On Beck and Call

Radio and television personality, Glenn Beck, is admittedly a controversial and polarizing figure. He has grabbed the attention of conservatives across the nation and religious affiliation with his call back to a Constitutional based government, grounded in the first 39 words of the Declaration of Independence. These words assert the creator, creation and unalienable rights based on creator and creation. The biggest question we receive about Beck can be summed up, “Is he a Christian?” In all honesty my answer has to be, I don’t know. That may sound odd coming from an apologetics ministry but the question of whether an individual is saved or not is different than the question of the official or authoritative teachings of a particular group. In the case of the LDS (Latter-Day Saints), more commonly known as Mormons, there is voluminous material written containing their official teaching. Based on that we can say they are not Christians in any biblical or historical sense since the church teaches a different Jesus, different salvation and a different gospel than biblical/historical Christianity. Even Mormons seem to realize there is a problem here. On the Controversy tab of the Glenn Beck: An Unlikely Mormon website. We read:

Because of some of his recent statements, however, some Mormons have wanted to make it clear to non-Mormons that Glenn Beck is not an accurate representative of all Mormons.

The site includes video of Beck’s transition to and embracing of Mormonism and exists primarily to persuade Mormons that Beck is indeed one of them. Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend starts off his August 30, 2010 blog Glenn Beck Rally Set Stage for “Christians” to Accept Paganism, and Mormons Say Beck Achieved 200 Year Goal of Getting Evangelicals to Declare That Mormons Are Christians :

I tried to warn evangelical leaders about Glenn Beck’s rallies but most of them laughed at me. Now Satan is the one laughing at them as “Christians” run head-long into embracing non-Biblical theology and call it “Christian”.

Much of what Howse is saying is true, especially with regard to the biblical illiteracy within the church but does not really answer the question of whether Beck is a Christian and/or if he is, does that necessarily mean co-belligerence isn’t possible?

In Evangelicals and Glenn Beck Dr. Jim Garlow defines his view of working with those of other faiths which, as he points out, has its pitfalls, dangers as seen in Scriptures as well as times of success. On the question of Beck and salvation he writes:

On one of his TV shows about a month ago, he laid out the gospel, using his well known blackboard, in the clearest explanation of the crucifixion and the resurrection that I have ever heard on national TV. I called James Robison, and asked, “Did you hear that?” James said, “Richard Land [Southern Baptist] just called me and said he never expected to hear the Gospel so clear on secular television.” It was quite remarkable. A few days ago, Glenn laid out America’s problems and then concluded, “We need God!”

I have interviewed persons who have talked specifically with Glenn about his personal salvation – persons extremely well known in Christianity – and they have affirmed (using language evangelicals understand), “Glenn is saved.” He understands receiving Christ as savior. (Note: I have never discussed with Glenn this topic.)

Earlier in his piece, Garlow talks about Beck’s commitment to the atonement. One of the problems in dealing with false teachers and a false gospel is false definitions to the words they use. This has been a problem since the beginning of the church and also explains why each of the creeds came to be and why they became longer over time. False teachers would co-opt the language and redefine the terms to fit their views. In doing so the average believer could not distinguish between the true and the false as easily. By the time we get to the 5th century the Athanasian Creed was a very long document because it included its definitions in order to prevent false teachers from absconding with the language. This is one of the problems with modern day Mormonism. They define atonement, salvation, eternal life, Jesus, etc. differently than historic biblical does. I was not sure if Garlow and those he interviewed understand the differences or significance of the differences in terminology. Rather than write a treatise on that I contacted one of my favorite missionaries to Mormons who I have a great deal of respect for, Bill McKeever of Mormonism Research Ministries to see if he had or would write something on Mormon terminology. He has been following this situation closely and wrote back with a link to The Not-so Mormon Soteriology of Glenn Beck. He writes:

I was intrigued when he said he spoke of talking to well-respected Southern Baptist Richard Land to make sure his definition of individual salvation was the same as mainline Christianity

So, the definition Beck used on his show comes directly from a Southern Baptist understanding and teaching. A little further into the article Bill McKeever writes:

I have to admit, Beck’s explanation makes me wonder if his close relationships with several evangelical Christians are not having a positive effect. I have played the July 13th clip over and over (being the lousy typist I am, I had to just to transcribe it properly) and it seems apparent that Beck does not agree with traditional Mormon soteriology. And while I want to be optimistic about all of this, I admit that I have been disappointed by many Mormons who use Protestant phrases while failing to set aside the soul-damning, works oriented doctrine of Mormonism. However, at this point I don’t have any reason to believe Beck has an agenda to try and make his church look more “Christian.” I tend to believe he is trying to explain what he believes personally. Whether or not he knows he is out of harmony with his church, I cannot say, but if I understand the above correctly, he most certainly is.

