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God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck

by Dr. Russell Moore

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it’s not. It’s from this week’s headlines. And it is a scandal.

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck isn’t the problem. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I’m quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the “Tea Party” or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.

It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.

Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we’ve relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We’ve tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political “conservatism” and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.

Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.

Leaders will always be tempted to bypass the problem behind the problems: captivity to sin, bondage to the accusations of the demonic powers, the sentence of death. That’s why so many of our Christian superstars smile at crowds of thousands, reassuring them that they don’t like to talk about sin. That’s why other Christian celebrities are seen to be courageous for fighting their culture wars, while they carefully leave out the sins most likely to be endemic to the people paying the bills in their movements.

Where there is no gospel, something else will fill the void: therapy, consumerism, racial or class resentment, utopian politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the left, crazy conspiracy theories of the right; anything will do. The prophet Isaiah warned us of such conspiracies replacing the Word of God centuries ago (Is. 8:12–20). As long as the Serpent’s voice is heard, “You shall not surely die,” the powers are comfortable.

This is, of course, not new. Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus. He didn’t mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He wasn’t worried about “revival” or “getting back to God.” What he opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.

We used to sing that old gospel song, “I will cling to an old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.”  The scandalous scene at the Lincoln Memorial indicates that many of us want to exchange it in too soon. To Jesus, Satan offered power and glory. To us, all he needs offer is celebrity and attention.

Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They offer another Lord Jesus than the One offered in the Scriptures and Christian tradition, and another way to approach him. An embrace of these tragic new vehicles for the old Gnostic heresy is unloving to our Mormon friends and secularist neighbors, and to the rest of the watching world. Any “revival” that is possible without the Lord Jesus Christ is a “revival” of a different kind of spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Jn. 4:1-3).

The answer to this scandal isn’t a retreat, as some would have it, to an allegedly apolitical isolation. Such attempts lead us right back here, in spades, to a hyper-political wasteland. If the churches are not forming consciences, consciences will be formed by the status quo, including whatever demagogues can yell the loudest or cry the hardest. The answer isn’t a narrowing sectarianism, retreating further and further into our enclaves. The answer includes local churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and disciple their congregations to know the difference between the kingdom of God and the latest political whim.

It’s sad to see so many Christians confusing Mormon politics or American nationalism with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not pessimistic. Jesus will build his church, and he will build it on the gospel. He doesn’t need American Christianity to do it. Vibrant, loving, orthodox Christianity will flourish, perhaps among the poor of Haiti or the persecuted of Sudan or the outlawed of China, but it will flourish.

And there will be a new generation, in America and elsewhere, who will be ready for a gospel that is more than just Fox News at prayer.

Dr. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ and Adopted for Life.

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  • Ken

    Well said – and an unfortunate observation to have to make.

  • Gary Capshaw

    What a wonderful article! You are SOOOO right!

    Just FYI, I sent the following e-mail to my friends and family just this morning. You may take from it what you will. While it doesn’t specifically speak to what you’ve said, it does reflect my thinking on the subject, which your articles leaves me thinking I was remiss in not mentioning what you talked about.

    This may come as a great surprise to those who know me well, but I attended the Glenn Beck “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, DC this week. I did not travel that far just to attend (we were holding an Old Soldiers Reunion in Alexandria, VA) but I couldn’t miss taking part in such an event. Some fellow Veteran’s invited me to go with them and I happily agreed. It’s not often one gets the chance to see democracy in action on such a scale.

    And, what a scale it was! I’ve seen estimates of the crowd size ranging from 50,000 to 500,000, but those estimates mostly are based upon someone’s political agenda. I do not have such an agenda and would tend toward the half million side. They stretched literally from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Memorial (a distance of about 3/4’s of a mile), alongside the Reflecting Pool, and overflowed into a nearby open field where jumbotrons were set up so the participants could see what was going on. We were seated at first on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and, while we couldn’t hear a thing being said because the speakers were aimed up the Mall, we did have a grandstand view of the crowd. Later, we moved down into the grass beside the security fence and still couldn’t hear, so we left early. I have, however, watched the whole thing on You Tube later, so I feel free to comment on what was going on.

