Glenn Beck: A Revival Preacher To Follow?

As a conservative, both theologically and politically, I admit that I don’t care much for Glenn Beck.  It’s not that I dislike him.  I just don’t connect with him.  Is it because he is Mormon?  To be honest, that is a huge part of my problem with Beck.  However, just like with Sarah Palin, there is something that I just can’t quite put my finger on that is off-putting (at least for me) when it comes to Beck (and Palin).  Maybe it’s a personality thing.  Maybe it’s something deeper. 

I can say that I have never watched an entire episode of the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News.  I do watch O’Reilly, Hannity, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, and Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld (perhaps the funniest and most informative “news” shows on any of the major 24-hour news channels).  However, for me, very small doses of Glenn Beck seem to be just fine.  Anything longer than five minutes is pushing the limit.

Last Saturday, Beck hosted a “Restoring Honor” rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  As an alumnus of The George Washington University, I have fond memories of time spent at the Memorial and of playing intramural football in the fields off Constitution Avenue, within sight of that grand monument to freedom and liberty for all Americans.  With hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans exercising their First Amendment rights at last week’s rally, there is certainly much to cheer about.  But, with Glenn Beck as the head cheer-leader, I personally can’t get all that excited.

Beck, a convert to Mormonism, was the master of ceremonies for what Jonah Goldberg, of National Review Online, described as “Glenn Beck’s Ecumenical Moment.”  Goldberg, observing the religious flavor of the rally, wrote:

One striking feature of Saturday’s rally was how deeply religious and ecumenical it was. It seems like just yesterday that everyone was talking about how Christian evangelicals were too bigoted to vote for upright and uptight Mormon Mitt Romney. Yet Christian activists saw no problem cheering for — and praying with — the equally Mormon but far less uptight Beck, who asked citizens to go to “your churches, synagogues, and mosques!”

I think Christian activists, particularly of the Southern Baptist variety, should exercise more discernment when “partnering” with Beck, especially when it comes to his conflation of religion and politics.  That Richard Land, the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention since 1988, could say this about Beck is astounding:

This guy’s on secular radio and television,” Land said Saturday, “but his shows sound like you’re listening to the Trinity Broadcasting Network, only it’s more orthodox and there’s no appeal for money … and today he sounded like Billy Graham. (read full article here)

First, to say that Beck’s programs are like the less “orthodox” Trinity Broadcasting Network shouldn’t be seen as a compliment.  Secondly, regardless of the context, for Richard Land to compare Glenn Beck with the Rev. Billy Graham, in any sense, illustrates the mainstreaming of Mormonism into Evangelical Christianity, but also shows how far Christian leaders are willing to go to enter into political/religious alliances with those of different faiths. 

In the title to a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, reporter Adelle M. Banks asks, “Glenn Beck leads, but will evangelicals follow?”  Apparently yes, according to Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, who said:

Glenn Beck’s Mormon faith is irrelevant,” Falwell said. “People of all faiths, all races and all creeds spoke and attended the event. Nobody was there to endorse anyone else’s faith, but we were all there to honor our armed forces and to call the people of America to restore honor.

I beg to differ.  For an evangelical Christian (and Baptist) like Falwell, Jr. to say that Beck’s unorthodox faith is “irrelevant” is to so blur the line between the Gospel and politics that the two become interchangeable.  And, Falwell, Jr.’s throwaway defense — that no one was there to endorse anyone’s specific faith, but just showed up on the National Mall to “honor our armed forces,” — is disingenuous at best.  How else to explain Fallwell, Jr.’s and Land’s enlistment in Beck’s “Black Robe Regiment?” 

As Evangelical Christians and Southern Baptists, how do we apply Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

Does this only apply to marriage?  Or just to business partnerships?  Is there a special “political allies” exception to this portion of God-breathed Scripture?  Perhaps Drs. Land and Falwell and other evangelicals should take off the black robe of Beck’s regiment and replace it with the Gospel armor of Jesus Christ.  The two are not one and the same.  Glenn Beck is a masterful communicator.  He has attracted a large following by appealing to both the hopes and fears of grass-roots citizens.  Only in America.  Will evangelicals follow the revival that Beck is leading?  Some will.  But for this conservative Southern Baptist, I most certainly will not!

