Addressing Personal – Collective Faith (Particularly in Regards to Glenn Beck.)
By David Barton
I have watched the debate about Glenn Beck’s faith in Christian newsletters, blogs, email blasts and on the WB Fan Page (and I sincerely thank the 20,000+ of you that visit this page each week!). Among the hundreds of comments, most have been expressed with mercy, kindness, and civility, but many others have been rude and flat out mean. Among the latter comments, some have been levied against me, some against Glenn Beck, and some against those who merely posted their personal view.
It has always been interesting to me throughout my political and religious life that many Christians seem more intent on whacking allies than enemies. Years ago I helped lead tens of thousands of Christians into civic involvement for their first time, and I then remained engaged with them in the political arena. An axiom I developed during that time was: “I don’t need enemies; I have friends!” I also learned that in public Christian life you should wear a bullet-proof vest, but that it should be turned to the back to protect from the friendly fire!
It is ironic that on this Fan Page devoted to restoring America’s moral, religious, and constitutional heritage that there have been more bad things said about Glenn Beck than about Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the New York Times, or any of the others with a proven track record of attacking traditional Biblical faith, values, and constitutional principles. Evidently, we don’t have enough opposition from the Secular Left, so we need to bite and devour each other instead (Galatians 5:15)!
In the past few days, many Christian leaders, experts, and theologians have told me that because of my association with Glenn Beck I am really not a Christian but that instead I have renounced the faith and made a compact with Satan and that I am bound for Hell as an apostate. Some Christians were even kind enough to inform me that I was no true American but that I was really a Communist committed to undermining America and the Christian faith. I must confess that these pronouncements really goofed up my theology. In my reading of the Scriptures, I always thought it was God who would be in charge of the Great Judgment, and that He would be the One to read through the Lamb’s Book of Life and the Book of Works and determine who would be sent to Heaven and who to Hell (Revelation 20:11-15). Now I find that apparently God has walked away from that role and left somebody else in charge of it!
I want to offer my personal perspective on the ongoing debate about Glenn, but before I proceed further, let me be very clear: the way to salvation and everlasting life is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (C.f., John 14:6, John 17:3, Acts 4:12, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9-10, Romans 10:13, Ephesians 2:8-9, and many others.) This has been an orthodox Christian tenet since Jesus delivered it, His Apostles affirmed it, and God’s Holy Spirit enshrined it in the inspired, inerrant, infallible Holy Scriptures.
Having now made my belief clear, let me proceed to offer a few personal observations.
I strongly oppose group politics of any type, whether white, black, red, brown, women, gay, youth, union, or any other. It is my firm conviction that God made each of us individually and not in groups – that as individuals and not as groups we are accountable to Him – that each of us will stand before Him alone and not in our group. I similarly oppose group stereotypes, for they always fail to tell the whole story. That is, I may despise tax-collectors as a group, but I recognize that Matthew and Zacchaeus were both of that profession. In a more modern example, I can say that “Democrats are pro-abortion”; and while it is true that support for abortion is the official position taken in the Democrat party platform, and that the leaders of the Democrat party voice strong support for abortion, and that the voting record of congressional Democrats demonstrates their unwavering support for abortion, I nevertheless personally know elected individual Democrats in Congress who are strongly and uncompromisingly pro-life. I therefore cannot lump all Democrats into one group, any more than I can all Republicans, politicians, bureaucrats, or any other. I must look at each one individually. This principle of individual identity is a fundamental principle that most Americans understand and embrace; it is certainly a Biblical principle.
Yet, I have watched the Christian debate surrounding Glenn Beck’s religious beliefs devolve not to a consideration of him individually but rather to label him with a group identity. That is, folks repeatedly say, “Since Mormons believe XYZ, then Beck therefore also believes XYZ.” That’s as ill-informed as to say that since redheads are universally known to have a temper, then if you are an individual redhead, you have a personal problem with anger. Absurd! Such a statement rejects the principle of individual identity and replaces it with group identity, which is not Biblical.
I love the way that God regularly surprised His followers by choosing to use individuals from the wrong groups, such as Cornelius in Acts 10, the Samaritan in Luke 10, the Syro-Phoenician woman of Canaan in Matthew 15, and many others. God was continually smashing group labels by choosing individuals from within those “wrong” groups. In fact, even His own Son came from Nazareth – and as everybody in that day already knew, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Clearly, the individual should be the basis of consideration in discussions, not the group.
This applies not only to those from the wrong group but also those from the right group. For example, identify any group you believe to be the most theologically sound and Biblically correct in the world and there will be individuals within that group who don’t meet the measurement, no matter how theologically sound the group may appear on paper.
Therefore, try having the debate about Glenn without using the word “Mormon.” In my opinion, if the group label were ignored, the debate would take on a significantly different tone, for it would then focus on the beliefs of the specific individual rather than on the beliefs of the group. The question would then become, “Does Glenn Beck have a personal relationship with Jesus?” (If this criteria were used, probably 90% of the Glenn Beck comments on the Fan Page and elsewhere throughout the Christian community would be eliminated.) Significantly, Glenn has already answered this specific question and has a very clear personal testimony; in fact, he answered that important question years ago, but apparently no one is listening today. Evidently, the group label means more than any declaration he has made about his personal belief in Jesus.
