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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5 Comments

  1. Just thinking about this actually O_o

    Great post!

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  2. Great post . . . actually a great two posts.

    I think that the reason these topics raise so much controversy is because of the confusion of this age in which we live. Our society has blanketed everything with a Gray moral code. Without taking stands on issues, they straddle the fence. Our current president is just at the top of a totempole of political leaders who moderate in order to appease/appeal to the majority.

    Perhaps that is why Glenn Beck and others are so refreshing.

    Remember how, in Scripture, God said he would rather the nation of Israel be cold or hot, instead of lukewarm? That is how I feel. I’d rather know my enemies and my friends than raise my children in a culture that embraces the current commonality of moderates (fence-straddlers).
    I totally agree with you, however, that first the battle must be waged in the hearts and minds of the people. But isn’t that part of the problem? Liberal politics is feeding liberality to society which in turn is corrupting our minds, even if it be a bit at a time. We must stand up against the liberal politics, call for change, and know that such change can open the doors to reversing the damage done by public schools teaching Godless curriculum. Anyway, I’m rambling…

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  3. Sam, Scott, thanks for your encouraging feedback. I appreciate you taking the time.

    Scott, I’ve been thinking about what may be the largest influence on our culture in the last generation. At first I thought “liberal education,” and I think that plays a part, but I think the other thing is liberal entertainment.

    Seriously, when did we start accepting the gay lifestyle as normal? Wasn’t it shortly after we started seeing gays depicted on TV?

    But there is also liberal politics. I don’t remember seeing any depiction of abortion on TV. That was achieved by a judicial coup, followed by supportive education to normalize the practice.

    In other words, wherever sinful man goes, sinful practices follow.

    We Christians must be alert. We must point our lost and dying neighbors to the Christ who paid for their sins with His life.

    Becky

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  4. There are good leaders with mormon backgrounds and we vote them down because of their mormonism. When we vote for the other person, the one we don’t want invariably wins because the mormon runner was more well known than the athiest or agnostic other leader or professing Christian other leader.

    I don’t agree with Glenn Beck’s mormonism, but I do agree with everything else he has stood for. I have mixed feelings about the Restoring Honor. I like it and I don’t like how Mormons feel that this is saying Mormons are Christians, too. They are not.

    However, Glenn is a new Christian. Newbies don’t always know what they are getting into and the ones who are steeped in the tradition of Mormonism don’t really know all their church believes in, because if they did, they would run, or they can’t run becaue their family has a strong influence over them. I know about the latter. I was a Christian in a strongly mormon family now estranged.

    I think God uses people like Glenn Beck. I also think there must be people talking to him. How can a cult member be saved if we all run the other way and ostrisize them from society? Jesus reached tax collectors and liars. We can reach cult members with time and patience being careful to be the influencer and not the influenced.

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  5. How can a cult member be saved if we all run the other way and ostrisize them from society? Great point, Nikole.

    My hope is that Christians stay on the alert. It’s easy to be fooled by the attractive externals of clean, conservative living into believing Mormons are just another denomination.

    Becky

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