Message to Glenn Beck and Fellowship Church: Congress Didn't Print the Aitken Bible

In addition to faulty theology, there are several glaring historical errors in Glenn Beck’s talk to Fellowship Church on July 5. Sadly, the audience is less knowledgeable now than before he spoke. Here is one example.
Glenn Beck told Fellowship Church that the first thing Congress did after the United States won the Revolutionary War was to print a Bible in English. Watch:
[youtube]http://youtu.be/cBgkSUILZEw[/youtube]
Transcript:

Don’t let anybody tell you we are not a Christian nation because we absolutely are a Christian nation. This is one of seven Bibles, three or four of them are held by the Smithsonian. Three are in private hands; extraordinarily rare. It’s called the Aitken Bible. This was the first thing Congress did when they started. We couldn’t print the Bible. So when we first established ourselves and we won the war, the first act was to print the Aitken Bible. When it was given to George Washington, he wept, and he said, ‘finally, a gift that is meaningful enough to give to the men that served by my side.’ We are a Christian nation. And we need to start behaving like a Christian nation, with love and respect, and take the beam out of our own eye before looking at the speck in someone’s else’s. We’re losing memberships in our churches because, stop talking about the things that the Bible tells us to do.  Let’s start doing them!

It is ironic that Beck tells the audience to start doing what the Bible says just after he consistently bore false witness about the Aitken Bible.
Let me take Beck’s claims bit by bit.

It’s called the Aitken Bible. This was the first thing Congress did when they started. We couldn’t print the Bible. So when we first established ourselves and we won the war, the first act was to print the Aitken Bible.

Beck was holding up a copy of what appeared to be the Aitken Bible. It is rare and valuable. It is also true that the British prohibited Bibles printed in America. However, nothing he said after that is true. Congress did not print the Bible and the involvement with Aitken’s project was not initiated by Congress. Furthermore, the timing of Aitken’s request and Congressional response do not match Beck’s passionate claim. It most certainly is not the first thing Congress did after the United States won the war for independence.
Robert Aitken petitioned Congress in a letter dated January 21, 1781. He wanted the approval of Congress for a Bible he was printing and he wanted to be the official Bible printer of the United States. You can read his petition here and here. I have it below as well.

To the Honourable The Congress of the United States of America

The Memorial of Robert Aitken of the City of Philadelphia Printer

Humbly Sheweth

That in every well regulated Government in Christendom The Sacred Books of the Old and New Testament, commonly called the Holy Bible, are printed and published under the Authority of the Sovereign Powers, in order to prevent the fatal confusion that would arise, and the alarming Injuries the Christian Faith might suffer from the spurious and erroneous Editions of Divine Revelation. That your Memorialist has no doubt but this work is an Object worthy the attention of the Congress of the United States of America, who will not neglect spiritual security, while they are virtuously contending for temporal blessings.

Under this persuasion, your Memorialist begs leave to inform your Honours That he hath begun and made considerable progress in a neat Edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools, But being cautious of suffering his copy of the Bible to Issue forth without the sanction of Congress, Humbly prays that your Honors would take this important matter into serious consideration & would be pleased to appoint one Member or Members of your Honourable Body to inspect his work so that the same may be published under the Authority of Congress. And further, your Memorialist prays, that he may be commissioned or otherwise appointed & Authorized to print and vend Editions of the Sacred Scriptures, in such manner and form as may best suit the wants and demands of the good people of these States, provided the same be in all things perfectly consonant to the Scriptures as heretofore Established and received amongst us, And as in Duty bound your Memorialist shall ever pray

Robt. Aitken Philadelphia. 21, Jany. 1781.

Aitken appeared to be under the impression that the United States might operate like Britain and regulate the authorized version of the Bible. He wanted his Bible to be the one approved by the government. In addition, he wanted Congressional awareness and approval because it had been illegal to do what he was doing under British rule. In fact, the war had not yet been won when Aitken began his work. He had already printed the New Testament but wanted to finish the job. “Being cautious of suffering his copy of the Bible to Issue forth without the sanction of Congress,” Aitken didn’t want to do anything which Congress might oppose.
Cornwallis surrendered to the American forces on October 19, 1781 so Aitken’s petition came prior to the end of the war, not first thing after we won. Congress appointed a committee to interact with Aitken as he progressed on his project. Aitken sent a copy of his Bible to Congress on September 9, 1782. The Congressional proclamation about the Bible was dated September 12, 1782. . The treaty of Paris formally ending the war did not come until September 3, 1783.  The proclamation from Congress is below in the first paragraph:

There is nothing in this proclamation about Congress as Bible printer. Congress clearly recognized Aitken as the author and recommended his work for religious and artistic achievement. It was Aitken’s idea, his work, his investment, and eventually his loss. He didn’t make money on the project, and because Congress didn’t fund the project, he offered the Bibles to George Washington with the suggestion, made by a friend, that Washington ask Congress to purchase Bibles for the troops who had fought in the war.
Beck embellished the story more by involving Washington. Beck claimed:

When it was given to George Washington, he wept, and he said, ‘finally, a gift that is meaningful enough to give to the men that served by my side.’

