's commandment to Adam and Eve to be fruitful, could not be accomplished until they had mortal bodies. They wouldn't have mortal bodies unless they broke God's commandment not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So God put them in a sort of Catch-22. The serpent ultimately does a good thing by leading them into sin and opening up the way for procreation and the path to godhood. Satan is the hero! Mormon Assistant to the Twelve Apostles, Sterling W. Sill says, "Adam fell, but he fell in the right direction. He fell toward the goal.... Adam fell, but he fell upward."
Fell upward? This theology is beyond twisted. Yet Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie wrote, "It is not possible to believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, in the true and full sense required to gain salvation, without at the same time believing and accepting the true doctrine of the fall." (A New Witness For The Article of Faith, p. 82).
So when Glenn Beck waxed on and on about 'the atonement' on James Robison's program recently, did Robison have any clue what Beck was even talking about? I doubt it.
Mormon missionaries (who are often nice kids just caught up in the deception they've heard all their lives) follow the standard template: Obscure their true doctrine. Use emotion to manipulate and distract from theological/historical/logical problems. Continue to make emotional appeals toward having a 'burning in the bosom' experience to confirm that Mormonism is true.
This is the same methodology Glenn Beck has followed for quite a while. Obscure his true doctrine. He does this by constant repetition that we are all following the same God, which means we should toss aside whatever theological distinctives we hold in order to unite in spiritual union for the greater good. After all, America is facing disaster...heading off a cliff...we must save the country! (Three emotional appeals in one sentence - check.) We should all look within our heart, burning bosom style, and then we'll know that what wise sage, Glenn Beck says is true.
The irony in all this is that much of what Beck says is true - that is the hook. But where Beck is leading, be it Mormon conversion or patriotic generated universalism, might very well carry millions of people away from the ultimate source of liberty and freedom. The kind of freedom found only in Christ.
by Susan Stilley
by Susan Stilley
Are Southern Baptists bigoted and un-American? On more than one occasion Richard Land, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has stated that raising questions about a presidential candidate's religion is both bigoted and un-American. Yet, most of the Southern Baptists whom I know are very concerned about this matter. It seems ungrateful at best for Land to take the contributions of these Southern Baptists who employ him and then turn around and belittle them.
This is the question that was running through my head when I recently attended a forum at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, entitled, 'The Grindstone: Sharp, Theological Discussions On Topics That Matter'. The topic for the evening was 'The Christian and Politics' and it featured special guest panelist Richard Land.
For several years I have been been perplexed by many of Richard Land's statements and activities, particularly with regard to Mormonism. Land joined with Glenn Beck in Wash. D.C. in a Mormon orchestrated rally billed as 'Spiritual Renewal'. He refers to Mormonism as 'the fourth Abrahamic Religion'. In 2008, he began advising presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as to how he could circumvent his Mormon image problem to secure the Republican nomination. One of these meetings was at the invitation of Romney and held at his Belmont home where Land attended, along with about a dozen other evangelical leaders. As quoted in The Boston Globe, Land said, "I told him I thought most Americans believed in fair play, and you have the opportunity to take the poison out of this issue the same way that Kennedy did."
First of all, I find the image of influential Christian leaders huddling around Mitt Romney's kitchen table and guiding him through the evangelical maze on his way to the White House, not only disturbing but downright creepy. As an American, I hold to the Constitution which states that there should be no religious litmus test for those seeking public office. Anyone should be allowed to run for president who has the means and support to do so. However, as a Southern Baptist, I was dismayed that Richard Land, who carries much influence in the SBC and beyond, would assist a man who falls into the category Paul describes in Galatians 1:8. "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed." How do we go from "be accursed", to support for the highest political office in the land? A man such as this should be witnessed to, not coached to the presidency. This felt like a betrayal, something akin to discovering your husband was invited to have milk and cookies with Angelina Jolie...and he went.
Secondly, what exactly does Land mean when he tells Romney, "you have the opportunity to take the poison out of this issue"? What is the poison? Obviously the poison isn't Romney's own heresy, for that implies the antidote would be a turning toward the real Jesus and a discarding of the sci-fi, polygamous, imaginary, Mormon Jesus. The only explanation is that the poison is in us! The poison is our so called 'religious bigotry' which keeps us from taking the pragmatist's path and supporting the candidate with the whitest smile and the slickest delivery, the one most electable.
I attended the Grindstone Forum with a copy of an article Land wrote for the Christian Post, dated Oct. 18, 2011, in which he continues to advise Romney that he should play the religious bigotry card, whenever pressure mounts. Titled, 'Mormons, Christianity and Presidential Elections', Land begins by casually scolding Dr. Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas for describing Mormonism as a "cult" to a secular reporter who Land claims did not understand the term in a theological sense, but only in the anti-social 'Jim Jones/Branch Davidian' sense.
Land suggests that Mormonism should be described as a new religion - the Fourth Abrahamic religion. Land wrote, "In this formulation, Mormonism would be analogous to Islam with Joseph Smith analogous to the prophet Mohammad and the Book of Mormon analogous to the Koran." There are several reasons why this reclassification of Mormonism doesn't work but the most troubling aspect of Land's editorial, which I hoped to question him personally at the forum, came next.