    We rode the Metro train from Alexandria to the Arlington station, about an hour and half before the event started, and walked across the Potomac River bridge, coming in behind the Lincoln Memorial. A ground guide tried to direct us around to the back of the crowd, but we figured that would lead us to roughly the WWII Memorial because the crowd was already that large, so we opted to head up the steps and basically sit in Lincoln’s lap. What more appropriate spot could we take?

    Along the way, we were engulfed by a mob of boistrous, enthusiastic, sincere fellow travelers headed for the event. They filled both of the amply wide sidewalks leading across the bridge and were still streaming in when we left, about an hour after the event started. It would be easy to categorize them as radicals, but that would not necessarily be true. They were just people, fellow citizens, who had come at their own not insignificant expense and apparently truly believed in what they were doing and why they were doing it. While one might legitimately question just how much they know about that Constitution they were coming to defend, (most people have not read it and fewer still understand it), you simply could not question their dedication. It was real and that reality was proved by their presence. In a lot of cases, it was whole families. Granted, it was probably the whitest crowd I’ve ever seen (there were a few…VERY few…minorities present), but that does not speak so much to the bigotry of the organizers or the attendees so much as it does to the bigotry of those minorities who could have attended but did not. It was open to anyone and everyone, and if minority people chose not to attend, that was not Beck’s fault. Nobody was checking to see if you were the “right” kind of person to come. Hell, I got in, didn’t I? I really believe that so long as our fellow citizens are free to gather and express their views, all is right in America. As I told some participants later, nobody met us with guns and told us we couldn’t go in there, so our democracy is still safe and sound, even if we don’t like what’s being said, and America will surivive.

    But, being the cynic that I am ( I never accept anything at face value), I couldn’t help but compare that crowd of people to those who also streamed into the giant stadium at Nurnberg, Germany for Nazi events during the early days of the Hitler regime. That’s not an editorial statement, just an observation and comparison. They too were not forced to attend, and they too were truly committed to their country and their leader to the point of putting aside their own agenda for the day and paying the cost of traveling great distances to offer their support. That they were proven wrong in that support by subsequent events does not detract from their dedication and concern at the time. They were real people doing what they thought was right at the time. Another comparison could be drawn by pointing out those millions who have come to various political events throughout our history in support of their favorite candidate or cause. However, as in Germany, that support has sometimes proven to be a mistake. Whether or not that’s so in this case is still an open question.

    And, I do question whether or not it was the right thing to do. Far, far too many of those I spoke to (for my liking, anyway) were more supportive of Beck than of what the rally was about. He has almost reached the status of Messiah to a great many people and I find that incredibly dangerous to our liberties. As one fellow told me, Beck is sincere about his love of America and has no other agenda nor any support from established political figures or groups. That fellow really believed that the whole event was nothing more than an exercise in grass roots activism.

    But, was it? As I looked around, I noticed the astonishing number of port-a-potties, cameras, security people and fences, ground guides, (not to mention the necessary permits and co-ordination with government agencies); all the necessary attendants of such a large event and could not help but wonder who paid for all that and who organized it? The whole event was a tightly and professionally correographed stage show and it wasn’t cheap. Nor was it ad hoc. That it flowed so effortlessly and without any visible problems indicates that the planning for this far, far exceeded the time frame Beck has suggested. During my time in the Army, I once had total control of a Brigade-sized airmobile training scenario and it took more than a year to put together all the components of such an event, so Beck’s claim of having only decided to do this about 8 months ago rings untrue to me. I’m sure that there are economies of scale which might lend credence to his claim, but I’m just not buying it over all. It was far too complicated to achieve in such a short time.

    So, who WAS behind it and what do they hope to achieve? The answer is most likely Dick Armey and the Tea Party groups.

    The Tea Party movement began as a legitimate and real grass roots effort, but the Neo-Conservative wing of the Republican Party has been trying to co-opt it ever since it began. I think they have succeeded because the organization of Beck’s event was too professional for Beck’s stable of office staff to achieve in such a short time. I can’t think of anyone else who could have offered their organizational skills but Armey’s group, so that’s the most likely culprit. In addition, though Beck vehemently denied that the rally was political, the fact that nothing in Washington is apolitical, and the fact that he chose Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker, (the darling of the Tea Party, a prospective presidential candidate and a Republican) belies that assertion. It WAS political and it WAS Republican to the core.

