Reflections on Glenn Beck’s “Sermon” at Liberty (by Adam Blosser)

by Guest Blogger on June 3, 2014 · 57 comments

Adam Blosser is the pastor of Drakes Branch Baptist Church, in Drakes Branch, Virginia, and blogs at One True Joy

As you have probably heard by now, Glenn Beck preached a Mormon sermon  (on the campus of Liberty University during a recent convocation service.  I wasn’t initially going to write about this as I have no desire to appoint myself as the leader of a new one of those dreaded “discernment ministries.”  However, I feel it important that this situation receive the same level of attention that other recent “scandals” have received.

It should be noted that I do not approach this situation as an outsider.  I spent three years living on the campus of Liberty University as a student in the School of Religion.  I completed my B.A. in Pastoral Leadership and Biblical Exposition in December 2009.  I was a freshman at Liberty for the final year that Jerry Falwell Sr. was alive.  I served as a student leader on several different dorms on campus.  I am no expert on Liberty, and have been largely disconnected since graduating, but I am not ignorant of the way Liberty works either.

Liberty University holds convocation three times a week.  All resident students are required to attend.  This is basically a chapel service, though they do not use that terminology.  They typically host Christian pastors and leaders.  Some are certainly better and more respected than others.  However, on occasion they have other leaders outside Christianity.  These are typically political speakers, though some are businessmen and women and other secular leaders.

While Liberty has a long history of having secular leaders from various fields speak for convocation and graduation, I do not recall ever hearing one of these leaders present what could only be called a sermon, when addressing the students.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a problem with the criteria used to select convocation and graduation speakers.  However, I recognize it as an area where there may be room for disagreement.  The recent message presented by Glenn Beck is very different though.  He did not give a political speech.  He presented a Mormon sermon.

Let’s be clear.  Mormonism is not a denomination under the umbrella of Christianity.  Mormon theology teaches that God used to be a man on another planet, and even now has a physical body.  Mormons also teach that we can become gods.  The Mormon Church teaches that Jesus and Satan are brothers, and that Jesus is the product of God the Father’s sexual relationship with Mary.  I trust this is enough information to convince you of my point that Mormonism is not within the boundaries of orthodox Christianity.

I recently sent an email to Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. and Vice President of Communications Johnnie Moore asking for further comment and clarification.  I have posted the text of that email in its entirety on my personal blog. Ten days after sending the initial email I still had not heard back.  Therefore, I sent an additional email.  The text of that email can also be found on my personal blog.

I hope that these letters demonstrate a few things: 1) why I am concerned about this situation, 2) my love first for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and second for Liberty University, and 3) a way to express concern and sharp disagreement in a way that is honoring to Christ.

I eventually did receive a response from VP Moore.  The response is very similar to that posted by Jonathan Merritt, and can be found below.

“Adam:

First, I must apologize for my delayed reply to you. We just emerged from an unbelievable graduation weekend at Liberty. We had more than 34,000 people in attendance and we celebrated the graduation of more than 17,000 students. It was quite the celebration, and it consumed my time entirely until this very morning.

Secondly, I would like to thank you for expressing your concern.   Liberty takes concerns like yours extremely seriously, and that’s why I’m writing to personally address your concerns.

You should know that Liberty University’s Convocation is not a church service.

We have explained over the decades repeatedly that convocation is an opportunity for students to hear from people of all faiths and from all walks of life.  Liberty has also made it clear repeatedly that it does not endorse any statements made by any convocation speaker.

By contrast, our faculty are all required to profess Liberty’s statement of faith and to affirm our doctrinal statement.  Our students are all required to take many credit hours of theology and Bible courses, regardless of their major.  Our students have no question about what Liberty’s doctrinal statement is.  It is posted publicly for all to see.  Our doctrinal statement is our public statement on Mormonism.  It is the same statement that Liberty was founded upon and it will never change.

College is about learning.  How can you defend what you believe if you don’t understand what others believe?  I believe our students are stronger in their faith because of our convocation speaker series and the wide diversity of views that they have been privileged to hear in person over the last few decades.

The president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr. actually spoke to this during his remarks at our 41st annual commencement exercises this weekend. You can watch those remarks here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_Uz82ZHAHg

By the way, many conservative evangelical leaders who are closer to Beck than me have told me that they believe Beck has had a born again experience recently.  I do not know his heart but our audience knows that he was speaking only for himself and expressing his personal opinions and beliefs, not those of Liberty University or even of Mormonism generally.  As Jerry Falwell, Sr., our founder, often used to say about speakers at Liberty who had different views than him, Liberty students are smart enough to eat the fish and spit out the bones! I believe that’s as true today as it was in his day.

Thank you for your deep love for, and concern for, our institution. I hope this at least helps to explain our position – and it’s a longstanding position – on guest speakers in Convocation.

Blessings,

Johnnie”

I found Moore’s email to be gracious and kind.  His love for Liberty and her mission is evident.  I don’t question any of those things.  I heard Moore preach many times while I was a student at Liberty.  He loves Liberty University.  He loves the students.  He desires to see God do a great work in and through Liberty.  I am not calling any of that into question.

