Skip to comments.Evangelical Scholar Troubled by Theological Ambiguity at Beck Rally (Many Christians Seem Confused)
Posted on 09/02/2010 6:59:52 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
In the days following Glenn Beck's highly publicized rally in Washington, D.C., conservative Christians have come out expressing their concern not over the increasingly popular broadcaster, but over the apparent confusion among Christ followers.
"There is something very strange going on here. I don't understand the disconnect on the part of Christians," said Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Americans from across the country converged on the National Mall on Saturday for the "Restoring Honor" rally led by Fox News commentator Beck. Reports indicate that the event drew anywhere from 87,000 to 500,000 people. Beck, a Mormon, was joined by a diverse group of religious leaders including evangelical Christians as he called on America to turn back to God.
Mohler, one of the nations pre-eminent evangelical theologians, found that Beck's rally cries were resonating with many Christians.
"What concerned me about that event on the mall was not so much Glenn Beck and the politicians in the program; it was the picture of those religious leaders standing together," he said Tuesday on The Janet Mefferd Show.
During Saturdays three-hour event, over 200 religious leaders stood behind Beck, linking arms at certain points. Dr. Richard Land, a well-known Southern Baptist, and Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Maryland were among the conservative Christians standing there.
While Land does not agree with Beck's theology, he told National Public Radio that the event was about a deep concern of Americans that the country has taken "a fundamentally wrong turn and is headed in the wrong direction."
Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, Calif., who was also at the event, said the rally was about extolling virtue and honoring God.
And the event was evangelical in tone, he said in a commentary on CNN.
"Despite the pre-rally discussions of Becks Mormonism, the rallys litany of evangelical speakers gave it the Jesus-centeredness of a Billy Graham Crusade. All theological references were clearly evangelical and biblically based," Garlow wrote.
After observing the rally, Mohler came away with a different take and a big concern.
"The bottom line is ... we've been used and we've allowed ourselves to be used at times by politicians and others who co-opted God talk," he said Tuesday on The Janet Mefferd Show.
"We (conservative Christians in America) have just assumed that because they were using our language, they were talking about the same Gospel or talking about the same understanding of God or talking about the same theological structure and that's just not true," he stressed.
Mohler doesn't disagree on uniting with others on common concerns and moral convictions.
But he underscored the need to "distinguish that from standing together in the faith."
"One of the healthiest things that can happen among conservative Christians is the ability to recognize, to discern the difference between civil religion and authentic Christianity," he explained.
The conservative theologian said he and many other believers agree with Beck on many of his political views. He also expressed appreciation for how Beck identifies "many really horrible and very dangerous liberal ideas."
But "[j]ust to debunk liberal ideas does not give you then the authority to be taken at your word ... to be speaking truth when then you talk about the Gospel," he cautioned.
"We just have to be mature Christians [and say] 'let's look at the Scripture. Let's look at what is being said here. We have a problem."
Continuing, Mohler outlined the fact that Mormons hold to a very different understanding of God than that of Christian theism.
"We're talking about very different deities here," he said. "And I think many Christians just have no idea as they were watching that event."
"How many American Christians who are watching that (rally) and resonating with the call for spiritual revival know that the man who is up there speaking, using words about Gospel and God and all the rest, believes that there was a male and a female deity, that the Godhead is a reproductive pair, that eventually we will be divine ourselves if indeed we follow the path of righteousness?" Mohler added.
Since January, Beck has been working on the themes of faith, hope and charity. He said his aim is to restore history, honor, and "our faith" in the country.
The popular commentator has discussed the Gospel of Jesus Christ repeatedly on his television program, even using evangelical language such as atonement through the shed blood of Christ.
But Mohler commented, "That's bizarre language for a Mormon to be using in this light and to have evangelical Christians affirm that he's talking about the same Gospel we are ... it's the same language but it's not the same Gospel."
What both Mohler and Mefferd believe is happening is spiritual rallying on vague terms.
"When we see some of the talk that has come out of the rally and some of the people associated with the rally, all about God, God, God, I just have really strongly felt that it needs to be a very precise definition when we bring God into the discussion on anything," radio host Mefferd stated.
Mohler described the scenario as having all the cards on the table but turned over so that the faces are not seen.
"You're having the language, but you're not having the definitions here," he noted.
"It really is not so much a concern politically, it's a concern theologically. If we are Christians, we have to understand the name of God is not just some kind of generic noun we can throw around."
While Mohler recognized that some Christians would be irritated listening to his take on Beck and the rally, the theologian hopes they'll be irritated enough to go and look at Scripture.
Amid the theological ambiguity and confusion, Mohler reminded Christians that a revival or spiritual renewal cannot happen without a heart that has known salvation through Jesus Christ.
