Glenn Beck, the television and radio talk show host who is best known for his conservative political views, isn't someone
whom we would normally address in our newsletter. Our concerns are usually directed at individuals, programs, or organizations that promote spiritual or theological views contrary to the Word of God. Beck, of late, seems to be making himself at home in that realm, and he's attracting many who call themselves Bible-believing Christians.
His influence among evangelicals is rather odd and may say more about the state of evangelicalism than about Beck's engaging personality. His popularity is proof that there is very little discernment that's based on testing things by the Scriptures--a consequence, in part, of the Church Growth Movement. Marketing principles have become the rule and are being used to fill churches. Biblical doctrines, which convict, have been set aside in favor of psychotherapeutic sermonettes--something to keep the folks feeling good about themselves and coming back for more. There's no doubt that this trend has dumbed down much of the church and has done away with discernment to a great extent.
Anyone who proclaims the name of Jesus--even though his understanding of who that is may be far removed from the biblical Jesus--is nevertheless accepted as a brother in Christ. Conservativism, political or otherwise, is seen to be the glue of spiritual fellowship, and its characteristics have taken on scriptural status and a basis for kinship. I've been told that "Beck must be a Christian because he's all about turning our country back to its Christian roots." That's erroneous on at least two counts.
First of all, Glenn Beck is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He may refer to himself as a Christian, but he's certainly not a biblical Christian. The distinction is as wide as hell is from heaven: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 John:9). Mormon doctrine is "another gospel" that exalts "another Jesus." Both false beliefs came out of the deceived and deceiving mind of Joseph Smith. Secondly, "our country" doesn't have "Christian roots," even though some are claiming that our founding fathers were true Christians. Many were not biblical Christians but Christians in name only, who followed the faith of Deism, Masonry, and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Any early influence in America's history of a biblical nature very likely came from the Pilgrims and the Puritans.
Since I spend very little time watching television or listening to radio programs, I wasn't familiar with Glenn Beck, other than seeing him by chance on Fox News. I found his Catholic background and his conversion to Mormonism rather curious, given my own Catholic upbringing and, years later, my writing for the film documentary The God Makers. What I know about the overwhelming fictional nature of the Book of Mormon had me wondering why Beck's work as a conservative political analyst didn't give him the ability to discern the blatantly erroneous teachings, practices, and historical claims of Mormonism. However, it wasn't until he was invited to speak at Liberty University's Commencement in 2010 (the largest evangelical college in the U.S.) that I was first made aware of his growing influence among evangelical Christians.
The rationale, I was told, for having him speak to the graduating class was that his conservative point of view was consistent with the school's philosophy, and his message was needed at a time when the Obama administration seemed to be pushing this country down a path of socialism. The fact that he is a Mormon was not a concern because his address would be of a political nature, not spiritual. I learned after the event that he rewrote his talk just before speaking because he felt compelled to address spiritual issues. He said that his invitation to speak was not an endorsement of his religion by the university. "[But although we have] differences...we need to find those things that unite us." His speech was infused with religious terms that would appear to bring people together--except for the fact that these terms have very different meanings for Mormons and evangelicals. He frequently referred to the power of the Atonement, to faith, to the gospel, to the Holy Spirit, to personal revelations from God. Does it matter that a Mormon has a completely different understanding of the Atonement and the gospel from what is taught in the Bible?
Beck said, "Turn to God and live." What God might that be? The Mormon one, who has a physical body and lives on a planet near a star called Kolob? Or the One who is spirit and exists outside His creation?
Beck exhorted his audience to seek the truth. But which God is true? He closed his speech by challenging these mostly evangelical graduates to "question everything, including everything I have just told you" and to "read the Scriptures every day...." Would these include Latter-day Saints' scriptures such as the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price? What about "The Inspired Translation of the Bible," which Joseph Smith wrote to make sure that the Bible was "translated correctly"?
Beck's last words were greeted with a standing ovation from the faculty, the graduates, and their families and friends: "I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen." Were they cheering wildly for the biblical Jesus...or for the Jesus Christ of Mormonism? The two couldn't be more dissimilar.
For those enamored with Glenn Beck and upset with my concerns about him, let's take him up on his challenge to question his words. Many of the thoughts in his Liberty University speech can be found in his new book titled The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, which he co-authored with psychiatrist Keith Ablow. In it, Beck sets the record straight as to his understanding of Mormonism. That's important because I have heard all kinds of explanations--from his being naïve about the faith fabricated by Joseph Smith to his being led to biblical salvation through faith alone in Jesus Christ by various evangelical leaders who have appeared on his television and radio programs. Beck, however, dispels any and all speculation:
I read everything there was to read on [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints'] websites and every word of Mormon Doctrine. I treated Mormonism as if it were a hostile witness. For a while I went to the anti-Mormon literature for hints, but I found most of it to be unfair or just plain wrong. I tried every trick I could think of to find a contradiction. The problem was that I couldn't. Mormonism seemed to explain the world and my place in it better than any other faith I had looked at. It answered many spiritual questions that had gone unanswered for me for my entire life. (Beck &Ablow, The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, p.149)
In his Liberty University speech, which was often very emotional, he referred to the Old Testament book of Ezekiel and how he (Beck) felt that the call to be a "watchman," i.e., someone who stands guard to alert the people to the evil that could overtake them, was something God had put on his heart to do. It was his calling. If Beck's book is any indication of his "watchman" competency, he is either asleep at his post or has gone AWOL. Isaiah sets the criterion for God's watchman: "To the law and to the testimony [i.e., the Scriptures]: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah:8:20). Does Beck speak according to God's Word? Even if one assumes that he is talking about the God of the Bible rather than the god of Mormonism, or what the Bible declares, it is clear by comparing his views with the teachings of the Bible that he's got them both wrong.