However, I must question the wisdom of some of the things he says and doesn’t say in his response.

He does not address the reality that Beck’s message was very different from that given by other secular convocation speakers.

Beck preached a Mormon sermon.  There is no other way to put it.  He stood up and said that he came prepared to say one thing, and God instructed him in his hotel room to say something else.  I stand before my congregation each week and claim to speak for God.  When I do, I call that preaching.  I attempt to unpack the truth of God for the people of God from the Word of God.

Beck spoke of Joseph Smith as a Christian martyr.  He spoke of the “Grand Councils” which is a Mormon heresy.  He said that we should “Live in such a way that you can demand miracles. Expect miracles. Call down miracles.”  This too is contrary to the teachings of Scripture.  We do not demand anything of God.  He spoke of the atonement, but as you know, Mormons have a very different view of the atonement than Christians.

Moore said in his email that convocation is not a chapel service.  I hear what he is saying, but it is doublespeak.  Liberty has had men I respect like John MacArthur, John Piper, David Platt, Jerry Vines, Ronnie Floyd and others stand on the stage in convocation and preach.  They have a time of singing worship songs at the beginning of each convocation service.  If Beck was not preaching, what about these other men?  Are you going to tell them that they were not preaching either?

It is not hard to see why this would be viewed as a blurring of the lines.  It is not hard to see why this is troubling to those who believe that Mormonism is well outside of Christian orthodoxy.

Why is it so hard for Johnnie Moore and Jerry Falwell Jr. to say that Mormonism is not a Christian denomination?

I don’t care if you call it a cult, false religion, or fringe group outside Christian orthodoxy.  I am not asking for Liberty to give Mormonism a label concerning what it is.  I am asking them to state plainly what it is not.  Jerry Falwell Jr. refused to do that in an interview with CNN.

Now, Johnnie Moore says, “Our students have no question about what Liberty’s doctrinal statement is.  It is posted publicly for all to see.  Our doctrinal statement is our public statement on Mormonism.  It is the same statement that Liberty was founded upon and it will never change.”

Please interpret that doctrinal statement for me.  Is Mormonism a Christian denomination as Beck claimed, or is it the heretical fringe group that the Christian church has recognized it as since its founding?  I am getting mixed messages, and I am asking you to clear them up for me.  Are you willing to do so?

The end of Moore’s email leaves me questioning Liberty’s position, “By the way, many conservative evangelical leaders who are closer to Beck than me have told me that they believe Beck has had a born again experience recently.  I do not know his heart but our audience knows that he was speaking only for himself and expressing his personal opinions and beliefs, not those of Liberty University or even of Mormonism generally.”

Has Beck rejected Mormonism?  Has Beck forsaken the teaching of his church?  As demonstrated in my first post, Mormonism teaches things about man, God, and the atonement that are antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What if Beck were a Muslim?  Could he have a “born again experience” while still clinging to Islam?  Absolutely not.  Neither can one follow Jesus and continue to cling to the false god and savior espoused in Mormonism.

I am not questioning the intellect of your students; I am questioning the wisdom of allowing a false teacher to preach on the stage of Liberty University.

Moore wrote, “As Jerry Falwell, Sr., our founder, often used to say about speakers at Liberty who had different views than him, Liberty students are smart enough to eat the fish and spit out the bones! I believe that’s as true today as it was in his day.”

This statement is irrelevant.  I believe that the people in my congregation are just as smart as the students at Liberty University, yet I do not welcome heretics into my pulpit and trust my people to “eat the fish and spit out the bones.”

I don’t really know what Jerry Falwell Sr. would have done in the same situation.  Neither do I care.  I had a lot of respect for Jerry Falwell Sr.  I didn’t always agree with him, but I appreciate the things he accomplished for the kingdom of God.  This isn’t about what Jerry Falwell Sr. would have done.  This is about doing what is right.

The student body at Liberty University is very diverse.  It is made up of people from all over the world, people from lots of different backgrounds, and yes, people from different faiths.  Do you really trust those who are not indwelt by the Spirit of God to discern truth from error with regard to Mormonism and Christianity?  I don’t.  Even Christians who are indwelt by the Spirit can be led astray by false teaching.  That is why the Apostle Paul used such strong language when referring to false teaching.

Let’s be clear.  Mormonism is a false religion, and Glenn Beck is a false teacher.  I have a responsibility in my church to protect God’s flock from false teaching.  I will stand before God one day and give an account for my stewardship of that responsibility.  While leading a university and choosing convocation speakers is not even close to the same thing as pastoring a church, the leaders of Liberty University have a responsibility to protect sound doctrine as well.

You want to be the world’s largest evangelical university?  Fasten your belt and accept the responsibility that goes along with that label.  You are not irrelevant.  Christians and the world are watching you.  What will they think about Mormonism based on what they see at Liberty University?

Beck has since caught wind of the fact that many were not happy with his appearance at Liberty.  He responded on his radio program recently.  He said, “I encourage you to join me, join others of multiple faiths, never asking anyone to change their faith, asking you to strengthen your faith.  Whatever it is, unless it’s telling kill people, burn their books, shut them up, torture them, imprison them, kill them.”  He goes on to say, “If your faith says learn about love, learn about goodness, learn about the power of faith, learn about the miracles of God, don’t trust in the arm of flesh, but trust in the Spirit, I’d love to meet you.”

