Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Not-so Mormon Soteriology of Glenn Beck

By Bill McKeever

Glenn Beck, an outspoken member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, caused quite a stir on his July 13, 2010 broadcast when he spent a good portion of his show explaining the difference between the Christian view of individual salvation, and the collective view of salvation proffered by proponents of Black liberation theology. He explained:

"You cannot earn your way into heaven. You can't! There is no deed, no random act of kindness, no amount of money to spread around to others that earns you a trip to heaven. It can't happen. It's earned by God's grace alone, by believing that Jesus died on the cross for you. This is what Christians believe."

Beck spoke of a necessary change of heart and then proceeded to quote James 2:20, a verse I often hear from Mormons who feel this somehow trumps the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. However, Beck explained this passage in a very typical Protestant fashion. "What does that mean? Our works are a demonstration of our faith."

He went on to say, "I also am wise enough to know that people will say, yeah, but Glenn Beck is a Mormon, He's not even a real Christian. You can believe what you want. I will tell you that I am a man who needed the atonement more than most people do. I appreciate the atonement. I accept Jesus as my savior. I know that I am alive today because I did give all of it to Him because I couldn’t carry it anymore."

I was intrigued when he said he spoke of talking to well-respected Southern Baptist Richard Land to make sure his definition of individual salvation was the same as mainline Christianity (I can only imagine how his monologue might have sounded had he called someone like Boyd Packer or Robert D. Hales). Beck went on to say, "salvation is an individual relationship between the individual and God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. . . Jesus said, John 14:6, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.' I cannot be saved for you. I cannot save you. I can't even save myself. If you're a Christian you believe that Jesus can save you."

Beck then went to his famous chalkboards which contained a drawing of three crosses on a hill and another drawing representing an empty tomb.

"Here is traditional Christianity. Jesus died, two thieves over here. He took on the sins of the world by choice. The empty tomb represents that he conquered death. He was not a victim because he did it by choice. He's not a victim, he's a victor. He was a conqueror. He conquered death. Got it? To receive his salvation you accept his forgiveness of sin, and live your life, according to his will. That's what every Christian church in the country, in the world, believes. This is biblical."

When Beck says "You cannot earn your way into heaven,” he contradicts numerous statements from LDS leaders. For example:

“The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God. Such repentance and obedience are absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life” (Mormon Apostle Richard G. Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2006, p.42).

“It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings must be earned(Thomas Monson, “An Invitation to Exaltation,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1988, p.56).

“Now, brethren and sisters, somebody said in this conference that the same laws apply, the same rules govern today, and it is just as necessary for us to keep the commandments of our Heavenly Father today as it was for any of the prophets of old or any of his faithful sons and daughters who have lived upon the earth, who have earned a right to a place in the celestial kingdom. We can't gain our exaltation by the good lives of our neighbors, but we can profit by their good example, and we can improve ourselves” (Eighth President George Albert Smith, Conference Reports, April 1948, pp.162-163).

“We are living eternal life, and our position hereafter will be the result of our lives here. Every man will be judged according to his works, and he will receive only that degree of glory that he has earned. (Conference Reports, April 1945, p. 139.)” (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, p.30).

“There is only one objective so far as our Father’s work is concerned, and that is that in the end when we shall have finished our work here on earth, whether after a short space of time or a long, we too shall have overcome the world and have earned the right to that place called the Celestial Kingdom(Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, pp.230-231).

“Baptism into Christ’s true church by proper authority opens the doors for exaltation in the eternal kingdoms of glory, exaltation to be earned by repentance, by living righteously, keeping the commandments of the Lord, and service to one’s fellowmen(Spencer W. Kimball, “The Stone Cut without Hands,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1976, p.7).

Beck seems to also understand that good works come about as a result of being forgiven, not a prerequisite in order to receive forgiveness. Again, this flies in the face of traditional Mormon teaching: “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:32).

“That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:52).

“All that we can do for ourselves we are required to do. We must do our own repenting; we are required to obey every commandment and live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If we will do this, then we are freed from the consequences of our own sins. The plan of salvation is based on this foundation. No man can be saved without complying with these laws" (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p.172).

“To be forgiven one must repent. Repentance means not only to convict yourselves of the horror of the sin, but to confess it, abandon it, and restore to all who have been damaged to the total extent possible; then spend the balance of your lives trying to live the commandments of the Lord so he can eventually pardon you and cleanse you” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.200).

“And incomplete repentance never brought complete forgiveness” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.212).

