Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Glen Beck and the Separation of God from Country

First of all, I want to say I that admired Glen Beck's boldness and initiative in organizing the Rally at the Mall in Washington, D.C. last week. 300,000 looked to me to be about right in terms of how many attended. Obviously, he has a finger on the pulse of the Patriotic Soul of many Americans. His instinct is sure. And right now, the "God and Country" theme is what's up. Restoration and Recovery. Ordinary Americans are sensing the slipping away of the symbols and substance of America. The elites just don't get this. They never do.

However, what made this rally so interesting to me was that it was as much about getting right with God as it was a finger-wag at the Three Branches of Government. Sure, Obama angers many. But he's a Socialist neophyte who's been found out. And as far as We The People are concerned, like The Who sang, "We Won't Get Fooled Again". And the Courts are out of control, too, imposing loftily and ideologically from the bench. How in the world does a Constitutionally vested Federal judge invalidate Natural Law? He did in California. The U.S. Congress may be too far gone. As corrupt as the Roman Senate under the Gracchii, these "leaders" are contempible - spending the People's money wildly, not reading the bills they pass, and passing laws that do not apply to themselves. Unwilling to stand firm for anything, they've become as toothless and obeisant as the National Convention under the Ancien Regime.

But the people by and large also sense that pointing fingers can be awfully hypocritical. The moral lessons of the Good Book, the Bible, particularly from the New Testament, shout at us to get our own houses in order. If the country is to be saved and reclaimed, as Mr. Beck suggests, salvation must come from the People, not from Government. Populism does have a moral center - and it's certainly not in Washington.

And therein lies my discontent. Where, precisely, is America's moral center? Presumably it can be found in the faithful and believing Christian core of America. Among those diehards that hold to the truth of the Word of God and who happen to believe that America has a divine calling in the world. Mr. Glen Beck, on the other hand, is a Mormon. He is a believing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who collectively, - despite their clever nomenclature - are just not Christians in any historic or theological sense. But more on that later. What needs to be said is that we are all servants of those whom we obey and heed. Thus, to the extent that we hear and heed Glen Beck, we serve Glen Beck and his interests - and we serve the deity that Glen Beck serves. But has it come to this? - the view that Faith is a relative exercise? The Vox Populi is a Mormon one?

Now, about Mormonism itself. There are websites galore that reveal what they believe, how, and why. No need for a critique of Joseph Smith or of Mormonism tout court here and now. Suffice it to say that their confessions of faith, their creeds, their sacred scriptures, and their history, simply have no relationship to the Jesus of Nazareth of the New Testament. The founder of the faith, Joseph Smith, was as enigmatic a character as had ever been seen in revival-soaked America in the early 1800s. Beginning just with the issue of polygamy, most Protestants, Orthodox, and Catholics would have a very hard time with Mormon teachings on God, the Trinity, the eternality of the Jesus, salvation, the Chosen People, the sacra biblica, and the many, many other issues vital to holiness and faith in historic Christianity.

Which brings us to the huddled masses who listen to Mr. Beck and came to see him and hear him speak this past weekend. My intuition tells me that not more than 10% of them were Mormons. My intuition tells me that most were probably Evangelical, Mainline, Roman Catholic, and perhaps a smidgen of Jews. What did they come forth to see? A voice crying in the wilderness? Or was it a lost voice in the wilderness?

On the one hand, Glen Beck's clever use of "God and Country" themes are the stuff of patriotism. Good and important questions were asked. Moreover, it kept his gathering relatively free from political posturing, pro and con. I mean, you can scorn the themes all you want, but being a Patriot has been expanded to mean you love God, too, and this was long before the Pledge of Allegiance was edited in the 1950s to "include" Him. But on the other hand, and quite uncomfortably for me, Glen Beck's rally raised the specter of "Which God?"

I really mean this. Are the Mormoms, now, to be counted among those who may sing the hymn "God of our Fathers" truthfully and with the resonance of a faithful kinship? Can, or rather should, a Mormon now lead the Christians to salvation, repentance, and restored government? Are Mormons now Christians? is a better question. If so, what then do we say of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - and the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Shall a disciple of Joseph Smith - of all people - now lead us? (The implications for evangelical support for a Mitt Romney presidency hangs on this question, I believe.)

Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice. They will not follow the voice of a stranger." Given these crisp and insightful words, coupled with what I saw this weekend, I am certain I can no longer trust the discernment of We The People, nor their wisdom, for it seems they have gone the way of Baal. In listening heartily to the voice of "another", I fear that We The People are quietly being sifted as wheat.


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