    But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m no fan of the Neo-Con (Bush, Cheney, DeLay) wing of the Republican Party, but that’s not to say that Palin and Beck don’t head up a counter group, an insider, truly Conservative group of folks dedicated to wringing power and support away from the Neo-Con’s. If they turn out to be such a thing, I could support them. However, I’m not yet convinced they are that. Time will tell.

    So, let’s leave the organization of the event, with all its attendant questions, and focus on the message.

    What was the message? I asked several supporters of Beck just what he means by “Restoring Honor,” and they could only say what they thought it meant. That’s not surprising as Beck has not defined it either, so far as I know. YOUR definition of restoring honor, and MY defintion of restoring honor, might not be the same thing as BECK’S definition and I, for one, would like to know what HE means. That’s not yet clear.

    What IS clear is that what we attendees got was a blending of God, patriotism and militarism. Once again, I couldn’t help but think of Nazi Germany, where the troops were encased in an ideal of serving God and the Fatherland, as if they were one and the same, and even wore belt buckles inscribed with “Gott Mit Uns,” which translates as “God With Us.” Being a good Southern Baptist, I couldn’t help but think that while those troops were slaughtering God’s Chosen People by the millions, it was unlikely that He was with them. It’s at least as likely that God is not with Glenn Beck, though it must be admitted that He very well may be. After all, our Bible tells us that God appoints kings, leaders and governments for our benefit (and in line with His will), so it’s certainly possible that Beck and his supporters may very well be doing God’s will. If that’s so, though, I suspect his supporters may find that God’s will isn’t what they think it is.

    What we who were there, and the millions more who saw it on TV and the internet, were treated to was an exercise in claiming God for whatever Beck’s and Armey’s agenda is and American military adventurism. We haven’t seen that kind of jingoism and wrapping God in the American flag since the run-up to the Spanish-American War, which resulted in American colonialism. We claimed vast stretches of the earth, from the Caribbean to the South Pacific and even China, as the domain of the United States and God. What the target of such a thing is now is still an open question, but the idea that our armed forces are working for God, through the United States, was clear from the outset.

    One thing Beck said, which I find intriguing, was the America needs to go where God wants us to go. While I don’t question that we should, I’m wondering just what he meant by that. As Al Sharpton questioned in an appearance of Foxs’ Geraldo Riviera show that night, where does Beck think God wants us to go? What has He told him? That’s a fair question, but one which was not answered by Beck then, nor has it been answered since. If one is purporting to have the Word of God, the rest of us would like to hear what He had to say. In the coming days, I suspect we’ll hear that question answered and I also suspect that it will involve something along the lines of bringing democracy to the poor, downtrodden masses of other countries, all done by the pure military might of our “Godly” troops. If that’s so, it will not be far removed from the message of the Bush administration, which will once again prove the lie that this gathering was not political. Worse yet, it may be used as an excuse to overthrow the legitimately elected government of the United States and install a more “godly” regime. I was there and can tell you, without reservation, that had Beck called on that crowd to arise and march on the Capitol Hill and the White House to “save” America, they would have moved en masse to fulfill that order.

    In the end, I came away heartened by the enthusiasm of the participants, by their love of country and dedication to the ideals of America and willingness to sacrifice their all. While most of them could not really differentiate between their own personal ideals and the principles emodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (which were, tragically, not always the same), they truly represented what’s best about this great country. On the other hand, their lack of Constitutional knowledge, understanding and willingness to accept opposing views as legimate, and coupled with their adoration of Beck, also left me cold and fearful for our future. A good many of those who were there are so closed-minded, so sure that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin represent their salvation, that they are wide open for manipulation by charlatan’s and wolves in sheeps clothing, that anything is possible.

    Whether or not Beck is such a wolf remains to be seen. I will reserve judgment at this time, until it becomes clear what Beck is up to.

  • http://www.guthrie-faith.org Charles Loper

    It is not about Glenn Beck

    I became a Christian at 8 years old and have followed that path for 44 years now. I have often failed the Lord and not been the man I should have been but His grace and power has always brought me back to the path He chose for me. God in His infinite wisdom has used many different methods and approaches to accomplish this, which I would suspect has been true of all believers.