The religious pluralism of Beck’s quotes above is antithetical to the Christian gospel.  The Christian gospel is both inclusive and exclusive.  It is inclusive in the sense that anyone who repents of their sin and places their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved.  It is exclusive in the sense that only those who repent of their sin and place their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6).

While I am not going to waste my time forming Moral Majority coalitions in hope that this country can be turned around through the political system, I am also not going to waste my time railing against those who do.  That is not what this is about.  Glenn Beck preached a Mormon sermon from the stage of Liberty University.  Nothing was said to the students before or after he did so.  No public statement has been issued by the University since.  And when questioned about it, Liberty responded with fluff that fails to address the heart of the matter.

Mormonism is not Christianity.  The gospel of Christ is at stake.  May we all be faithful to “guard the good deposit” that has been entrusted to us, the good news of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sin He offers to all who repent of their sin and believe on the Lord Jesus (2 Tim. 1:14).  Will you heed this call, Liberty University?  Will you do so for the sake of your students’ souls?  Will you do so for the sake of the souls of those who may be led astray by this false teaching in convocation?  Will you do so for the sake of Glenn Beck’s eternal soul?  Please, I plead with you.  Do the right thing.

 

 

 

 

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 parsonsmike June 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm

What is the greater threat to the Gospel: an outright denying of Jesus as Lord God or a subtle shifting of terms and meanings from places of truth to places of half truths which are really just lies?

i would say the latter.
I would conclude that Liberty was irresponsible in having Glenn Beck preach.

Maybe he told them he was going to speak on politics? And then, as he says, God changed his mind. But of course it wasn’t God at all. Our enemy desires to jam wedges between us and the truth wherever he can. He is more than happy to use Mr. Beck.

If Mr. Beck had recently been born again, than why not in his speech/sermon did he not renounce Mormonism? It is because he is a pluralist who like the [last?] pope sees many ways to God.

-mike

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2 Lee June 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Having grown up in a community with half the population being Mormon, I can certainly attest to the fact that it is not a Christian denomination. It rejects the core doctrines of the Christian faith and is a virtual opposite to Christian teaching.

The larger concern about having someone like Glenn Beck, or any professing Mormon for that matter, appear on such a public platform as Liberty’s convocation, is that it sends a message to Mormons that their faith must be OK, because it is being endorsed by Liberty University. They can say what they want about their doctrine, but that’s how Mormons see it. I saw some of their publicity after Beck’s graduation speech there a few years back, and they pretty much declared themselves to be endorsed by mainstream evangelicals. Their largest source of new members comes from conservative, Evangelical churches BTW.

It seems that his appearances there are largely because of his politics, but that’s a bit disturbing as well. He’s an extremist who essentially makes his money through half truths, outright lies and innuendo. I don’t think a Christian institution would want to endorse that, either.

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3 David Rogers June 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Thanks, Adam, for speaking the truth, and the spirit with which you do so.

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4 D. L. Payton June 3, 2014 at 4:48 pm

I minister in a community that is strongly Mormon (Montana). Lee is absolutely correct, this will be used to elevate the Mormon status as “Christian”. I am not sure what Liberty may have gained buy this, but it will be detrimental to this mission field.

It is absolutely essential to realize that we no longer live in isolation. Technology had negated that. Every action Christians take is known and will reflect either negatively or positively on Christians all across the country. Hence discernment is the need of the hour.

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5 Tarheel June 3, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Adam,

You’re a monster. (At least according to Beck) ;-)

Seriously. Awesome article. Standing for the truth In such a thoughtful way….the ball is in the court of Dr. Falwell Jr. He can’t say he hasn’t been told or he doesn’t know what’s at stake!

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6 Tarheel June 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

DL and Lee,

Maybe Falwell needs to hear from evangelicals on the front lines in “Mormon country” about the detriment of thier having given/implied a modicum of affirmation toward Mormonism at the “worlds largest destinctively Christian University”?

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7 D. L. Payton June 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Tarheel
Good thinking…I will chew on that a little.

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8 Lee June 3, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I did write to them when he spoke at their graduation ceremony a couple of years back, but never heard back from them.

The whole philosophical foundation of Mormonism rests on their belief that they are the “latter day” restoration of God’s true church, and that one day, through control of the United States government, they will usher in the return of Jesus, with the vindicated martyr Joseph Smith at his right side. They see these evangelical invitations and acceptance of Glenn Beck and Mitt Romney as the beginnings of “Joseph’s dream,” in which all churches and their leaders bow to the Mormon prophet. I don’t have to go far to find Mormons who see Beck as a latter day prophet who will be the guy that unites the apostate gentiles (that’s us) with the true church.

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9 james mahan June 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Interestingly, I came across this blog doing preliminary research for a paper on ecumenism and Southern Baptists. My thesis regards the pointlessness of the ecumenical movement since it demands too much compromise on doctrine by SB’s. The BFM 2000 declares “Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament. (www.sbc.net/bfm2000)” That last part is key, Mormons and Catholics do not understand that in order for Southern Baptists or even Evangelicals for that matter to include them under the definition of Christian, we would have to repudiate the very doctrines of Scripture which precipitated the Reformation in the first place. There is a name for that; its called syncretism and is the slippery slope that many liberal denominations have slipped down and fell to their deaths (i.e., PCUSA). Whether one is pandering to secularist ideals of tolerance, or other “Christian” denominations, when one steps from the foundations of truth, they find themselves in the sinking sands of deception. Ecumenism and tolerance are merely gentle euphemisms for compromise of the worst kind. I currently attend Liberty online and am constantly defending conservative doctrine against religious pluralism, heresy, liberalism, etc., from the many other students posting on the required discussion boards. So, the comment that the students are smart enough to “spit out the bones” is false. Not only do many students eat the fish and the bones, they are so lacking in discernment that they wouldn’t know the difference between fish and chicken!

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10 Jess June 3, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Adam, outstanding! I personally have no problem with Glenn Beck speaking at Liberty if it’s understood by the students that Liberty is in no way endorsing Beck’s views. Liberty is know for many debates such as the Creation and Evolution debates. These debates are used to educate the students, and if Beck’s speech is used to educate as well, I see no problem.

From what I know of Glenn Beck, he is a man seeking a following. He has said many times on Fox News that he is a Christian. Beck wants to be a leader of something, I don’t think that he knows what he wants to be a leader of, just as long as it’s leading people.

Liberty has also had Christian and Atheist debates that has been very valuable to it’s students. I am concerned about what Mike has mentioned above about a little subtle shifting. I hope that Liberty is not leaning toward the liberal side when it comes to doctrine. I am concerned about Liberty not answering the questions in a clear and precise way.

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11 John Fariss June 3, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Jess, I don’t think the issue or problem is a “liberal drift” in the usual sense of the term. My biased view is that the power structure at Liberty, as well as that of Mr. Beck, puts politics above all other things. I am sure they would disagree, and offer some convoluted reasoning, but that’s how I see it, and have for a long time. Liberty was built on a merger of conservative politics with a fundamentalist faith. And when the two mix–guess which suffers?

John

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12 David Rogers June 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

John, I believe I present some pretty strong evidence for the case you are making here:

http://sbcimpact.org/2010/07/19/whats-more-important-theology-or-saving-america/

They would argue it’s not about politics, but about “saving the culture.” But in my book, it pretty much amounts to the same thing.

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13 Jess June 3, 2014 at 7:15 pm

John, I see your point.

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14 Adam Blosser June 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm

John, I think you are exactly right.

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15 D. L. Payton June 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

John
I agree completely. While we talk about a passion for souls it seems to me that we become more passionate about politics than winning the lost. We would never say that as evangelicals but all one has to do is listen and watch. We get more “stirred up” about a political discussion than we do a conversation about soul winning.

My point is simply this. When our passion for souls equals our passion for politics we will see a change in our culture. Why? A passion for souls leads to a stronger proclamation of the gospel to lost friends. That will lead to a changed heart on a larger scale. That in turn will bring a change in culture. Want to change culture change the heart.

Ecumenism will not bring a change in the heart because we will disagree how to effect a changed heart. We have joined with others in an effort to change society. It has not and will not work.

It is my strong conviction that only revival will save our nation and culture.

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16 John Fariss June 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

Amen, brother.

John

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17 Tarheel June 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm

John….

Ding ding winner winner. Free chicken dinner!

;-)

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18 George Parks June 3, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I am an outsider here, so pardon my ignorance please. I am curious about something in this issue, which I’ve just stumbled onto.

According to the note you cite from one Jonathan Merritt: “You should know that Liberty University’s Convocation is not a church service. We have explained over the decades repeatedly that convocation is an opportunity for students to hear from people of all faiths and from all walks of life. Liberty has also made it clear repeatedly that it does not endorse any statements made by any convocation speaker.”

Is that a true and accurate statement? Has it indeed been the practice of Liberty to invite such speakers “over the decades” who may not be Christian in their beliefs? Is there in fact an accepted forum at Liberty where students may listen to speakers of different religions, faiths, etc.? And do you object to the practice of allowing any such speakers the chance to address students? Or does your objection lie only with Mr. Beck’s appearance and sermon?

You say, “The religious pluralism of Beck’s quotes above is antithetical to the Christian gospel…The student body at Liberty University is very diverse. It is made up of people from all over the world, people from lots of different backgrounds, and yes, people from different faiths. Do you really trust those who are not indwelt by the Spirit of God to discern truth from error with regard to Mormonism and Christianity? I don’t. Even Christians who are indwelt by the Spirit can be led astray by false teaching.”

My question is this: do you likewise object to the general practice of allowing such speakers at Liberty, assuming the accuracy of Merritt’s statement? Or is your objection limited to Liberty’s having allowed this one particular speaker, a Mormon, to speak? And if so, what is the spiritual threat posed by a Mormon that we would not find in a speaker of another religion or cult?