“Complete forgiveness is reserved for those only who turn their whole hearts to the Lord and begin to keep all of his commandments not just those commandments disobeyed in the past, but those in all fields. ‘He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven’” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p.295).

“When you meet all of the conditions of repentance, however difficult, you may be forgiven and your transgressions will trouble your mind no more” (Boyd K. Packer, “Washed Clean,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1997, p.10).

“The benefits of the atonement for personal salvation arise out of our obedience to the laws and commandments of the gospel. The forgiveness of sins comes to us by this obedience to the ordinances of the gospel and by enduring to the end, walking in obedience to the commandments. (Roy W. Doxey, The Doctrine and Covenants Speaks 1:104).

I have to admit, Beck's explanation makes me wonder if his close relationships with several evangelical Christians are not having a positive effect. I have played the July 13th clip over and over (being the lousy typist I am, I had to just to transcribe it properly) and it seems apparent that Beck does not agree with traditional Mormon soteriology. And while I want to be optimistic about all of this, I admit that I have been disappointed by many Mormons who use Protestant phrases while failing to set aside the soul-damning, works oriented doctrine of Mormonism. However, at this point I don’t have any reason to believe Beck has an agenda to try and make his church look more “Christian.” I tend to believe he is trying to explain what he believes personally. Whether or not he knows he is out of harmony with his church, I cannot say, but if I understand the above correctly, he most certainly is.

How should we as Christians handle this? Because we are so used to Mormons using "Christianese" to conceal Mormonism's unique teachings, it is all too easy to assume Beck is merely doing the same. And while I often encourage a healthy dose of skepticism, I think we must also be willing to give a fair hearing to each and every Latter-day Saint in order to fully understand where they are coming from on a personal level. Unless we have reason to believe otherwise, it is imprudent to automatically assume Beck is being deceitful.
According to his testimony, the Mormon Church became a part of Beck's life at a time of great emotional need, so we should not at all be surprised if he will continue to demonstrate a level of loyalty to his church. Many who transition out of Mormonism tend to do this slowly. However, if Beck continues to publicly express theological positions that contradict his leaders, there will come a time when his church will no longer be loyal to him. If that happens, I hope he will find a warm welcome among Christians that have prayed for him during his spiritual search for truth. All I can say at this point is, let's be patient and see how this all pans out. If the Holy Spirit is really doing a work in his life, I am sure He will do an excellent job at bringing Beck into a more consistent relationship with the Father. Whether that happens sooner, later, or never, I have no intention to stop praying for him.

Originally Posted at http://www.mrm.org/

Todd Friel on Glenn Beck....

Originally Posted at http://www.mrm.org/

More teens becoming 'fake' Christians....

By John Blake
CNN August 27, 2010 8:57 a.m. EDT

(CNN) -- If you're the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:

Your child is following a "mutant" form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

She says this "imposter'' faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.

"If this is the God they're seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust," Dean says. "Churches don't give them enough to be passionate about."

What traits passionate teens share

Dean drew her conclusions from what she calls one of the most depressing summers of her life. She interviewed teens about their faith after helping conduct research for a controversial study called the National Study of Youth and Religion.
The study, which included in-depth interviews with at least 3,300 American teenagers between 13 and 17, found that most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith.

The study included Christians of all stripes -- from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can't talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."

Some critics told Dean that most teenagers can't talk coherently about any deep subject, but Dean says abundant research shows that's not true.

"They have a lot to say," Dean says. "They can talk about money, sex and their family relationships with nuance. Most people who work with teenagers know that they are not naturally inarticulate."

In "Almost Christian," Dean talks to the teens who are articulate about their faith. Most come from Mormon and evangelical churches, which tend to do a better job of instilling religious passion in teens, she says.
No matter their background, Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.

"There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior," she says. "They do a lot of things that parents pray for."

Dean, a United Methodist Church minister who says parents are the most important influence on their children's faith, places the ultimate blame for teens' religious apathy on adults.

Some adults don't expect much from youth pastors. They simply want them to keep their children off drugs and away from premarital sex.

Others practice a "gospel of niceness," where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.

"If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation," wrote Dean, a professor of youth and church culture at Princeton Theological Seminary.

More teens may be drifting away from conventional Christianity. But their desire to help others has not diminished, another author says.

Barbara A. Lewis, author of "The Teen Guide to Global Action," says Dean is right -- more teens are embracing a nebulous belief in God.