Land projects forward to a scenario in which Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee. Journalists will naturally begin to dig into Mormonism and air specials in which they go into great detail on Mormon beliefs. Land says that the media will claim they are doing it in the public interest but that their real reason will be to aid in the re-election of President Obama; they will seek to alarm enough Independent voters about the strangeness of Mormon doctrine that they will question Romney's judgement and conclude he should not be trusted with the presidency. Land's counsel to Romney when this occurs? "Under no circumstances should he allow himself or his campaign to be enticed into defending Mormonism. ......Romney should turn this against the press and portray them as the bigots who are trying to introduce religion into a presidential campaign. He should tell them unequivocally that it is un-American to raise such questions in a presidential campaign."
This is a jaw dropping statement. Since when does the press not have the liberty to question a political candidate on his religious worldview? The press is representative of the people, many of whom are interested in such matters when it comes to the judgement of the person seeking to occupy the oval office. Again, this is not a religious test as to whether a person is allowed to run for president. It is a determination on the part of the voters as to the fitness of the candidate when clarity is brought to bear on their religious commitments. And how are we to reach such clarity if we are not at liberty to question what a candidate believes? For Land to deny that liberty to journalists and the American public for whom they speak, is an odd position for a man who heads an organization called 'The Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission'. And to go even further and call such questioning, "bigoted" and "un-American"? That is going quite beyond the pale. It matters not, the personal bias of an individual journalist. If something is a fair question, it's a fair question. When Obama was asked if he was in agreement with the beliefs and statements of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, that was also a fair question. It didn't matter whether the question was asked by a journalist from MSNBC or Fox News.
The Grindstone Forum began with some introductory comments and questions posed by Southwestern Seminary President, Dr. Paige Patterson to Dr. Land. Among a host of subjects raised was that of Christians voting for a Mormon. Land replied, "I'll take a Mormon over a socialist every time. And as Martin Luther, one of your favorites said, "I'd rather be governed by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian." And you know what he meant when he said, 'Turk'. He meant a Muslim. And, you know we've already tried incompetent Christians....."
Frankly, My Dear...
The 'Q & A' followed shortly. Mine was the first question, which I posed to Dr. Land:
"You mention the Luther quote that he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk - but it doesn't seem to me that, that fits with the Mormon candidate for president because the Muslim isn't presenting himself to be anything other than a Muslim. The Turk that Luther was referring to was at least an honest Turk, whereas with a Mormon candidate, the sticking point for so many Christians, Southern Baptists, Evangelicals... is that it 's a false gospel masquerading itself as Christianity. You had a post Oct. 18th, an opinion piece in the Christian Post , in which you state that it is bigoted and un-American to introduce/raise questions of religion in a presidential campaign. So, how do you respond to those Southern Baptists who were offended at basically being called bigoted and un-American because of their concern that having a Mormon president who claims to be a Christian would give credibility to a false gospel?"
Land then switched tactics. He accused me of taking him out of context, claiming that this article was in response to the editor of the New York Times who had written that any religious person should be disqualified for office. But the particular article I held in my hand said not one word about the New York Times. There is no mention of any such statement from a NYT editor at all. The article actually begins as an address to the Pastor Jeffress situation. I have no doubt that Land has used this line of argument in many venues (one of them perhaps in response to the New York Times), but in this particular article I referenced in the Christian Post, he states unabashedly that Romney's Mormonism should be considered an 'off limits' subject to journalists and by extension, the voting public for whom they speak.
When I tried to respond to his claim that I had taken him out of context, he talked over me and effectively 'shouted me down', as he had a microphone and I did not. I offered to read the relevant passage from the article, but he would have none of it. Clearly rattled, he accused me of being unfair. He charged, "You read my quote but what you didn't read is what it was in response to." At this point, one of the assistants holding the microphone tried to turn down the heat by suggesting it was time to move on to another question. Land sat back in his chair and dripping with condescension, concluded, "Context! Context, my dear girl...."
He might as well have patted me on the head and told me to run along and play.
So what was really happening in this exchange? Richard Land is simply continuing a trend that began during the Republican primary of 2008 when Al Sharpton commented that those “who really believe in God” would defeat Mitt Romney’s bid to become President. Conservatives in the media seized upon this and went into full howl over Sharpton’s supposed 'religious bigotry' and promoted the idea that any questioning of a candidate’s religion was strictly taboo.
At the time, I saw this as a preemptive strike to keep Mitt Romney’s Mormonism from coming back to bite him in his temple garment draped derrière, should he actually become the Republican nominee. Many conservatives are embarrassed by Romney's cult status but feel that loyalty to the conservative cause dictates that they try to protect him. This is eerily familiar, for Democrats were likewise embarrassed by Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky but felt compelled to protect him out of loyalty to the liberal cause. The chant in the Clinton era was, “The man’s private life is completely separate from his fitness for the presidency”, just as the current chant is, “The man’s religious life is completely separate from his fitness for the presidency.”
