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An Example of the Stormin' Mormon (Glenn Beck)'s Mode of Operation

Glenn Beck and Historical Inaccuracies

My friend, and huge Glenn Beck fan, Byron Harvey, has been debating me on my last post concerning Glenn Beck and his Mormonism (and how I think that his inability to discern the historical fallacies of Mormonism should give rise to our calling into question Beck's discernment when he touts himself as a great historian).

Byron questioned my take that Beck often gets history wrong.

Glenn Beck's historical inaccuracies are so often, and so subtle, that there could be an entire blog dedicated to it. Every time I watch him, I squirm, because at some point he will do these things. I don't have the time or energy (or interest, to tell the truth) to create such a blog. But I will do this: Let's watch just one clip from the Glenn Beck program and make some observations.

Here are just a few observations.

1. Beck raises up the Massachusetts Colony's Constitution as the bastion of godliness and the true religious beginnings of this country. After quoting it, Beck says, "Today, in that same state, you'd be boiled in your own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through your heart just for thinking such thoughts. And God forbid you bring a Christmas cookie for the other kids at school. That is how far off course we have drifted." Beck fails to mention that, as a Mormon, he most likely would have been banished from the colony, like they banished others they deemed as heretics - Roger Williams, Anne Hutchison and the Quakers. The law of the Massachusetts stated that blasphemy was punishable with death. If the Puritans in Salem burned what they thought were witches, what would they have done to a Mormon?

2. Then Beck has the audacity to preach from the Old Testament about the Exodus. This is what I think gets evangelicals all excited about Beck - "Glenn makes these biblical analogies! You see?! He is one of us!" But they are not considering that Beck is not one of us - he has chosen to be a member of a false religion that twists the gospel of Jesus Christ. His interpretation of the Bible must be taken with circumspect.

For instance, Beck says that God told the Israelites on Mt. Sinai to "just do ten things." Really? Has he read Exodus? What about all those crimes that resulted in the death penalty? "Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death" (21:15), or "Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death" (31:14). What does he do with all those laws? There was a lot more than "just 10 things that they had to do." And to imply that it's that simple to understand the Bible reveals Beck's naivete or his ideological bias (I'll let you decide).

And (this is a pet peeve of mine), is it healthy to compare America to the nation of Israel and the Exodus? This is not good history - it repeats the same mistakes that was going on in some churches at the time of the Revolution. It continues this blasphemy in our day, twisting the gospel away from what it actually is about.

3. Beck then says that the Washington Monument represents what the American Founders' "principles that were embedded everywhere!" He fails to tell us that the Washington Monument wasn't constructed until 1848 (and not finished until 1884). So, what did the founders have to do with the design and construction of the Washington Monument?

Beck is making a case by citing Seals and Monuments. This is just shoddy historical work, isn't it?

Take a look at the real "Great Seal of the United States." It takes its symbolism not from Christian sources but pagan sources. Look at Washington Monument. It is not based on Israelite or Christian architecture, but Egyptian. Look around Washington D.C.: Not only is Moses seen in the artwork and architecture, but also men like Confucius and Solon. There are plenty of pagan statues of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian gods. Maybe what we see “embedded everywhere" is not a favoritism toward a Judeo/Christian founding of the nation, but a respect for all these ancient civilizations.

4. Next, Beck states that Thomas Jefferson wanted the country to have Moses and the Exodus on the National Seal. Certainly, the founders enjoyed using the Exodus for symbolism about their war against England and their escape from tyranny to find freedom. But does this really mean that the history of the Unites States is equivalent to that of Israel in the time of the Exodus?

Beck claims that since Jefferson considered the Exodus for the Seal for the United States, then the "the wall of separation between church and state" is a novel, progressive lie – a concept that was foreign to the founding fathers.

But he is misleading his audience. Anybody with even the simplest education in American history knows that it was Jefferson who coined that phrase in his letter to the Danbury Baptists!

Are we really supposed to buy what Beck is peddling here?

related post: Glenn Beck: The Stormin’ Mormon’s Credentials to Teach History: Christians believe that Glenn Beck is a legitimate historian of American history? Really?


Glenn Beck: The Stormin’ Mormon’s Credentials to Teach History

Christians believe that Glenn Beck is a legitimate historian of American history? Really?

Glenn Beck gave the CPAC conference a history lesson the other day. He explained how, in his understanding of American history, “progressive ideas” have consistently harmed the country:
“Woodrow Wilson gets in and he gives us the Fed. How’s that working out for us, huh?... Then he gives us the – let’s remember this America – progressive income tax. He gives us the income tax.”

“Oh, they’re going to be so unhealthy, and we all want health care – Teddy Roosevelt was the first one to say, we should have universal health care.”

