Everybody has something to say about Glenn Beck’s big Restoring Honor rally last week at the Lincoln Memorial. Some thought it was a new beginning for America. Some Evangelicals are worried that it was a Mormon who organized it. At least one conservative writer wondered if Glenn Beck is killing the Tea Party. And The Washington Post took up the issue from many vantage points in their On Faith blog.
Here’s a sampling:
Restore Honor Rally as extremely significant in a quote from The New York Times blog:
“You are an awakened sleeping giant,” said one of the speakers, Ernest Istook, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma. Standing before a “Tea Party Patriots” sign on the podium, Mr. Istook vowed that the energy of the weekend would last, and that “this resolve is not just one time.”
Istook is a Latter-day Saint who now works at the Heritage Foundation.
Evangelicals and Glenn Beck
Some of Evangelicals, like Russell Moore, have written that to hear the media refer to Glenn Beck as a new leader of the American Christian conservatives is a “scandal.” He said “If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times.”
He continued, “It’s sad to see so many Christians confusing Mormon politics or American nationalism with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Evangelical leader Jim Garlow takes a more benign view in a recent article for One News Now.
He said he’d come to appreciate the Latter-day Saints by working with them on the Prop 8 marriage definition amendment in California. He even canned a phrase for the news media who asked him this inevitable question about how Evangelicals and Mormons could possibly work together on an issue.:
"As evangelicals and Mormons, we are not theological brothers and sisters. But we are friends and neighbors. And on that basis we work together to defend marriage."
What Garlow wonders is if God would use a Latter-day Saint like Glenn Beck to accomplish his purposes, which leads him directly to wonder about the state of his soul.
I have listened and watched very carefully regarding clues to Glenn's spiritual condition. I have interviewed several people who have been with him and have talked very specifically with him regarding his own personal salvation. Glenn has said unequivocally that that he relies on the atonement of Jesus on the cross for forgiveness for his sins, and those are almost the exact words. Few people use the term atonement. Glenn did.
On one of his TV shows about a month ago, he laid out the gospel, using his well known blackboard, in the clearest explanation of the crucifixion and the resurrection that I have ever heard on national TV. I called James Robison, and asked, "Did you hear that?" James said, "Richard Land [Southern Baptist] just called me and said he never expected to hear the Gospel so clear on secular television." It was quite remarkable. A few days ago, Glenn laid out America's problems and then concluded, "We need God!"
I have interviewed persons who have talked specifically with Glenn about his personal salvation – persons extremely well known in Christianity – and they have affirmed (using language evangelicals understand), "Glenn is saved." He understands receiving Christ as savior.
Then Garlow makes a fascinating statement:
"If this nation collapses in the 2010-2012 time frame, historians will have to report, if they are honest, that American fell because of silent pastors and inactive pews. If, on the other hand, this nation is saved from self-destruction in the 2010-2012 timeframe, those same historians will have to report that one of the major reasons for the turnaround was Glenn Beck."
“Ís Glenn Beck Killing the Tea Party” asks writer Jack Hunter in The American Conservative
Much like Obama’s promises of “hope” and “change,” the platitudes offered at Beck’s event were empty, making the event like a right-wing Woodstock. The New York Times Ross Douthat aptly described why those who attended found it so groovy: “Americans love leaders who seem to validate their way of life…
Beck’s rally was essentially a self-affirming Tea Party love-in. Contrived and confused, even the title of the event raised the question — what, exactly, does “Restoring Honor” mean anyway? What truly needs restoring is some direction.
The idea of so many middle-class whites, many Christian — the traditional Republican base — coming together en masse to question their party and reexamine first principles is a liberating concept, not to mention long overdue.