In the days following
Glenn Beck's highly publicized rally in Washington, D.C., conservative
Christians have come out expressing their concern not over the
increasingly popular broadcaster, but over the apparent confusion
among Christ followers.
"There is something
very strange going on here. I don't understand the disconnect on the
part of Christians," said Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Americans from across the
country converged on the National Mall on Saturday for the
"Restoring Honor" rally led by Fox News commentator Beck.
Reports indicate that the event drew anywhere from 87,000 to 500,000
people. Beck, a Mormon, was joined by a diverse group of religious
leaders – including evangelical Christians – as he called on
America to turn back to God.
Mohler, one of the
nation’s pre-eminent evangelical theologians, found that Beck's
rally cries were resonating with many Christians.
"What concerned me
about that event on the mall was not so much Glenn Beck and the
politicians in the program; it was the picture of those religious
leaders standing together," he said Tuesday on The Janet Mefferd
three-hour event, over 200 religious leaders stood behind Beck,
linking arms at certain points. Dr. Richard Land, a well-known
Southern Baptist, and Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in
Maryland were among the conservative Christians standing there.
While Land does not agree
with Beck's theology, he told National Public Radio that the event was
about a deep concern of Americans that the country has taken "a
fundamentally wrong turn and is headed in the wrong direction."
Jim Garlow, pastor of
Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, Calif., who was also at the
event, said the rally was about extolling virtue and honoring God.
And the event was
evangelical in tone, he said in a commentary on CNN.
pre-rally discussions of Beck’s Mormonism, the rally’s litany of
evangelical speakers gave it the Jesus-centeredness of a Billy Graham
Crusade. All theological references were clearly evangelical and
biblically based," Garlow wrote.
After observing the rally,
Mohler came away with a different take and a big
"The bottom line is
... we've been used and we've allowed ourselves to be used at times by
politicians and others who co-opted God talk," he said Tuesday on
The Janet Mefferd Show.
Christians in America) … have just assumed that because they were
using our language, they were talking about the same Gospel or talking
about the same understanding of God or talking about the same
theological structure and that's just not true," he stressed.
Mohler doesn't disagree on
uniting with others on common concerns and moral convictions.
But he underscored the
need to "distinguish that from standing together in the
"One of the
healthiest things that can happen among conservative Christians is the
ability to recognize, to discern the difference between civil religion
and authentic Christianity," he explained.
theologian said he and many other believers agree with Beck on many of
his political views. He also expressed appreciation for how Beck
identifies "many really horrible and very dangerous liberal
But "[j]ust to debunk
liberal ideas does not give you then the authority to be taken at your
word ... to be speaking truth when then you talk about the
Gospel," he cautioned.
"We just have to be
mature Christians [and say] 'let's look at the Scripture. Let's look
at what is being said here. We have a problem."
outlined the fact that Mormons hold to a very different understanding
of God than that of Christian theism.
"We're talking about
very different deities here," he said. "And I think many
Christians just have no idea as they were watching that event."
"How many American
Christians who are watching that (rally) and resonating with the call
for spiritual revival know that the man who is up there speaking,
using words about Gospel and God and all the rest, believes that there
was a male and a female deity, that the Godhead is a reproductive
pair, that eventually we will be divine ourselves if indeed we follow
the path of righteousness?" Mohler added.
Since January, Beck has
been working on the themes of faith, hope and charity. He said his aim
is to restore history, honor, and "our faith" in the
The popular commentator
has discussed the Gospel of Jesus Christ repeatedly on his television
program, even using evangelical language such as atonement through the
shed blood of Christ.
But Mohler commented,
"That's bizarre language for a Mormon to be using in this light
and to have evangelical Christians affirm that he's talking about the
same Gospel we are ... it's the same language but it's not the same
What both Mohler and
Mefferd believe is happening is spiritual rallying on vague terms.
"When we see some of
the talk that has come out of the rally and some of the people
associated with the rally, all about God, God, God, I just have really
strongly felt that it needs to be a very precise definition when we
bring God into the discussion on anything," radio host Mefferd
Mohler described the
scenario as having all the cards on the table but turned over so that
the faces are not seen.
"You're having the
language, but you're not having the definitions here," he noted.
"It really is not so
much a concern politically, it's a concern theologically. If we are
Christians, we have to understand the name of God is not just some
kind of generic noun we can throw around."
While Mohler recognized
that some Christians would be irritated listening to his take on Beck
and the rally, the theologian hopes they'll be irritated enough to go
and look at Scripture.
Amid the theological
ambiguity and confusion, Mohler reminded Christians that a revival or
spiritual renewal cannot happen without a heart that has known
salvation through Jesus Christ.
"You can't have
spiritual renewal where biblically speaking there's spiritual
deadness," he said. "The reality is we can't biblically
believe that they really know the one true and living God unless they
know Him through Jesus Christ, our Lord."