Some of you clicked on the link and are freaking out for two reasons. 1) I said God was not the answer and/or 2) I mentioned, in a negative fashion, Glenn Beck. Stick with me and I think most of you who may be upset about those two things will agree.
This past weekend, tens of thousands of Americans gathered in Washington D.C. for what many have described as a religious service. Glenn Beck brought Muslim, Jewish and Christian clergy on stage with him and said, “These men and women don’t agree on fundamentals. They don’t agree on everything that every church teaches. What they do agree on is God is the answer.”
Beck is absolutely wrong in that claim. Here’s why.
|Photo from CNN.com|
Ask the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Mormon (Glenn Beck himself) on stage to define “God.” If any of them are orthodox and hold to the historic teachings of their religions, they are going to vastly disagree on the concept of God. Mainly, significantly enough, on the person of Jesus.
What Beck and others like President Obama during his campaign appeal to is a civil religion concept of God. It is God, simply as Creator and Sustainer. Now, obviously, God is that, but is that all that He is? The idea of civil religion allows the Christian, Muslim and Jew to join hands together and speak of “healing” and “faith.” However, those terms become meaningless because they mean something vastly different for each of those adherents.
This is not a point that only Christians can and should be making. A devout Muslim will agree with me that while he and I both recognize our God as Creator, our idea of God are not the same thing.
What frightens me is that it may be the case that the Muslim recognizes this more readily than the Christian does. In the headline of their story on the rally, CNN said that Beck was positioning himself as a Christian leader. Thousands of Christians in attendance and millions of supporters at home would probably agree with that, ignoring the fact that Beck is not a Christian, as Latter Day Saints (Mormons) teach a vastly different Gospel from that of historic, orthodox Christianity. We have a huge problem when millions of believers will refer to a non-believer as a “Christian leader.”
That is not to malign Glenn Beck specifically. I may agree with him on many things politically, but that does not make him a Christian, or my leader and especially not my Christian leader.
Dr. Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote a post I wish I had written: God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck. If you haven’t read it, please go read it now. He says, in part:
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.
Moore boils it down to an absence or an exchange of the Gospel. Christians are too eager to move away from the Gospel to something else, anything else. “[Satan] 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.”
No Glenn Beck, God is not the answer. God is a vague concept which is filled with varying ideas by virtually everyone who uses or hears the term. Do I have to re-mention the poll that found 21% of atheists believe in God? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. It is the only answer. I believe someone a longtime ago once said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” A popular political rally wrapped in an American flag and Christian-lite language is most definitely not the way, if you had the same destination in mind as Jesus did when he uttered those words.