Yet there's been an "explosion" in youth service since 1995 that Lewis attributes to more schools emphasizing community service.

Teens that are less religious aren't automatically less compassionate, she says.

"I see an increase in youth passion to make the world a better place," she says. "I see young people reaching out to solve problems. They're not waiting for adults."

What religious teens say about their peers

Elizabeth Corrie meets some of these idealistic teens every summer. She has taken on the book's central challenge: instilling religious passion in teens.

Corrie, who once taught high school religion, now directs a program called YTI -- the Youth Theological Initiative at Emory University in Georgia.

YTI operates like a theological boot camp for teens. At least 36 rising high school juniors and seniors from across the country gather for three weeks of Christian training. They worship together, take pilgrimages to varying religious communities and participate in community projects.
Corrie says she sees no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the Christianity some are taught doesn't inspire them "to change anything that's broken in the world."

Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on, she says.

"We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake," Corrie says.

David Wheaton, an Atlanta high school senior, says many of his peers aren't excited about Christianity because they don't see the payoff.

"If they can't see benefits immediately, they stay away from it," Wheaton says. "They don't want to make sacrifices."

How 'radical' parents instill religious passion in their children

Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens' religious apathy as well, says Corrie, the Emory professor.

She says pastors often preach a safe message that can bring in the largest number of congregants. The result: more people and yawning in the pews.

"If your church can't survive without a certain number of members pledging, you might not want to preach a message that might make people mad," Corrie says. "We can all agree that we should all be good and that God rewards those who are nice."

Corrie, echoing the author of "Almost Christian," says the gospel of niceness can't teach teens how to confront tragedy.

"It can't bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can't I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?"
What can a parent do then?
Get "radical," Dean says.

She says parents who perform one act of radical faith in front of their children convey more than a multitude of sermons and mission trips.

A parent's radical act of faith could involve something as simple as spending a summer in Bolivia working on an agricultural renewal project or turning down a more lucrative job offer to stay at a struggling church, Dean says.

But it's not enough to be radical -- parents must explain "this is how Christians live," she says.
"If you don't say you're doing it because of your faith, kids are going to say my parents are really nice people," Dean says. "It doesn't register that faith is supposed to make you live differently unless parents help their kids connect the dots."

'They called when all the cards stopped'

Anne Havard, an Atlanta teenager, might be considered radical. She's a teen whose faith appears to be on fire.

Havard, who participated in the Emory program, bubbles over with energy when she talks about possibly teaching theology in the future and quotes heavy-duty scholars such as theologian Karl Barth.

She's so fired up about her faith that after one question, Havard goes on a five-minute tear before stopping and chuckling: "Sorry, I just talked a long time."

Havard says her faith has been nurtured by what Dean, the "Almost Christian" author, would call a significant faith community.

In 2006, Havard lost her father to a rare form of cancer. Then she lost one of her best friends -- a young woman in the prime of life -- to cancer as well. Her church and her pastor stepped in, she says.

"They called when all the cards stopped," she says.

When asked how her faith held up after losing her father and friend, Havard didn't fumble for words like some of the teens in "Almost Christian."
She says God spoke the most to her when she felt alone -- as Jesus must have felt on the cross.

"When Jesus was on the cross crying out, 'My God, why have you forsaken me?' Jesus was part of God,'' she says. "Then God knows what it means to doubt.

"It's OK to be in a storm, to be in a doubt," she says, "because God was there, too."

Originally Posted at http://www.cnn.com/ (I seen it on first on http://www.streetfishing.org/)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trial Sermon Series....

Part 10: Marriage and Men
1 Peter 3:7

Pastor Mark Driscoll (Preaching Pastor at Marshill Church in Seattle Washington)
March 22, 2009

As a man who loves God... You think your ready for marriage? Being married to a daughter of God is not for boys, but for men only.

Originally Posted at www.marshillchurch.org as a part of the sermon series "Trial" for more on the series or notes for this sermon, please visit the referenced site.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How a Godly Man Dates a Woman....

We talk a lot about biblical marriage, dating, and relationships here at Mars Hill. Here’s an interview with one Ballard member about his experience living that out.

In order to avoid the nasty divorce they watched their parents go through in the ’70s and ’80s when divorce rates peaked, many couples today are deciding to live together, have kids, and maybe at some point down the road – if they really feel the need, say, for insurance or something – they go ahead and get married … maybe. Most of us know a couple or family who fit this profile. But it’s a trend that Christian couples can’t join in on.