It is good for Christians to participate in the electoral process, but is it appropriate for a Christian leader to involve himself in these kind of political machinations? I think not. What people need to see are Christian leaders who are committed to proclaiming Truth, first and foremost. Trying to play political chess, anticipating what 'the opponent' will do a few moves away and playing your strategy accordingly, has a way of backfiring.
Restricting any discussion of Mormon doctrine during the Republican primary in 2008 only served to keep Romney viable for 2012. Had Christian leaders brought the truth to light regarding Mormonism a long time ago, Romney would have been deemed a 'poison pill' candidate for a general election. Of course Romney has all sorts of other troubling issues, but full disclosure of the bizarre teachings of Mormonism would have possibly been the death knell. How would a crippled or absent Romney, changed the state of the primary race in 2012? Who would have perhaps gotten into the primary, knowing the field was clear of Romney and his endless cash-fueled, vicious, Mountain Meadow-ish smear machine? For that matter, even the 2008 election might have gone differently had Christian leaders been more forthright. Perhaps Mike Huckabee would be in the White House today. We'll never know.
And what is the truth of Mormonism? As a religion, Mormonism ranks on about the same level as Scientology in that they are both science fictionesque. However, Scientology is the more honest of the two. Scientology is what it is and doesn’t claim to be anything else. Mormonism, on the other hand, claims to be Christianity (in fact, it claims to be the only true Christianity) yet does not hold to the basic tenets of historic Christian faith. If one wishes to weave fantastic tales of Jesus and Lucifer being brothers, God the Father having physical sex with the Virgin Mary, Jesus having several wives, Jesus appearing and teaching to the North American Indians, the ability of mortal men to become gods and rule over other planets with multiple goddess wives, well...one has the right to start a religion based on such fiction. One does NOT have the intellectual right to call that religion Christianity.
If Romney turns out to be the Republican nominee and Richard Land is correct that the media will begin to dig into Mormonism in earnest, what will they find? They will discover that Mormonism is the Premier Bait and Switch Religion. Missionaries (including Romney who did a two year stint in France) are trained to use Christian terminology to initiate potential converts, implying that Mormonism is another branch of Christianity, all the while knowing that the Mormon Jesus and Mormon salvation is something altogether different. Not the most noble training ground for someone seeking the highest political office in the land. This sounds suspiciously close to Romney's history of saying one thing when it is politically expedient while believing and acting otherwise. Do we really want a President whose missionary activity and leadership roles in his ‘church’ have been steeped in bait and switch tactics as a philosophy of faith?
If the above scenario plays out in such manner, this will indeed put politically conservative Christians in a peculiar position. If they downplay the errors of Mormonism, that feeds into the growing consensus that the LDS church is just another strain of Christianity. For those concerned with protecting the integrity of the gospel message, that is not an option. It is on this point, protecting the gospel message itself, that everything hinges. This is why a Mormon president poses a danger to the cause of Christ that a Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or even atheist does not. If a Mormon took office, clean cut, eager missionaries riding their bicycles would have a powerful line for their sales pitch. "Let me tell you about our Christian faith, the faith of President Romney..." Such a scenario will play itself out millions of times over in living rooms and on doorsteps all over the world. People who are open to knowing Christ will instead be introduced to a counterfeit gospel. How many lost people will accept this false gospel and mistakenly believe they have trusted in the Risen Lord, only to be told by the Lord Himself one day, "Depart from me, I never knew you." (Matthew 7:21-23)
Another position conservative Christian voters might take is to agree that yes, Mormonism is full of errors and deceptive tactics, but all of that is separate from the role of president. That just looks foolish. Two of the most important qualities we seek in a president is that of personal integrity and sound judgment. Romney’s Mormonism gives us just cause to question both. Furthermore, Mormon doctrine has particular ideas about the role of the United States, it's history, it's purpose, and it's future. It views the Constitution as a 'divine' document meant to serve ultimately, a Mormon agenda. Very few will feel comfortable on 'Team Romney' once the media, be it liberal or conservative, starts unpacking the implications of the 'White Horse Prophecy'. And again, should it not be the responsibility of Christian leaders to proclaim the truth? It would be a scandal of the first order if it were left to Rachel Maddow and Lawerence O'Donnell to do the Christian apologetics work that politically active, visibly prominent Christian leaders fail to do.
Patterson Weighs In
After I was chastised by Richard Land, the forum discussion moved on to other subjects. Yet, Paige Patterson was keenly aware of what took place within the exchange between Land and myself. Indeed, not much escapes Dr. Patterson's notice. About thirty minutes later, Patterson interjected that he would like to return to my question and "venture into the fray". He began by taking Land's straw man, point of obfuscation - that of a religious litmus test for office - and separated that from the point I was actually addressing, that of giving credibility to a false gospel. Patterson said:
"There are not one, but two questions before the Christian voter as he looks at the question of whether or not he could pull a lever for a Mormon for president. There is first of all, as Dr. Land points out, the constitutionality question and the Constitution is clear that religion shall not be a test for office. So it would be improper, in my estimation, for a believer in the United States of America to argue that based on this or that candidate's embrace of Mormonism, that he cannot run for president.
