Evangelicals to Glenn Beck: a huge thank you
by Byran Fisher
America at its founding was 99.8% Christian, and 98.4% Protestant. Not just Christianity but Protestant Christianity built the United States of America. It was not just a Judeo-Christian value system that provided the foundation for the Republic, but a specifically Protestant value system.
The Protestant emphasis on the authority of Scripture (as opposed to the Catholic emphasis on tradition and the authority of the Church), the emphasis on individual responsibility and choice, the emphasis on the priesthood of every believer, the emphasis on the nuclear family and the sacredness of the marriage vow, the emphasis on the moral code found in the Ten Commandments, the emphasis on the sacredness of every vocation and what was called the “Protestant work ethic,” all worked together to create the greatest, freest, and most prosperous nation in the history of the world.
The theological foundation of America was explicitly Protestant. Just one Roman Catholic (Charles Carroll) signed the Declaration of Independence, and 52 of the 55 framers of the Constitution took a solemn oath expressing their agreement with an orthodox Protestant statement of faith. Thus the vast majority of the Founders believed in the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ, his virgin birth, his sinless life, his vicarious and substitutionary death, his resurrection, and his eventual return.
In other words, there is hardly a stitch of difference between the theology of George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Sam Adams and contemporary conservative evangelicals. (Jim Wallis claims to be an evangelical, but he’s not - he is a George Soros-funded socialist masking his radicalism in sheep’s clothing.)
Now Glenn Beck, as a Mormon, holds religious convictions that are wildly at variance with orthodox Christianity. If he is a good Mormon, for instance, he believes in polytheism, not monotheism. In Mormon thought, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit do not form a Triune God but are each separate and distinct gods.
Mormons believe that there is a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father.
Beck believes that God was once a man, and that we can follow his journey to godhood. Mormons will tell you, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” Christianity teaches us that we may become like God as we imitate Christ, but never ever suggests we can become god. But Glenn Beck believes he will one day be a god, ruling his own planet.
Mormons do not believe that Christ was God’s “only-begotten Son.” They believe instead that Christ and Satan were brothers, who offered competing plans of salvation to the Father. When God picked Christ’s plan, Satan rebelled in anger.
Mormons do not believe that Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit. They believe instead that he was conceived through an act of physical intercourse between God and Mary.
They do talk frequently, as Glenn does, about the atonement, and use that very word. But by it they mean something quite different. For Mormons, the atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane, not on the cross. The blood that saves us is not the blood he shed on the cross, but the blood he spilled on the ground in the Garden as he agonized over the path that lay before him.
This, by the way, is why there are no representations of the cross in Mormon temples or on their steeples. You will find vivid artwork in every room of a Mormon temple depicting the life and ministry of Christ - feeding the 5,000, healing the sick, walking on water, holding little children, teaching the multitude - but nary a picture of him on the cross. Preaching “Christ and him crucified” is just not in the Mormon playbook.
This has naturally led to consternation among evangelicals over Beck’s “Divine Destiny” event last Friday night at the Kennedy Center and his “Restoring Honor” event on the mall last Saturday.
But evangelicals need not worry. There was not a trace of Mormonism in either event. While Glenn Beck provided the platform, evangelicals provided the message. Beck depended heavily on historian and committed evangelical David Barton for assistance in picking speakers and selecting those who would lead in prayer and worship. A Mormon teed up the ball for evangelical Protestants. And evangelicals hit it out of the park.
The prayers and worship at the Friday night event, to my knowledge, were handled primarily if not exclusively by evangelical Protestants. The opening prayer on Saturday was a ringing declaration of the sovereignty and lordship of Jesus Christ, as was the closing prayer, if memory serves. One evangelical after another stepped up the microphone on Saturday to urge America to return to the God of the Bible, not the god of the book of Mormon.
Both events were perhaps even more evangelical in tone than if Billy Graham himself had organized the event. In fact, Rev. Graham often took heat for inviting liberal clergy who hardly believed one thing in the Bible to share the platform with him at his crusades.
Jesus’ disciples once complained to him about a man who “does not follow with us” who was independently delivering people from demonic oppression. Said the Master, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
In the larger picture, evangelicals should be willing to work together with Mormons when the issue is not the saving of souls but the redeeming of culture. Where we share common ground and convictions on public policy issues, as we do on the issue of marriage, we can happily work together. It’s not a stretch to say that the great victory of natural marriage in California would not have happened had it not been for the vigorous participation of the LDS church, and for that we applaud them.
Beck’s openness to evangelicals, despite his Mormon roots, may be an indication, that he, like the young man to whom Jesus once spoke, is “not far from the kingdom.”
Glenn Beck did his dead-level best last weekend to call America back to its Protestant, evangelical roots. And for that, evangelicals owe him a word of thanks.