Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in! In today’s program, Tom begins a two-part series with guest Ed Newby. Here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week, we’re going to be discussing the world’s influences in the lives of those who profess to be biblical Christians. Our emphasis will be on media influences, such as television, video, radio, books, magazines, and particularly Internet websites. So we want to address the lack of biblical discernment regarding the content of those media outlets, especially those that seem to be “Christian,” or are very conservative.
My associate in the studio to discuss this with me is TBC staff member Ed Newby. Ed is our primary question-and-answer correspondent. He produces our online updates, and he’s a researcher and contributor to TBC’s newsletter.
Ed, thanks for taking the long walk from your office to our studio and joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Ed: You’re very welcome, Tom, and I think I’ve even memorized the route that I followed you here!
Tom: Yeah! All 100 feet of it, right?
Ed: Yes, something like that!
Tom: Ed, as you know from the mail that we receive and from your observations and research regarding what’s going on in the church – Christendom. Christendom is in a state of confusion at best and knee deep in apostasy at worst.
Ed: Some might even say “neck deep.”
Tom: Yeah. So, what I want to talk about today and, the Lord willing, next week, are some of the specific causes and influences that contribute to that confusion. Hopefully, in our discussion, we’ll be able to recommend some solutions.
First of all, Ed, we need to establish where we’re going for our solutions. That would be the Bible.
Ed: Absolutely, Tom. We know the testimony of Scripture itself is that the Bible is our standard – the absolute standard. It’s sufficient - it’s sufficient for everything that we want to embark on. And I immediately thought of Joshua:1:8: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night that thou mayest observe to do all that is written therein, for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
Tom: You know, Ed, it seems that we have four options when we’re seeking wisdom. The Lord, the world, our flesh, and the devil. So, briefly, kind of break that down for us.
Ed: Okay. Well, obviously, in 1 John:2:15-16, they’re very familiar verses, the Lord tells us to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.”
So that’s the admonition of the Lord, but He also recognizes in here that (in John 17) Jesus said to His disciples…well, He’s talking to the Father, but He says, “I have given them Thy Word and the world hath hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy Word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me in the world, even so, have I also sent them into the world.”
And so, how was Jesus sent into the world? “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke:19:10).
Tom: So as biblical Christians – those of us who profess, claim, and hopefully are truly biblical Christians, our only option is wisdom that’s from the Lord through His Word. Yet there are, as I mentioned, three other options: the world, our flesh, and the devil. And too often, that’s going to confuse, delude, deceive, and/or seduce us, rendering God’s wisdom – the Lord’s wisdom, His teachings, His commands – of no effect. Ed, in our two sessions together, what I want to do is concentrate on the influence of the world upon Christians, and in particular, we’re seeing the increase of those who cling to social and political conservatism as though it were consistent with, or it reflected, biblical truth.
One of the major contributors to this problem, as I mentioned earlier, is the communications media. And I’m obviously not thinking of liberal programming or publishing, which is by far the majority of our communications world. But I’m thinking…well, you know, the views presented through the liberal entities may confuse and even deceive some conservatives, but seduction would be rare. However, our concern is that, more and more, Christians are looking to conservative personalities, programs, and publications for political, social, and even moral insights that can rapidly lead one down a path that puts distance between the person and the Word of God. Would you agree that for some professing Christians, conservatism has become even a religion.
Ed: Absolutely. One of the criticisms we received when we critiqued Jonathan Cahn – now, not speaking of him as a conservative commentator alone but as a professing Christian minister. The criticism we received was, “Aren’t you concerned about the things in the world? Aren’t you concerned about the developments we’re seeing? Aren’t you concerned about the threat to our youth, to our people?”
I mean, that’s their focus. It’s…
Tom: Yeah, and we’re all concerned about that. There’s no doubt about it. But what are we falling back on? The so-called wisdom of man or the Word of God? And that’s what we’re talking about. But let’s start with the popularity of somebody like Glenn Beck - his popularity among evangelical Christians. Now, how might that be problematic?
Ed: Well, Beck’s not a Christian. He comes from a Catholic background, as you wrote in your article, “Beck’s Bogus Beliefs” – he was raised as a Catholic; he went through a difficult period in his life, and he became a Mormon because Mormonism helped him overcome his problems. And then, of course, he’s added to that with…you mentioned in the article the book that he wrote with, really, a New Age-type author.
Tom: That’s right, Ed, and we need to fill in just some details so people will understand what we’re talking about here. First and foremost, Beck’s popularity is that he is a conservative columnist, a conservative talk host for radio, and people are attracted to him primarily because of his conservatism. And, as a matter of fact, Liberty University, which is the largest evangelical university, they invited him to speak (I think it was 2010) at their commencement, and they said, “Well, we’re not inviting him…we recognize that Beck is a Mormon – but we’re inviting him because of his conservative views, which they said was consistent with the school’s philosophy.