"But what we can do, what we can insist, in the second place, is on absolute, full disclosure of what one believes and thinks. Now, when we come to that point, of course, we're going to have to find out...well, what does Mormonism really teach. And interestingly enough, that issue is not being raised....Dr. Land would probably disagree with me here....he would probably say you can't even raise that question. I think you can. I think you can ask any candidate, 'What do you believe? Where do you come from? How do you see the world? What is your worldview?' I would be disturbed if I was running for office and they didn't ask me what my worldview was and where I got it, so I would have a chance to say, "I get my view squarely from the Bible which teaches that point - one, two, three, four, five." I think he ought to be pressed on that because I think that the real danger of a Mormon president has very little to do with his political involvement. It has everything to do with what the Mormon church will make out of it, in selling itself to be a Christian faith. And that is where the difficulty arises.
"However, where I certainly do agree with Dr. Land is that even with that danger there, I could not in good conscience vote against the Mormon candidate, if that turns out to be the two running, a Mormon candidate for office and a man who is still committed to the butchering of little babies in the wombs of their mothers... I could never, ever, ever do that. We would have to take our chance with the Mormon in a case like that and we would have to do a better job at seeing to it that the public understands the nature of Mormonism and the nature of true Christianity. (turning to Land) Do you want to disagree with any of that?"
Land answered, "yes", and went on to discuss the same points he made in his article as to why questions of belief should not be allowed in a presidential race. Ironically, the very argument he claimed that I took out of context, he then repeated almost verbatim in the forum discussion.
I appreciate the fact that while Patterson and Land are longtime friends, Patterson didn't allow Land's blurring of distinctions to remain unchallenged. I also appreciate the fact that Dr. Patterson is such a gentleman, in contrast to Dr. Land who, at least in this case and from my perspective, played a bit of a bully.
Patterson also raises an excellent point regarding the dilemma of choosing between a candidate whose presidency risks giving legitimacy to a false gospel which leads people to Hell, and a candidate who is committed to the slaughter of the unborn. Neither is an acceptable choice. My contention is that if the issue of Mormonism had not been hushed up under the guise of 'religious bigotry' for the last several years by both Christian leaders and political conservatives (who have likely had varying reasons, motivations, and ambitions for doing so), then we wouldn't face the possibility of such a choice today.
Marketing Blitz - From Polygamy to Broadway
For the past thirty years, the LDS organization has engaged in a vigorous marketing campaign to change their image, with the greatest concentration in the last five years - 'I'm A Mormon' ads, logo changes, architectural changes of their buildings, and an effective use of the internet and a calculated take-over of search engines. This meticulous advertising scheme has dovetailed conveniently with Land's eleventh commandment, "Thou shall not speak ill of a presidential candidate who refuses to explain his belief system, regardless of how kooky or how confusing of the gospel message it proves to be".
In a November 2011 survey of the Pew Research Center, the question was asked, "Is Mormonism a Christian Religion?" Among the non-Mormon, U.S. general public, 51% said "yes" and 17% said, "I don't know." That means that almost seventy percent of Americans either assume or are unclear if Mormonism is a branch of Christianity. I am afraid that while Dr. Land considers himself a savvy dispenser of political advice as it relates to the evangelical world, in this instance, he was the one who has been played.
I also disagree with Land's editorial when he writes, "Most Evangelicals who attend church on a regular basis understand the basic tenants (sic) of the Mormon faith and how they differ from the doctrinal teachings of orthodox Christianity. They have been taught about Mormonism by their pastors who have seen it as their duty to inoculate their flocks against Mormonism."
Land should try telling that to the thousands of parents whose college aged and grown children have been lured into the false gospel of Mormonism. Indeed, most converts to Mormonism were raised in at least nominal Christian homes and a large proportion of which are Southern Baptist! How is that inoculation working for ya? Even if the average person knows a few general basics of Mormon belief, that hardly equips them to debate the friendly Mormon missionaries who sit in their living rooms and wrench the Bible out of context to fit the peculiarities of their system.
It seems to me that Land is trying to provide cover for his political pragmatism. It is as if he's saying, "It's not necessary that I speak to the fact that a Mormon presidency would give instant credibility to a counterfeit gospel. It's okay that I counsel Romney on how he can dodge anything embarrassing by playing the religious bigot card. After all, the pastors have seen to it that everyone knows all about that Mormon stuff anyway."
But that is not the case. Those Christian apologists slogging it out in the trenches in this area - through their writings, debates, and witnessing - will tell you that massive confusion remains on the subject of Mormonism, both inside and outside the church. For those who fall within the LDS grasp, it is very difficult to overcome the brainwashing that Mormonism is the only true and legitimate Christian faith. As for the role of pastors, while there are many expository teachers focused on the Scripture, the sad fact is that many evangelical churches today have become more interested in a 'spiritual experience', rather than doctrine. Hence, the leap from a 'move of the Spirit' in evangelical churches (including Southern Baptist) to a 'burning in the bosom' teaching of Mormonism, is not such a great leap anymore.
