So What’s A Spiritual Fight?

I agree with one of the commenters yesterday that this discussion is going in many directions. I think that’s because this Glenn Beck-induced conversation is more complex than first meets the eye.

On one level we have Christians who want to live as God tells us to live and therefore want to be good citizens. Following behind are professing Christians (some genuine, some not) and moralists who want to see America restored to a place of external righteousness where we don’t have to worry so much about gangs and pornography, abortion and homosexuality, drunkenness and divorce, serial killers and rapists.

The problem is, we can do away with all those sins (and I would love it if we did), and still not bring a single person to Christ.

The “fix America” crowd has it backwards. First we “fix” people. Well, we don’t, Christ does. We obey Him and go about making disciples. A natural residual will be a nation more closely aligned to God’s will and His ways. How do people think America got where it was? It wasn’t by a bunch of pagans coming together and forming a government, then deciding they needed God to make it work better.

That’s where we are now. We are a post-Christian culture, run mostly by pagans. How can we expect pagans to act “Christian”? We ought not because they won’t, except those whose religion demands it of them.

Which brings us back to Glenn Beck and the third tier in this confused scenario. Some Christians are critical of a Mormon leading a restoration. (Others apparently object to Glenn Beck himself because of his brash ways—offensive to some, slanderous to others).

Some bloggers have pointed out Beck’s possible conflicted religious beliefs since he came from a Catholic background and converted to Mormonism because of his wife’s (then, girlfriend’s) strong Mormon beliefs.

One of the commenters to yesterday’s post pointed out that there are many divisions of the Mormon church, so, the thinking goes, it’s a little hard to know what Glenn Beck actually believes. Maybe he really is a Christian.

I am not his judge. God alone knows his heart. I can tell you what the Mormon church believes about Jesus and what they believed at the outset about America. From Religion in America (and I apologize in advance for the lengthy quotes):

[Joseph Smith] “retired to the woods” to seek wisdom of God. His prayer was answered by the appearance of two heavenly personages—the Father and the Son—who told him to hold himself apart from the contending denominations … he was guided by the angel Moroni to discover long-buried golden plates which told the story of the Nephites and Lamanites, descendants of a lost tribe of Israel, who had inhabited the American continent centuries before. Among them Christ had appeared after his resurrection and had established the proper church order …

Nor in view of this heritage is it surprising that when young Joseph Smith on October 30, 1830, met with five friends in Fayette, New York, to restore “the Church of Christ in these last days,” he should have chosen the typically Campellite designation of “Church of Christ” for his reincarnation of the ancient order of church life …

The whole biblical setting of the drama of salvation was transferred to an American setting. To the successive declarations of political, economic, diplomatic, and intellectual independence penned by Jefferson, Clay, Monroe, and Emerson was now added a declaration of religious independence. The Old World heritage was declared to be both obsolete and irrelevant, for the restoration of the true church was dependent upon the recovery of an independent American tradition which extended back to the time of the Babylonian Exile and had been validated by the postresurrection appearance of Christ on American shores

In the course of time more distinctive doctrines were elaborated—a plurality of gods, for example, as well as of wives—which set the Mormons further and further apart from the generality of Christians. Adaptations of masonic ritual were introduced, marriage for time and eternity was adopted, baptism for the dead was instituted, and the priesthood of Melchizedek was restored by the miraculous intervention of Peter, James, and John. (pp 190-192, emphasis mine)

These quotes are eye-opening to me. Is it any surprise that a Mormon would want to see America restored, since their foundation was predicated upon America’s importance to salvation? But does a Mormon’s “restoration” look anything like a Christian’s “restoration”? I think not.

But the real issue is what do Mormons believe about Jesus. Already it’s clear they believe a lot that isn’t in the Bible. But next time, hopefully, I’ll take a closer look at why their statements about Jesus and a Christian’s statements can sound so much the same and mean something so very different.

Published in: on September 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm  Comments (5)  
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