Now, you’ve got a problem. Evangelical university? Claiming to be biblically oriented? But they have a “philosophy of conservatism.” I don’t know why that should open the door for Glenn Beck. But our concern here is that it isn’t just his conservatism – we’re going to keep pointing to this. Conservatism has become for many, whether it be evangelical Christians or other Christians, whatever their stripe may be, they find it to be consistent with their biblical worldview. Now, that’s a problem, because many things – not that some things don’t overlap, but for the most part, that’s not the way we go about things. That’s the idea of the world. And, certainly, Liberty University liked the fact that he was dealing with Obama, our president, who, I think no one could argue against this, has moved us down the road to socialism, and so on. So those are issues we may be concerned about.
But now, when we have somebody who becomes a spokesman, speaking at Liberty University – a spokesman not just for conservatism but for the religious traditions of America, and we find out that, as you mentioned, Glenn was Roman Catholic and then he moved over to Mormonism, and he found that that had some answers for him, and then he writes a book – co-authors a book – called The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, which was co-authored by Keith Ablow, who’s a psychiatrist. And Beck lays out his theology, so there’s no question of his Mormonism, and then with the psychiatrist you see it’s more than just Mormonism. He has some New Age ideas, some philosophies, and so on. So my point is that when you’re listening to GlennBeck, supposedly because you identify with his conservatism, he gives you more than that. He gives you theology – and it’s theology that is contrary to the Word of God.
Ed: Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I just happened to be going on a little trip to see my youngest son and his wife, and on the way I’m listening to Glenn Beck. It was The Best of Glenn Beck, and in that previous week, it’s a compilation of those five radio broadcasts he does. It was the day after Christmas show, and he was explaining the Nativity and the gospel. So he went through the Scriptures – he read those straight, but when it came down, he drifted very quickly to the Mormon teaching that the whole purpose of the Lord Jesus coming to Earth was to live a righteous life, die on the Cross, and be resurrected – not to save us but that it would make it possible for us to work our way to heaven. That’s what he said! He may have used a different term than “work our way to heaven,” but that’s what he said.
Tom: As you know, most of our listeners know, that’s works salvation, and that’s the heart of Mormonism and many others. Other than biblical Christianity, all the other religions in the world preach and teach and practically get into the idea that we need to work our way to paradise, heaven, Valhalla, whatever it might be.
Well, you know, again, our concern is the influence of somebody like Beck, who, first and foremost, people would maybe be attracted to – like Liberty University – because he’s conservative. But as he gave his talk at Liberty – now, you’re talking about a graduate class of evangelical Christians – and he’s introducing some ideas, he has one understanding of what he’s talking about, and they have a very different understanding, hopefully. They have biblical understanding; his is a Mormon understanding, in the terms they use, and so on.
He ended his talk…oh, by the way, where there was a concern that he might get into some religious ideas, Mormonism, and so forth, in his talk, I understand that this was not going to be a part of his talk, but before he gave his speech on the campus at Liberty University, he rewrote his talk. That’s what he mentioned. And then he introduced many religious ideas, theological ideas, of which he had one understanding and they had another understanding, but they were interpreting it according to their view – most of the students.
At the end, he said, “I leave these thing with you in the name of Jesus Christ [Mormonism has another Jesus Christ, all right?] our Lord and Savior [well, they have a whole ‘nother view of that, Mormons do]…
Tom: And he says, “Amen.” And guess what? The faculty, the students, stood up and gave him a standing ovation! Cheered him wildly. So they didn’t get it. Again, now we have a conservative, political, for the most part, analyst, columnist, host, where he’s introducing his theology into it. And because people like his conservatism, they’re buying his theology, for the most part.
Ed: His attendance at Liberty University opened the door for him appearing in other Christian colleges. For example, just this morning, in the emails that I receive here at the office was an email from WorldNetDaily and they’re selling one of Glenn Beck’s books authored with a gentleman named Joshua Charles, who’s head of the Discovery Project at the Public Policy Institute at William Jessup University – a very conservative Christian college. Now, I haven’t gone over everything involved with their curriculum and such, and I do see they teach psychology and so forth, but nevertheless, here’s a man who very handily teams up with Glenn Beck to write this book, which is consequently pushed on the WND website.
Tom: Well, we’re going to talk about WND, but just to stay with the idea of conservatism becoming, sadly, for those who call themselves Christians, this becomes not just an adjunct to their religion – it’s becoming their religion.