Moreover, Land contradicts himself when he states in his editorial, "the vast majority of the 40 percent or so of the American public who identify themselves as "Independents" (and who decide every American presidential election) have only the most cursory understanding of the truth claims or belief system of the Mormon faith." But Land just got through saying (just a few sentences prior) that most evangelicals have already been instructed and 'inoculated' against Mormonism. Which is it? Is Land supposing that there are no evangelicals within that 40 percent who identify themselves as 'Independent'? He presumes the evangelicals are all bunched up within the 30 percent who vote straight Republican?
But even if Land were right that the 40 percent 'Independent' category is devoid of evangelicals, what would it matter? If anything, that should be an impetus for Land and other visible Christian leaders to be more vocal, not less, about the dangers of a candidate's religious worldview which has deception at it's very root. Do we not want full disclosure of the truth available to everyone? Do we not have an even greater responsibility to articulate the truth clearly to those who might not have the Scriptural background and foundation to spot error on their own? Again, this is a very different situation than having a candidate who is a Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist. In such an instance, the candidate's worldview and religious commitments are honest and above board. Not so with a Mormon candidate, whose system of belief confuses and threatens the heart of the gospel message. If warnings as to what such a presidency would do for the cause of Christ comes not from Christian leaders, where will it come?
At this writing, it appears that the Republican nomination will likely fall to either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. If it is Santorum (or anyone else), then Mormonism will never have to undergo the scrutiny it would have in a presidential general election. It escaped scrutiny during two consecutive, media-saturated Republican primaries. It gained much visibility but virtually no hard analysis. The natural conclusion is...." Mormonism is really no big deal. It's just another Christian denomination. Maybe we'll check out the LDS website. Maybe we'll visit this Sunday."
If the nomination falls to Romney, we have a different problem. The media will undoubtedly scour the bowels of LDS history and doctrine and beat the fiction of Joseph Smith to a merciless pulp, as well they should. Conservative Christian believers will feel torn in their commitments - on one hand, they don't want to see ammunition hurled at their candidate. On the other hand, they will recognize (hopefully) that it is the misrepresentation of the gospel which is at stake.
The awkwardness of this scenario reminds me of how you feel when you watch movies in which the main character whom you are supposed to root for, is also a bad guy. He might be up against other bad guys, but it is still difficult to be fully 'on his side'. Think of Tom Cruise in the movie,' Collateral', in which he played a hitman. We like Tom Cruise. Normally, Cruise is the hero and we want to root for him. But this is difficult. He may be up against even worse bad guys but it is hard to get past the fact that Cruise is ...well...an assassin. Same thing with Romney. In a general election, conservative Christians might want to root for him. But it is difficult. He may be up against even worse on the democratic side but it is hard to get past the fact that Romney is...well...a cultist.
The strategy of crying "religious bigotry wolf" has been a disaster on multiple fronts. Helping Romney dodge the Mormon bullet just in case, has not done the Republican party any favors. It has brought confusion to the body of Christ. It has aided in giving the LDS organization a respectability it has long craved. It has contributed to the cynicism of unbelievers who watch such maneuvering by Christian leaders and conclude that the church's chief aim is to act as an arm of partisan politics.
Richard Land disagrees. Toward the end of his editorial, he writes, "The Mormon faith of Mitt Romney, if he is the GOP nominee, will be a severe test of whether Americans really believe in the religious pluralism we espouse in America."
No, Dr. Land. It is a severe test of whether Christians really believe in protecting the integrity of the gospel message we espouse in our churches.
- Cicero's On Duties, bk. 3 (an exploration of what it means to put expediency before honor)
- God's Name in Vain, by Stephen Carter (Carter warns religious institutions to not allow themselves to be seduced by the lure of temporal power)
- Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative, by Carl Trueman (offers an alternative non-mainstream perspective for conservative Christians on church and state issues)
- The Bible vs. Joseph Smith (this intriguing and entertaining video puts Biblical prophets and Mormon prophets, especially Joseph Smith to the test)
Towards the cause of getting our country back on track, he declared, "We need a Jesus or a Buddha." Sorry, Glenn - Buddha is still dead and he absolutely did not pay for my sins or reconcile me to God.
His series extolling the Founding Fathers seemed less about patriotic reflection of what makes America great, but more a subtle indoctrination of the belief that the Constitution is a 'divine document' on an equal level with Scripture. According to Mormon theology, there are prophecies of America and the 'Divine Constitution' teetering on the brink of collapse until a Mormon savior rides in on a white horse (or perhaps a bicycle) to save the day. Romney? Huntsman? Beck himself? One can only wonder.
But even if Beck's audience is oblivious to the pitch for Mormonism's prophetic peculiarities, many gladly embrace the 'Constitution As A Divine (or near enough Divine) Document' view, in the cause of 'reclaiming America for God'. With the help of David Barton, this has been a central theme of Beck's for a while now, but what 'god' is he reclaiming for America? The Mormon god, Elohim, who was once a man but 'evolved' to become a god and is currently living on a planet near the star system, Kolob, with his many goddess wives? Is it that god, Glenn?
As troubling as all of that is, I could easily and happily dismiss Glenn Beck from my thoughts and concerns except for one thing. I have friends and family who are apparently besotted by this man!
They follow him faithfully for hours each week, read all his books, and attend his productions held at select movie theatres. They drove to San Antonio to see him in front of the Alamo and flew to Washington D.C. for his Lincoln Memorial rally. I sent a few e-mails before the D.C. 'spiritual event', suggesting that this appeared to have all the trappings of an ecumenical love fest but since there was no response, I decided to keep my mouth shut. I had learned from past experience that even a small criticism of Beck evoked a sharp reaction in his defense. Obviously, they feel an emotional bond to this man I couldn't understand and considered downright weird, but I sure wasn't going to fracture relationships over a talk show host! Besides, these are all intelligent people. They go to Bible believing churches. Sooner or later, they'll figure this guy out.
Well, it's now a year later and Beck euphoria is stronger than ever. My family arranged for space at a large Dallas church and hosted an Israel 'Restoring Courage' viewing party. I declined my invite. Though I also believe we should stand with Israel, I was sort of afraid of what would happen if Beck or John Hagee should let loose with a real doctrinal whopper. Would I hear someone yelling, "Heresy", only to discover I was the one with her mouth open? I just couldn't take that risk.
Later that evening, I second guessed my decision. I had seen enough promo clips/previews of the Israel event to know that it was strong on the 'all paths lead to God' universalism, that the 'peace of Jerusalem' would be encouraged but without the Prince of Peace, that the gospel would be rendered irrelevant. Perhaps I should have attended and used the event as an opportunity to prompt discussion, even if I appeared as the theological stick-in-the-mud, spoiling everyone's good mood.
Worse still, I realized the Glenn Beck millstone around my neck won't be lifted anytime soon. He is moving to the DFW area and will be my neighbor, of sorts. Even MORE talk of Glenn Beck in the local news, friend's conversations, and family get-togethers. Yippee.
So I decided to go listen to Beck myself at an Arlington church where he was speaking the following Sunday. I suspected that some people I care about would attend as well and I wanted to see/hear for myself, precisely what kind of Moses figure he would be impersonating.
His performance was Oscar worthy.
After the warm-up speeches by a local messianic rabbi and David Barton, Glenn Beck takes the stage and declares, "The God of Abraham is alive and active!" I wince. I can't quite get the picture of the Mormon god, Elohim, out of my head - chillin' with his goddess wives near Kolob, bouncing his 'spirit babies' on his knee whilst deciding which lucky Kolob-ite chick he will engage in celestial sex. THIS is who Mormons believe to be the 'God of Abraham', but of course no one in the congregation understands this. They are shouting, "Hallelujah!"
Beck begins with his bio of how messed up his life was before he came 'to faith', carefully leaving out any reference to Mormonism but using Christian terminology which leaves the hearers to believe that he had a salvific experience with which they can relate. He says, "I was missing one thing - the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. Period. When I accepted the atonement and 'worked it' every single second of my day...my life changed."
He 'worked it'? How does one 'work' the atonement? Obviously, Beck has a misunderstanding of what the atonement is - "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith." (Romans 3:23,24) The work done in the atonement was done by God. There is nothing we can add to it and no way of 'working it' to increase it's efficacy.
It is possible that Beck just used poor wording here, except that 'working one's way to godhood' is the very essence of Mormonism. I believe his words and views on redemption, salvation, and Jesus Himself, all flow from that starting premise.
Glenn then launched into what he sees as his present mission and the message he claims God has clearly told him - to stand with Israel. I agree with him that we should continue to support Israel's right to exist among hostile neighboring countries bent on her destruction. As freedom loving Americans, we want to see democracy flourish all over the world - particularly in the Middle East. Yet for all the rhetoric about standing for Israel, most of Beck's emphasis was on his own courage in standing for Israel. He regaled us with stories of how he has braved all sorts of enemies; threats from Hugo Chavez, intimidations from the White House, suicide bombers lying in wait in Jerusalem.
Beck clearly sees himself as the man of the hour, as the central figure of a great movement at a pivotal moment in history. He says, "There is something that is happening around the world and it is powerful...and I don't know if you are feeling it yet."
This 'something happening' appears to be a movement originating in part with God talking to Glenn Beck. While Beck was experiencing inner struggles as to what his mission might be, God supposedly impressed on Beck that he had to talk with Billy Graham. He contacted Graham's people but Rev. Graham was not disposed to meet with Beck at that time. According to Beck, he was talking to some of his staff months later about this deep need to meet with Graham when on that very day, Graham's people called him back.
Beck ascribes a kind of "ooh, ahh" mystical element to this development, that Graham called him back when the time was just right. He called the meeting, "a miracle for me" and says, "I knew he had an answer for me."
Interestingly, Beck never tells us what this answer is. In fact, the only quote he shares from Graham actually sounds a little suspicious of Beck. Beck says, "He asked me a lot of questions. I told him about a lot of things, where I think my life is headed. This is what I think I'm supposed to do. "Help...stop this freight train, Billy!"" Billy Graham responds, "How do you know that's coming from the Lord?"