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
This entry was posted in Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedoms, Southern Baptist Convention, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Glenn Beck: A Revival Preacher To Follow?

  1. Marty says:

    As a conservative, both theologically and politically, I admit that I don’t care much for Glenn Beck.  It’s not that I dislike him.  I just don’t connect with him.  Is it because he is Mormon?  To be honest, that is a huge part of my problem with Beck.  However, just like with Sarah Palin, there is something that I just can’t quite put my finger on that is off-putting (at least for me) when it comes to Beck (and Palin).  Maybe it’s a personality thing.  Maybe it’s something deeper. 

    So, Howell, are you saying you wouldn’t vote for a guy simply because he’s a Mormon? I’m not asking to scorn or scoff.

    I have listened to Glenn Beck for years. Probably since 2002. I have found his insights to be as true to what I believe about the US and its heritage. Since taking on the television show, I have seen him change. That is for certain. I would highly encourage you to watch his show. One show is not indicative of his capabilities. The manner in which he explains the debacle that is the Obama Administration (or the Bush Admin, for that matter) is astute, accurate, and highly informative. And explained in language the common man can understand. No one else on TV is doing this.

    I think, based on your professed litany of watched shows on Fox, we have a differing view on what constitutes genuineness. See, I find O’Reilly to be an arrogant, moderate jerk and Hannity overtly repetitive and finds his little cliches and keeps repeating them over and over again. Now, Greta, she’s terrific and I have no beef with her. Haven’t seen the Red Eye show.

    Last Saturday, Beck hosted a “Restoring Honor” rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  As an alumnus of The George Washington University, I have fond memories of time spent at the Memorial and of playing intramural football in the fields off Constitution Avenue, within sight of that grand monument to freedom and liberty for all Americans.  With hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans exercising their First Amendment rights at last week’s rally, there is certainly much to cheer about.  But, with Glenn Beck as the head cheer-leader, I personally can’t get all that excited.

    I have to say I’m a little shocked to hear a conservative lawyer upset about a person of one faith encouraging others to partake in their faiths. I read the transcript of his speech as well as J. Goldberg’s article. I did not get the feeling he was pushing Mormonism on anyone. The fact he has a national platform and uses it to encourage people to exercise their right to religious freedom does not offend me in the least. Would I prefer he were Christian and spoke about the Jesus Christ of the Bible? Of course! But encouraging people to be peaceful, to pray for their leaders (even the President), to be involved in their local governments, and to act responsibly is hardly what I would call evangelizing /proselytizing.

    I think Christian activists, particularly of the Southern Baptist variety, should exercise more discernment when “partnering” with Beck, especially when it comes to his conflation of religion and politics.

    Now this I can get behind. While it’s true that Mormons and Christians share a great amount of the same values, I think it’s extremely important that the world views between them be stated and recognized. As Christians, we are not citizens of this world. Pushing for worldly goals should not be OUR goal.

    First, to say that Beck’s programs are like the less ”orthodox” Trinity Broadcasting Network shouldn’t be seen as a compliment. 

    Agreed.

    Secondly, regardless of the context, for Richard Land to compare Glenn Beck with the Rev. Billy Graham, in any sense, illustrates the mainstreaming of Mormonism into Evangelical Christianity, but also shows how far Christian leaders are willing to go to enter into political/religious alliances with those of different faiths.

    I don’t know if this necessarily constitutes a “welcoming into the fold,” but when it comes to who I want in office, I’ll take a Mitt Romney over a John McCain any day. At least I know Romney’s work record is something I agree with. And I know his stances on the moral issues like abortion, euthanasia, financial responsibility, fetal stem cell research, and the like. I think we can count on him to not wish-wash “across the aisle” like McCain (a trait I was NOT fond of). When it comes to the President, I want a man in there who will do the will of the people, regardless of his religious background. Remember, we had the proverbial wool pulled over our eyes by Bush, Jr. The man professed to be a Christian and we come to find out after he leaves office that the man is Universalist Unitarian. That’s about as liberal a “Christian” faith as you can get. His fiscal record reflects that.