There is no record that Washington wept when Aitken’s friend, John Rodgers, requested that Washington asked Congress to buy copies of the Bible for his troops. Washington declined politely saying that most of the troops had gone home and so he couldn’t make such a request. Washington’s return letter on the subject indicated that he would liked to have given the troops a Bible but not in the manner claimed by Beck. Here is what Washington replied to Aitken’s friend, Rev. Rodgers.

Your proposition concerning Mr. Aikin’s Bibles would have been particularly noted by me, had it been suggested in season, but the late Resolution of Congress for discharging part of the Army, taking off near two thirds of our numbers, it is now too late to make the attempt. It would have pleased me well, if Congress had been pleased to make such an important present to the brave fellows, who have done so much for the security of their Country’s rights and establishment.

Beck’s quote from Washington is quite a dramatic embellishment as is most of what he had to say to Fellowship Church. Beck’s story about Congress and the Aitken Bible is false; his citation about Washington is highly inflated and misleading. Most people listening would go away thinking that the first thing Congress did after winning the war for independence was to use public funds to print a Bible and give it to the American troops with the heartfelt approval of George Washington.
Beck’s key story used to support the claim that the U.S. is a Christian nation turns out to be a fabrication.
Beck has to know this. It has been pointed out publicly by numerous writers. Even if somehow he has avoided reading the many debunkings of this story, the alternative isn’t much better. He is either knows the story is a fiction or he is a very, very bad historian. Fellowship Church’s spokesman told Christian Post that Beck was “unmatched” in his knowledge of history. If that is so, then Beck misled Fellowship Church on July 5 with knowledge aforethought.
If Glenn Beck and Ed Young want to honor the passionate plea Beck made to Fellowship Church to stop talking about the things the Bible says to do and to start doing them, then they need to come clean to the congregation and set the facts straight.
For more on the Aitken Bible lie and the involvement of Washington, see this Huffington Post article by Chris Rodda

Glenn Beck Tells Fellowship Church America is a Covenant Nation Like Israel

I told you Glenn Beck was going to teach theology at Fellowship Church and he wasted little time doing it.  Watch (at about 4:00 into the full clip available on You Tube):
[youtube]https://youtu.be/MHXMZPgPxWs[/youtube]
Beck told the Baptists:

I have a lot of stuff and very little time. I wanna just kind of go through because its essential that we ask ourselves: who are we? Who are we? Because most people don’t know. And what keeps us going? Again, most people don’t know. We came here for a reason. We are a covenant nation. We are the only ones besides the original state of Israel that made the covenant with God.

The other day in response to Beck’s defense of Ed Young, I asked who is/was the American Moses. Beck says it was George Washington. Speaking of the first president, Beck said Washington was

Down on his knees after the first inaugural address, George Washington made a four hour covenant  with the Lord. We are violating that covenant now. We are the ones that are blowing it.

Washington went to church for a service after the inauguration but I don’t think it lasted four hours.
glennbeckfellowshipThis is classic Latter Day Saint teaching about both history and theology. We’re not in the Bible but America is in the Book of Mormon which is where that teaching comes from.
A couple of years ago, I noted that David Barton had endorsed a book which included this covenant teaching. Beck featured Tim Ballard on his show and raved about the book. Here is what Mormon Tim Ballard says about America as covenant nation.

One of our preeminent examples of one who possessed such innate conviction was George Washington. He declared the following in his first inaugural address as the first president of the United States. His message not only reflects his own understanding of the American Covenant, but that of those who came before him in discovering, settling, and founding the new nation.

[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States.

Ballard, Timothy (2012-05-16). The Covenant: America’s Sacred and Immutable Connection to Ancient Israel (Kindle Locations 1074-1080). Legends Library. Kindle Edition.