How should we as Christians handle this? Because we are so used to Mormons using “Christianese” to conceal Mormonism’s unique teachings, it is all too easy to assume Beck is merely doing the same. And while I often encourage a healthy dose of skepticism, I think we must also be willing to give a fair hearing to each and every Latter-day Saint in order to fully understand where they are coming from on a personal level. Unless we have reason to believe otherwise, it is imprudent to automatically assume Beck is being deceitful.

It may well be that Beck is a Christian in transition from Mormonism. He is socially a Mormon but it at least appears theologically he is finding himself more aligned with the biblical faith as historically taught and defined. So, whether he is a Christian or not is something we cannot really answer at this point. This leads us to the next question, can Christians work with other faith groups on social issues where we agree? As Dr. Garlow points out, that is what happened in California on Prop 8.

Some are concerned that Dr. Charles Stanley appeared on Glenn Beck’s August 27, 2010 morning prayer (which can be heard on Beck’s Restoring Honor website) and saying he wishes he could be at the Washington event. Stanley continually refers to the state of the nation and the need to call it back to its founding principles. As I pointed out in the beginning, the Declaration of Independence affirmed creator, creation and unalienable rights which extend from these first two. This and the U.S. Constitution were authored by Christians, deists (Thomas Jefferson) and agnostics (Benjamin Franklin) who promoted honor, integrity, and the desire to hold the government accountable by the people who were being governed. Dr. Stanley’s comments were more in keeping with a return to the founding principles of the nation than with being specifically Christian.

In Dr. Jim Garlow’s Evangelicals and Glenn Beck he outlines the “Nature of Alliances”:

In the Old Testament, there were times that Israel forged alliances out of desperation because they did not trust God. That distrust is sin. In addition, Israel compromised herself in those alliances, becoming like those with whom she joined.

However, there were other scenarios in which God used cultures outside Israel for his purposes. Those alliances seemed to have the approval of God.

Thus I developed a personal “grid” regarding the forming of alliance on the Prop 8 battle. It might not be helpful for you, but it is helpful for me. I asked my self two questions:

1. Am I joining with someone simply out of failure to trust God, or does this alliance seem to have the approval of God for this moment, to accomplish his will?
2. Am I compromising biblical truths and values in this alliance?
I concluded that the alliances were not out of failure to trust God, but out of an understanding of how (in this moment) to live out his will on earth, and that there was no compromise of biblical values.

I am not hesitant to say that – though they are not my theological brothers and sisters – the LDS members I have come to know truly are my good friends. We even laugh hard together. Yes, we even tease each other about each other’s theological positions. Yes, I wish they would embrace what I believe. As yet, that has not happened. But in the meantime, we are unabashedly “friends and neighbors.”

This too imitates those who early inhabited the new nation. George Whitfield, a powerful preacher and Benjamin Franklin, an agnostic, were friends. Franklin reminisced on this friendship :

“He us’d, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion,” Franklin wrote, “but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard. Ours was a mere civil friendship, sincere on both sides, and lasted to his death.”

Believers have a great impact on a culture, positively and negetively,  not only in what they believe and teach inside church but more by how they behave and interact with culture outside the church. If churches are teaching their people with the church meeting about the faith and equipping them to understand the faiths of those outside the church, there were be less fear in the area of citizenship and holding the government accountable.


Comments

On Beck and Call — 10 Comments

  1. Have we so soon forgotten the deceptive tactcs of Satan quoting the word of God and giving the appearance of truth – an angel of light?

    You are correct in stating that only God can see the heart, but what people say and do are in the realm of righteous judgment of believers. What people say and do is an indication of what is in their hearts. Actions must match words to be valid.

