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