Ballard doesn’t write about a four hour covenant but he adds:

Can there be any doubt that Washington possessed an understanding of the American Covenant and of his associated obligations to the people and to God? As he accepted the presidency, it seems as though he felt the weight of his responsibility within the context of that relationship.
Moments before this address, Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States. This “swearing in” ceremony makes the inaugural address even more significant, as it truly portrays our first president in his role as American Covenant-maker. For example, consider the words of the oath of office, which are found in Article II, Section I of the Constitution of the United States: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The profundity of that promise is revealed as we examine the true nature of the Constitution as national scripture. The Constitution (as will be detailed later) does nothing less than prescribe the formula for securing those American Covenant blessings of liberty, protection, and prosperity. It is but the modern political version of the ancient promise to Joseph found in Genesis 49. In swearing to uphold the Constitution, each president is committing himself and the nation to God and the American Covenant.
Ballard, Timothy (2012-05-16). The Covenant: America’s Sacred and Immutable Connection to Ancient Israel (Kindle Locations 1089-1100). Legends Library. Kindle Edition.

Ballard believes that American colonists were Ephraimites and have a connection to Israel. Mormons have an extremely high regard for the Constitution and consider it divine.
Blogger P.J. Miller calls this heresy and explains it is also popular at the American Family Association. My good friends over at Christ and Pop Culture discuss the broader manifestation of Americanism and address the false teaching that it is.
 
 

Glenn Beck Tells Ed Young's Fellowship Church: We Are a Christian Nation

LDS Gospel doctrine teacher Glenn Beck told Southern Baptist Fellowship Church on July 5: “We are a Christian nation, period.”
Watch:
[youtube]https://youtu.be/y0_xha6Jcdg[/youtube]
As I have pointed out, Beck’s church believes the founding fathers were baptized into his LDS church by coming in spirit form to a former LDS president and asking for redemption. So even rational Unitarian Thomas Jefferson is now a Mormon (according to the Mormon Chronicle).
Any Tyndale scholars in the house? I don’t think Beck got Tyndale’s last words right.
This video is only a brief clip but it sounds like he went over similar ground as his speech at Liberty University last year.
Here is one of the sessions posted by Ed Young. I may have additional comments:
[youtube]https://youtu.be/xL5uqFVlkBg[/youtube]

Glenn Beck Defends His Appearance at Ed Young's Fellowship Church; Are America's Founders Mormon?

Last night, Glenn Beck came to Ed Young’s defense. In a Facebook posting, Beck said Young is brave because he is “someone who’s willingness to come under attack should be commended.” Beck added:

Ed Young is the pastor of fellowship church here in Texas. It is a family of churches that he shepherds from here in Texas to Florida and all the way to London.

He is currently taking a beating for inviting me to speak at his church all three sessions this weekend.

glennbeckfellowshipI first blogged about the appearance on Monday.  Yesterday, Christian Post’s Nicola Menzie examined some reaction to the appearance and Beck’s membership in the Mormon church.  Young is apparently taking some heat over the arrangement.

Beck said his topic is “Gods role in American history and how we always rise to the occasion as we turn back toward God.” Beck criticized those who question his appearance as taking a page from Saul Alinsky. Where have I heard that before?

Beck says Young is being criticized because Beck is Mormon. I am sure that is part of it. However, another reason to question the wisdom of the appearance is that his talks on history are often full of errors. When I analysed his talk to Liberty University last year, I found that he made numerous historical errors, even about Mormon history.

Beck also claimed in his Facebook note that he isn’t going to speak about theology. He wrote:

Darkness knows if we, the Children of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob present a united front we can and will defeat any force on earth. If we are on Gods side who can stand against us?
I am NOT speaking about theology this weekend and I do not wish to do anything but strengthen people’s faith in one God. The God of their understanding.
The God who established this nation and the God that is telling us if we turn our face to Him, He will heal our land.

I disagree when Beck says he won’t speak about theology. He contradicted himself in these sentences. Surely, claims about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, how one may strengthen one’s relationship with that God, and how He established and “will heal” America are theological claims. More to the point, Mormons have very specific theological claims about the founders, the founding era and the founding documents. Beck is animated by those beliefs and will present them in some form to Young’s congregation. Make no mistake, Beck will teach theology this weekend.
I have referred to David Barton’s teachings as Christian nationalism; Beck’s and the LDS church’s very similar teachings could be called Mormon nationalism.
LDS church dogma is that the founders of America were baptized in the spirit and became Mormons. On the LDS website, a 1986 address by then-president of the church Ezra Taft Benson spelled out the teaching that the founders were “redeemed” by baptism into the church (more detail and audio are here).