Beck responds to Graham that he knew "because there is no confusion with the Lord." He goes on to explain, "If He said it in the Scriptures and He's now telling you something else, that ain't the Lord. It has to be consistent. The second thing is it comes with peace."
There are several points to consider regarding this meeting. First, the way in which Beck sets up the story gives it a tone which says, 'Look what a coincidence this is - it must be the Holy Spirit at work'. That is exactly how the audience interpreted it. I observed from the nodding heads and smiles that the audience clearly accepted the notion that this was in some sense a 'divine appointment'.
Secondly, the manner in which he describes the meeting leaves one with the impression that Billy Graham is approving of Glenn Beck and whatever this mission is. Unless you listen carefully, it is easy to miss the fact that Graham never says anything positive about Glenn or what he heard from Glenn. Only the question, "How do you know that's coming from the Lord?" Had Graham offered some grandiose affirmation, surely Beck would have shared it.
It is no accident that Glenn Beck chose Billy Graham in the first place. Graham is a beloved figure to Christians of all stripes, all over the world. Any kind of endorsement by him would go a long way in propelling Beck forward and making Mormonism appear to be a strain of Christianity, rather than the counterfeit that it is. I believe that Beck was counting on the fact that because Graham is in his nineties and has been in poor health, that Beck would be able to use his charm and sway Graham into giving some kind of endorsement upon Beck's 'great calling'. I don't think he received it. He certainly didn't quote anything from Graham, indicating as much.
This entire episode strikes me as rather unseemly. Billy Graham has been used by God in mighty ways for decades and is now at that season in his life where he is reflective on his ministry. He has shared some of his regrets, including certain involvements with politics. He should be left alone to spend time with his family, friends, and church as he awaits his reward. Now Glenn Beck shows up on his doorstep, scrounging around for any crumbs of blessing he can extricate from the aged Graham who has undoubtedly had more fruitful things to do with his time of late than follow the path of this talk show host - turned prophet, and is therefore probably unaware of Beck's agenda.
Thirdly, Beck responds to Graham that he knows God is talking to him because "there is no confusion in the Lord" and that the message he is hearing is in accordance with Scripture.
No confusion?? Mormonism is a convoluted mixture of science fiction tales, undocumented archaeology, Mormon 'holy books' that completely contradict both the Old and New Testaments, and a cast of phony Bible characters that bear no resemblance to the historical figures. Elohim, who has sex and impregnates the virgin Mary? Jesus as the half-brother of Lucifer? Fallen, pre-existent spirit beings who side with Lucifer and are therefore cursed to be born with black skin? Strange genealogies regarding a lost tribe of Israel popping up in Native America? Blood transference in which Mormon's 'gentile blood' is magically changed into 'Jewish blood'? According to 'Prophet' Brigham Young, "[Joseph taught] that the Gentile blood was actually cleansed out of their veins, and the blood of Jacob made to circulate in them; and the revolution and change in the system were so great that it caused the beholder to think they were going into fits." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 2, p. 269.)
Mormonism is the epitome of confusion! Whoever is talking to Glenn Beck is not giving him a message according to Scripture within any kind of Christian framework.
Beck's other reason for believing God is talking to him is, "because it comes with peace." What kind of peace? A 'burning in the bosom' peace which Mormon missionaries assure me I will feel to alert me that Mormonism is true? There is such a thing as a 'false peace'. Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" (Matt. 7:21-23)
The build-up Glenn employs is unmistakable. Billy Graham thinks Glenn Beck is 'the One'. The rabbi in Jerusalem thinks Glenn Beck is 'the One'. Move over Colin Firth! Glenn Beck is about to deliver the REAL 'King's Speech'!
Reflecting on the speech, Beck states triumphantly, "For the first time in the history of Christianity a Christian stood in that space and declared support for the Jewish people and Israel! Never before...has it happened before and things are changing!"
Beck describes his zealous activity in spreading his message, his travels to South America, Africa, his meetings with members of British Parliament, leaders of Russia, etc. He issues a call for others to join him in this endeavor. "Millions around the world are waking up and they are coming and they are coming!"
As he makes this appeal, I can't shake the nagging feeling that there is something else he is getting at. After all, the belief that we should stand with Israel seems pretty obvious. Maybe not in Syria, but certainly it does in Texas. No one wants to see another Holocaust. No one wants to see Ahmadinejad wipe Israel off the map. Amidst all Glen's talk of duty and responsibility and love and commitment, what specifically does he want us to do? What approach is he advocating?
I didn't have to wait long to get my answer.
At this point, the whole congregation is on it's feet, cheering. I am sitting down, still stuck on his words, "NOT TRY TO CONVERT THEM!" We are not to share the gospel with Jews? Is that not a reversal of the Great Commission, in which our Lord instructs believers to "make disciples of all nations"? (Matt 28:19) There was no 'except for the Jews' clause. Jesus even specified that we are to be "my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
I also think of the Apostle Paul, who was so grieved over the lost condition of his fellow Jews that he said he would willingly give up his own salvation if only they would come to faith in Jesus. He wrote, "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (Romans 9:3)
Paul said he would willingly face an eternity separated from God as a trade if only his fellow Jews would come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and believe on Him. THAT is real love for the Jewish people! Not this shmarmy spectacle of straight up universalism that Glenn Beck is orchestrating.
