A Mormon on the Glenn Beck rally

Here is a discussion of the Glenn Beck rally–what it means and what it achieves–from Mormon official Greg West:

I believe that Glenn Beck’s desire, in some measure, was to create a “King Benjamin moment.” The Book of Mormon relates a landmark gathering of some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas to hear the words of one King Benjamin. Benjamin declared principles of piety, humility, service, and faith to his people. He preached to them repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, who would be born in centuries to come, relative to his time. The result was a turning back to God by his audience that brought the Holy Spirit upon them. It was a moment of national renewal and personal recommitment to do good in God’s name. This was Beck’s template for the event that took place today.

As a Mormon, I have to consider an unintended message throughout Beck’s work, which has culminated in this event. That message is: “Mormons are Christian believers.” Despite nearly two centuries of misrepresentation and religious envy by sectarian Christianity, Beck has achieved the visibility, prominence, and has had the time day after day, week after week, to speak openly and truly about his core beliefs. Those statements of faith have disoriented and confused those who had previously believed the lies about Mormons. Just a few weeks ago, Beck discussed the heresies evident in “Liberation Theology” and declared his belief of individual salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. One confused person commented on Free Republic, a frequent forum for open Mormon-bashing, that “this would mean that Beck is ‘born-again.”

Jim Garlow, a popular and influential pastor who partnered with the Mormon faithful in California to defend traditional marriage was quoted recently in CNN’s Belief Blog, saying, “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.”

Hallelujah! The light bulb has been switched on after nearly two centuries! Every single member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that a person must be “born again” and receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and Redeemer. Our holy books teach that salvation comes only in and through the atonement of Christ and that there is no other way a person can be saved. Those beliefs obligate us to do our best to keep God’s commandments and to follow the example of Jesus in doing good. Glenn Beck’s beliefs are mainstream Mormon beliefs. Joseph Smith, the Church’s founder, was a Christian prophet. He was an apostolic witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As Rev. C.L. Jackson said in his speech today after accepting the medal for faith, “God sent his Son to this earth so that we could all gather, and I think that’s the dream and the vision of Glenn Beck.” I myself have reacted, defensively and perhaps provocatively, to the attacks of Christian pastors on Mormons in the past. If anything, Glenn Beck has brought mainstream Mormonism into the public eye and has reached out to our fellow Christians in a powerful way. Perhaps it signifies the crossing of a threshold where Mormons and our fellow Christians can work together for good, to revitalize our country, and enshrine the principles of faith, hope, and charity–restoring honor once again to our familes, our communities, and our nation.

Indeed, lots of evangelicals are saying that Glenn Beck is a Christian because he has “accepted Christ” and believes he is saved through Christ’s “atonement.” It turns out that Mormons in general believe that. So, if that’s all there is to it, Mormons must be Christians. Belief in the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, and the other tenets of historic Christianity are being dismissed as just “theological differences” and thus not all that important. (See, for example, what David Barton is saying. [HT: Rich Shipe])

HT: Brannon Howse

And now the eco-jihadists

James Lee broke into the headquarters of the Discovery Channel just outside of Washington, D.C. yesterday, wearing bombs strapped to his body.  He took three hostages.  He was killed by police.  He was demanding that the nature channel change its programming.  Here are excerpts from his Manifesto:

2. All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. In those programs’ places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it. . . .

4. Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is. That, and all its disgusting religious-cultural roots and greed. Broadcast this message until the pollution in the planet is reversed and the human population goes down! . . .

5. Immigration: Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that. Find solutions to stopping it. Call for people in the world to develop solutions to stop it completely and permanently. Find solutions FOR these countries so they stop sending their breeding populations to the US and the world to seek jobs and therefore breed more unwanted pollution babies. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!)

6. Find solutions for Global Warming, Automotive pollution, International Trade, factory pollution, and the whole blasted human economy. Find ways so that people don’t build more housing pollution which destroys the environment to make way for more human filth! Find solutions so that people stop breeding

as well as stopping using Oil in order to REVERSE Global warming and the destruction of the planet!

7. Develop shows that mention the Malthusian sciences about how food production leads to the overpopulation of the Human race. Talk about Evolution. Talk about Malthus and Darwin until it sinks into the stupid people’s brains until they get it!!

8. Saving the Planet means saving what’s left of the non-human Wildlife by decreasing the Human population. That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies! You’re the media, you can reach enough people. It’s your resposibility because you reach so many minds!!!

 

We don’t just have to worry about Islamic terrorism.  There are other kinds of fanatics who are totally possessed with an idea and whose self-righteousness is so exalted that they are willing to kill what they consider “human filth.”   This is just another kind of jihad–call it eco-jihad–a holy war that finds salvation in slaughtering non-believers.

In this case, notice the alliance between radical environmentalism and hostility to even legal immigration.  Notice the revulsion against children, which is surely at the essence of the pro-abortion, anti-life mentality.  Also the revulsion against civilization, human beings, and, doubtless, himself.