May we assume that you equally oppose having any speaker from any religion other than Christianity because of the threat to the spiritual welfare of students at Liberty? Or not? After all, it doesn’t take a Mormon to preach a doctrine contrary to our faith in Jesus. But I get the impression that your objection lies in this one speaker, this one belief system (Mormonism). Not to defend Mormonism, but I wonder how or why Mormonism is any more antithetical than some other speakers / faiths that Liberty has apparently brought in “over the decades.”

Or am I missing something here? If Merritt’s statement is true, then isn’t the university well within reasonable boundaries to bring in Beck, even with his heresies? Haven’t other speakers done likewise in the past? Isn’t there an academic and intellectual awareness implied or understood in such “convocations” which bring in speakers of other faiths and religions? Which is to say, “here’s someone who is not a Christian who is about to speak to you, students. Be alert, intellectually and spiritually.”
I would think it appropriate in a university setting, even a Christian university, to allow, at least to some degree, the expression of other opinions and faiths, however antithetical to Christianity, for any number of legitimate and valuable reasons. And if by chance a student in the audience is swept away by some false doctrine, in spite of the excellent teaching at Liberty, could we not possibly attribute such a falling away not as an error in judgment and policy by Liberty but as the choice of a human being. Yes, protect students, but doesn’t the Holy Spirit at some point in this entire process play a role? Our teaching and protection (even to the point of shutting their ears to heresy) means nothing unless the Spirit intervenes and speaks to the heart as it is. And eventually, all the fiercely protected students at Liberty will walk off campus, where they will be bombarded by a world of spiritual heresy (as if they don’t already face it even at Liberty).

So am I missing something here?

I somehow think I have missed an important element in this discussion, and I’m a bit confused at the hoopla raised here. I’m just a bit curious, I guess.

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19 Adam Blosser June 3, 2014 at 7:35 pm

George,

Thanks for the comment. Just one word of clarification before I address the substance of your comment: The quoted email comes from Vice President of Communications Johnnie Moore. I can see why you thought it was from Jonathan Merritt by the way I worded it, and by the fact that they share the same or a similar first name. I was mentioning though that the response from Liberty I received was very similar to, if not exactly the same as, that received by Jonathan Merritt and posted on his blog.

Now, it is true that Liberty sometimes has non-Christians speak in convocation. These are typically political speakers and businessmen and women. I said in my initial posts on my personal blog that I object to the criteria used for selecting convocation speakers. Convocation is structured exactly the same when it is a political speech being delivered as when it is a sermon being delivered. They ALWAYS have their worship band play a set before the speaker gets up to talk. I did not focus on the criteria typically used because I think it takes away from my point regarding the Beck message.

Because I am fully aware of Liberty’s invitations to other non-Christians, I do not publicly object and send an email when Donald Trump shows up and talks about politics and business. I question the wisdom of such an invitation in my own thoughts and personal conversations with others, but also know that it has been this way for a long time.

However, the Beck “sermon” was unlike anything I have ever heard from a non-Christian convocation speaker at Liberty University. It was a religious message. Beck claimed to have been given his message by God. The best way I know to classify such a message is as a “sermon.” If you haven’t yet listened to Beck’s message, I would encourage you to click on the first link in the post. Give it a listen and see if you still feel the same way.

Also, as several commenters have pointed out, Mormons view such an invitation to Beck as an endorsement of his message. I can’t fault them for doing so. Liberty still refuses to say anything that would contradict the idea that Mormonism is within the realm of Christianity. While I would never advocate inviting a Muslim to speak at Liberty, the danger of confusion would be less than with a Mormon. Mormons claim to be Christians. Inviting Beck to speak at the largest evangelical university without saying anything publicly about Mormonism invites misunderstanding.

So, yes I object to having non-Christians speak at convocation. And yes, I think this is different and even worse.

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20 Greg Harvey June 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm

On the other hand, the Mormons have a pretty good scam for getting baptisms up…

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21 Clark June 3, 2014 at 7:40 pm

George, I will leave it to Liberty experts to answer your questions but let me just say, many of their ‘non-Christian’ speakers were not there to talk on religion or Christianity, as I understand it. The question really at stake is was Beck invited there to talk about his faith.
And the additional question that you have raised, have they invited people of other faiths to talk about their faith. Good question. I too wonder about that.
But it may well be as some are saying here, that it was largely out of similar conservative politics that he was invited, and instead preached.

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22 Adam Blosser June 3, 2014 at 7:50 pm

“But it may well be as some are saying here, that it was largely out of similar conservative politics that he was invited, and instead preached.”

If so, they need to say that. I gave them the opportunity to do so in my initial email. Unfortunately, they have so far been unwilling to say anything that could potentially upset Beck.

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23 George Parks June 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Well, I do appreciate the clarification here. It all helps. I certainly did not wish to be troublesome or argumentative. If the understood context of convocation speakers is—how shall I say this?—non-religious, then Mr. Beck may have violated the spirit of the arrangement. And I appreciate the graciousness of the various responses to my inquiry. And I do hope that my original inquiry was equally gracious. Thanks to you who responded to me.

