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."
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!
Well stated. For a summary of the covert mormon theology found in Beck's speech Click Here
A person’s eternal soul is a very important thing.
"What Mormons Think of Christ" (LDS publication, pages 32-34): "Christians speak often of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much is believed and taught on this subject, however, it is utter nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one's salvation."
I thought I heard Beck say at one time that the reason he "converted to Mormonism" was so that he could marry his "hot" wife (who is a Mormon).
Well, then, Christians have to do a better job of educating their followers. But why then couch the article as warning it is dangerous to stand shoulder to shoulder on social and moral issues with someone who believes differently from you theologically? And why specifically tear down Beck when there were many religious leaders there also (and Beck isn’t a religious leader)?
My point is what many others have said: we need to find ways we can combine our strengths, not tear each other apart. I think it is possible without compromising theology in any way. Otherwise we make the perfect the enemy of the good, to the benefit of evil.
Indeed, but this wasn't a revival meeting or a church service designed to tell the doctrinal truth to people. The purpose of Beck's meeting was to bring together people who believe that America was founded on Judeo-Christian values. There are many variances in doctrine among that group, but they do share that one thing in common.
Would you like a Christian source or an LDS source?
I’m not real familar with this ministry, but the matrix seems comprehensive. Others here will correct it if it’s wrong, I’m sure!
Beck is unorthodox in how he expresses mormon salvation - that is true. But one must also recognize that the tenets of mormonism for general public consumption are found in standard Christian terms and phrases that to the mormon have been redefined from what Christians understand them to be. For example the use of the term "salvation" to a Christian it means only one thing - our forgiveness of sin by God's grace (unmerited favor) and eternal life with God. To the mormon it means two - a general resurrection of one of several levels of 'heaven' and later exultation to godhood for those worthy mormons.
So this slight of hand makes it difficult for the average Joe Christian to see the differences. Mormons use the same talk, but the real meaning is often very different.
BTW, the comment about the similar things happening in America as with Moses - refrence to the book of mormon fictious history of early America.