"You can't have spiritual renewal where biblically speaking there's spiritual deadness," he said. "The reality is we can't biblically believe that they really know the one true and living God unless they know Him through Jesus Christ, our Lord."
Couldn’t one just believe, non-biblically?
It seems to me that I disagree mostly with Beck on doctrine, not on the basics about Christianity.
Wonder why Mike the Huckster wasn’t there? Are was he?
First, Glenn Beck has communicated the Gospel on his radio show and television program. The Gospel he proclaimed was NOT consistent with the teachings of the Mormon church. From what I heard, his understanding was consistent with Evangelical doctrine.
Second, I believe there is A truth and his name is Jesus Christ. This gives me hope when I see an ecumenical gathering. Such gatherings give me pause because, like Dr. Mohler, there is a risk the Gospel will be watered down to accommodate the largest number of people. However, truth is truth and the Truth is the light of men so I am confident it will win in the end. That gives me peace.
There were many speakers at the rally who expressed there faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. I did not hear one sentence that communicated a Mormon understanding of Jesus and the Bible.
We used to have a generic civil religion in America, based on an undefined commitment to the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, under a very big tent. Minimally, that’s what people want to see again. Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Jews, Mormons, etc., etc., can and should work together on that and save the debates about heresy and aberrant theology for another day. If we don’t, we will soon be living under something very different.
the Mormons have some weird ideas, but how factually correct about theological details does one need to be in order to be saved?
I mean, what was the theology of the paradise-bound thief on the cross next to Christ?
Glen Beck was raised as a Roman Catholic as I recall. I believe that he knows and understands Chrisianity perfectly well. I would not be surprised that his conversion to Mormonism is as much to help his recovery from alcoholism as anything else. I really don’t understand the fear/distrust of Mormons that seems so prevalent.
No. Jesus is all of God’s words in the flesh. Everything God ever said, Jesus lived and is. Therefore, no Word of God, no Son of God. And that includes the Father’s wrath, and righteous justice. Jesus will be the CEO of the world. Can’t wait!
The Islamoleftist theological enforcement squad will certainly not put up with any of that stuff.
1 John makes it clear that you need to understand the truth in order to be saved. In Acts, we see that a person needs to believe in his heart and confess with his mouth. Clearly, when Luke was writing that someone needed to believe in his heart, he is referring to something specific and not some generality that can vary.
Historically, that "something" has been outlined in the various creeds of the faith. That Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, was both God and man, lived a perfect life, was crucified, died and on the third day rose again. That he suffered the righteous wrath of God in our place to pay the sin debt we owe God and that he imputes his righteousness to us.
Those are the basic tenets of the Christian faith and are call primary doctrines. In other words, they are non-negotiable. There are other doctrines, called secondary doctrines, such as infant baptism, gifts of the Spirit, etc, where Christians can hold different views and still be genuine Christians.
The guys who got together in the summer of 1787 to write our Constitution didn't agree on everything either. But they DID agree that there was a problem with the current situation.
I am not saying Glenn Beck is George Washington...what I AM saying is that if those men were able to overcome their differences, we need to follow their example.
No more socialism. No more kings. No more community organizers running our government.
In fact, they're more likely to be repelled by them.
What people do want, is a Savior.
If the Gospels tell us anything at all, it's that Jesus didn't save people by out-arguing the Pharisees (though he could do that, too, when circumstances called for it).
He saved people by being among them, sharing their lives and troubles, and by loving and healing them.
Perhaps Dr. Mohler should stop loving the sound of his own voice, and start trying to reach non-Christians in the same way Jesus did.
Theology is by nature, ambiguous. Beck was aiming for a higher goal, establishing common ground on the moral level that cuts across most religious sects and dogma.
” how factually correct about theological details does one need to be in order to be saved?”
You certainly can’t be saved if you follow a false prophet and believe that you are saved by works and not by grace.
Whatever else Mike Huckabee might be, he is grounded in the true scripture. You might spend your time more wisely praying that Glenn Beck will see the truth and denounce Mormonism.
Do any posters on this thread have an understanding of Mormon theology?
How then, can they speak on it.
I was a Mormon for 40 years. My ancestors joined Mormonism in the mid 1800’s. It is a very, very different religion even by their own admission, Teaching of a different Christ, a different God, and a different salvation.
Please learn of the differences - then come to Christ.
I’ve heard Beck say that he became a Mormon just because of his wife - that that was her faith.
And yes, it’s troubling that Beck’s faith deviates a lot from the Bible, but as others have noted, he hasn’t incorporated any tenets of Mormonism, so far, into his speech.
I just pray that the many evangelicals with whom he’s surrounded himself will ultimately show him the truth of the gospel, and that he and his family will accept that truth.
RE: I really dont understand the fear/distrust of Mormons that seems so prevalent
As I understand it when I talk to Evangelical Theologians or Pastors, it is not the fear of Mormons that drive Christians but the CONFUSION among people in their congregation regarding how they view Mormons.