    One such lesson was about my responsibility as a listener in church. I was once a member of a church who had a very outspoken minority of people who were constantly complaining about how they were not being fed. They then went on to expound on the pastor’s grammar and pronunciation citing his struggles in these two arenas as the reason they were “malnourished”. In contrast to their experience I could not recall a single sermon where I had not heard the voice of the Holy Spirit teaching me an important lesson. As I pondered these differences I came to an understanding of what I believe was a Godly truth: When we are focused on hearing the Spirit, He will always speak regardless of the messenger. When we are too busy with other things we inevitably fail to hear His voice.

    God’s truths and principles are His, and they are unchanging. That is why I try to always to listen for the lessons the Holy Spirit has for me. As I watched the Restoring Honor Rally on 8-28-10 in Washington I was not listening for what Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck or any other speaker was saying I was trying to hear what the Holy Spirit had for me. I am not and indeed cannot comment on what anyone else who listened was doing or thinking but I can say that for me the message was very clear.

    It was a call for me to spend the next forty days on my knees humbling myself before God and asking His intervention in both my life and the lives of those around me. It was a call for me to encourage the body of my church to join me in doing the same thing. It was a call for me to stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other Christians around the world in proclaiming the one and only answer to a world so full of sin and corruption, Jesus Christ. It was a call to me to trust God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

    and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. (HCSB)

    I do not know what is in Glenn Becks heart, but then I do not know what is in anyone else’s heart. All I know is that God spoke to me on August 28, 2010. I also know that scripture teaches us that God has used many leaders to accomplish His mission, leaders who knew him and leaders who didn’t, and leaders who came to know Him through being used by him.

    At that moment the sentence against Nebuchadnezzar was executed. He was driven away from people. He ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with dew from the sky, until his hair grew like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. Daniel 4:33-44 (HCSB)

    Based solely on what I have seen and heard Glenn Beck say I choose believe that God is actively at work in Glenn’s life. I believe he was led to be God’s tool to organize this event and that he is sincerely seeking to do what God told him to do. But whether I am right or wrong does not really matter in the area of my responsibility, it does not change the truth that God uses whomever He wills to accomplish His plans.

    John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.” “Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterwards speak evil of Me. For whoever is not against us is for us. And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of My name, since you belong to the Messiah–I assure you: He will never lose his reward. Mark 9:38 -41 (HCSB).

    • Gary Capshaw

      Bro. Loper:

      I’m sorry, Brother, but you’re wrong in this case. It IS about Glenn Beck and Christian’s response to him.

      Yes, God can talk to us through Beck or anyone else. If He can speak through rocks, burning bushes and even a donkey, He can do anything He likes. However, just because Beck claims to be bringing a message from the Lord doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.

      Jesus told us in Matthew 7: 15-16, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” And, in Galatian’s 5, Paul told us what fruits of the Spirit look like: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” If Glenn Beck, or anyone else, claims to be animated by the Word of God, their fruits should be just what Paul said they’d be.

      Is what Beck does and says evidence of the fruits of the Spirit?

      At the rally last week, it was. He “preached” tolerance, repentance and fellowship. But, on his daily TV program he offers up a totally different message of dissension, intolerance, division, evil conspiracies of liberals and progressives, bigotry and downright hatred of anyone who holds a different opinion than his. Progressives and liberals are held up as enemies of America, working assidiously behind the scenes to destroy our liberties. It’s a message almost totally devoid of recognizable fruits of the Spirit. God is never the author of such things.

      Like you, though, I won’t judge the state of Beck’s soul. None of us are in a position to know such a thing and we’re not empowered to know what God knows about someone’s heart. But, we are given evidence to look for in the lives of those who profess to follow Jesus Christ and while Beck’s personal life may be spot-free, his public message isn’t something I’d expect to hear from God.

      However, he may be sincere and honest. On the other hand, he may just as well be pursuing another agenda, one he keeps hidden from his loyal followers, and my advice to any believer who wants to follow Beck is to wait and see. Keep your eyes and ears open for the message behind the message. All of his work has a purpose, a purpose we’re not privy to and that makes him suspect to me.

      Anybody who annoints himself as the oracle of God to America should be approached with extreme caution.

    • pam knight

      good word Charles, a person can never go wrong if he keeps his eyes on Jesus Christ the Lord.our trust is in Him, Jesus. It is in and through Him that we see the world and the events of the world in the right perspective, and in turn respond in a manner as He desires us to.