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24 Mark Lamprecht June 3, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Adam, this is not the first time Christians have been troubled by Beck speaking at Liberty. In Liberty University, Glenn Beck and the Gospel, I noted responses from LU officials, their Christian vision, and Beck’s theological statements to the students.

Sadly, I’m not sure LU cares what some Christians think.

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25 Tom Stowe June 3, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Mark,

When “some Christians” will never be satisfied by any answer given, why should LU care? If they ever affirm Mormons as fellow Christians or explicitly endorse false doctrine, then they deserve backlash. But I’m satisfied with Johnnie Moore’s response to Mr. Blosser.

Of course, the discernment dudes and heresy hunters now have fresh flesh to vulturize. I’m not surprised people assume the worst; that’s what I’ve come to expect from Southern Baptist blogging.

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26 Adam Blosser June 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Why shouldn’t Liberty say, “We do not believe Mormonism is consistent with the Christian faith”? They have been asked on at least two occasions as documented in my post, yet they refuse to answer the question.

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27 D. L. Payton June 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm

Adam
Without a doubt this is a legitimate question. Being thus it deserves a response. LU knows that failure to respond will bring negative comments and attitudes. The only reason I can think of for not responding is that the response would be more troublesome than the lack of same.

I realize this is harsh and judgmental. However, as I have pointed out, for those of us on the pioneer areas this is not an academic situation it has pragmatic results. With the lack of theological astuteness in Montana people will place Mormons and SB in the same camp. When non church people have a spiritual crises in their lives and feel the need to fill that void they say SB or Mormon…makes no difference.

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28 Mark Lamprecht June 3, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Tom,

Adam has all ready laid out valid reasons for concern. I would not necessarily call what he or I have addressed as backlash, but concern for the gospel. Nor are we heresy hunting. Why not deal with the substance of Adam’s post?

I’m curious though, what has LU officially stated about where Mormons stand in relation to Christianity?

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29 Tom Stowe June 3, 2014 at 11:02 pm

I did deal with the substance of the post. Your inability to see that reinforces my desire to discontinue interaction with you.

Good evening.

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30 Tarheel June 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Why are you looking for a fight? I find it more than a bit ironic that you are arguing for some kind of tolerance, yet are yourself demonstrating none.

I’ll point out for what it’s worth, that the only one calling names, being dismissive, and quite honestly being mean in this OP and comment stream is a commenter with the initials “Tom Stowe”.

Just sayin’

31 Clark June 4, 2014 at 11:32 am

“Heresy Hunters”? Oh I get it you’re quoting the great Paul Crouch!

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32 Tom Stowe June 4, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Crouch may have used that term, but I wasn’t quoting him. Thank you.

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33 Tom Stowe June 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

“Sadly, I’m not sure LU cares what some Christians think.”

I joyfully believe that LU ignores what some Christians think.

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34 Tom Stowe June 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Johnnie Moore explicitly said that the LU statement of faith us their answer to Mormonism. Doctrinal differences can exist while still cooperating in social causes and maintaining a friendly relationship. Maybe you furious fundamentalists desire that a sharp rebuke be given to Glen Beck , but maybe LU believes that the truth of their faith statement stands sufficiently on its own merits.

Is it so bad to be on friendly terms with heretics? Southern Baptists are always pleading and spewing rhetoric for evangelistic fruit and cultural engagement, but as soon as a possible example of such a thing arises, it is spoken about in terms that assume carelessness and thoughtlessness.

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35 Tarheel June 3, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Tom,

Mormonism is not Christianity or the gospel….Mormons are and have been seeking to be counted (as Beck often says) in the Christian mainstream.

Things like this lend credence to that – that’s where the concern is coming from.

I am glad you feel comfortable with the response sir, I disagree with you, strongly – but support your right to be comfortable.

I hope you might grant grace and deference to those of us who are not.

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36 Tom Stowe June 4, 2014 at 5:20 am

I absolutely affirm that Mormonism is a cult and unabashedly deny the validity of their attempts to be seen as another branch of orthodoxy. If LU never explicitly says this, I still see the university as orthodox and must assume they have a good reason for their actions.

If LU ever hints at affirming Mormonism, then we must stand firm against such foolishness.

If I came across as “mean” and “looking for a fight,” that wasn’t my intention, but there is irony in that when considering that fundamentalists seem to delight in fighting. LU offers another excuse to do so.

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37 Clark June 4, 2014 at 11:35 am

Maybe there is a reason you came across that way to some. Maybe it’s not all their fault.

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38 Tom Stowe June 4, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I never blamed anyone or put anyone at fault, Clark. I simply clarified that I wasn’t looking for a fight. Thank you.

39 Adam Blosser June 4, 2014 at 5:52 am

“Johnnie Moore explicitly said that the LU statement of faith us their answer to Mormonism.”

Certainly you understand why that feels like a non-answer when they have been asked directly whether they believe Mormonism is a Christian denomination.

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40 Tom Stowe June 4, 2014 at 6:00 am

You’re right, Adam, I think LU might be covertly planning to pursue an ecumenical agenda or it’s leadership may already be Mormons. I’m deeply relieved they aren’t Southern Baptist, as they are too tolerant in who they associate with…..sure hope people understand that their statement of faith isn’t sufficient to truly determine their convictions and that their students are too spiritually deficient to discern truth.