“Oh they’re going to be unhealthy, we can’t get that universal health care thing done, but you know what we can do? We should limit some of their choices. Prohibition. So he took away the alcohol. Progressive plan to take care of everyone.”

“Then he promised he wasn’t going to get us into war, because they’re a party of peace – peace and progress – and we went right to World War I.”
See the video here:

Of course, Beck does not have a degree in history. He told the folks at the CPAC conference how he became such an authority on history: “I went to the library, I educated myself. Books are free.”

Jon Stewart poked fun at this
, since Beck had just spent the majority of his speech at CPAC railing against taxes paying for community-owned services. Stewart said,
“Glenn, Glenn, Glenn. The library isn’t FREE! It’s paid for with tax money! Free public libraries are the result of the progressive movement to communally share books! The first public library was the Boston Public Library in 1854. Its statement of purpose: ‘Every citizen has the right to access community owned resources.’ ‘Community owned?’ That sounds just like communist! You’re a communist! It’s like saying, ‘Diet plans can’t help people. I learned that when I was dropping weight at Weight Watchers.’”

Beck fancies himself a historian. His book, Arguing with Idiots, features a chapter from which his speech at CPAC sprang on the U.S. Presidents, entitled, “A Steady Progression of Progressives.” He also gives a history lesson on the Constitution and everything from education to immigration.

I’ve talked to many evangelicals who honestly (and literally) think that Glenn Beck is a Godsend,
providing the American people with “the truth” about the history of America.

There’s a little problem with this contention. Glenn Beck became a Mormon in 1999, the year before his radio show went national. Now, I’m not contending that he isn’t allowed to choose his own faith. That’s one of the most precious American rights. My contention is this: Evangelical Christians see Glenn Beck as the one who understands and tells the truth about American history. But here’s a guy, at the age of 35, chose to join the Latter Day Saints, and to this day continues to be a Mormon.

Here's Glenn Beck talking about his Mormon faith:

Why is this significant? Because this bastion of truth about American history has embraced a religion that is demonstrably false historically.

The Book of Mormon is purported to be the history of two ancient civilizations on the American continent (here's the wikipedia article). According to Mormon history, the first group (the “Jeredites”) came to America after the tower of Babel. That civilization was destroyed because of “corruption” and “apostasy.” The second group came to America around 600 B.C. They were righteous Jews led by a man named Nephi. This group split into two warring camps, the Nephites and the Lamanites (which, according to the book of Mormon, were the American Indians). The Lamanites were ungodly so they were cursed with dark skin. Jesus Christ then came to America to reveal himself to the Nephites, creating a latter-day group of Christians (or the “latter-day saints”). However, the Lamanites defeated the Nephites, annihilating them in a battle in Palmyra, New York in A.D. 385. Some 1,400 years later, Joseph Smith discovered the Book of Mormon, written in a reformed Egyptian hieroglyphic on golden plates.

The Book of Mormon explains how great these two civilizations were.
  • There were 38 cities cataloged in the Book of Mormon.
  • “The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings” (Mormon 1:7).
  • “Fine workmanship…in iron and copper, and brass and steal, makings all manners of tools” (Jarom 1:8).
  • “did multiply and spread…began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Heleman 3:8)
  • “Their shipping and their building ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries” (Heleman 3:14).
So, where is the archeological evidence that such civilizations actually existed on the American continent? There has been absolutely no evidence found by any archeologists, period. The Smithsonian Institution issued official statements saying that it “has found no archaeological evidence to support [the Book of Mormon’s] claims.” The National Geographic Society stated “Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere's past and the society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon.” (see the chapters on Mormonism in Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults and Ruth Tucker's Another Gospel: Cults, Alternative Religions, and the New Age Movement).

My point is this: Glenn Beck, the “researcher” that finds the truth about America’s history readily available in the local library, cannot figure out the truth about the fallacious historical claims of Mormonism.

And we evangelicals are supposed to applaud his historical acumen?

Not me.

related post: An Example of the Stormin' Mormon (Glenn Beck)'s Mode of Operation: Glenn Beck and Historical Inaccuracies


Jamison to the Cavaliers

The Cavaliers just upped the ante in two different games. The first is the attempt to win the NBA title. The second is the attempt to keep LeBron James in Cleveland.

ESPN reports,
"Cleveland, Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers pulled off a three-team deal on Wednesday that sends Antawn Jamison to the Cavaliers as LeBron James' new sidekick, instead of Amare Stoudemire.
Cleveland sends Zydrunas Ilgauskas and his expiring $11.5 million contract to Washington. Washington also gets a 2010 first-round draft pick from Cleveland along with the rights to Emir Preldzic, who was selected in the second round of last year's draft."
And Zydrunas Ilgauskas most likely will remain a Cavalier. Michael Wilbon of The Washington Post (and ESPN's Pardon the Interruption) writes to Wizards fans,
"Don't show up at Verizon Center looking to see Big Z firing up three-pointers from the right corner. He'll be here about as long as Drew Gooden, who was in the passenger seat Wednesday night when Jamison drove away... Actually, Big Z probably won't show up in Washington at all. The Wizards can buy him out and he can sit out 30 days, then rejoin the Cavaliers for the playoffs. You think the Cavaliers are crazy enough to not have a veteran big man backing up Shaq?"
Jamison led the Wizards in scoring the past three seasons, averaging 21.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He may be that final piece of the puzzle that pushes the Cavs over the top.