This leaves dating, which, to be honest, is a dying trend these days, but one Christian couples are doing their best to pursue. Today, we’ll talk with Andy, a 21-year-old college student at the Ballard campus, about what it means to date a woman within the context of a Christian relationship, i.e. one when you’re not living together or sleeping together. In Christian parlance, he is in what he refers to as a “courting” relationship with his girlfriend, Naomi, also a 21-year-old student.

How is your relationship with Naomi different than your friends’ relationships?

Let me lay a foundation here–there are selfish reasons to date and God-honoring reasons to date. This [unmarried, cohabitating couple I know at work] is in a self-serving relationship: all the benefits, but none of the commitments and responsibilities of being in a marriage.

For me and Naomi, we are wanting a relationship that is honoring to Christ. What it looks like practically, for instance, is our level of expression of affection, emotionally and physically, corresponds to our level of commitment: you don’t have sex before marriage for instance. Also emotional boundaries: I can’t be the one who she attaches herself to; she has to protect her heart because [the relationship] might not end in marriage.

Read the rest of the interview – and watch a 2008 sermon on dating that includes a full-grown man inside a plastic bubble – after the jump:

So for our relationship, it means getting to know each other in groups, at her parents’ house, at my parents’ house. We get to know each other’s friends. This Thursday I’m meeting her dad in Centralia and we get to sit down and chat.

I guess it should also be said that our case is ideal in that we’re 1. we’re both Christians, and 2. we both come from Christian families. So, her dad’s input – because he loves God and he loves his daughter and wants her best – is something I value.

If you do get married, how do you think this plan might impact your kids, your family, your legacy?

The first thing that comes to mind is–right now, what we’re doing, we’re trying to be as wise and as intentional as we can, knowing that we’re laying the foundation for a potential marriage. Step by step in prayer, seeking counsel from our parents, people we look up to–trusting that that will lay a solid foundation–a good foundation…and as far as our kids go–I definitely hope to be able to say to my kids, “Here’s how I did things, you might be able to learn from this–not saying that it’s going to be perfect, but, uh, but I want to be able to point to this as an example as a godly dating–courting–relationship.

What’s the difference between dating and courting?

Dating is usually about meeting a selfish need: I feel lonely, so I’m going to date. Courting is about intentionally building a foundation for a marriage. It’s not just about not feeling lonely anymore; it’s about, “Can we work well together in a Christian marriage?”

Originally Posted at the Marshill Church in Seattle Blog http://www.blog.marshillchurch.org/
(Biblical manhood, Marriage & Dating Series) 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Atheists--Poor Bible Students.....

August 13, 2010

(Blogger said:)

"The bible does a fine job of creating a fictional monster in the Old Testament, so non-believers are saved the trouble. If you want to worship a God who demands a man sacrifice his beloved son, kills everyone He created save one family, tortures a pious man to win a bet with Satan, and commits genocide against a people who are inconvenient to His chosen people, Ray's religion is right up your alley.” T

(Ray Comfort said:)

If I was such a poor student of what the Bible actually says, I too would be a cynic. Your lack of study is seen in your limiting of your blasphemy to the God of the Old Testament. The New Testament God is the same Person as the Old.

In the New Testament He killed a husband and wife because they told one lie. Jesus (New Testament) spoke of Him casting the wicked into Hell. In the Book of Revelation (New Testament) we see that He is the same holy Creator, whose wrath-filled justice will be unleashed against every transgressor of His Law. You may choose to pretend that He doesn't exist, but you still have to face Him on Judgment Day, and the Bible warns that it's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (New Testament).

God told Abraham to offer Isaac (his only-begotten son) as sacrifice, and when Abraham went to actually sacrifice him, God stopped him. That incident is called an "antitype," and it speaks to the future--of the time when God would give His only-begotten Son as a sacrifice for the sin of the world.

In case you didn’t know--when the Bible speaks of Jesus being God's "Son," it means that "God was in Christ bringing the world back to Himself." Jesus was God manifest in the flesh (see 1 Timothy 3:16).

Instead of accusing God of killing the whole of humanity in the Noahic flood, you may as well accuse Him of killing all of humanity. God, the Judge of the Universe, justly proclaimed the death sentence upon the entire human race because of our sin. You will die because you have sinned against God. Death is your earned "wages" (see Romans 6:23).

In regard to God "torturing" Job. Read the book, and you will see that it was Satan who smote Job, and not God.

