I’ve entitled this column “Burning Bridges over Beck” only because the original title, “How to Lose Conservative Friends and Alienate Readers While Drawing a Line in the Sand on the Banks of the Rubicon” was, as the Mrs. put it, “a bit verbose.”
Let’s get down to it.
Glenn Beck is an influential figure; no one can deny that he has made considerable advances for the conservative movement.
I have never watched his television program, so most of what I know about him I have learned by watching the response to him. That response is very impressive.
The rally in Washington this past weekend proved that he certainly has a unique gift for inspiring and mobilizing people. It is a gift I envy.
And I must also admit that the hilarious fits of sputtering, frothy-mouthed panic that he invariably elicits from the Left have brought me many a chuckle. I appreciate him for that too.
I clearly can’t deny that he is one of the most efficacious figures among Conservatives. Something has happened of late, though, and it’s something that concerns me deeply. Glenn Beck is increasingly holding himself out as a religious figure. Now, I happen to be someone who treasures my own freedom to express my spiritual beliefs in the public realm, so I celebrate his own right to do the same. This is America, so by all means have at it, sir.
But my concern is for my evangelical brethren who not only accept him as a political spokesperson but ALSO embrace him as a legitimate Christian leader. Glenn Beck must not be given such legitimacy among such a people. As a Mormon, he is an adherent to teachings that fly wildly in the face of Biblical Christian orthodoxy.
This, however, is but a symptom. The diagnosis is a particularly virulent strain of Spiritual Discernment Deficiency. Though it affects only one demographic – Christians who should know better – it has three causes.
The first cause is biblical illiteracy. Modern American believers have little knowledge of the scriptures, ergo they have no understanding of the vast doctrinal chasm that separates what the Bible teaches from what Mormons believe. Of course, the LDS juggernaut is more than happy to help that along through a remarkable public relations effort aimed at presenting themselves as just one of several “Christian” denominations. Even the most cursory comparison of Mormonism to the Bible, however, shows that this could not possibly be the case. The LDS Church preaches a different Christ, a different scripture, and a different church.
The second cause is patriotic idolatry. Informed patriotism and ardor for conservative political activism are both fine ideals in my book, ideals to which I myself aspire. Yet when our passion for these begins to rival our zeal for the purity of the Gospel, then we have lost our way. If Evangelicals accept Glenn Beck as a spiritual leader because of the perceived “good he is doing for this country,” then the line which divides things spiritual and eternal from things earthly and temporal has been dangerously compromised.
Believer, ask yourself: Are you first a citizen of Heaven or are you first a citizen of this republic?
The third cause of this Spiritual Discernment Deficiency is religio-political pragmatism. Many conservative Christ-followers so want to excoriate President Obama as a Christian poseur that they’re willing to exalt Glenn Beck as a Christian paragon by default. I don’t presume to judge the heart of either man, but the followers of Jesus Christ should be every bit as skeptical of the heretical pronouncements of Beck’s Mormon “prophets” as they are of the Marxist liberation theology taught to President Obama by his chosen mentors, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Phleger.
I pray for President Obama. I also pray for Glenn Beck.
That’s the diagnosis. But what’s the prescription? First, read your Bible every day and seek the Holy Spirit’s counsel in this and all things. Know what you believe and why you believe it. Accept the Bible as authoritative. Second, you may also want to pick up a copy of When Salt Lake City Calls, an eye-opening book by Rocky Hulse, and visit Steve Dealy, the missionary who directs the Christian Visitors Center in Nauvoo.
Some will undoubtedly conclude that I’m only giving liberals what they want most: Right-wing infighting. Perhaps I am, but Beck abandoned Social Conservatives like me with his recent announcement that he has “bigger fish to fry” than speaking out on “culture war” issues like so-called same-sex marriage. In a stunning display of short-sightedness, he quoted Thomas Jefferson: “If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?”