    In these days of deception, ecumenism and apostasy the lines of truth are blurred. The moral decline in our country has caused many Christians to sacrifice truth on the altar of unity based on cleaning up government and combating immorality. One for instance is The Manhattan Declaration.

    Sean Hannitty is a Roman Catholic and claims to be a Christian. Claiming to be a devout Catholic, he holds to the tenets of Roman Catholicism and therefore is not a true Christian according to the Bible no matte what Chuck Colson says. If Glenn Beck holds to the tenets of Mormonism, he is not a Christian because he believes in s counterfeit Christ. The sales of Glenn Beck’s books and no doubt a large portion of his salary go right into the coffers of the Mormon Church.

    Beck is a gifted communicator and pushes all the right buttons of Christian conservatives. The prominent pastors who jump on his bandwagon and Stanley and Hagge and Falwell who pray with him cause great damage to the Body of Christ and God’s truth.

    Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 NKJV

    And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14 NKJV

    Yes, we CAN know what people believe and what they believe is an indication of what is in their heart.
    Our generation is well described in Isaiah 59:8: “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” People have refused to judge, so there is no peace.

    Paul said in I Corinthians 1:10 to “. . . be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Why would Paul make such a statement if judging is wrong? In I Corinthians 2:15 Paul says, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” Judging is not a sin; judging is a characteristic of being a spiritual person! Satan has been lying to us, hoping that we will NOT judge, because he knows that the right kind of judgment PLEASES God and betters our lives and Christian service.

    Someone says, “But should we judge PEOPLE?” Yes, we certainly should. Paul actually REBUKES the Corinthians for NOT judging: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (I Cor. 6:1-5) If judging is wrong, then Paul needs to confess and repent for misleading these Christians! He clearly told them to JUDGE PEOPLE.

    If judging people is wrong, how can we obey Romans 16:17-18? II Corinthians 6:17? II Timothy 3:5-6? I John 4:1? Friend, if judging is wrong, then God has contradicted Himself and His words cannot be trusted!

    Notice Malachi 3:18: “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” WOW! Does that sound like it is wrong to judge?

    These truths have been abandoned and therefore the Church is in a state of disarray and leaven-ridden.

  2. Thank you so much for this article. I have truly been perplexed by Glen Beck, I feel the same way. He has given the right message on both belief in God and the need of our nation.
    William H. Hudson

  3. There is a moment coming that was foreshadowed thousands of years ago in Genesis.

    Joseph, son of Israel, was sold into bondage by his brethren. Why? Because he shared a revelatory dream in which his brothers bowed down to him. When they were forced to humble themselves in a future day, Joseph’s brethren came to Egypt–a place they did not esteem–to find sustenance in a famine. Joseph was veiled from them until his entire family was safely gathered. Then he revealed himself unto them. They wept tears of joy and reconciliation. They knew that Joseph had saved them despite their transgression against him.

    In our day, God has called a descendant of this same Joseph: Joseph Smith. Joseph and those who follow his prophetic witness have been “sold into Egypt” figuratively by our Christian brethren. In this time, when there is a famine for hearing the word of God (See Amos 8:11) good Christian believers will begin gather to “Egypt” for this bread of spiritual life.

    The time is upon us when the “veil” will be taken off this modern day Joseph and his brethren will see who he really is. There will be repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Our sectarian Christian brethren will see plainly that the Book of Mormon powerfully teaches faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, the atonement of Christ, salvation by his grace alone, showing evidence of faith by good works (not reliance upon them for salvation) and the doctrine of being born again.

    My dear brothers and sisters, do not wonder that falsehoods have been told about us for nearly 200 years. The veil is coming off and, in Glenn Beck, you are seeing mainstream Mormon beliefs as they were taught by Joseph Smith himself.

  4. I KNOW there are concerns and problems w/in the Mormon church and a lot of their beliefs …BUT I heard Beck’s “testimony” of how he asked Jesus Christ into his heart as his Lord and Savior, and believes in God as his creator one day when he told it on air… and this is the church he is choosing to attend….I guess I base my feelings on this statement and his “fruits”… NOT on it being done a certain way, in a certain church…and God can use anyone He chooses to wake people up and in this case….AMERICA as to what is being done to it thru this godless administration. I feel we need to keep Beck, his message to America and his family (they have all be threatened) in our prayers.