  • http://exceptionoted.blogspot.com/ David Pitman

    Beck, Bifurcation and the Blustery Day
    The reactions to the Beck Rally have been fascinating and foreboding. The political left was predictably appalled by it all. The political right was unpredictably undercut by friendly fire, especially from some of the more erudite evangelicals. This vividly illustrates how zealous some are to protect the gospel of Jesus Christ. I commend them and I count myself among them.

    Dr. Russell Moore, whom I greatly admire, warned, “It would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ. That’s a very bad trade-off.” I agree; what a horrible trade that would be. Beck’s Mormonism has many alarmed that he is using politics to advance the cause of the Mormon cult and Mormon false doctrine; hence deceiving many to accept or even to become Mormons. In the most recent Presidential campaign some were concerned about Senator Obama’s religion: is he a Muslim? does the Rev. Wright represent Obama’s Christianity? Legitimate questions still lingering.

    Having been a political observer now for many years, I am not surprised by the controversy. What cost Al Smith the Presidency in 1928 was still an issue in 1960. Kennedy was elected by the narrowest of margins. Part of his baggage was his Catholicism. Clinton/Gore in 1992 made much of their membership in Southern Baptist Churches (not sure where their letters are now); it must have helped them some. But honestly, Ross Perot triangulated the conservative vote and was very much a factor. I have since forgiven the SBC.

    Dr. Jerry Falwell was forming his Moral Majority in the late 1970’s, and his odd couple blending of co-belligerents – Catholics, Jews, Christians (and Mormons) delighted many conservatives. Some labeled Dr, Falwell a king-maker and perhaps he was. I always thought Reagan had the great political fortune to run against the most incompetent President in the second half of the 20th century; but I could be wrong about that. Falwell’s Liberty University (affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention) hosted Beck (affiliated with the Mormons) as its commencement speaker this year and very few evangelicals protested. At least I heard very little about it.

    As a young pastor in 1979, I preached some warnings about the slippery slope of ecumenism, one sermon was titled Why I Cannot Join the Moral Majority. I took some grief over that. I was young, very young; later on two former Falwell insiders (Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson) wrote Blinded by Might and they agreed with me (that ‘s the way I remember it and I am telling the story.) Good men disagree now about signing The Manhattan Declaration: for example, Albert Mohler says yes; Alistair Begg says no.

    My warning about the Beck factor is simple: Be careful with the “evangelical” anxiety over Beck, (some of which I share). Avoid the logical fallacy of bifurcation. Bifurcation is a false dilemma, when someone is asked to choose between two options when there is at least one other option available. I reluctantly say that Dr. Moore’s warning, though well-intentioned, falls into this fallacy. Sharing Beck’s political views does not mean I must convert to Mormonism.

    Some evangelicals may suffer from a genetic disorder known as YDD. My Papa called them yeller dog Democrats i.e., they would vote for a yellow dog if it was a Democrat. I am sure there are blue tick hound Republicans, too. I will be kind and observe that some of these YDD cases are recessive genes but they can assert themselves at odd times. Be warned that some of these evangelicals do not share consistent conservative political views; that makes them more likely to criticize Beck. They have the right and the duty to do so. They have freedom of speech and freedom of religion (and come to think of it, so does Beck.)

    Christians in the political arena nearly always (I want to say always, but that would be a logical fallacy) must act as co-belligerents with some whose religion is antithetical to ours. Political choices are nearly always the lesser of two evils. Christians in a representative Republic must participate; I know it is not easy.

    What about the Blustery Day? Well, I just like Winnie the Pooh and threw that in for free.

    No, it does have some connection because Christians are warned not to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, When political winds are blowing you had better hold on tight to the anchor of God’s inerrant, infallible Word.

    • Gary Capshaw

      Bro. Pitman:

      Yes, there are YDD’s among our Christian brethren, but that does not mean they aren’t good Christian’s. One of the problems with the melding of Christianity and partisan politics, as practiced by Beck and, yes, Falwell and the Moral Majority too, is that the line between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel of a party platform becomes blurred and sometimes even indistinguishable. Worse, it encourages us to make distinctions about someone’s value to the Lord based upon the political views they hold. In other words, a person’s faith is judged by his politifcal affiliation and there’s a danger in that which isn’t often discussed, one germain to the Beck rally.