To an Evangelical Christian who takes scripture seriously, Mormon theology BORROWS from Christianity but the Jesus they refer to and say they believe in is NOT the Jesus of the Bible.
So yes, you can make friends with Mormons, you can make common cause with him regarding politics and social issues, but you CANNOT call him your brother in Christ.
“He saved people by being among them, sharing their lives and troubles, and by loving and healing them.”
Jesus saved us by dying on the cross for our sins and being resurrected.
....Mohler, one of the nations pre-eminent evangelical theologians, found that Beck's rally cries were resonating with many Christians.
"What concerned me about that event on the mall was not so much Glenn Beck and the politicians in the program; it was the picture of those religious leaders standing together," he said Tuesday on The Janet Mefferd Show....
...."The bottom line is...we've been used and we've allowed ourselves to be used at times by politicians and others who co-opted God talk," he said Tuesday on The Janet Mefferd Show....
....Americans from across the country converged on the National Mall on Saturday for the "Restoring Honor" rally led by Fox News commentator Beck. Reports indicate that the event drew anywhere from 87,000 to 500,000 people. Beck, a Mormon, was joined by a diverse group of religious leaders including evangelical Christians as he called on America to turn back to God....
....During Saturdays three-hour event, over 200 religious leaders stood behind Beck, linking arms at certain points. Dr. Richard Land, a well-known Southern Baptist, and Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Maryland were among the conservative Christians standing there.
Ping for later
Didn´t I also see John Hagee among that group?
Good grief. I think they’re stretching really hard here to find something to be “concerned” about.
“Couldnt one just believe, non-biblically?
Sure, that’s called Mormonism.
See my post #18. The scripture says that where two or more are gathered together in the Lord’s name consider it done, and we know that God is not willing that any should perish.
All good and true ... but that's really just a list meant to define the limits of an organized religion. They are not the means of salvation.
Jesus was not concerned with checking off the boxes. In fact, he most strongly opposed the folks who demanded it.
Perhaps salvation is much simpler matter than organized religion would like it to be.
Remember: the thief on the cross was saved despite his ignorance of those doctrines. The Samaritan woman at the well, likewise.
It was nothing more or less than the way they responded to Jesus that saved them.
Think about it....
I don't see where Beck (or anyone else) was doing the latter.
Yes, it is important to understand the Christian Christ and Mormon Christ are not the same deities....his comment that the (Becks) language is there but the definitions are not is accurate.........It is not unusual for counterfeit religions to utilize Christian language to attract the unsuspecting. There is a natural attraction and familiarity which most are at least acquainted with, which can put a false front on most any false religion and many do use it...because it works that well to deceive.
It is generally not until one goes deeper into these counterfeits that the truth can be seen of their true beliefs...often by this time the indoctrination/ritual process has pretty much hood winked them and they are not receptive to more than the "group" determines.
Beck will in time come out of this organization as there are true Christians impacting his life. But it is never an easy thing to leave the Mormon faith as they are determined to keep their hold on their membership via the same practices of most counterfeit and false religions.
I understand the Christian communities concern and rightfully so, Beck rides a fine line now and should he use his position to recruit and promote Mormonism he will find the Christian community backing away over time. Currently I think most are in a wait and see mode but putting a 'caution' out there for people to consider there is a line. Hopefully Beck will not cross that line.
I did not see the rally but the concerns are justified if any of the following happened:
1. Did Beck propose to define God for the attendees?
2. Did Beck have officials of his religion there preaching for converts?
3. Did Beck and the religious leaders with him urge followers to create a new, inclusive faith to blend all the diverse faiths into one powerful church?
4. Did Beck give short shrift to any religious leader who disageed with his theology?
5. Did Beck condemn anyone who doesn’t believe as he does to Hell?
6. Did Beck utilize mind-altering methods to proselytize?
If not, then it wasn’t a religious ecumenical meeting and wasn’t a threat to any specific religion. If it was a general call for each person to commit to God as he or she conceives God, then I don’t see why people feel threatened by that. Something good happened here and I see far too many trying to tear it down. If it energized people to start thinking of how God might bless this nation to come through its difficult times, I don’t see that as evil.
But maybe that’s just me. I can certainly hear a call to holiness, whether it comes from the Pope, or a Muslim imam, or a Rabbi or an evangelical preacher, or a Buddhist monk. But I would then find holiness as I understood it in my own religious beliefs, not in that particular “caller’s” belief. Are we so unsure of our own beliefs that such a call would be threatening? As posters on similar threads have pointed out, God uses many means to bring us to holiness. If he can use a donkey as a mouthpiece, why not a talkshow host?
I think they may be just a wee bit jealous that they cannot draw a crowd like that to their church’s.
“Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Yes, Hagee was there. I heard someone state that he will not use the name of Jesus outside of his church (so as not to “offend” the Jewish people, with whom is aligns himself with his Christians United for Israel group).
Sure enough, he gave a great sermon (can’t remember whether it was Friday night or the Saturday rally), so I was waiting to hear him say “Jesus”. But he did not.
But Gloria Copeland constantly mentioned Jesus and cited Scripture throughout her sermon!
I work with Muslims with whom I strongly agree regarding technical requirements. We strongly disagree regarding religion.
That is how I feel about Beck. We agree on many political issues. But when it comes to religion, I am Christian while he is Mormon. They are no more the same than Christianity and Islam are the same, though they use similar language to Christianity to fool the ignorant. But ignorance can be cured. Mine regarding Islam was after 9/11 and it was regarding Mormonism back in 1980.
I’m glad Dr. Mohler is speaking up. I see this as a trial of God’s people, a temptation to follow a false gospel. I believe Mr. Beck is using the language of evangelicals to garner their favor, and with it their power, be it through popularity/listeners/viewers, or financial gain, or some other endeavor. I do agree with much of Beck’s stated political philosophy, but as Mohler pointed out, agreeing on political philosophy doesn’t give anyone automatic credibility when it comes to spiritual matters.
I ignore his religious stuff, even if it sounds good. It is because the only thing “his” god has in common with my God is their name. Their personalities could not be more different.
I focus on his political statements.
OK, CC. I’m in agreement with you!
A couple of things. First, clearly each of those people believed in Jesus. That is why they were saved. But, note, that was before his death and resurrection and before God provided the New Testament.
Paul makes it clear that there is a specific Gospel that must be understood and that it can only be understood if it is preached. Thus the call to evangelism in the Great Commission.
There are many people who have heard of Jesus but that does not mean they have believed in their heart and confessed with their mouth. My fear is too little understanding rather than too much.
I don't believe that a correct understanding of doctrine is a check list. It isn't equivalent to legalism (saved by what we do rather than what we believe).
From a proud grandmother whose grandchild was part of the program at 8/28.
RE: then it wasnt a religious ecumenical meeting
I believe Rev. Mohler’s concern is not with Glenn Beck’s rally per se... his main cocnern is with CHRISTIANS who cannot discern between moral, social and theological issues.
In sum, his goal appears to be man-centered rather than God-centered. I understand why. He has compassion for people and doesn't want to see them suffer. But, ultimately, everything is about God's glory and 1,000,000 years from now, the only things that happened on earth that will matter are those things with eternal consequences.
Hagee´s a good man. Thanks, J.
>>It seems to me that I disagree mostly with Beck on doctrine, not on the basics about Christianity.<<
Actually, the blood atonement for sins that was fully completed by Jesus is the bedrock of Christianity. He is described as a cornerstone and capstone “that the builders rejected”.
Mormonism teaches that Jesus died for your sins as a partial atonement. But works are required to complete the job - Works by YOU. And I am not talking about a “faith without works is dead” context.
IOW, the core basics of Christianity are exactly WHERE Mormonism differs from Christianity.
I almost became a Mormon in the late 1970’s. If you really would like a feel for what is going on, try this:
Mormonism is, in a way, more insidious than islam, due to the fact that it claims to be Christian. Don’t get me wrong, it teaches a lot of good principles regarding man’s relationship with his fellow man, but completely twists the “man’s relationship with his Creator” part. The former can bring about a better and more prosperous life, but the latter can literally steal your soul and your eternal relationship with God.
And the latter is eternal. The former is but a mist.
Proverbs: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is death.”
I get that; I just don't see why it causes so much in the way of heated discussions and seeming animosity. It is up to the Ministers and Priests (and Christians themselves) to be understood and be clear on what it means to be Christian. Given how "squishy" the minister in the church I attend (PCUSA) is I guess that (clarity) is not happening in too many places. As near as I can tell the greatest, and maybe the only, sin worth mentioning is "judgementalism". If he (my minister) preached anything against Mormons (as he periodically does against Catholics) it would most likely be that they are too "exclusive" rather than that their theology is wrong.
When Beck speaks of him Mormon God, it is different than the Christian God.
As long as you know that, it’s fine - just as when a Hindu speaks of his god it isn’t the Christian God, and so if the Hindu calls you to Vishnu, you have a clear understanding of the differences.
Beck’s call to God is blurring the differences. I’m often surprised that so-called christians are offended when someone points out the differences.
Thank you. Can you recommend a resource that would give a good, yet not too detailed, description of what LDS believe?
BUMP! God can and will be glorified even if this nation ceases to exist (and I pray that His glory will be magnified by this nation and it will continue - but when this nation stops glorifying God as it has in recent years, then we are in danger). All for the glory of God!