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41 Tarheel June 4, 2014 at 7:10 am

Tom, its possible I misread you.

As for hinting at (or least being blurry) about ‘endorsing’ it’s not as covert as you might think. The political positions and connection LU has with Beck seems to be more important than the clear delineation of the gospel. That’s distressing to those of us who love LU.

More than once (at separate events at LU) Beck has said that his faith is Christian. It’s a constant mantra on his TV and radio shows. He talks of common faith….it’s not common but LU leaves that open ended.

As for LU not being SBC….there are others who post on this forum who affirm both Thomas Road and LU as Southern Baptist due to partnerships between them and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of VA.

Let me ask you a question. If a Muslim were invited to speak and they from the platform spoke of common (meaning LU community) faith in the same God, and they spoke of Muhammad being a hero and martyr for the same faith as ours, and introduced religious islamic relics – all this from from the platform standing behind a poduim with seal of Liberty University displayed during a worship service – and then Liberty offered the exact same responses.

would that be acceptable to you? If you are thinking “that would never happen.”. Why would you think that?

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42 D. L. Payton June 4, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Tarheel
You are correct there is a connection to the SBC. While one could argue a technical differential principle the fact is that, because of Falwell Sr’s association with SB folks and entities LU and SB are viewed as one and the same in my area. Thus what LU does impacts my ministry.

43 Robert Masters June 4, 2014 at 1:45 am

This was not about the Gospel.I cannot understand why that is so hard for people to understand.
Adam all your comparisons to ecclesiastical life are irrelevant.

It is all about co-belligerency!

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44 Tom Stowe June 4, 2014 at 9:04 am

Tarheel, I hear your heart and reasoning. And I honestly think the answers to your queries lie in the agenda/intention behind LU’s association with any non-Christian entity or religious personality. For instance, even Mohler articulated at BYU that, while real differences exist between Mormons and evangelicals, there were still common causes that necessitate cooperation between us. If LU’s cooperation with Beck is rooted in a perceived theological likeness, it’s dangerous. If for some other reason such as political or social causes, the association seems much more acceptable (at least to me).

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45 Adam G. in NC June 4, 2014 at 9:09 am

but before Mohler spoke on any political common ground we may have with mormons he made sure to be clear that he believed we would NOT be in heaven together.

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46 Tarheel June 4, 2014 at 9:31 am

Right! You beat me to that Adam G.

The differece is that whatever common ground we might tread morally or politically …. The gospel, faith, God Himself and even our “book” are starkly and eternally separate.

The Mormon versions of those things lead people straight to hell…. Al Mohler makes that so abundantly clear that there is no room for doubt LU has sadly not done that and is choosing to paint in pastels instead of clear bold colors.

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47 Adam G. in NC June 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

I believe the error here lies in what is “of first importance”…unity around socially conservative politics or Christ’s gospel.

Honestly, if a muslim speaker DID come to LU and, for example, made reference to Muhammad as God’s final prophet and Christians and Muslims being together under “people of the book”…I really wouldnt be surprised at all…given that the speaker would spend most of his time making arguments against common social issues.

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48 Tom Stowe June 4, 2014 at 9:21 am

Unity around the gospel is of first importance for theological issues, but social or political cooperation doesn’t necessarily negate theological conviction. But stressing differences – even real, eternity-shaping differences – negates the very idea of cooperation. Once again, it goes back to the reason/intention behind LU’s association with Beck.

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49 Adam Blosser June 4, 2014 at 9:32 am

While intentions are likely the most important, it seems that the negative unintended effects of a sermon like Beck’s should be considered. Have you watched the message? It was not a political message. It was a religious message. As many above have noted, this lends credence to Mormons who are seeking desperately to include Mormonism within the realm of Christianity and gain acceptance by evangelicals. Though I would still disagree with the decision to invite Beck in the first place, Liberty could shut me up if they would simply say, “Mormonism is not consistent with the Christian faith.” Jerry Jr. has been asked his and Liberty’s position on Mormonism. He will not answer. Johnnie Moore has been asked the same question. He will not answer. Why?

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50 Tarheel June 4, 2014 at 9:35 am

Agreed…

Here’s my problem with this since LU doesn’t make the clear distinction between political and social cooperation with Beck and theological cooperation he espouses then they are creating a problem as it relates to the Gospel.

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51 Tarheel June 4, 2014 at 9:38 am

I agree completely with what Adam Blosser just posted but my lat statement above (at 9:35) was to Tom.

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52 D. L. Payton June 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Guys there is a basic fact i. e. LU has used Beck on several occasions. Why? Why Beck? Why not someone of equal recognition who would not bring the controversy? The could have anyone they want.

My point: the fact that they use Beck is making a statement. A statement of what i suspect is for debate, but it is a statement.

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53 Tarheel June 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Right, DL.