    I’m not a Falwell fan, or a fan of the BRR, either. 

    As Evangelical Christians and Southern Baptists, how do we apply Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
    Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
    Does this only apply to marriage?  Or just to business partnerships?  Is there a special “political allies” exception to this portion of God-breathed Scripture?  Perhaps Drs. Land and Falwell and other evangelicals should take off the black robe of Beck’s regiment and replace it with the Gospel armor of Jesus Christ.  The two are not one and the same.  Glenn Beck is a masterful communicator.  He has attracted a large following by appealing to both the hopes and fears of grass-roots citizens.  Only in America.  Will evangelicals follow the revival that Beck is leading?  Some will.  But for this conservative Southern Baptist, I most certainly will not!

    While I disagree with the BRR on one solid point, and on a couple of less-solid, I cannot disagree with the points Beck makes about the direction of the country. I believe Beck is sincere in his desire to see the country go back to its roots and return our government to the people in the republican state it was initially formed.
    I know we probably could come to a consensus face-to-face, Howell, and we probably agree more than it appears in this matter. However, while I am staunchly against Mormonism, I am NOT against Mormons. We have to be able to reach out to these people. If they think we don’t care about them as people, we will never earn the right to preach the true Gospel to them and expect them to listen. While 2 Corinthians 6 does warn us about partnering with unbelievers, that does not mean we cannot advocate the same things they do. One thing we should keep in mind as well. Much of the world sees Mormonism as a Christian faith. We do not want to put the face of “infighting” in national view, when what we disagree on with them is not political.
    I welcome your thoughts.
    Your friend, in Christ,
    Marty

    • Howell Scott says:

      Marty,

      Thanks for reading and for the thoughtful comment. I’ll try to respond to all your questions, but if I forget one, it is unintentional. First, all things being equal (which they rarely are), I would not vote for a Mormon, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness candidate over a “Christian” candidate. I did not and probably will not vote for Mitt Romney in a primary. However, if he were the Republican nominee in 2012, I would vote for him, but I would not do it enthusasitically.

      It’s not that I dislike Beck, but I personally do not connect with him like I do O’Reilly (to each his own). Hannity without Colmes is not as good, IMO. To be clear, I was not saying that the Restoring Honor Rally was a bad thing. In fact, I said there was much to cheer about. I just can’t get excited with Glenn Beck as the head cheer-leader. My bigger concern is the conflation of religion and politics, especially by those who are Christian and Southern Baptist. I don’t expect Beck to be theologically sound (and as a Mormon, he is not), but I do expect Richard Land to not blur the lines between the Biblical Gospel and the Political gospel.

      Are there issues in our culture where conservative Christians can work with others outside of an “orthodox” faith? Yes. What concerns me is a tendancy to rely upon the power of the state (or even “the people”) to usher in a revival (i.e., “restore honor”) in America instead of relying upon the Gospel and the inner transformation that comes from a changed heart. Whether it is the “hope and change” crowd banking on Obama or a different crowd following Beck, we just need to make sure that we are not substituting something inferior for that which is ultimately superior — the Gospel of Christ.

      Hopefully that gives you some clarity. I do think we are probably closer in our outlook, but perhaps will differ on our personal opinions of Beck. Let me know if you have any follow-up questions. Take care and have a great day. God bless,

      Howell

  2. Milton Robins says:

    Very incisive article, Pastor Scott. It is truly troubling to me that many believers venerate Mr. Beck. He uses language in horribly irresponsible ways. Recently, I read an article that questioned the wisdom of taking financial advice from Glenn Beck. If you haven’t read it already, this may interest you: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/the-glenn-beck-school-of-investing.aspx

    But to your wider point, this ecumenical movement certainly calls for greater Christian discernment that is rooted in a biblical worldview and ethics.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Milton,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I don’t expect Glenn Beck to know any better — theology wise — but I would hope that there is more discernment from some of our Southern Baptist “leaders.” When do we cross the line from friendly cooperation to partnership? I think with Beck and other Mormons (or any other non-orthodox “Christian” group) that we need to be careful. Thanks for the link. I will read it and let you know what I think. Have a good weekend and God bless,

      Howell

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