In the current spiritual and cultural climate, expect more of this.

MORE THOUGHTS:  I know that this man and his ideas will be dismissed as deranged.  Of course he was insane, lacking a normal sensibility.  But his insanity consisted largely in taking certain current ideas and being consistent in acting on them. 

It is possible to believe as an intellectual conviction that the earth is heading for a global warming catastrophe and that the world is overpopulated, while still having three children, driving them around in your SUV, and living a normal life.  Insanity would be acting consistently on those beliefs, to the point of trying to wipe out the human population.   It is also possible to be a devout Muslim without being so consistent as to become a suicide bomber.  Or to be a nihilist without killing yourself. 

Christians too are not immune from fanatic madness.  It is possible to believe that America is under God’s judgment without the mad and evil reaction of picketing the funerals of slain servicemen.  Or to believe that the majority of people are reprobate sinners without hating and mistreating your neighbors. 

At the same time, those who formulate the foolish ideologies and the twisted theologies do bear responsibility for setting off their followers who take them too seriously.

I do think Christians who believe in the doctrine of vocation tend to be immune from this syndrome, since vocation grounds one solidly in normal life.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, be sure to tune in this weekend for this blog’s celebration of Labor Day with a VOCATION EXTRAVAGANZA.

Islam and the tolerance police

From an award-winning post from Scott Kirwin:

In America Islam is a relatively new religion. People don’t understand it – a fact made harder by the demand that one must learn Arabic to practice it. While Muslims have been emigrating to the United States since its founding, it wasn’t until the end of the 20th century that oil money flowing to the Saudis allowed them to build mosques and proselytize. So until very recently most Americans hadn’t seen a mosque in their neighborhood or lived with Muslim immigrants. The Syrians, Lebanese and other Arabs from the Middle East that arrived in their communities during the 20th century were mostly Christians, so their exposure to Muslims was pretty much limited to the news media.

Our instinct as Americans is to see Islam as just another religion, protecting Muslims with the same Constitutional rights as Methodists, Buddhists, or Catholics. The problem is that Islam isn’t the same as these religions; it is a unique religion that unites politics with religion in a way that hasn’t been seen in the West for over 500 years.

Islam has a terrible history of coexisting with other religions, and its tenets reflect that. Conversion to another faith is punishable by death. The only law is God’s law – so a secular society cannot coexist in an Islamic one – as Turkey is learning. (Yes I know that some branches of Shi’a Islam preach separation between Islam and state, but it’s not First Amendment separation that Americans think). In lands where other faiths exist, Islam must be supreme, and believers of these faiths can live as long as they are taxed and recognize the supremacy of Islam in the societal affairs (Dhimmi status).

This is not to say that Islam is all bad. There are sects that are more liberal and respectful of non-believers than others (the Ismaili sect leaps to mind), and like Obama I too found the calls to prayer sublime in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. But the Ismailis and related sects are a tiny portion of the Ummah, and the sect that has gained the most ground in Europe and the United States is the Wahhabi sect – the most radical and intolerant within Islam.

But Americans are beginning to recognize that Islam is different – that it’s not Buddhists with burkas, or Pentecostals with prayer rugs. They remember 9-11, and each suicide bombing or slaughter of aid workers by men acting in the name of Islam adds to the suspicion. The silence of Muslims and worse, the justification of these acts in some Muslim quarters, is making Americans take note. The fact that condemnations of terror are rarely unequivocal and are nearly always followed with “but…” and a statement that undoes the condemnation that preceded it doesn’t help. Americans want Islam to be as benign as other religions, but they are beginning to wonder if that’s even possible.

Yet American elites which should know more about Islam than the common people side with a religion that is intolerant of the very rights it champions among Christians: women, gays and artistic freedom. The ignorance shown by the mainstream media towards Islam makes one wonder if any of these “journalists” ever left New York City or San Francisco. Every attempt to equate a Muslim cleric with an American religious figure like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell merely emphasizes their ignorance of both faiths. The reviled Robertson and Falwell would actually be considered raging liberals compared to “moderate” Islamic clerics.

The mainstream media and the American Left have allied themselves with one of the most intolerant faiths around, yet they demand that Americans tolerate this intolerance and call those who don’t “Islamophobes”.

The connections between atheism and Christianity

Rob Moll tells about how atheists were instrumental in his coming to Christianity:

“If there were no God, there would be no atheists,” said G. K. Chesterton. My own period of doubt came not because the idea of God or miracles seemed wrong, but because God himself wronged me. That’s how I saw it, at least. Though atheists may argue that the existence of a supreme being is impossible, their arguments often reveal a belief that God just doesn’t behave as they think he should. In a debate, Christopher Hitchens complained about war and killing in the Old Testament. He said he wrote his book God Is Not Great in response to the murders in Muslim countries that followed the publishing of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. None of these are arguments against God’s existence, but rather arguments against how God and especially his followers act.

That is why traditional atheism is a highly moral philosophy, and one worthy of respect, even while we strongly disagree with it. . . .

Another flaw of the faith revealed by atheists, especially the New Atheists, is the frequency with which Christianity or any religion appears oppressive. It was no coincidence that the New Atheism exploded during the second half of the Bush administration, when Christians were widely perceived (correctly or not) to be using their political power to influence public policy. When some Christian leaders were found to be violating their professed beliefs, whether in sexual behavior or other ethical lapses, it cast all attempts to bring Christian moral arguments into the political process as hypocritical manipulations for power.

“The attractiveness of atheism is directly dependent upon the corruption of Christian institutions,” says McGrath. “History strongly suggests that those who are attracted to atheism are first repelled by theism.”

Atheism is a creature of Christianity. My turn away from God came at a time when I had questions about my faith. My pastors and youth group leaders, rather than hearing out my questions, prescribed more intense devotions, more fervent prayers, and further exclamations of biblical truth. My friends who wandered from the faith faced similar prescriptions. Our questions were heard first and foremost as a desire to flout the rules and to sin without compunction. In truth, there was no real correlation between those who lost their faith and those who flouted the rules of their Christian high school and college, though our behavior was often described as the evidence of our lack of faith (while the infractions of our more faithful colleagues were seen as mere lapses of good judgment).

Most of my wandering friends, like me, seem to have returned to Christ. But I’ve found that a surprising number who had fully accepted the faith have now left it. Each tended to have had some experience in which Christian leaders acted as hypocritical, power hungry, judgmental, or arrogant elites. For some, the church’s inability to shepherd during a painful period led directly to rejecting God. “If God isn’t there when I need him,” they say, “I don’t need him.”

Atheists may have an arsenal of arguments against God or religion. But at heart, rejection of God seems not to be a purely logical choice against the possibility or desirability of God. Rather, it is often a rejection of God’s people. Atheism’s recent popularity should serve as a warning to us. Apologetics conferences and passionate rebuttals may have their place. Certainly we should be ready with reasons for our faith. But before we begin dueling on blogs and arming ourselves with television talking points, let’s learn to see atheists not as deniers of God, but as wrestlers with him. And let’s remember that their deepest arguments against belief are the people they’re arguing with.

The early Christians, of course, were persecuted on the grounds of their “atheism.”  That is, they did not believe in the pagan gods or the deity of the Emperor.   Surely Christians should be “atheists” in their stance against the pantheon of the world’s religions. 

The unstated assumption in much of the New Atheism is that all religions are essentially the same, and some Christians unthinkingly accept that assumption in arguing for some generic deity.  But the Triune and Incarnate God of Christianity is utterly unlike the deities of Islam, Hinduism, Deism, the New Age Movement, and every other religion. 

For example, in dealing with the problem of evil, Christians unwittingly find themselves defending the Muslim or Deistic god who looks down from above on the world’s sufferings.  Rather than the Incarnate God who died on the Cross, taking the world’s evil into Himself.  

Notice how the atheist use the fact of sin to disprove Christianity, when actually the ubiquity of sin–including among believers–proves one of its major doctrines.   Ironically, those same atheists will often then accuse believers in religion of being oppressively moralistic!   And yet Christianity, while upholding morality, is itself all about God’s grace and forgiveness when people are NOT moral.

Can you think of other examples?  Should Christians be atheists when it comes to other religions?  Or should we defend religion in a generic way before zeroing in on Christian distinctives?

Consumers are acting too responsibly

Why is the economy faltering?  Robert Samuelson blames consumers, who are saving more and paying down their debt instead of spending:

“Consumers are deleveraging (reducing debt) . . . and rebuilding saving faster than expected,” writes economist Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley. In 2007, the personal savings rate (the share of after-tax income devoted to saving) was 2 percent. Now it’s about 6 percent. Temporarily, this hurts buying. Declines in consumer spending in 2008 and 2009 were the first back-to-back annual drops since the 1930s. Since World War II, annual consumption spending had fallen only twice (1974 and 1980). . . .

Household debt has already dropped $800 billion from its peak of $11.7 trillion, estimates economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics. The Federal Reserve reports that debt service — the share of income going to interest and principal payment — has decreased from almost 14 percent in early 2008 to about 12.5 percent, the lowest since 2000.

via Robert J. Samuelson – The saving mentality is hurting the economy’s recovery.

And what has economists in a panic is the prospect of people continuing these good habits!

Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” speech

From President Obama’s speech announcing the end of the Iraq War:

“Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.”

—–

“Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest – it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people – a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.”

via 44 – Live Tonight: Obama’s Oval Office address on Iraq.

So where are the ticker tape parades?  The kisses in Times Square?  Or are we more likely to relive the helicopters on the embassy roof in Saigon?


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