Sunday, August 29, 2010

Glenn Beck: Amazing Grace, Amazing Chutzpah

Radio and TV show host Glenn Beck organized a rally held yesterday near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the same site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech 47 years earlier to the day. The stated purpose of the rally, which Beck promised would remain apolitical, was "restoring honor" to the United States.

The size of the crowd, estimated at upwards of 300,000, indicated a hunger for the Judeo-Christian values on which American was founded. A succession of speakers, including ministers and other evangelical leaders, invoked God and His authority. The rally included prayers and concluded with a rendition of Amazing Grace. Had there been an altar call, the Christian revival would have been complete.

Beck, advising the attendees to "trust divine providence," described how he challenged God when the rally funding fell short and received $600,000 within two days. You can view the video here. Beck attributed this windfall and other rally-related blessings to God. To understand Beck's God-centered agenda, we need to understand what Beck means by God.

Glenn Beck is an avowed Mormon and here is a video of his conversion testimony.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is named after Jesus, but the church does not believe in the Biblical doctrine of Jesus and salvation by grace, which are the foundation of Christianity. Many Christians consider the Mormon church a cult.

This was not the first time Beck led a gathering dominated by Christians in singing Amazing Grace, a sinner's grateful ode to the gift of salvation by God's grace that, to repeat, is rejected by Beck's Mormon faith. That takes amazing chutzpah.

Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church explains how Mormonism differs from Christianity here and as follows:

1. The issue of authority. Christians believe the Bible is God's authoritative, inerrant, unchanging and complete self-revelation (Jude 3). Scripture is the touchstone to which all other truth-claims must be brought (Isaiah 8:20). The sole and sufficient authority by which all controversies in spiritual matters are to be determined is none other than God's Spirit speaking through Scripture. By contrast, Mormons consider The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants as additional authoritative revelation, thereby undermining the true authority of Scripture and violating the principle of Revelation 22:18.

2. The doctrine of God. Christians believe there is one God who eternally exists in three co-equal Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mormons reject the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that there are many worlds controlled by different gods.

3. The supremacy of Christ. Christians believe Jesus Christ is pre-existent God who became a man in His incarnation while maintaining His full deity. Mormons claim Jesus was a "spirit child" of Mary and Elohim (and the brother of Lucifer) who has now been elevated to the level of deity.

4. The means of justification. Christians believe justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Mormons believe a person's works in this life will determine his or her status in the life to come, and that "salvation" is actually a progression toward godhood.

The reason Christians evangelize is that we are called by God to spread His word so all mankind can accept the gift of salvation, which cannot be earned. Salvation by grace is given freely by God out of love and not as a reward. Christians believe that good works and good values are the fruit of faith, not the path to salvation.

The reason that Mormons evangelize is to perform good works to earn their "salvation" and, of course, to convert non-Mormons to Mormons. Mormons believe that good works are necessary to earn their eternal reward.

The LDS church has devoted its vast resources for decades to blur the differences between their unusual beliefs outlined above, which are rejected by the mainstream, and the widely accepted principles of Christianity outlined in the Bible. Recently they launched a media campaign to brand Mormons as regular people "just like you."

You may have been approached by a Mormon on a good works mission at your home or in public. These Mormons are always well-behaved, wholesome and clean-cut in appearance, ready to help Grandma cross the street or carry your groceries to your front door for you. They seem to embody good, old-fashioned family values. Who can possibly object to that?

Christians can and must object to Mormonism, no matter how unobjectionable Mormons may be personally. Without exception, Mormons can worship as they please and partake of the blessings of democracy without discrimination. However, to market their religion for mass consumption, they are forced to deceive the unknowing by claiming that there is more that unites Christians and Mormons than divides us. I have heard a variation of that claim from every Mormon I've ever met. If we as Christians believe that salvation is freely given by the blood of Jesus alone, we must believe that every person who is confused by a Mormon is jeopardizing their salvation.

Glenn Beck's rally was a national call to perform good works that, according to his rally speeches, will restore honor, faith, hope and charity to America. What role does the Mormon agenda play in Beck's pivot from the political to the spiritual?

According to the Deseret News, a Utah newspaper owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Beck wants to achieve unity. To what purpose? In July 2010, Beck told the Deseret News:

"I'm trying to get the message out that there's more that unites us than divides us," Beck said. "And what unites us is the content of our character."

That sounds eerily familiar.

The wonderful Christian blog Defending Contending published an article by Brannon Howse that explains why it is so dangerous for Christians to give the Mormon church credibility, even in the political arena. Howse, who during the campaign against Beck's advertisers started a website to support him politically, expressed my concerns in the closing paragraph:

Yes, I would like to see the progressives defeated and the original intent of America’s Founding Fathers restored, but that certainly will not happen if the true Bride of Christ compromises on Biblical truth. This is no time to be committed to pragmatism because the end does not justify the means. The means simply declares our priorities and Whom we really serve.

You can read reactions and analysis by other Christians at the blog links below.

Caffeinated Thoughts defined what Beck as a Mormon means when he uses the phrase "divine destiny" here. Standing for God examined who Beck thinks Jesus is.

All of Grace analyzed an August 2010 episode of Beck's show in which he shared his Mormon faith. Apprising Ministries and Herescope criticized evangelical leaders for giving Beck theological cover.

In a series of episodes of his Wretched TV show, host Todd Friel summarized the Christian perspective about Mormonism as it pertains to Glenn Beck.

Not Your Typical Negro suggested that Beck is a Mormon proxy for Mitt Romney to make their common faith politically acceptable.

The Way of the Master, a TV program featuring Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, presented the origins and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the videos below.

Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church preached the blunt Biblical truth about Mormonism in this sermon jam.

No comments: