Saturday, September 4, 2010
Glenn Beck and Jesus: Civil Religion Is Anything But
Glenn Beck held a rally a couple weekends in D.C. Estimates of the number of people attending varied significantly. Liberal Democrats counted 117 people gathered, including family pets. Beck, on the other hand, says he personally shook hands with 5.7 billion people, thus leaving only a remote Himalayan village accessible by yak to miss the festivities. Numbers aside, something concerns me. I acknowledge I listened to a small segment of his speech, not its entirety.
At his rally on the Washington Mall, Fox News host Glenn Beck brought 240 clergy onstage. Harkening back to the Revolutionary War, Beck called the group a "Black Robe Regiment." He said the clergy "all locked arms saying the principles of America need to be taught from the pulpit." This troubles me. Here's why.
The "pulpit" serves as the vehicle for pastors to proclaim the message of salvation and healing, as found or located in Jesus Christ. If I pause for any length of time and take that introspective "look in the mirror" I am aware of not only my worth and human dignity but also my sinfulness. I need "saved" from my sinfulness. I am also marred psycho-emotionally. Regardless of how lofty some principles of America may be, they do not have the capability of either saving me or healing me. They might inspire me, but a drowning man doesn't need inspiration; he needs rescued.
His statement also troubles me in that if the pulpit is the vehicle whereby men and women speak on behalf of God as his representatives then Beck appears to be elevating the principles of America to a sacred and transcendent level. Sacred and holy things come from the pulpit and to proclaim America's principles from the pulpit would appear to make them of a divine and holy nature. No nation has the right or prerogative to do that; that smacks of idolatry, i.e. a nation setting itself up to be the source of "good news," the gospel to be proclaimed from the pulpit. It makes the nation God-like. Sadly, any nation, even our own, is merely human-like. This country that I love and for which I am grateful is as "fallen" and sinful as I am. And 240 pastors, as a sign of solidarity, locked arms agreeing that the principles of America need to be taught from the pulpit?? Really? That may sound and feel patriotic, but is that not endorsing the nation as God's "kingdom?" If I recall, Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, not the Roman empire.
May we all exercise discernment when Beckoned to respond.