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes,
"This trade could bring a title to Cleveland... General Manager Danny Ferry did it again. Backed by Dan Gilbert’s deep stash of cash, Ferry was able to add a star while giving up nearly nothing. It’s not just a deal, it’s a basketball Brinks truck of a steal."

J.A. Adande and Jalen Rose of ESPN say that this deal helps the Cavaliers keep LeBron James in a Cleveland uniform:

ESPN: J.A. Adande and Jalen Rose take a look at the three-team deal that sent Jamison to Cleveland

As I read Wilbon's column, I thought, "This sad state of affairs is what it usually sounds like to be a Cleveland sports fan!" It's strange to hear this kind of commentary about another sports franchise that doesn't have "Cleveland" in its name:
"Jamison left the floor, walked toward his car and told reporters to tell the fans he loved them more than they loved him. It clearly was a bittersweet moment for Jamison, who loved playing in Washington, loved living here, loved the late owner, Abe Pollin. In a fairly recent conversation, I told Jamison he'd get over it if he could join James in Cleveland and play for a championship. Jamison, never improper, managed a smile because if he was leaving he didn't want to leave under these circumstances.
Nevertheless, that feeling will wane and Jamison will walk into full houses at The Q in Cleveland. He'll play in games of consequence, playoff games of great theater. Likely he'll play into June alongside LeBron and Shaq, against Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. He'll play games that mean something on nights where his downtown arena vibrates and the entire city buzzes. And we'll be the jealous ones, again, watching the party from afar, the season over long before the good stuff even begins, so much closer, as usual, to last place than to first."


The Fragrance of Being Missional

Being the aroma of Christ in the world

In some Christian traditions, the priest walks down the center of the church, waving an urn of burning incense. The sweet smell fills the church as an act of worship to God, and all are reminded of the sacrifice of Christ, of how his sacrifice wafts to and fro from the cross into the world as the witness of God's love.

And now, as the church, we are called to be that sweet aroma to the world around us.
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15
What we all need to remember is that being a “missional church” is not just another program or another way to creatively “peddle the word of God” to an unbelieving world.

No, being missional is to truly embrace the life, death, and resurrection of Christ in such a way that we ourselves live a life of affliction as we live in the resurrection power provided by the Holy Spirit.

What I mean is this: to be truly missional, one must have actually experienced the pains of being a follower of the suffering servant, Jesus Christ.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians, makes this abundantly clear. You cannot be missional unless you know, really know, Christ. And you cannot really know Christ unless you’ve experienced suffering. And when we have that experiential knowledge of Christ, then we are capable to ministering to those in a hurting world.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” (2 Cor. 1:4-5)
Being missional is to experience and identify with Christ’s sufferings so that you can comfort those around you as the incarnation of Christ in their lives, offering His comfort.

As we live with the people in this world in this missional way, the scent of God will waft to and fro from our lives. Not as a program or a glitzy new preaching paradigm, but as authentic lives lived among those in need.

Our experiences of suffering are the very essence of what it means to be incarnational in this world. Some will see our suffering and say, “No, thank you. Not for me. That smells like death.” But others will smell salvation.
“To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” (2 Cor 2:16)

Our lives as Christians are meant to be “living sacrifices.” These sacrifices smell very, very good to God. The question is, are we willing to be that kind of aromatic witness to the world?

Are we, as Paul was,
“men of sincerity, commissioned by God, in the sight of God, speaking in Christ?” (2 Cor. 2:17)




I've talked to some friends that have read Brian McLaren's new book, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith, and they are pretty upset with it.

My first disclaimer is this: I haven't read the new book yet.

My second disclaimer is this: Yes, I've hung out with Brian McLaren on a few occasions and have enjoyed my time with him immensely.

My third disclaimer is this: In his writings, I find Brian McLaren to be an enigma:
  • Both insightful about many things and also naive about many other things.
  • Both helpful in articulating new ways to explain the faith, yet frustrating in dismissing classic ways of doing so.
  • Both pointing out false dichotomies that have arisen in the church, and yet expressing his own ideas through false dichotomies (using the same "us-vs-them" type of language).

