Saturday, December 20, 2008

CitizenLink's Use of Glenn Beck

In this post I want to deal with CitizenLink's use of Glenn Beck. Now Focus has always claimed to be a Christian organization. This is where the problem comes in. There is nothing wrong in my understanding of the Two-Kingdom model for Christians to work with non-Christians in building a better society. A Christian may easily stand shoulder to shoulder with a Muslim or a Roman Catholic or a Mormon in creating policies that end slavery or abortion or better roads or what have you.

But when Christians stand at abortion clinics with non-Christians, or those who may claim the name Christian but are not, and attempt to "evangelize together" with them, we have abandoned our calling. Again protesting abortion is simply protesting murder, and we ought to cooperaate with our neighbor, whoever he may be. But to do so in the context of Biblical evangelism is wrongheaded. Evangelism belongs as a duty to the church, not to non-Christians or the State.

Now you may be thinking what is the big deal about "hoping to spread a more eternal sort of gospel" that Glenn Beck has written "through his new book, The Christmas Sweater"? Glenn Beck is not a Christian. He is a Mormon.

Evidence? You may view a video here from YouTube.

The entire article interviews Beck as though Mormonism teaches the same God and offers the same Eternal Life in Christ as historic Christianity. To mislead the Christian reader and any reader in general is to point men towards Mormonism, a false religion.

How often has Focus on the Family decried moral relativism during these many years? And yet we are getting religious relativism. Why? Because we are using the same terminology. Notice the second question, "2. What message do you hope people take away from The Christmas Sweater?"

Beck's answer is most certainly lost.
I think the message that you can’t really escape is (that) the Christmas sweater is the metaphor for me of the atonement for Christ. We’ve all been given a gift. We celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus — but the real point is the death, and why He died. When I was in my 30s, I was suicidal. I had nowhere else to run. Then I realized that the real gift — the one we really need to appreciate — is the one that took so much to give. In my mother’s case, it’s the sweater. But in all our cases, it’s redemption and atonement. I so remember the day after Christmas when I balled the sweater up and dropped it on my floor. I still remember the look on my mother’s face when she came in and asked me if that was my Christmas sweater. It took everything for her to give me that, but I didn’t know it at the time, how poor we were. When I was 35 and decided to turn my life over and surrender, I made a vow that I would not stand at His feet and have him look at my redemption, undervalued, misused and lying in a ball on the floor. I need Him to know I’m using it every day.
Here is a great example of how the atonement of Christ is divorced from its proper Biblical context and made to mean something completely different. Yet the average Christian may easily miss this because he reads into the words his own understanding of the atonement. Although, I am beginning to wonder if those at Focus even truly grasp what the Atonement means anymore. This is exactly why the Local Church should be in charge of religion and not some para-church ministry. So now in stead of a local body overseeing the local congregation and their own confession of faith, we have para-church ministries spreading error and false doctrine in a manner only comparable to church hierarchies that go beyond the Local Church.

Another troubling aspect of this interview is that the atoning work of Christ becomes moralistic.
3. After your own battles with substance abuse, what does Christmas mean to you now?
The answer is,
A second chance. I just want the people to understand that the message is true. Sometimes redemption has been made into a word that people don’t understand. They need to know it’s true, it’s real. It’s not a word, it’s a life-changing force. It’s transformed my life, who I was to the very core of my being. If it wasn’t for me accepting the gift that the Lord gave to me, I’d be dead today. My doctor gave me six months to live, I was ready to commit suicide — but I took Him at His Word that he’d carry the load of the mistakes I’ve made, and He has. He’s so personal, and your life totally changes, and you can accomplish what you were sent here to do.
Dear Reader, this is not the Gospel. Yet it is what is so often being preached. What is confusing is that much of this is in some sense true. The Gospel does change hearts in the power of the Spirit. BUT...the Gospel is not a "second chance". It is not getting a clean slate! If it were, we would mess it up in about .5 seconds. The Gospel is not taking a bad sinner and making him a better sinner. In Christ, I do not have a blank slate. Instead, I have Christ's slate. His life is my life. His righteousness is my righteousness. His death is my death. His burial is my burial. His resurrection is my resurrection. Beck's Mormonism totally overthrows the Biblical meaning of Christ's work.

Notice this portion of his answer to question 4.
Very soon, events are going to begin to unfold that will mean you’ll need the advice of the Lord. We are all here at this time for a reason, and He needs us to be in the place, ready to do the things (we) promised Him we’d do. If we’re still carrying our own baggage, we can’t fully hear Him to protect ourselves and our country.
This is also the view of God that is being preached from our pulpits. God is not a mere man or an exalted man as taught in Mormonism. He is not wringing His hands waiting for us to come to Him for advise. God is not merely our helper in life's projects, nor is He wanting to give us our best life now in the Joel Osteen sense.

Christians must beware that we may not confuse our religion and the sphere of authority the Christian lives as a Christian, and our citizenship in this world/age. We ought not to promote the Gospel in the realm of State politics. This business belongs solely to the church.

As Christians we must also understand our historic confessions. To lose the Gospel and confuse it with moralism is to follow the error of theological Liberalism.


Jon said...

I fail to see what Beck said in that interview that conflicts with my own Christian beliefs. Thanks for including the quotes so I could reach my own conclusions.

Howard Fisher said...

Howdy Jon,

First, the point of my post was not to say we could not work with Mormons as our neighbor in public. We can. My point is that we are attempting to use Beck's religious "testimony" as if that were somehow relevant to spreading the "Gospel".

Second, Mormonism is by definition not Christian. The trouble you are having is with his use of terms. If I say I believe in God just as you do, yet I do not mention that God is a marshmallow, you "fail to see" what "conflicts" with your own Christian beliefs.

God Bless