Monday, June 27, 2011

Close but no cigar (against the Word of Wisdom ya know!)

With not one but two mormons running to be the GOP nominee for President, there is increasing interest in mormonism, a topic many people have an opinion on but few know much about. CNN posted an article purporting to be "10 facts about mormonism" in an article titled: Explain it to me: Mormonism . Several of them are pretty straightforward (what is the official name?) but some are quite a bit off the mark. Here are the items in question with comments...

2. Mormons consider themselves Christian but their beliefs and practices differ from traditional Christianity in key ways, including belief in sacred texts outside the Bible and practices like posthumous proxy baptism and wearing special undergarments.

Those things are true but that is not the big issue. The big issues have to do with heretical views of God, of man, of salvation, of the church, of...well pretty much everything of any importance. Mormons are not Christians with magic underwear and some weird practices, it is a completely pagan religion from top to bottom. The PR machinery of the mormon church is desperate to blur the distinctions today. I am a bit nostalgic for the days of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith where at least they were open and honest about their heresy.

3. There are about 14 million Mormons today, which more than half living outside the United States.

To clarify, there are perhaps 14 million names on the membership rolls of the mormon church but in terms of actual adherents the number is much smaller, perhaps half of that figure. No one outside of Salt Lake knows thanks to the cultic secrecy that pervades the hierarchy of mormonism. Got keep the sheep ignorant so they don't start asking questions. Hopefully as the light shines on mormonism more brightly, we will get more in-depth examinations of mormonism that go beyond ten snippets about a very complex cult.

5. The Church of Latter-day Saints has outlawed polygamy since 1890.

Sort of. The mormon church has outlawed the practice of polygamy but the doctrine of the "new and everlasting covenant" is very much still in force. It has to be, otherwise it might raise questions of just how prophetic the early prophets really were.

While in some ways I think a mormon President would help normalize mormonism and be a huge boost to the mormon church itself, I also think that in increase in scrutiny might expose more people to the quirks, oddities and outright heresies of mormonism. I am not a huge Romney fan, nor a fan of Huntsman, so I am hoping neither of them wins!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is Glenn Beck my brother?

(Reposted from my main blog)

I got into a “discussion” with someone regarding Glenn Beck and the individual in question threw down the “don’t judge” and referenced the “remove the beam/plank in your own eye first” passages in Matthew and Luke. So that raised an interesting question for me. Is Glenn Beck my brother? If he is not, what is he?

I have made no secret of my concerns about Glenn Beck. Not because of his politics because frankly I don’t know that he believes anything he says. My concern as I have stated often is that Beck attempts to integrate himself into the church by downplaying the very dramatic issues with mormonism and playing up patriotism, nationalism, moralism and economic conservatism. To listen to Beck you would think mormonism was just a slightly variation on orthodox Christianity when it in fact is a completely pagan religion more akin to Norse mythology than Christianity. I don’t know if Beck is covering up his differences because he is trying to infiltrate the church or if it is purely driven by money. Some combination of the two is likely. Regardless, many otherwise well-meaning church going American conservatives find more kinship with a politically conservative unbelieving wolf than they do with a politically liberal fellow born-again follower of Jesus Christ. That is a serious issue.

Back to my question. First, what did Jesus actually say in the “remove the plank from your own eye” account. Here it is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
Something that I believe gets missed all the time here is that Christ is speaking here of seeing a speck in your brothers eye. Three times in these verses He references “brother”. Now I may be missing the nuance but it seems that Jesus is speaking somewhat narrowly here. Likewise the point here is not “never judge” because Jesus also talks about removing the log from your own eye so that you can see your brother’s eye clearly. So when we apply this to how we are to live our lives, these events are applicable to the relationship between fellow believers.

That brings us to the second question. Is someone like Glenn Beck my brother? What did Jesus say…

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”(Luke 8:19-21)
So who does Jesus say are our brothers and sisters? Those who hear and do the word of God. Likewise we read that those who are regenerate are adopted into the family of God. My brothers and sisters are not those who I agree with politically, they are those God has elected, regenerated and adopted into His family.

One more Scripture. Paul doesn’t seem really interested in judging those outside of the church:

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)
Since people like Beck are unbelievers, shouldn’t we ignore them and concentrate on getting our own house in order? We certainly have plenty of need to get our house in order but that doesn’t preclude any of us from warning fellow believers about false prophets and ravening wolves who seek to weasel their way into our midst. When someone tries to pass himself of as “one of us” but is proven to be a false professor we don’t have an option here. I have no access to Glenn Beck otherwise I would call on him to repent. I do have a platform to address a small part of the church and in that capacity I think it is perfectly appropriate and necessary to warn the church about an evil person in our midst. That might strike you as an especially harsh statement. Is Glenn Beck really an “evil person”? Well if we define an evil person as someone who does evil and if we would qualify trying to lead God’s people astray with false and blasphemous teaching as being inherently evil, then yes I can’t see how we can view him any other way. There is a difference between someone who is lost and being led astray and someone who is leading people astray.

Jesus, Peter, Paul and John warned the church repeatedly about those who outwardly seek to appear as a follower of Christ but who are really false prophets, false brothers, ravenous wolves. They come in all shapes and sizes from Harold Camping to Jim Jones, Thomas Monson to David Koresh, Glenn Beck to Charles Taze Russell. Regardless they all have something in common: they pervert the Gospel for their own benefit.

The Bible, I believe, makes a distinction between the lost and false prophets and wolves. I try hard not to judge an unbeliever for acting in ignorance like an unbeliever. How exactly should we expect those who are outside of Christ to act? Now someone who is a false prophet, a wolf trying to integrate himself among the sheep to deceive and scatter them? That is a whole different proposition.

I am fully aware of my own failings and they are many and varied. My awareness of my own failings and those areas where I have a log in my eye have nothing to do with warning the Body about those who seek to sneak in and spread lies and dissension among the people of God. My sincere hope is that God saves Glenn Beck out of mormonism just as He saved me. Until that happens and as long as Beck seeks to lead people astray, I will warn anyone who wants to listen to see him for what he is, a false brother and someone that we should have no fellowship with, no matter how much he calls for a strong national defense and lower taxes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The irony is rich here

Author Eric Metaxes is being interviewed by Glenn Beck on his book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Watch at about the 7:30 mark....



Here is the money quote:

He is fundamentally opposed to actual Christianity but he hides it because he knows that if he reveals it he loses everything.
Eric is talking about Hitler but that quote applies to Beck just as neatly. Certainly Beck in not a Nazi but he is no more a Christian than Adolf was. Both are part of a pagan religion that considered certain people to be sub-human, Jews for Nazism and blacks for mormonism.