For purely political and moral questions – Why not Limbaugh, for example? I know that he too has claimed over the years to be a Christian but it is not anywhere near the cornerstone of his airwaves ramblings, as it is with Beck. Limbaugh’s political/social views (by and large) are in line with LU’s – and while he is no stranger to controversy (and inviting him too would certainly bring its own set of problems and disagreements) at least it would be clear to any reasonable observer that the connection between Limbaugh and LU is a purely political one and in no way a theological one. This would be clear in part because Rush is not going around professing that a cultist false religion that he pays allegiance to is one in the same with Christianity. Beck running around at every turn equating Mormonism with Christianity bolsters the need for a clear statement from LU to the contrary…lest room be left for persons to form a false equivalency in their minds.

Fact is, the theological line between Beck/Mormons and Evangelical Christianity is becoming increasingly blurred for clearly political reasons. LU is playing a very large role in that blurring. (NOTE; LU is not alone – I mentioned others in another comment and remember the BGEA removing Mormonism from their list of cults after Grahams met with Romney in 2012?)

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54 Brian Seay June 4, 2014 at 9:40 am

I don’t know what I would have done if in Moore/Falwell’s position when you have a speaker come in and throw a curve as Beck did. Should they interrupt him in the middle of his sermon? Make a polite but firm refutation at the close of the sermon? I think it’s fair to extend a great deal of grace there, however I am troubled by the failure to adequately follow up after Beck’s sermon.

Moore and Falwell certainly understand the Mormon agenda to be accepted into mainline Christianity – Beck’s “I am of the same faith just a different denomination” hopefully made them very uncomfortable along with the mention of Joseph Smith, Beck’s use of atonement, etc.

Why the hesitancy to communicate with students, alumni, concerned evangelicals (there seems to be many) with a simple message of… Beck was supposed to speak on a particular subject and changed without any notice. We refute the following things he said as they are contrary to Scripture …. Instead we have Moore suggesting that other conservative evangelical leaders suggest Beck has had a born again experience – who cares? The man’s words from the Liberty podium prove he doesn’t have the light, why take up a cause of defending him?

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55 Tarheel June 4, 2014 at 11:44 am

Brian,

“I don’t know what I would have done if in Moore/Falwell’s position when you have a speaker come in and throw a curve as Beck did. Should they interrupt him in the middle of his sermon? Make a polite but firm refutation at the close of the sermon? I think it’s fair to extend a great deal of grace there, however I am troubled by the failure to adequately follow up after Beck’s sermon.”

I understand what you are saying here – but with all respect – I am not sure the “giving of grace due to a curve ball” defense is warranted here. In fact, I might even say that there is no way they did not expect this given Beck’s history.

Beck had done this kind of thing before (equated his faith with Christianity) at LU on other occasions. Secondly, his radio and TV shows are full of his insistence that Mormonism is a denomination of Christianity. Thirdly, Beck organized and led had a full throated event (can’t remember the name of it – something to do with 9-11 I think) several years on the steps of the capitol in which he called people to “revival”, “returning to God” and “embrace the Bible as children of the same God” – I might add that Fallwell Jr. and Jonathon Falwell were at that event with him….as were Franklin Graham and Richard Land (then head of the ERLC)….so to portray that they could not, or should not have known, that he would once again equate his cult false religion with Christianity is a bit of a stretch.

In fact it might be like one claiming to have followed John MacArthur’s ministry and inviting him to speak and then claiming surprise when he makes a swipe at charismatics. There is just no way that defense holds up.

Lastly, then I will leave you alone. All they had to do is in the NEXT convocation clear it up, or they could have issued a statement clearing it up. They did not. They refuse to unequivocally say that Mormonism is not Christianity and those who hold to it are not Christians. Their refusal to do so is what is fueling this….and there is a really simple solution…if they dare clearly articulate it….but for some reason they have not.

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56 darren casper June 4, 2014 at 11:47 am

Adam,

Thank you sir for this well written, to the point, yet sweet spirited piece. Mr. Beck’s response on his radio program that you referenced is chilling… I concur with your concern for the need of a clear sounding trumpet when it comes to Gospel proclamation.

It amazes that there remains a significant and influential segment within our convention that appears to have such a concern for moralism and “culture saving” that we are having Mormon theology preached at a Christian university and a man dedicated to Islam as a student at one of our seminaries alongside young men and women preparing for overseas missions?

All the while, in house, we continue to divisive environments over Biblically debatable matters related to culture and some spiritual gifts. As one young preacher said to me the other day, “It’s just weird man…”

Good word Adam

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57 dr. james willingham June 4, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Too bad no one ever seems to spend anytime studying conspiracies. The aim of the conspiracy that has been in power for perhaps more than a quarter of a millennium is to break down all differences between religious groups, not a bad idea in some cases, especially where they want to chop off your head, etc., for not going along with their views. Baptists were always on the receiving end of such extermination plans until their views on religious liberty took root and upset the apple cart of those hard nosed characters. Now the latter are beginning to rise up again, but they are doing it in the name of tolerance (best place to hide intolerance is inside a public display of toleration). Baptists holding to religious liberty, believe it is the right of folks to hold whatever they want and to practice it, but they don’t buy too much of this mixing up stuff. There is more, but we are have a gully washer, and I have the feeling I need to get off this line.

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