Last weekend Glenn Beck held his massive rally in Washington, D.C. planned and executed as a kind of patriotic/spiritual awakening dedicated to the children of fallen military heroes. I didn’t attend. I’ve only seen clips on television. From all appearances he did a magnificent job. Mr. Beck is a powerful speaker who can touch the hearts of his hearers. And he had a lot of them. Estimates are that above half a million traveled from all over the U.S. to stand with him in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
I believe in patriotism. My ancestors fought in the Revolution. I am a combat veteran who was proud to serve my country even when most people in my country weren’t proud of Vietnam veterans. So why do I have such a gnawing concern about the patriotic Mr. Beck and his activities? As I watched him speak a cold feeling came over me. Suddenly, I was struck by how very much alike he is to our President.
How in the world could that be true? The most ignorant fool can see that they are polar opposites. And indeed, in so many ways they are. But it is in their very polar opposition that their deep similarity resides. How is this so? Think with me for a moment:
1. Both men come from humble backgrounds. Both are gifted speakers with a lot of charisma. Even so, a decade in the past it would have been impossible to believe that either man would rise to such national prominence in such a short time. It can be argued that this is the nature of American media and politics. Granted, but somehow the rise of these men still feels “different.” And by “different” I don’t mean good.
2. Both men would disavow it, but it’s clear that they are zealots. They have firmly entrenched beliefs that set powerful agendas. Many have been surprised by the eagerness of President Obama to do exactly what he said he was going to do during his presidential campaign. We’re not used to leaders who believe much of anything other than increasing their own power bases. What we’re used to are lawyers - hired guns whose main concern is finding defensible positions and lining their pockets with gold.
Though President Obama is an attorney, he doesn’t act like one. Or maybe it’s just that he is his own client. As a zealot he has decided exactly what he wants to accomplish and doesn’t care what others think or desire - even people in his own party. Of course, he would like a second term. He would like cooperation from all parties. I’m sure that he would like to be liked. But for none of that is he willing to sacrifice his beliefs and agenda. That’s something new for America. What we’re used to in our leaders is charming intelligent political whoredom. We haven’t seen Mr. Beck in governmental leadership, but I have a feeling that if he were in elected office he would perform in exactly the same way.
Though they would vigorously deny it, it’s clear that both men sense an almost messianic calling about their lives and work. Guided by that vision they are committed to the transformation of American society. The lengths to which the President is willing to go to accomplish his vision are becoming clearer with each passing day. Certainly, if Mr. Beck were in the Oval Office he would be equally committed to carrying out his mission.
3. Both men follow aberrant theologies that they claim are Christian. Both know the language of popular religion and use it to their advantage whenever possible. I’ve written about Mr. Beck’s strange Mormon beliefs, though to hear him talk you would think he was an evangelical Christian. He isn’t. He is a member of an enslaving cult that has misled millions. Is that an overstatement? Study the history of Mormonism. Study its theology. If you are a believer in historic Christianity, ask yourself where that aberrant theology came from. Talk to those who have escaped the chains of Mormonism and have spent their lives trying to help others get free.
That said, in my opinion, the President’s religious beliefs are just as aberrant. It seems clear from his church background, values and career choices that he holds to a form of Liberation Theology which is nothing more than Marxist socialism beneath a thin Christianized veneer. It transforms Jesus Christ into nothing more than a social revolutionary. It is a pseudo-religious collectivist philosophical system devoid of any interest in the salvation of the individual through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The breeding ground for Liberation Theology was in the Roman Catholic priesthood in Central and South America. As a philosophy it has proven very effective in creating social revolutionaries, while destroying the spiritual effectiveness of the Church.
This is why the President can avow that he is a devout Christian who prays every day, yet never has the slightest interest in attending church. He can speak about individual salvation only through collectivist rhetoric. The truth is that he has little interest in any form of historic Christianity. Like Mormonism, Liberation Theology presents a different Jesus than the one found in the Bible. While it does not fall under the classic description of a cult, in my opinion its aberrational theology and the passionate willingness of its adherents to lead people away from the historic Faith places it in that category.
4. Both men are polarizing figures with millions of followers and powerful voices in the media. However, neither represents a majority in the United States. But that isn’t what is important. The two poles have quite enough force between them to blow the country apart.
Now I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I am not a member of the Tea Party. I am not a Libertarian. I insist on being a Christian which, in my opinion, means analyzing every single philosophy and issue on its merits, standing in favor of some and opposing others. I am deeply concerned about the destructive actions of the President and his Party. Unfortunately, he has taken the philosophical lead of a string of Presidents and Congresses that have gone before him. This includes not only suicidal economic policies, but maintaining a war that should never have been fought and that we cannot win. As far as economic decisions are concerned, I believe that he is by far the worst President in history. All of the disastrous legislative extravagance of the past he has made his own. But that hasn’t been enough. He has added to it a monumental profligacy that, if not reversed, will prove the ruin of freedom. And through all of it he claims that he is saving the country. Forgive me for being cynical, but for my taste we haven’t had a good President since Abraham Lincoln.
I know those are strong words. Against their backdrop let me say that I fear the destructive influence of Mr. Glenn Beck even more. The President follows an aberrational theology, but at least to this point he hasn’t tried to be the country’s evangelist/pastor. Mr. Obama’s destructive actions are very clear. Mr. Beck’s are much more subtle, but because they are targeted directly at the Christian Church and Christian people they are even more dangerous.
Over the past decades much has been done to destroy the Church from within. For many reasons, especially the leaders we have chosen who do not confront us about our sins, Christians have lost their moral authority. But that can be regained. However, it will not come because a charismatic leader arises who touts a vague spiritual/patriotic message about “coming back to God.” But that’s as far as Mr. Beck can go because he is desperately concerned to be “inclusive.” The reason he wants to be inclusive is not simply because of a desire for national unity. He knows that if he really deals with the Biblical definition of sin and salvation that is the core of historic Christianity, if he really accepts Jesus Christ for who the Bible says He is as apart from the aberrational theology of his prophet Joseph Smith, everyone in his cult would have to repent and turn away from Mormonism. So scrap the idea of hearing anything about Biblical repentance from Mr. Beck. He may use terms that sound Christian, but Mormonism is based on salvation by works to get to Heaven. St. Paul wrote clearly about such false “gospels” in the New Testament Letter to the Galatians.
So what is at the heart of Mr. Beck’s message? He is calling Christians to join all “people of faith” in the worship of a Vague God acceptable to every “believer” of every stripe. This is nothing less than the call to a new syncretism in the name of national unity and restoration. What is syncretism in this context? The marriage of Christianity with various systems of unbiblical belief. It has plagued the Church almost from the very beginning.
Should Christians work together with others for the good of their country? Absolutely. Should they share friendship and love with people who do not agree with them? Again, absolutely. Should they dialog with others about faith and politics? Of course and with good will. What they shouldn’t do is worship with them and worship is what was happening on the National Mall. The very nature of that kind of worship is worship of a false god.
We are seeing the continued blending of heretical theologies with historic Christianity and through ignorance and fear we are accepting it. We do so because the enemy of my enemy is my friend and because we worship celebrity. We are so weak-willed, blind and faithless that we are willing to let someone who does not agree with our faith subtly misrepresent our faith in the public square. And no one confronts him. The end does not justify the means. We are going to pay the price for this. I truly believe that because of the unfaithfulness of the Christian Church, the whole country is going to suffer far more than we have ever imagined.
In the months and years ahead we are going to hear about faith and love and unity and the Fatherhood of God and church and morality and patriotism and on and on ad nauseum. As you listen to the emotional messages and sing the hymns, watch what all of it will bring.