  5. I am on the road and do not have all of my resource library with me but spamlds raises some issues which need to be at least touched on. Although there may be some question as to Glenn Beck’s standing before God I do not believe there is any question as to the official teachings of the Mormon Church. Joseph Smith Jr. may be a prophet but he would be a false prophet not a true prophet. My material on that is at my office and I won’t be there for another week. Other issues are that Mormonism teaches a different salvation. Our article The Mormon View of Salvation addresses this issue (starts on page 10). Also, Mormons and God: Christians of Not part 1 (begins on page 4) and Mormons and God: Christians of Not part 2 (begins on page 4).

  6. Jan Crawford is a perfect of example of Christians who are being duped. Glenn Beck does not know the Jesus of the Bible, only the Mormon “jesus”. The Mormon concept of salvation is totally counter to the salvation of the Bible.

    She and others need to wise up and be informed. Read Spamlds’s comments. Glenn Beck is a nice man of his convictions who believes he is doing a good thing, but he is confused and a tool of the enemy. Those who follow and support Beck are unequally yoked and having fellowship with darkness. What does the Bible say about that?

    As Christians we need to get back to the basics of our faith and keep our noses in the Word instead of watching/listening to conservative talk shows or reading their books. Too many Christians have made idols out of patriotism and conservative principles.

  7. Don, you contacted me and asked if I would post my comments on your blog….I did so….only to be attacked by an insultant, holier than thou….do it MY way BURNING LAMP person who won’t give true name……coward. I have not been duped by anyone…BL needs to wise up and know that God can use any person He chooses… just as Satan can…believe BL called him the enemy….well, the enemy is using BL quite well. When a nonChristian might happen upon this site and see the judgemental comments by BL I would believe it could possibly make them want to not to have any part of Christianity and Jesus as their Savior cause they might not do it just the RIGHT way for BL.
    To Burning Lamp: Who are you to judge one’s testimony…what seeds are you sowing…did you hear his testimony I heard…did you see the bible he had….God have mercy on you for being an instrument of the evil one. I will be praying God tenders your heart and opens your eyes that God can and does open Mormon’s hearts to the true Jesus. And by the way I do have my nose in His Word and can watch and read what I choose. Judge not lest ye be judged.

  8. Jan, first of all – I don’t like to call attention to myself – I use the moniker because I want to keep my lamp burning as I await the return of my Bridegroom the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one to Whom all glory belongs. I try to represent Him rightly in all I say and do. I realize I fall short, but that is the desire of my heart. It is not my desire to be contentious, but when it comes to the destiny of a human soul and the integrity of the Gospel, I am quite passionate.

    Dear sister, the verse you quote is so misunderstood and misused. You are correct in that we are not to judge the hearts and motives of people, but we can know from their words and actions and we are as Christians supposed to determine the true from the false according to the standard of the Word of God. We are to test the spirits and examine and be on the alert.
    False teachers are allowed to flourish due to misinterpretation of that “judge not” verse.

    I pray you will consider the following that just came into my mailbox from the Berean Call. It so fits the Glenn Beck situation. The greatest injustice to Glenn would be to assume he is a believer when in fact he is not. Glenn preaches universalism and pluralism. Those pastors who are joining with Rabbis, Imams, and Roman Catholic Priests with Glenn’s Black Brigade hopefully will wake up to the fact they are in error and unequally yoked, disgracing their Savior and His sacrifice, and influencing others to do the same. These may be strong words, but we serve a holy God Who sacrificed His Son at a cost we cannot even begin to comprehend. This is serious business.

    I extend grace and peace to you.

    LDS DISAGREEMENT WITH SCRIPTURE

    There are major points in Ephesians 2:8-10 that do not agree with LDS teaching and it is important to clarify these issues in order to lead Mormons to biblical salvation. Number 1 is their teaching of who Jesus is. Jesus Himself said that unless we believe that He is “I AM”, God, we will die in our sins, and cannot go to heaven. (John 8:24.) God became a man to save us. (John 1:1,14.) Only God can forgive sins. (Luke 5:20-21; Mark 2:7.) Jesus of Mormonism is not God who became a man, but a man who became a god, a brother of all, a created being, which, according to them, all mankind is, contrasting what the Bible says, i.e. that Jesus is God, Creator of all. (Matt. 1:23; John 1:1-3, 14; Col. 1:16; John 8:23-24.) The number 2 conflict with Mormon teaching is they believe they are “saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (3rd Articles of Faith) – i.e. that by their works they earn salvation, and that “grace” is applicable only after they have done all that they can do. (“…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” 2 Nephi 25:23.) This is a real problem for Mormons because grace without works is taught to be “one of the most untrue doctrines found in modern Christendom”. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 671.)