      As an example, let me use myself. I don’t like to use anyone else as a example because I don’t know them, or their heart, as thoroughly as I know me. I was a card-carrying member of the ACLU until just recently and have voted Democrat at various times in my life (I’ve also voted Republican, depending upon the candidates and their agenda). When that becomes known, I’m looked at askance by my fellow believers and have even been asked, “How can you be a Christian and do that?”

      How? It’s easy when one separates church and state. My allegience to God has little or nothing to do with my allegience to the Constitution and the principles it embodies while, at the same time, my love of the Constitution is not part and parcel of my love of God. I live in both worlds, as we all do, but I do not let one define the other. My faith informs my politics, but my politics do not define my faith.

      But, that’s an unusual position to find these days. Because of the blurring of that line between religion and politics, far too many of our brethren define their relationship to God by their politics and that’s a trap we can all fall easily into, if we’re not careful. Today, if you ask Christian’s to define their faith, a good many will begin by outlining conservative positions they hold rather than talk about Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the Cross or they’ll readily mix the two as if there is no difference between their conservative, political values and their faith in Christ. I submit that there IS a difference and it’s a difference we ought to hold on to.

      Why? Because once a party or individual is accepted as speaking the Word of God, it naturally follows that those of a different opinion are opposing the Word of God and that’s a dangerous road to follow. Down that road lies violence and horror done in the name of God. We American’s like to think we’re immune to such things, that only German’s or Cambodian’s or Muslim’s can practice murder in the name of God, but history shows that simply is not true. For instance, we claimed Biblical authority for keeping a whole race of human beings captive for hundreds of years and convinced ourselves that it was the “godly” thing to do. The same could be said our bearing the “white man’s burden” when we set out to colonize the Pacific.

      The point is that when people like Glenn Beck claim to be bringing the Word of God, and nobody questions that, it risks opening a Pandora’s Box of strife and warfare against those fellow citizens who reject that word and therein lie the seeds of the destruction of the very thing he’s purporting to protect: The Constitution and the great nation founded upon it.

  • http://www.hearbibleteaching.org Rick Harvey

    Amen, brother Russell!!

  • Lisa

    Wow, really? I don’t normally go to a Baptist website, but a friend of mine who is Baptist but who doesn’t get this messenger, had heard it was bashing Beck and Fox. She wanted to read it because she couldn’t believe the Baptist could be bashing.

    I am certainly not confusing mormon politics or american nationalism with anything our Lord Jesus Christ had to say. How sad…how very, very sad that Dr. Moore couldn’t have been happy just to see so many people of different walks of life coming together peacefully for God and Country. What’s wrong with that phrase. My sons in Boy Scouts stand strongly behind God and Country. God always first. And to paint with a broad brush all these people that attended (I did not) as confused Christians (and that’s probably putting it mildly what Dr. Moore thinks of them) is well…not very becoming of the Baptist in this country. Can one not love God/Jesus yet still be patriotic and proud to be an American? I believe so.

    Yes, maybe a lot came to see Glen Beck. But they knew this was also to honor those in our armed forces as well and to give thanks to God and how we want this country to prosper under God’s guidance, not Glen Becks, or anyone else’s for that matter. Not all are confused Dr. Moore. Except perhaps you. I rather doubt everyone at that rally depends on Glen Beck for the word of God, I know I don’t.

    Wow, my prayer is that all Christians can come together and stop bashing other Christians. Make no mistake, there were a lot of Christians in attendance at that rally. Unfortunately, the bashing I doubt will stop until our good Lord returns. I hate to disappoint you Dr. Moore, but I plan on being in Heaven with you, even though I like Fox news and Glen Beck . I’ll be the one tapping on your back saying, “Surprise”.

    • Gary Capshaw

      “Can one not love God/Jesus yet still be patriotic and proud to be an American?”

      Apparently not. There are 49 uses of Hebrew and Greek words translated into English as “pride,” in 46 verses of the Old and New Testament and not one of them…NOT ONE OF THEM, is used in a positive sense. In every instance, the meaning is the same: A lifting up, an arrogance, an exalting of something, usually of the self.

      Proverbs 8:13 says this about pride: “The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”

      In Ezekiel 16:49, we are find that pride is listed first among the many sins of Sodom which led to God’s judgement against that place.

