Personally, I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about Glenn Beck. Everybody’s talking about him… he’s certainly a polarizing figure. Judging by the number of hits on my recent post about Glenn Beck, in which I linked to a controversial article by Russell Moore, many others are less tired of hearing about him than I am! However, I feel that one more post is necessary, not to beef up my hit count, but to clarify a few important things for my readers.
First of all, my objections to Glenn Beck are not politically motivated. In fact, there is much overlap between my personal political leanings and Beck’s rhetoric, though there are certainly some sharp differences as well. I also believe that it is possible to work toward certain social and political goals with those who do not share my faith. And even if I did wholly object to Beck’s politics, I would still uphold his right to give voice to them.
My real concerns with Beck are in two areas: personal, and theological, though I give much more weight to the latter. Personally, I feel Glenn Beck is a fraud. A brilliant fraud, to be sure, but I have a hard time seeing him as anything other than a shameless self-promoter who has re-invented himself over and over until finally finding an audience gullible enough to to buy what he’s selling. Now he’s cashing in. He is an actor who plays his role perfectly. Does this mean he doesn’t occasionally say things that are insightful and truthful? Not at all. But it all seems so scripted and phony. Of course, this is all quite subjective. I haven’t any real proof, and it’s not something I’m willing to fight about if someone challenges me on this. It’s not nearly so important as what follows.
Glenn Beck is a wolf. He can spout off politically all he wants, and I really don’t care that much who listens to him. However, when he begins to set himself up as a spokesman for God, we must draw the line. Over the last two years, and especially in recent months, he has pitched himself as a man on a mission to turn America “back to God”.
The problem? A great majority of his followers are professing Christians, who, if united with Beck, cannot “turn back to god” together. Glenn Beck’s “god” is not the God of Christianity, no matter what he may say on his television show. His repeated attempts to get evangelical Christians to overlook the differences between Christianity and Mormonism appear to be working, as more and more professing believers are willing to pray together with him and call his message of Christ’s atonement “the gospel”.
My rebuke is not for Glenn Beck, but for those Christians who are so willing to accept a different gospel. (Incidentally, I believe this was also the purpose behind Russell Moore’s article, not political motivations as some have suggested.) I feel like channeling Paul’s letters to the Galatian and Corinthian churches:
Oh foolish Galatians Americans! Who has bewitched you? 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. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 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! (cf. Galatians 3:1; Galatians 1:6-8; 2 Corinthians 11:4)
Has American Christianity become so watered-down and anti-intellect that many of us no longer even recognize the true Gospel? For the “gospel” of Mormonism is very much a different gospel. This is no mere denominational difference, such as the minor distinctions that separate Baptists from Presbyterians or Methodists. Mormons may use the same language (using words like “trinity”, “atonement”, and “salvation”), but the meanings attached to those words are radically different. It can be very deceptive for those who do not take the time to diligently study doctrines and think critically about their allegiances.
“It is a snare to say rashly, ‘It is holy,’ and to reflect only after making vows. ~ Proverbs 20:25
The danger here goes far beyond politics. Glenn Beck is promoting a political agenda heavily influenced by religious beliefs that are decidedly contra-biblical, not least of which is a view of America-as-chosen-nation that would make even the most patriotic Evangelical blush (thanks in large part to a man named Cleon Skousen). Though his agenda may overlap with a Christian worldview on some hot-button issues such as abortion, an uncritical acceptance of everything Beck preaches (and yes, I realize that not all his fans are guilty of this) forces Christians to abandon reason borne from a biblical worldview. We absolutely must think biblically about every issue, no matter whose politics that may upset.
To be fair to the Mormons… many of them don’t agree with what Beck has to say, either. His message is really geared more toward a generic civil religion (with a generic “god”) than anything devout Mormons would claim, which serves to support the earlier assertion that Beck simply re-invents himself whenever it’s convenient. I don’t presume to speak for the man, but it seems to me that his motivation is not really his religion at all. Religion is just a handy tool employed for the purpose of self-promotion. In the arena of politics, it is expedient to be a mushy, nominal Christian, or perhaps in Beck’s case, a nominal Mormon.
Case in point: At his rally last Saturday, Beck assembled a collection of 240 preachers, rabbis, and other clergy from various religions, calling them a new “black-robed regiment”. Before asking everyone to bow together in prayer, he said, “We can disagree on politics. We can disagree on so much. These men and women don’t agree on fundamentals. They don’t agree on everything that every church teaches. What they do agree on is that God is the answer.” This begs the question: Whose god?
In any event, whether Beck’s god is the false god of Mormonism, the false god of generic civil religion, or the false god of nominal Christianity, it is not the God that the Scriptures proclaim. Christians must exercise extreme caution and much discernment when choosing whether to support or promote Glenn Beck.
As promised in the title, though, I’m going to let the issue rest. Glenn Beck isn’t going away, and anything else I might say isn’t likely to change anything. If there’s one thing that I hope people will take from this, it’s a simple call for the use of logic and discernment, especially when the Gospel is at stake. For those who do wish to learn more about what Mormons believe, I encourage you to take the time to carefully read through the following links:
A FAQ on the Difference Between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity — A short summary of important differences compiled by Justin Taylor
CARM Resources on Mormonism — A more extensive list of articles and research
Sunstone Magazine Cover Story on Glenn Beck — A very thorough look at the life and politics of Glenn Beck from a Mormon perspective