    In Mormonism “salvation by grace alone” means “resurrection alone” and if one is not a Mormon working for salvation, resurrection alone will bring only damnation. (See Mormon Doctrine p. 671.) It is important to stress the biblical truth that to be saved, we must follow the One who is the Truth, and whose Word is Truth. (John 14:6; 17:17).

    (Higley, H.I.S. Ministries September Newsletter, covering August 2010, 9/1/2010).

  9. I am a little concerned I think. It is perfectly fine for Burning Lamp to disagree with others and I like debate. I am concerned about personal attacks such as the claim that Jan is “being duped.” We cannot know someone’s heart nor what they actually believe unless they tell us and none of us has spoken with or read Beck’s views or understanding of the nature of God or the nature of salvation other than what he has said on his programs. I suspected the problem may be in his word definitions, as is often the case with official Mormon teaching. They use the right terminology but redefine words such as salvation, grace, eternal life, etc. and Burning Lamp points out some of those. As I pointed out in the blog, I contacted Bill McKeever (links are in the piece), missionary to Mormons, and included his response.

    Burning Lamp writes, “but we can know from their words and actions and we are as Christians supposed to determine the true from the false according to the standard of the Word of God.” I have a couple of thoughts on this. First, can someone have some theological confusion or lack or theological precision or behavior and still be a Christian? According to what Burning Lamp wrote, the answer is no. However, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians and other N.T. books were written to correct false teaching, bad behavior, etc, by Christians who were theologically confused by false teachers but were Christians none-the-less. So far, I have not heard Glenn Beck give official Mormon teaching on his show (admittedly I have not seen many of them since I am on the road every week) but when he gave the gospel it was as outlined by Southern Baptist, Richard Land. I know of a number of Baptists, for example, who converted to Mormonism, held to a biblical view of the nature of God and salvation, didn’t know nor understand the official Mormon teaching on this when they joined (I just spoke with one last week) and needed someone to come along side and show from official Mormon sources what they teach as compared to Scripture. It may be Glenn Beck needs this (and perhaps is getting it) as well. I don’t know and don’t think any of us know what Beck’s standing before God is at the moment. I would not say he is a Christian, I don’t know. Are the issues he is raising as citizen’s relevant to Christians who believe in involvement in the government and election process? I think so. Those who are opposed to such involvement will be opposed to co-belligerence of any kind. That is certainly a gray area and we need to practice grace toward one another here while remembering that the government will not save us and Mormonism is not a Christian church.

  10. Don, you said:

    I am a little concerned I think. It is perfectly fine for Burning Lamp to disagree with others and I like debate. I am concerned about personal attacks such as the claim that Jan is “being duped.”

    Personal attacks? How about calling me an insultant, holier-than-thou and a coward. Apparently those attacks on my character are acceptable.

    You are correct in saying that we need to extend grace toward one another and I did extend grace and peace to Jan and tried to give her credit for some of her views.

    Pastors and Christians who are rushing to support Glenn Beck with only a cursory statement of faith that any universalist could have made are setting a bad example. I certainly hope that Mr. Beck is sincere and that he abandons his Mormon affiliation. But any conclusions are premature. Do you realize that there are groups that are teaching that one can be a practicing Mormon and a born-again Christian at the same time? As I said before the lines concerning the Gospel are blurred.

    I meant no disrespect, but when it comes to the eternal destiny of a human soul I am passionate in defense of the true and complete Gospel. If that is construed as being of concern, I am completely baffled.

    Christians who flock to join Mr. Beck in his morning prayer because he shares conservative values and is a moral family man are in fact being misled and not adhereing to biblical admonitions to test the spirits. My words were meant as an exhortation, not an insult. We are all in need of exhortation by our fellow believers.

    I am truly saddened that my comments were viewed as judgmental and inappropriate. It was not my heart.

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