Since the 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally in Washington D.C., I have witnessed Christians expressing feelings online ranging from great satisfaction and edification as to what happened at the Lincoln Memorial to outright bigotry against “the Mormons”.
For a moment, I’m going to put myself in evangelical shoes and look at my faith from an evangelical’s perspective. Mormons claiming to be Christians, in the sola scriptura, post-Nicean creedal sense doesn’t work on several levels.
Stepping back into my Mormon shoes, the view doesn’t differ so much. As Mormons, we believe that there is a need for continuing revelation to correct certain misconceptions and changes that have crept into the doctrine over the last 1,500 or so years.
There are legitimate reasons for both sides to disagree theologically, from their respective perspectives.
Yet, despite these differences, it is astounding to me that anyone on the evangelical side of the equation would strike us from their “friends list” when it comes to the critical moral and social issues of our day. We share so much more in common on that level than we do theologically, and there are enough of us who are dedicated in all the right ways, that counting us out is a detriment to a cause that wishes to effect changes.
So why the divide? And how wide is it, really?
I think Dr. Jim Garlow, Chairman of Renewing American Leadership and Senior Pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, CA, has perfectly framed the reasons for “allowing” Mormons to help evangelicals in efforts that support their positions on moral and social issues.
He says, in part (emphasis added):
As evangelicals and Mormons, we are not theological brothers and sisters. But we are friends and neighbors. And on that basis we work together to defend marriage.
That became the mantra for our Prop 8 work together. Mormons make up 2% of the California population, yet contributed at least 40% of the funds to defend marriage. Of the workers that knocked on doors and called homes, I suspect that the LDS church provided the lion’s share of the workers.
Notice the phrase – “friends and neighbors.” That is exactly what they are. As such, I treat them (and all persons) with honor and dignity.
I think that’s a perfect way to frame the answer to the question of whether it’s against an Evangelical’s Christianity to “work with” Mormons. Evangelicals don’t need to feel like they’re being “unevenly yoked with unbelievers”, that is if they are equally interested in keeping the first and second greatest commandments. Or Christ’s injunction in Matthew 5:47.
Dr. Garlow goes on to say: (emphasis added)
On one of his TV shows about a month ago, he laid out the gospel, using his well known blackboard, in the clearest explanation of the crucifixion and the resurrection that I have ever heard on national TV. I called James Robison, and asked, “Did you hear that?” James said, “Richard Land (Southern Baptist) just called me and said he never expected to hear the Gospel so clear on secular television.” It was quite remarkable. A few days ago, Glenn laid out America’s problems and then concluded, “We need God!”
I have interviewed persons who have talked specifically with Glenn about his personal salvation – persons extremely well known in Christianity – and they have affirmed (using language evangelicals understand), “Glenn is saved.” He understands receiving Christ as savior. (Note: I have never discussed with Glenn this topic.)
On one occasion three of us were walking near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The person to my right asked the man to my left – who is with Glenn Beck a great deal – “I heard Glenn Beck is a Mormon. What is he?” The man to my left, without missing a beat, without even turning his head to look at the questioner said, “A Christian.” That answer comes from a man who has been with Glenn often. At the risk of throwing a verbal grenade, there is no ambiguity about Glenn’s faith, such as what we see in the “is he a Muslim / is he a Christian” discussion regarding our President.
It’s not a pre-requisite for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven to have a perfect theological knowledge of Jesus Christ in all His attributes. All that is required is that we be as little children–humble and submissive to God’s will and accepting of Christ.
Dr. Barlow believes this as well (emphasis mine):
Let me ask you a question. Is your theology “off” at all? Even one percent? Only the most arrogant would say, “Oh, my theological understanding is 100% perfect.” No, we all keep growing. God’s Word does not change. God’s truth does not change. But we grow in our understanding of spiritual, biblical truths.
I suspect my theology is off by 1% or 4% or 7%. And, I have news for you: yours is too.
Here is my question: if your theology is off slightly, but you still trust exclusively in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for your salvation, and in his resurrection, are you still saved? Going to heaven? Yes.
How far off might your theology be – and yet still trust exclusively in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for your salvation, and believe in his resurrection – and still be saved? Is it 10% or 15% or 20%? Or what?
My point is this: all of us are missing part of God’s full truth. He knows all truth. I don’t. I am striving to understand all truth, but it is a journey of maturing in the understanding of God’s Word.
Someone might truly trust in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for one’s salvation and believe in Jesus as Lord as demonstrated by the resurrection, yet be lacking in many points of doctrine.
Larry King likes to ask evangelicals on Larry King Live if one must believe in Jesus to go to heaven. If they say “yes,” then he is likely to mention that he is Jewish, so will he go to hell? Evangelicals historically squirm at the thought of saying, “yes, you are going to hell.” What is a better answer, I believe, is, “Everyone who is going to heaven will get there the same way: by the provision of Jesus.” “But am I,” Larry might persist, in this imaginary conversation, “going to hell?” We should respond politely, “All who are going to heaven will get there the same way: by the provision of Christ. It is not mine to judge who will be ‘in’ or ‘out.’ But I do know that all who gain heaven will get there the same way: by the provision of Christ.”
Indeed, where is it written that one must have a perfect knowledge of all the doctrines of and attributes of Christ in order to be saved? In all my readings of the Bible over the past 20 years, I have not found it. And even though the Prophet Joseph Smith taught us that no man can be saved in ignorance, in all my readings of LDS scripture over the years, I have not found the idea of perfect knowledge of Christ as a pre-requisite for salvation/exaltation in LDS theology either. In everything, there is an emphasis of line upon line, precept upon precept.
Again, in John 7, Christ taught (emphasis added):
14 ¶ Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
From where I sit, Glenn Beck is doing God’s will just as much as Dr. Garlow or any “lay member” who is interested in saving souls and restoring honor to our country. They are teaching people to return to the basic morality of Christian teachings.
How can that be wrong?
Dr. Barlow finishes by saying (emphasis mine):
Glenn Beck is being used by God – mightily. The left loves to slam him and do so viscerally and often with vulgarities. Glenn is not perfect. (For the record, neither are you or I.) But his expose on America’s sins is stellar. I am convinced his motives are pure. His research department is profoundly skilled, checking footnotes down to the last detail. The left cannot “get” him – at least, not at this point. They have tried. Since they have no truth, and history is not on their side, they resort constantly to ad hominem attacks [implication: let’s not follow the Left’s example here]. He has withstood staggering scrutiny, disdain and attacks.
Based on all I know about him, I was proud to stand with him at the Restoring Honor Rally this weekend. Glenn does not see that this about him, because it is not. It is about Restoring Honor. That is the issue. It is much bigger than Glenn Beck and he knows it. And God knows, we need it.
Amen, Brother Barlow. Amen.
- What Evangelicals Really Think of Glenn Beck (swampland.blogs.time.com)
- Beck Wants to Lead, but will Evangelicals Follow? (beliefnet.com)
- Liberation Theology, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- “God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck” and related posts (russellmoore.com)
- The Gospel according to Glenn Beck (geneveith.com)
- An uneasy, unsustainable partnership (washingtonmonthly.com)
- God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck (nowpublic.com)
- John Shore: And Yada, Yada, Yada … Glenn Beck’s a Christian (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bill Press Challenges Glenn Beck to ‘Liberation Theology’ Debate (mediaite.com)
- A Mormon on the Glenn Beck rally (geneveith.com)