Beck spoke of how we are to 'love' the Jews but specifically WITHOUT the gospel of Christ, the One who is Love incarnate. Instead of being moved by Glenn Beck's tears over Jerusalem, the congregation would do well to read the account of when Jesus weeps over Jerusalem as he is about to enter the city:
"And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:41-44))
I Am Prepared To Stand Under A Tree!
Yet, Beck sets himself up as a martyr figure. He declares, "I am prepared to stand under a tree like George Whitfield did! Go ahead! You wanna pee on me while I deliver the message? And I have nothing and I stand under a tree? Bring it on! I have the God of Abraham and Jesus Christ on my side!"
Excuse me Glenn, but I believe George Whitfield stood under a tree proclaiming the gospel. What you are offering is NO gospel! As a friend observed, the more Glenn Beck opens his mouth, the more clear it becomes that he hates the gospel. He hates the exclusivity of it. He hates the way it counters the 'working your way to godhood' message of the Mormon church. He hates that it is the polar opposite of the 'all paths lead to God - your truth, my truth' line. He hates that Christians apply it to determine if what Beck speaks is according to God's Word.
As for Beck's insistence that the God of Jesus Christ is on his side, it bears repeating that the Mormon Jesus is NOT the historical Jesus, the risen Lord with nail scars in his hand. The Mormon Jesus is a pathetic science fictionesque figure. He is either non-existent , the figure of Joseph Smith's imagination, or else he is a masquerading demon, hell bent on deception. The very idea that someone could be allowed anywhere near a platform in a Christian church to make such a declaration is a sign that Satan has won a major victory.
Listening to the applause and 'amens' from my seat, I started to feel physically ill.
I asked an usher if Glenn Beck would be meeting people after the service. He told me that no, he and David Barton left immediately after Glenn finished speaking. So he is willing to stand under a tree like Whitfield and get peed on, but unwilling to stand in a church foyer for a little q & a? It figures.
The more I have thought of Beck's presentation, the more horrified I become. Part of what makes it so disturbing is that I estimate that ninety-nine percent of that audience did not pick up on the subtle manipulations and straight out contradictions of God's Word.
Satan's agenda has always been to keep people living in spiritual darkness. Because Jesus came from the Jewish people, Satan appears to take a gleeful pleasure in encouraging persecution of the Jews in this life while simultaneously keeping them spiritually blind and cut off from God for eternal life. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
The apostle John also writes, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:6-13)
Satan knows this and offers a counterfeit 'light'. To primitive peoples, he offers the light of idols and false gods. To the more sophisticated, he offers humanistic enlightenment and the idea that the 'light' is actually inside of us already, that we have the 'god within'. This ploy was marvelously successful when he told Eve, "you will be like God" (Genesis 3:4) and so he is continuously repackaging it to appeal to successive generations and demographics.
Now along comes Glenn Beck in his latest book, 'Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life', with the same 'light within' appeal:
“You have a polestar inside you. It is connected with all the energy in the universe. When you begin to follow that star you align yourself with immeasurable, inexplicable forces that will actually help you manifest your best intentions.” (Page 79)
“Pray to whatever higher power you believe in…Praying that God or Nature or the Cosmos or your own internal, immeasurable reservoir of spirit allows you the courage and faith to find and then face the truth…” (Page 132)
Christians who would have never embraced sixties era, hippie-fied, eastern mysticism or eighties styled 'Shirley MacLaine running on the beach declaring she is god' New Age mantras, or even 'A Course in Miracles', are now embracing Glenn Beck? Why? Because he gained the trust of those on the political right who agreed with him. Because he is now using and taking advantage of Christians (particularly evangelicals) who have an affinity for Israel in a spiritual sense.
This guy is really starting to tick me off.
The conflict of Beck's great commission is with that of the REAL Great Commission, that of our Lord.
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:17-20)
As believers, we should offer Glenn Beck our prayers. We pray he will come to know the REAL Jesus who declares, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except by me." (John 14:6) We should not offer our support for him in any other way. We should not offer him money, an audience, or our own credibility. We dare not offer him our pulpits.
A lost and already confused world is watching.
"There are also some who, whether through devotion to preserving their personal wealth or through some kind of dislike of mankind, claim to be attending to their own business, and appear to do no one any injustice. But though they are free from one type of injustice, they run into another: such men abandon the fellowhip of life, because they contribute to it nothin of their devotion, nothin of their effort, nothing of their means." (Cicero, in On Duties, Book 1)
Not long ago I asked readers of this blog to name three politicians that you think would be better candidates for President than those currently nominated. I received some very interesting answers. Some former presidential candidates who did not make it through the primaries, some politicians that people wished would have run, and a few names who could very well appear on the ballot in 2012.
After mulling it over for a few weeks I have my own names to add to the list.