I have been amazed by those who say, “I know that Glenn talks about redemption, atonement, and salvation through Jesus on his programs, and I know that what he says sounds really Christian, but because he is a Mormon, what he says it not what he really means, but I can interpret the complex secret hidden meaning behind those very simple Christian words he spoke!” Isn’t that perhaps just a bit arrogant? And is that really the type of sowing and reaping in which a Christian wants to engage (Galatians 6:7)? Do any of us really want someone else to begin interpreting and speculating about what we really mean, even though we know the words we said were crystal clear? Most of us would be highly offended if others did this to us, yet somehow it is okay for us to do this to Glenn.
On a related note, I have also found it interesting that most of the Christian critics of the 8/27 “Divine Destiny” event and the 8/28 “Restoring Honor” event – those currently claiming that the two events were the fulfillment of the 200 year long dream of Mormons bringing Christians to Mormonism – did not actually see either event. In this regard, they are worse than the secular media.
I was at both events and had the extreme honor of helping to arrange and execute many elements of the program; I even helped emcee part of an event. Secular media coverage of the event reported that both Dick Armey and Michelle Bachmann spoke, but in reality neither did – in fact, neither was even invited to speak! And although over 500,000 attended the event, CBS “hired” an “expert” who did not attend the event but who proclaimed that there were only 87,000 attendees. CNN called the event a “super bowl of right wing nuts!” even though it was an event highlighting the military and Medal of Honor winners and honoring those who bore the scar of previous American wars. The media had prejudged the event and had written their news reports in advance, just waiting for the event to end so they could file their prewritten stories. As a result, they got virtually every fact wrong.
This is the same case with many Christian critics of the events; they weren’t at the events; they didn’t watch the events on TV; and they have been wrong on even the most basic facts; nevertheless, somehow they are experts on what went on at the events. It reminds me of the commercials where a guy is dressed as a doctor in an operating room standing over a patient with a scalpel in hand and then says, “No, I’m not a brain surgeon – but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!” What type of qualification is that? The same is true with many of the Christian critics of the events – they “speak evil of things they know not” (Jude 10).
In reality, the core question about Glenn Beck (or for any of us) should be this: what is our personal relationship with God? Concerning Glenn Beck, if you don’t know the answer to that simple question by your own personal knowledge, then don’t speculate to others about the answer. (As I noted earlier, Glenn has a clear personal testimony of how and when he came to Christ, and even secular Wikipedia alludes to it; but most Christian critics are determined to ignore his own personal testimony, preferring instead to attach a label to him and then judge him by that label.)
From a wider view, let me pose some questions that I believe should be foundational for any Christian to consider: 1. Is God using Glenn Beck? 2. If so, why would God do that? 3. If God has sovereignly raised up Glenn, why are so many of God’s people determined to knock him down?
I am sure that my position on this will only cause more debate, and many will vehemently disagree with me and attempt to prove me wrong through a litany of Scriptures. I understand. Paul and Barnabas had serious disagreements (Acts 15:39) and even the Apostles Paul and Peter did not always see eye to eye (Galatians 2:11-14). For my part, I will continue to endeavor to rightly divide the Word of truth as God gives me the light to do so (2 Timothy 2:15), and I will try to discern not only which doors God has opened (Revelations 3:7-8; 1 Corinthians 16:9A) but also who He is using, for I want to come alongside and offer any help I can to those whom God is using. My desire is to see a religious, moral, and constitutional restoration of America and a return to the God of our Fathers and His Word on whom the Founders so heavily relied.
I rarely get involved in the WallBuilders Fan Page, trying to leave it open as a place for discussion, information, comments, etc. But as I have watched this debate develop over recent days, the tone and the polarity has become such that I felt like it was time to end this and move on.
With this, I am closing the Fan Page to further theological discussions about Glenn Beck. If you believe it is your calling to denounce Glenn Beck and point out what you believe to be my heresy, there are plenty of venues left open for that purpose outside of this Fan Page. We want to keep the Fan Page as positive as possible, for at WallBuilders, we believe that a major part of our calling is to be like Caleb and Joshua – to be upbeat and optimistic and to point out that no matter how big the giants in the land are, with God’s help we can still kick their tail!
For my own part, I believe that God has raised up Glenn Beck and is using him. I believe that Glenn is helping America relearn its history and its Founders. I believe that Glenn is a voice in the wilderness of the secular media calling the country back to God. I believe that Glenn takes huge professional risks by continuing to put me and so many other Evangelical Christian ministers up front, giving us an unbridled platform from which to proclaim truth. I believe that Glenn is doing exactly what God’s light should do – unearth and bring to light the hidden things of darkness (1 Corinthians 4:5) that are attempting to destroy our culture, our faith, and our country. Glenn Beck is a friend. I stand by him. The Fan Page is now closed to any further theological discussions about Glenn Beck.
Let me close by expressing how grateful we are for the support and prayers that so many of you tirelessly offer on behalf of WallBuilders and our country. We appreciate your love for God and America and want to assist in any way we can to help provide you the information and materials you need to equip this and the future generation to recover our religious, moral, and constitutional foundations. And as Tiny Tim said in Charles Dicken’s The Christmas Carol, “May God bless us, everyone!”