You have people like, not just Glenn Beck, but you have Rush and David Limbaugh, okay? They have their conservative ideas, and so on. Rush talks about his religion, his beliefs, and so on. You have Bill O’Riley, Shaun Hannity, both Roman Catholics. You get their religion, their philosophy – their ideas in that. And we also have others who take the position of speaking about things that are related to the social/political issues of the world.
Now, our concern is, are evangelical Christians – let me be more specific – biblical Christians. Are they buying into some of this? Is this altering their worldview because they’re leaning more on these individuals – not that they say everything wrong. Okay? And we may agree with some things. But my concern is that they’re heavily influencing evangelical or even biblical Christians to their worldview, to their ideas, and so on. And they have a mixture of religious ideas within that.
So, Ed, do you see working with so-called faith groups – and they talk about faith – so-called faith groups, do you see, whether it be for political power or issues that they say are really good issues, strong issues, as a problem for believers?
Ed: Certainly! While you were talking, you quoted from your article “Beck’s Bogus Beliefs.” We did receive a few emails, or letters, criticizing what you had said, and they prefaced their concern – or they based their concern – upon the good that Glenn Beck and people of faith are doing.
Tom: Yeah, from my experience – look, I think we would all agree – hopefully, anybody listening to this would agree that abortion is a bad deal.
Ed: No doubt.
Tom: It really is. I mean, it’s killing babies. You can’t get around it. So when those of us who take that view say, “Okay, we really want to address this issue,” and we get on the picket line with Roman Catholics, and you have to say this about the Roman Catholic Church, which I grew up in – they’re at the head of line, no pun intended, when it comes to addressing abortion and their concern about it. But the problem that we’ve seen is that once you get involved with that, and it’s an important issue, but once you get involved with other “faith groups,” as it were, all of a sudden, the relationship overrides your biblical worldview, especially if you’re a biblical Christian. Now, whether you be arrested or spend time in a cell with Roman Catholics, now, the cause, the issue, trumps the biblical truth. And it influences your relationship to where it’s “Aw, well, you know. We’re on the same page here.” It undermines your discernment with regard to what these groups that you’re participating with believe and teach, which, in the case of Roman Catholicism, it’s another gospel. It’s a false gospel.
Ed: And the gospel is always, as some have said, the first casualty to that. It’s interesting. I remember what Dave said – this was back in 1989 – he said, “Rather than pressure the ungodly to live like saints, we must win them to Christ that they might live wholly by God. Our personal lives must be lived in obedience to God’s laws, even if that brings us into conflict with civil laws. In addition to avoiding idolatry and immorality, Christians must preach the gospel to everyone everywhere, regardless of government rules to the contrary. In so doing, the apostles made their historic declaration: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men,’ Acts:5:29.”
Tom: Or be influenced by what people think, what people are doing. We have to be Bereans. We have to hold it up to the Scriptures. As you’ve quoted a number of Scriptures – really good stuff. But that’s where we have to be. Or, as it says in…I think it’s Hebrews 2: “Take heed, lest ye drift away.” Lest you slip away because of relationships, because of a cause, whatever it might be. To the degree that we drift away from the Word of God, it’s going to affect our fruitfulness and productivity in terms of the Lord, doing what pleases Him and what will truly be effective. That’s a huge problem.
Now, I think about Fox News. Many people are enamored with that. I don’t watch it just because I don’t want to watch a lot of TV, but you would say for the most part, “Well, I may have more of an affinity for Fox News than I have for CNN,” okay? You have liberals vs. conservatives. At the same time, there can be a problem. I mean, we have websites out there that have at least the image of being very conservative, and what they have to say implies that they are Christian, or at least line up with Christianity to a certain degree, but that's a problem, isn’t it?
Ed: Oh, absolutely. Fox News, of course, you know very well is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is hardly a godly example for Christians to follow.
Tom: Although he was knighted by the pope, and he’s not a Catholic.
Ed: Well, that makes it okay, then (chuckling).
Tom: Yeah, right. Well, we’re just about out of time in this part of our discussion. The Lord willing, in part two, we’re going to focus in on what I would say would be one of the major problems for evangelical Christians in terms of…fine, that they’re conservative – even that might be challenged because of all the things that they get into. I’m talking about WorldNetDaily, which is the number one, the most influential website among Christians, that deals with political, social, even some religious ideas. And Joseph Farah is the…he heads up WorldNetDaily. Well, we’re going to be Bereans. We’re going to check out what they do, especially in terms of their influence, and question some of these things. Be Bereans.
Ed: Very good.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708; call us at 800-937-6638; or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to search the Scriptures 24/7.