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.
I 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.