      In the life of those who purport to follow Jesus Christ, pride has no place. Humility does, but not pride.

      • Lisa

        Okay, let me see if I get this right. One can’t be proud to be an American or basically proud of anything like proud of my children for their accomplishments because “pride” is a sin. So when I say to my kids, “I’m proud of you” this is a big sin? Is this what your trying to get across?

  • d shores

    “If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”

    -Pastor Charles D. Finney December 4th, 1873
    -From the Decay Of Conscience:

    The only scandal I see is evangelical pastors shirking their responsibilities cowering behind a tax-exempt IRS threat as if it is a shield instead of throwing it aside and boldly leading.
    If not, I guess a Mormon will.

    “We have a generation of sissy preachers that are busy resting on their blessed assurances. We need the boldness of Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus himself.”
    -Evangelist Bailey Smith

    • Gary Capshaw

      Whether it’s Charles Finney, Bailey Smith or someone else, I’d still like to see the Scriptural justification for using the pulpit to involve the Church of Jesus Christ in the arena of politics.

  • Gary Capshaw

    Lisa:

    The Bible says what it says. Having pride in anything is elevating that thing above God.

    Am I proud of my kids? Yes, but what did I do to deserve being proud of them? They are gifts from God to me. He created them, He sustains them, He made them who they are and I had little or nothing to do with that outside of His will, so what have I got to be proud about? I would rather acknowledge the power of Lord in their lives than be “proud,” of them.

    The same can be said of this country. It IS a great country, but I did not ask to be born here, had no hand in shaping it, did not create any of it’s economic or political systems, so by what right can I be proud of it? It is merely by the hand of God that I am an American. He could just as easily had me born in Nigeria or Bangladesh. Would I then be qualified to be proud of that? The only thing I’ve done is take advantage of it’s benefits and defend it at great peril to my own life.

    No, pride should be reserved for those things you did on your own and, for a surrendered follower of Jesus Christ, it must be admitted that’s nothing at all.

    • Lisa

      You just gave me an excellent example of why I’m not Baptist or belong to any other fundamentalist Christian church. The idea the Bible is the perfect verbatim word of God is flawed. I have no question that by reading the Bible one discerns God’s word, but the Bible was written by men and translated hundreds of times into dozens of languages. To define “pride” in something as elevating it above God is clearly an incorrect translation. The problem with the fundamentalist view of the Bible is that it draws individuals into arguments over semantics rather than matters of the heart. You need not reply for my benefit, I won’t be returning to this website.
      From the “purported” follower of Jesus Christ. (Yours words)

      • Gary Capshaw

        Just in case you might return for a peek, let me be clear that I did not refer to you personally as a “purported” follower of Jesus Christ. If you took it that way, I’m sorry as was not directed at any particular person.

        Yes, the Bible has been translated into many, various languages, but it’s original languages were Hebrew/Chaldean, some Aramaic and for most of the New Testament, it was Greek. To casually dismiss something the Bible says because it may have been translated “wrong,” is an open-ended invitation to believe whatever one wants.

        It stands to reason that God could have caused His Word to be written in any human language at all, or even invented an entirely new one, but He didn’t. He chose to reveal Himself through the languages He picked, and while it may be semantics to you, to me it means we ought to discern what the words used actually mean, rather than rely totally on someone’s interpretation of them. No, I don’t speak Hebrew or Greek, but I DO have a Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible which gives me the original definitions of the words before they were translated into English (Yes, I know there are other concordances). It seems to me that we ought to WANT to know what the Lord said, even if it makes us uncomfortable. (Boy…does it! :-) )

  • DZ

    I was there on 8/28. I was “warned” by well meaning Christians not to go because horror of horrors GB is a mormon and was going to use this event to gather the masses into his cult. Well, didn’t the nay sayers look all too foolish when the event turned out to be all it was presented to be. Namely RESTORING HONOR. Those in attendance acted honorably (no yelling of obscenities, no derogatory signs, no trash left behind)…those on the platform spoke honorably, many invoking the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the day ended in peace and honor (especially to our military).