He who is filthy with sin and has the gall to stand in moral judgment over a morally perfect God, has delusions of grandeur indeed. On the Day that your "multitude of sins" are exposed, it will dawn on you as to who is the real monster.

Originally posted  http://www.raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/ (The Atheist Central Blog by Ray Comfort)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Know Your Heretics: Monothelitism

Know Your Heretics
Justin Holcomb Director of the Resurgence
Know Your Heretics series

Did Jesus Have a Human Will?

After the Nicene (325) and Chalcedonian (451) declarations of classical, orthodox, dual-nature Christology, a stream of thought known as Monophysitism (the belief that there is only one nature in Christ) still existed, based on the ideas of Apollinarius. In the seventh century, there was a misguided attempt to reconcile the Monophysites with orthodox thought. This view proposed that "while Christ had two natures, he had only a single 'activity'…or, better, only a single, divine will" (Henry Chadwick, The Early Church).

This belief, known as Monothelitism, was proposed by Vigilius and unfortunately accepted by Honorius I (the Pope from 625-638). It was not until the Lateran Council in Rome in 649 and then later at the sixth ecumenical council at Constantinople in 680-681 that Monothelitism was condemned as heretical.

The Monothelitist View of Jesus

Monothelitism, most staunchly defended by Sergius I of Constantinople, is the teaching that Jesus Christ had only one will. After Chalcedon, the Monothelites were worried that those who posited two wills in Christ (Diothelitism) were guilty of edging ever-so-close to Nestorianism (the belief that there are two persons in Christ, as opposed to simply two natures). If Jesus had both a divine will and a human will, it is difficult, said the Monothelites, to see how he is not indeed two persons—a teaching condemned by Chalcedon. So the Monothelites argued that Jesus had no human will of his own, but was controlled by a divine will from above.

The Fight for the Humanity of Jesus

During the period when Monothelitism was accepted by the church, many wondered whether the teaching remained faithful to the Chalcedonian formula. One theologian, however, stood against much opposition and eventually gave his life for the orthodox teaching of the New Testament as stated at Chalcedon. His name was Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662). According to Maximus, the Monothelite error provided (like Apollinarianism) a weak view of the human nature. If normal human persons have a rational will, then Christ too—if he is fully human—must have a rational will. He saw Chalcedon as rightly maintaining the scriptural balance of the divinity and humanity of Christ while allowing the mystical union of the human and divine to exist in Christ. Maximus was imprisoned and tortured for his view, and this punishment eventually led to his death.

Yet, his stand for orthodoxy in the face of intense opposition was later vindicated. According to the Sixth Ecumenical Council of the Church in Constantinople (AD 680-681), there are two wills and two centers of action in Christ, but not two persons:

We likewise declare that in him [Christ] are two natural wills (dyo physika theleseis) and two natural operations (dyo physikas energeias) indivisibly, inconvertibly, inseparably, inconfusedly, according to the teaching of the holy Fathers. And these two natural wills are not contrary the one to the other (God forbid!) as the impious heretics assert, but his human will follows and that not as resisting and reluctant, but rather as subject to his divine and omnipotent will. (Oliver Crisp, Divinity and Humanity)

Why Jesus' Human Will Matters

While the primary relevance of this discussion concerns Christology, there is also practical relevance for the Christian life wrapped up in this nuanced debate. Namely, how are we to understand the activity of Jesus in the Gospels? "Did the Lord to whom and through whom Christians pray, pray himself?" (The Early Church)

If Jesus had only one divine/human will, he would seem to have no use for prayer. On the other hand, if Jesus had a truly and completely human will alongside of his divine will, prayer would take on a significant importance for the person of Christ. In the foreground, moreover, rings Gregory of Nazianzus' maxim that that which he did not assume he did not redeem. Once again, if Jesus is the one eternal Son of the Father who for us and our salvation became man, then he must be fully man if he is to serve as the one mediator between God and men.

Originally Posted By Justin Holcolmb from http://www.theresurgence.com/

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Download "Far Away" and Benefit Haiti

Originally posted at the Desiring God Blog
February 10, 2010
By: Lukas Naugle
Category: Don't Waste Your Life, International Outreach

Desiring God produced the music video for LeCrae's new song, "Far Away," over the weekend. It is now available for purchase, along with the mp3, for only $4.99.

If you want to buy just the mp3, it is available in iTunes for $.99. It is ranked 46 in Hip Hop as of now. Let's try to move it into the top 10!

Buy either of these now and all proceeds will go to Haiti relief.

Monday, August 2, 2010