Shortly after President Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, he assigned me to go into the vault of the St. George Temple and check the early records. As I did so, I realized the fulfillment of a dream I had had ever since learning of the visit of the Founding Fathers to the St. George Temple. I saw with my own eyes the record of the work which was done for the Founding Fathers of this great nation, beginning with George Washington.

Think of it: the Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls and had their vicarious work done for them.

President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words: “Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God’” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946, p. 160).

After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits … [and] were inspired of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 89).

The Benson speech fails to include these words of Woodruff to make it more clear who appeared. However, another speech by Benson added this detail:

I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men. [Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946), pp. 160-61]

These noble spirits came there with divine permission-evidence that this work of salvation goes forward on both sides of the veil.

Woodruff recorded those who were redeemed. They include George Washington’s family, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, along with numerous others.
Regarding the founding of the nation, Mormons believe it was directed by God. In a narrative that sounds much like David Barton’s Christian nation teaching, Benson quoted the LDC Doctrine and Covenants document:

“I established the Constitution of this land,” said the Lord, “by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80).

For centuries the Lord kept America hidden in the hollow of His hand until the time was right to unveil her for her destiny in the last days. “It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations,” said Lehi, “for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Ne. 1:8).

In the Lord’s due time His Spirit “wrought upon” Columbus, the pilgrims, the Puritans, and others to come to America. They testified of God’s intervention in their behalf (see 1 Ne. 13:12–13). The Book of Mormon records that they humbled “themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them” (1 Ne. 13:16).

Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. Recall what our Savior Jesus Christ said nearly two thousand years ago when He visited this promised land: “For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth” (3 Ne. 21:4). America, the land of liberty, was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for His restored church.

LDS theology requires the belief that, as Beck said he planned to teach at Fellowship Church, “God established this nation.”
The Bible teaches that God brings all nations into existence as a matter of common grace and Christian teaching historically has been that the U.S. does not appear specifically in the Bible. LDS theology requires American specialness as the “necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel.” The LDS church is that restoration.
The LDS church also teaches that the church will play a pivotal role in rescuing America.
According to Benson:

Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City).

I think it becomes clear why David Barton’s teaching is so important to Beck, even through all of the historical errors. Barton supports Beck’s theology of relationship between his church and the state.
Personally, I think the facts of history do not support either Mormon nationalism or Christian nationalism. However, those at Fellowship Church should know that the lessons they will receive don’t need to be historically sound because the history is drawn first and foremost from LDS theological teaching. The facts of history, like the nation’s founders who appeared to President Woodruff, are baptized until they fit in with the theological narrative.
 
 

Fellowship Church Spokesman Says LDS Doctrine Teacher Glenn Beck's Knowledge of History is Unmatched

UPDATE: Beck defended his appearance; says he won’t teach theology. I dispute that here and note that the LDS believe the founders were redeemed into the church via baptism.
Nicola Menzie’s Christian Post article examined the evangelical megachurch fascination with Glenn Beck, but Fellowship Church’s statement about Beck’s knowledge of history stood out to me.  Unmatched? Unmatched in error perhaps, but I think the clueless spokesman meant it as a compliment. The full quote was Glenn Beck’s:

knowledge of our history and his understanding of our nation is unmatched.

Beck got history wrong (see also this) when he spoke at Liberty University in 2014. He even messed up Mormon history in that talk at the same time he promoted LDS theology in his speech.
As I noted recently, Beck is speaking this coming weekend at Fellowship Church, a Southern Baptist church pastored by Ed Young.
Beck is the Gospel Doctrine teacher at his Mormon church and is about to teach his audience from the Bible next week. Watch:
[youtube]https://youtu.be/1pa2kEzpN_A[/youtube]
Menzie’s article did not get comment from Beck on his status with the Mormon church but apparently he has a position teaching doctrine there. You can review the teacher’s manual for the New Testament on the LDS church website. This site gives lessons from the Book of Mormon. The gospel doctrine teacher is to teach the doctrines of the Mormon church, which are outlined here.
Of course, all are free to practice their religion but it appears that celebrity worship is the religion of the modern Christian megachurch.
 
 

Glenn Beck to Appear at Ed Young's Fellowship Church on July 5

Glenn Beck will be interviewed at 11am Sunday morning at Fellowship Church near Fort Worth, TX. According to the website, the event will take place at the Hawkins/Allaso Ranch retreat center.
glennbeckfellowship
Fellowship Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
It seems surreal to have an unabashed Latter Day Saint apologist address a Baptist congregation on Sunday morning.