Saturday, March 20, 2010

Glen Beck Through Gospel Eyes: My Two Cents

Wow!  So Glenn Beck is now passing out advice on where to go to church!  There are two things that I'd like to say about that.
So - you clicked through.  :-)  Gotcha.  Here goes:

I was more than surprised to hear that Glenn Beck made comments on his programs encouraging people to leave churches that talked about "social justice."  Seems only fair to check it out, so I did, and here's what I found:

From his March 2 radio program, once comment of many:
I beg you, look for the words "social justice" or "economic justice" on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!  Click here for more detail.

This brought the usual media furor from all around.  Let me add my two cents worth:

First Cent
Frankly, I'm not taking advice on where to worship from a Mormon.  And Glenn Beck is a Mormon.  Click here for a video in his own words.

Now, Mormons are generally very nice folks.  Great neighbors.  Committed to kindness and their families.  Entitled to freedom of their religion and speech.  I'd consider voting for one.

But for all of that, Mormons are simply not orthodox Christians in any meaningful sense of the word.  A man named Jesus is central to the Mormon faith, and they acknowledge the same Bible that I do.  But when they add another authoritative book - The Book of Mormon - to understand who Jesus is and what He did, they end up with a completely different Jesus.  Completely different.  Same name, different people - the Mormon Jesus and the Christian Jesus.  Sort of like me and Bill Clinton.  Same first name, but two very different people.  And I don't want to be confused with the other one.  And I don't care to confuse the two different Jesuses.  While I don't want to be uncivil or advocate persecution, I am also unwilling to be confused on this matter.

Second Cent:
I watched Beck's story of his conversion to Mormonism - click here - and must say that I am glad that he is now sober and wanting to be a better husband and father.  But there is no grace in that story.  It is about what Glenn Beck is doing and decided to do and is glad he did.  Just like the different Jesus, Paul would call this "a different gospel."  (Galatians 1:6)

It makes sense to me that Glenn Beck, who honors a different Jesus than I do, would live by a different gospel than I do.  It is the ages old "different gospel" of works righteousness.  The flavor that he prefers is personal piety, conservative family values and sobriety.  I'm not opposed to those.  Honestly, I even try to practice them.  But they are not how I came to be a Christ-follower.  I don't base my identity as a child of God on them.

What I think Glenn Beck may have meant to say, is that some churches have made the performance of particular left-wing political activities their religious focus and called it "social justice."  The "progressive wings" of many mainline denominations come to mind.  Leave those churches who have made left-wing political performance their "different gospel."

Well, from where I kneel, Glenn seems to be arguing for his own preferred performance of self-righteousness - personal piety, kindness, soberity, etc - and against the performance of what he calls social justice as a means of performance-based self-righteousness.

I want to say "No Thanks!" to both expressions of performance-based self-righteousness.  And "No Thanks!" as well to every other form of performance-based self-righteousness that the human heart - my human heart - can dream up.

The Gospel of Grace - historic, orthodox Christianity - is not about performance whether of personal piety or of political agenda.  It's about laying aside all my performance and placing the trust of my life on what Jesus Himself did.  He exchanges my petty, sinful life, personally takes the just penalty for my sin and gives me His own righteousness so that I am adopted as a child of God.

What I have found is that just like millions of people across thousands of years in multitudes of cultures that response of faith to the grace of that Gospel has slowly - and at times imperfectly - changed my heart and life.  We find ourselves more inclined to sobriety, personal piety, care for the poor, putting away violence, singing praises to Jesus and on and on and on.  Something happened and something changed in us.  Charles Colson went back to prison.  Millard Fuller started Habitat for Humanity.  Mother Teresa took in the dying poor of Calcutta.  And even more, untold numbers of other nameless, imperfect people have begun to live differently because they were rescued from their preferred form of self-made righteousness and responded to the gracious Gospel of Jesus.

I can't stop now:

Third Cent
Flee churches that preach any sort of performance-based self righteousness (moralistic, therapeutic deism) and find one that can help you grow in the Gospel of Grace!

Fourth Cent
Turn off Glenn Beck.

That's Grace for you!  Four cents instead of two and no extra charge.

1 comment:

  1. Would one conclusion be this?...Performance does not draw you nearer to understanding grace. Understanding grace draws you nearer to performance.

    Therefore if performance is lacking, understanding of the cross is lacking???


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