So, it has been interesting to read a couple of series on Brian from two blogs I visit regularly:

Scot McKnight wrote a response to a "quiz" that McLaren created:
When I am presented with a new idea or proposal, my first question is more likely to be ...
___A. Is it acceptable to my religious/ideological community or belief system?
___B. Is it possibly true, valuable, and worth exploring?

If you chose A, you're probably a fundamentalist, and probably shouldn't read my new book because it will only get you in trouble. If you do decide to read it, don't let your fundamentalist friends know. Hide the book in a brown paper bag, and only read it in private.

If you chose B, you're curious, and I think you'll enjoy my new book.

Read Scot's response here.

And Mike Wittmer is in the middle of a series of posts on McLaren's new book (a chapter-by-chapter response) at his blog, Don't Stop Believing. Mike has been very cordial to the emerging church conversation, even in his critique of it (his book, Don't Stop Believing, is a helpful middle-ground take on traditional and emerging church ideas).


Geaux Saints!

At the beginning of the season, I announced publicly that "The Browns No Longer Deserve My Allegiance," and that "after Hurricane Katrina hit, I watched as the New Orleans Saints trade for a quarterback I really liked and drafted an extremely talented and flashy running back. So I became a Saints fan."

As I wear my Saints hat and shirt and carry around my Saints coffee mug, people are calling me a "frontrunner" and a "Johnny-come-lately."

Well, maybe. But this sure feels a whole lot better than the consistent ineptitude of the Browns!

Betty White Undermines Tim Tebow's Punchline

So much for "the controversy" that had all those pro-abortion folks up-in-arms over Tim Tebow's Focus of the Family Pro-Life commercial. It was rather tame, wasn't it?

But, unfortunately for Tim and Focus, their ad aired immediately after the Snickers commercial that featured Betty White and Abe Vigoda getting pummeled by football tackles.

When Tim Tebow tackled his mom in the Focus on the Family commercial, I thought, "Didn't I just see this joke?"



Super Bowl Special: Tony Dungy and Drew Brees

The COLTS vs. the SAINTS. Gotta love it!

Here are two very good videos - interviews with Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Colts, and Drew Brees, quarterback for the Saints.

Dungy talks about how his Christian faith informed how he coached football. Excellent insights here.

Brees talks about the hardships he had with injury and how God brought good through it by bringing him to New Orleans.


The iPad, or what some called the “Jesus Tablet”

Daniel Lyons, in his technology column in Newsweek (“In iPad We Trust: Why Apple's tablet isn't the second coming—yet.” Feb 8, 2010), offered a very interesting take on what Apple’s iPad means to us in today’s American techno-culture. He laments why Steve Jobs’ new gizmo was such a let-down.
“What's wrong, or at least interesting, is why some of us expected so much more from a new gadget. I suspect this is because for some people, myself included, technology has become a kind of religion. We may not believe in God anymore, but we still need mystery and wonder. We need the magic act. Five centuries ago Spanish missionaries put shiny mirrors in churches to dazzle the Incas and draw them to Christianity. We, too, want to be dazzled by shiny new objects. Our iPhones not only play music and make phone calls, but they also have become totemic objects, imbued with techno-voodoo. Maybe that sounds nuts, but before the iPad was announced, people were calling it the ‘Jesus tablet.’”

I think I’d have to agree with this. I see this not only in those who “may not believe in God anymore,” but also in believers as well. We have all bought into a religiously-imbued eschatology that says that the latest gadget may be the great coming of rapturous bliss. Interesting, isn't it, that the title of Lyon’s article places the iPad in the same sentence as the parousia.

Lyons gets even deeper in his analysis:
“Our love affair with technology is also about a quest for control. We're living in an age of change and upheaval. There's an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. But technology gives us the illusion of control, a sense of order. Pick up a smart phone and you have a reliable, dependable device that does whatever you tell it to do. You certainly can't say that about your colleagues or families.”


A Messiah that you do not submit to as Lord, but rather a messianic gadget that submits to you as its Lord. Isn’t that exactly what we want in our culture?

Rubs against what we, as Christians should actually want:
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)


NT Wright offers help on understanding the Genesis creation narrative

Bishop of Durham and New Testament scholar N.T. Wright offers his thoughts on how we should read the first two chapters of Genesis, and why myth does not mean the same thing as "not true".

Finding this video was very timely for me since I went to a forum last night that featured John H. Walton, author of The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. More on my thoughts on Walton in the days to come.

HT: Dan Turis


Tim Tebow defended by a pro-choice, female sports writer

Sally Jenkins, sports columnist for the Washington Post, has written a very good, and very courageous piece on Tim Tebow's Pro-Choice advertisement. Check it out. An excerpt:

I'm pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I've heard in the past week, I'll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the "National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time." For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

Tebow's 30-second ad hasn't even run yet, but it already has provoked "The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us" to reveal something important about themselves: They aren't actually "pro-choice" so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.

Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn't be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn't.