I was shocked and saddened to see WORLD magazine—where I once served as blog editor—publish a piece of syncretistic drivel by their longtime columnist Andrée Seu:
It was obvious to me that [Glenn Beck] was a new creation in Christ. I know he’s Mormon and all that. I also remember reading a book by Professor Harvey Conn decades ago that said that you have to be very careful when judging a person’s salvation—some people with lousy theology have their hearts right with God, and some people with impeccable theology are cold toward God.
Glenn Beck isn’t cold toward God. He is red hot. He is “a brand plucked from the fire” (Zechariah 3:2). He knows what pit he was in—and he knows exactly who took him out of it. If I were his station manager I would be biting my fingernails every day, because the man just doesn’t hold back about Jesus, and I can say without hesitation that I have not heard the essentials of the gospel more clearly and boldly in any church than on his program.
I have heard all the criticisms, and I can find sympathy for them—about the Mormonism, about the dangers of religious syncretism, etc. But regarding the Mormon thing, I think we should regard Beck as an Apollos and pray for a Priscilla and Aquila in his life, to steer him better (Acts 18). I just don’t see how anyone can listen to the man for a solid week and not be as blessed as I am by his courage, his utter lack of fear of man, and his sharp and personal testimony of Christ’s transforming power.
A recent poll reveals that only two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants recognize that Mormons have religious beliefs somewhat (26%) or very (42%) different from our own. It’s distressing that so many believers can be so confused. But Seu should know better. And I know that the editors of WORLD know better. (Note: See update at the end of this post.)
But what I find even more appalling than the claim that a devout Mormon (who believes in tritheism) can be a “new creation in Christ” is her slur against the church.
Seu says, “I have not heard the essentials of the gospel more clearly and boldly in any church than on his program.” Really? What church does she attend? If it’s true that a Mormon has proclaimed the gospel of Christ more clearly on a radio show than her Christian pastor has done in her church, then why does she stay? (Assuming, of course, that she regularly attends a church.)
To be honest, I don’t believe she believes that; I think she made that up for effect. Unfortunately, she’s not alone in making such a despicable charge. It’s all too common nowadays for evangelicals to make the scurrilous claim that our churches are not preaching the Gospel. While there are certainly churches where this is the case, it is simply not true of the majority of our congregations. To claim otherwise, without sufficient evidence to the contrary, is a libel against the Bride of Christ.
Note: Justin Taylor has some wise thoughts on the matter and, not surprisingly, he is much more winsome about this outrage that I can be.
Update: My friend Mickey McLean, the web executive editor for WORLD, says the fault lies with him: “WORLD’s position: All of us need editing. Our website editing system failed in regard to Andrée’s post about Glenn Beck. The breadth of response points out confusion concerning Beck and where he stands.” And in a comment to that post he adds, “I take full responsibility for not taking a closer look at Andrée’s column before posting it to the site.”
As a web editor I can certainly empathize. At FT we allow our non-staff blogs to post freely and with few restrictions since we don’t claim to agree with them on all issues. (I sometimes cringe at seeing what makes it onto our website.) WORLD takes a stricter approach, which forces them to take a bit more responsibility. Also, as a columnist Seu is a direct representative of the magazine.
Nevertheless, Mickey’s response goes a long way in restoring my trust in that great publication. I appreciate his taking responsibility, though Seu is the one that should be held accountable.