He and his psychiatrist co-author declare throughout their book that God is within everyone: "If God is everything and everywhere and inside everyone, then I figured He had to be inside me, too...." That is a foundational premise to most of what Beck presents. It is pantheism, a belief common to Hindus, Eastern mystics, and popular among New Agers.
The truth is that the God of the Bible is not part of His creation. He created everything out of nothing. If He were inseparable from His creation then He would be subject to the death and destruction that the universe is undergoing. That would deny His perfection.
The Word of God says that the born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and that his body is the temple of God (Ephesians:1:13; 1 Corinthians:3:17). This is conditional, based upon faith in the biblical Jesus, and it involves God's taking up residence within the believer. God is not, nor does He become, a part of humanity.
If God were part of everyone and within everyone throughout all eternity (Beck &Ablow, Seven Wonders, p. 85), then He would be part of the evil makeup of every human. Of course, Beck and Ablow fervently deny that mankind is evil: "People are inherently good. Our souls are magnificent and capable of extraordinary performance" (p.165). That may make some "feel good about themselves," but it's contrary to numerous Scriptures that address the nature of man. The prophet Jeremiah tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (17:9), and Jesus said in Mark:10:18, "There is none good but one, that is, God."
That truth of the Bible poses a huge problem for psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, especially a Freudian psychotherapist like Keith Ablow. How so? He's in the business of facilitating a person's relief from the troublesome problems of living by helping him find his "true self, the really lovable and loving person you are at your core..." (Beck &Ablow, p. 185). The key to recovering the "real you," Ablow and Beck explain, involves a process of "digging up the painful parts of your life story..." (p. 107).
Nearly all psychotherapies assert that mankind's problems are caused by painful issues external to the person, such as emotional traumas, parental abuses, environmental conditions, a bad hair day, etc. Ablow tells us to "Accept that today's negative emotional and behavioral patterns are almost certainly connected to painful memories and unresolved conflicts in the past" (p. 131).
However, if it were acknowledged that the root of the problem is the innate evil within humanity (as the Bible declares, yet psychology denies), Ablow and his colleagues would be out of business. Just as a leopard can't change its spots, neither can the mental health practitioners do anything to change a person's sin nature. Only God can do that. Yet the charade in pursuit of the "higher self," "human potential," "self-discovery," and "the God-given reservoir of personal power inside you," (p. 50) continues to delude and deceive the masses.
Beck's description of his "life story," especially how he was led into Mormonism, is a reflection of what the pseudo-Christian cult is all about: it majors on the subjective and the experiential (e.g., a personal "burning in the bosom" experience from God). He believes that God guided him into the faith of Joseph Smith through a series of inexplicable events in his life. He says that God-ordained "coincidences," which he calls "bread crumbs," are available to help everyone "find their paths to embracing the truth" (p. 152). He and Ablow continually exalt the subjective and experiential through their promotion of "gut feelings," "intuition," "the third ear," and "the inner voice of truth inside us--the voice of God" (p. 265). They write, "Practice listening to your gut....In order to do this, you need to listen for inner voices inside you" (p. 274).
When discernment depends upon gut feelings and inner voices, it's a recipe for spiritual disaster: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (2 Corinthians:11:14-15). The Bible tells us to put no trust in subjective experiences but rather to trust in God's written Word: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John:8:31-32). Jesus' prayer to His Father certifies how He wants believers in Him to know Him and the truth of His teachings: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John:17:17).
Mormonism is rife with occult beliefs and practices, whether they be rituals taken from Masonic ceremonies to supposed communication with the deceased through baptism for the dead. This makes the Latter-day Saints extremely susceptible to demonic deception. Yet Glenn Beck seems to have added more false doctrine to an already bizarre belief system. He lauds the first-century heresy of gnosticism and gnostic books such as "The Gospel of Thomas"; he endorses communication through silent meditation ("Connect with the miracle of spirit, of God, that has lived inside you from long before you were born. You will be rewarded..." (p. 85); and he and Ablow espouse the Eastern mystical teaching of spiritual energy as an "immeasurable force that you can tap into to dramatically improve your existence....It is nothing less than your connection to God" (p. 113).
Lest someone object to one or another of the religious or psychological concepts Beck and Ablow are serving up, the two fall back on ecumenical pragmatism: "How can you begin to do this? Some people go to psychotherapists. Others go to pastoral counselors. Others begin to meditate. Still others start with twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon. Whatever works for you is what you should do, but we've developed a four-step plan to help you get under way."
Perhaps the reason I quote the following verse more than any other in my recent articles is because I see the church and its shepherds looking more and more to the ways of man rather than to the Word of God: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs:14:12). Glenn Beck has no answers for those who are truly God's people. Nevertheless, I pray that he will come to the knowledge of the truth.
I also pray for greater discernment among those who claim to follow the biblical Jesus and the Word of God. Jesus declared to His disciples (which all true believers in Him are) that they were to "Take heed that no man deceive you" (Matthew:24:4). He was referring specifically to the last days, the time just prior to His return. It would be characterized by massive spiritual deception. For more than three decades Dave Hunt and I have been addressing the various elements the adversary of God has used to deceive the world and the church. Of late, our TBC articles have pointed out how the unifying beliefs that are common to diverse religious groups (and anti-religious groups!) are rallying them together with amazing speed. Their mission is fixed upon the earth as they unwittingly work toward building the kingdom of the Antichrist and his apostate religion. TBC