    Do I agree with GB religious philosophies – not at all but does this nation need SOMEONE issuing the call to seek God , absolutely and if God can use the “foolish things to confound men” (think talking donkeys in the OT) … he can use GB (whom I DO NOT consider to be a fool by any stretch of the imagination). I thank God for a man who I believe is saved and just doesn’t know it. That may sound like a falsehood but having been a Catholic and saved (because I was listening to Christian radio and TV to get fed) but NEVER hearing the truth from my priests or the pulpit – I know it is entirely possible to be saved , not know it and even doubt it (no matter how many times you pray the sinners prayer) … so much so that because your “religion” doesn’t assure you – you doubt it all the time. I think GB does know Jesus as his Lord and Savior but just doesn’t hear it in the Mormon temple. But then again – not being a mormon and knowing nothing of their faith, who am I to pass judgement.

    GB has awakened a whole nation to the errors of what is happening in the country. My question is – if he isn’t a watchman on the wall , where are the other “religions” (including Baptists and Christianity in whole. Why is everyone so quick to cast stones… when they are unwilling and haven’t been given the platform he has). Why aren’t we hearing the warnings from anyone else of the Marxists / Socialists that this current administration has so flagrantly surrounded themselves with.

    Some (yes even in the church) might scream that worn out slogan “seperation of church and state”. It is because of GB that millions in this nation are reading the founding fathers documents and discovering the true history of these United States which God brought about and which the enemy is crouching at the door to take down. And discovering the absurdity of the statement “seperation of Church and State” (it is NOT in the Constitution)

    Personally I sit in a tug of war. The promises of God are yea and Amen! I know Jesus will return one day. Could be today – but if this is not the final hour… I for one would rather wake up and try to bring our country back from the brink to what the Pilgrims came here for, namely – freedom from religious tyranny. And if things continue as they are in DC we are certainly headed for tyranny of the worse kind – the kind that caused people to bow down and call Caeser “Lord”, the kind that broke Rome.

    Finally to any who would imply that the church should not be involved in politics all I can say is (and sorry it is NOT a scripture verse)… “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (would that be Christians?) to do NOTHING”.

    Wake up America – GB is not the antichrist and we better be praying AND speaking up for all that is Godly and good in this nation and seek to restore it to what once was.

    • Gary Capshaw

      Bro. DZ:

      Before you swear allegience to the new leader, I’d URGE you to first familiarize yourself with the teachings of R.J. Rushdoony and Leo Strauss, because that’s what you’re getting involved in, whether they’ll admit it or not. While the front man may appear as “Godly,” (and may actually be) the agenda of Beck’s closest supporters and advisor’s and the political party which is his base, certainly isn’t. It’s nothing less than Christian Reconstructionism, a type of Theonomy which would destroy this nation.

      And, by the way, I’m among those who don’t see how one can be saved and not know it. Salvation comes by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Greek word translated as faith in that context is “Pistis,” which is defined as being persuaded that something is true. It comes from the word “Peitho,” which means to be persuaded by the evidence, sort of like in a court of law where the jury hears all the evidence presented and comes to a decision based upon a preponderance of the evidence.

      Consequently, true, New Testament faith isn’t an emotion, it’s not a feeling, it’s not even blind acceptance. It is a concious decision to believe on Jesus Christ because the evidence of Him being the Son of God and of his death and resurrection is overwhelming.

  • Jeremy Hillsberry

    It’s so funny to me that now critics of Beck, who call him a conspiracy theorists, are now becoming conspiracy theorists themselves. Rushdoony is a “LOON” and Beck is in no way connected to him. Quit trying to stir up conspiracies that don’t exist.

  • Gary Capshaw

    Bro. Jeremy:

    A conspiracy is, by definition, hidden. The agenda of the Evangelical wing of the Republican Party isn’t hidden at all. It’s all right out there in the open and a good bit of what they advocate is pure Rushdoony.

    That too many of our fellow believers don’t recognize it as such isn’t an indictment of the Evangelical’s or evidence of a conspiracy; it’s simply an indication that the supporters of them, and Beck, haven’t done their homework.

  • Jeremy Hillsberry

    Bro. Gary:

    To accuse Beck of being connected to Rushdoony cries of a conspiracy theory, whether you want to admit it or not.

    Just because Beck reads a book by Barton and agrees to it’s tenets doesn’t make him a follower of Rushdoony. I believe that there are very few Evangelical right wingers (Beck wouldn’t even be classified as one of those) who want Old Testament law to be introduced into our society. Once again, Rushdoony is a “LOON” and there is no connection between he and Beck.

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