Monday, August 30, 2010

The Name, Beck, and the Black Robes

As Glenn Beck has it, God told the media superstar pundit how things should be at the rally in DC:
“It was about four months ago that we were still kind of lost, and we didn’t know what we were going to do when we got here,” Beck said. “And I was down on my knees, and we were in the office. And I said ‘Lord, I think I’m one of your dumber children. Speak slowly!’ And the answer was, ‘You have all the pieces. Just put them together.’ The pieces are faith, hope and charity and looking for those things inside each of us.’"

 I cannot help but shudder.  Assuming not only that Beck prays on his knees--I do too as a practicing Anglican Christian--but also that God actually spoke to Beck about his upcoming rally, and in a way that not only implies the Supreme Deity's approval, but also His outright support, it would behoove any rational person to rethink their politics.  In fact, one wonders whether or not an American flag now graces and enhances the glorious environment of the heavenly throne room.

Bringing God's name into this was the perfect foil (a lie, really) to mask the unspoken subtext of the rally--despite all me-thinks-she-doth-protest-too-much protestations to the contrary--that what the nation really needs are the right political viewpoints, candidates, and party to bring the nation back to its senses.  Rather than partisan protests imbued with bellicose vituperation, what better way to do this than to enlist YHWH to help in steering the nation back.  While invoking God's name, Beck assures the wary that this rally would not be about partisan politics.  But if God is the chief partisan in all of this--which seemed apparent at the rally--then those of us who don't hold with Beck's politics will apparently be in for a very unpleasant awakening on the other shore.  Boil it all down and you get it this way: better repent now, ask God for forgiveness, and embrace God's own conservative politics.

I think it is high time for Christians to have done with all of this.  God's name is not to be bandied about as if he were the chief enthusiast for a cheap and cynical religious nationalism.  The commandment that prohibits the taking of God's name in vain should bring all of us up short.  God's name is holy.  It is to be invoked with praise and adoration, thanksgiving and supplication.  I AM THAT I AM is not a political talisman.  Jesus Christ is not the nation's mascot.  These are names by which fallen human beings receive forgiveness, redemption, new and abundant life, and the eternal promise of future bodily resurrection in the new heavens and new earth.  With grateful hearts Christians are to be zealous for God's name. For there is no other name under heaven...

 Moreover, the various titles of God are actually subversive of all earthly political orders and systems.  To say Jesus is Lord in 1st century Rome could have gotten you killed, and in a most brutal way.  For the early Christians there was only one Lord and King; in their way of thinking, even Caesar must eventually bow down and give way to the name above all names, though they would have been horrified at the thought of picking up a sword to make this happen.  Instead, they renounced power, submitted themselves to the earthly consequences of allegiance to the only name that will ever matter, and the empire eventually crumbled.  The first shall be last, and the last first...  They knew who held the real power in the universe, and if He were humble enough to have renounced the power that was His by right for their sake, then they could only follow his example.

The most surreal part in all of this is that Christians are actually buying into Mr. Beck's power grab.  They are being played by this media superstar and his pilot-fish school of opportunistic politicians.  Isn't that just another way of saying that the rich and powerful are using the name of God to gather--and preserve--power to themselves?  Beck goes even further and enlists the help of clergy--the so-called "Black-robed Regiment"--to his cause.  Other earthly despots have done the same thing before, so this is nothing new.  Do these ministers not see the conscription?  Have they no sense that the name to which they are collared is not to be uttered in vain, especially the vanity of partisan politics?  Are they really that easily seduced by power?

Perhaps it is time for another confessing church movement to spring up and call Christians in the US back to their real purpose: Loving God and loving neighbors.  Such purpose needs no legislation, no rallies, no elections, no media cheerleaders, and certainly no politicians.  Christians will do more to influence and shape culture by simply loving God and their neighbors in deeds and words.  It isn't sexy, it isn't glamorous, and most of the time, it goes on quietly, behind the scenes, out of the limelight. and without any pomp and circumstance.  Unfortunately, this does not seem to be what Mr. Beck and his Black-robed Regiment desire.  I think they simply desire power.  Raw, sinful, earthly power.  To wield such power is to risk violence, bloodshed, and injustice.  All in God's name.

In the world of Mr. Beck, Christians like me are faced with a choice: adjust my politics in order to avoid incurring God's conservative disfavor, or risk incurring the legislative (and perhaps penal) wrath of populist passion whipped up by Beck and the Black Robes.  I think I will take my chances with the Almighty...


  1. Thanks for this article! I have been seeing more and more people suckered into this false gospel, but I've also seen more and more people standing up and saying that it's wrong. There's an article by a Biblical scholar named Jon Zens which is very similar to your article. Jon speaks about how many Christians are telling the world that Jesus is not really important. In order to change people's lives and change the country, all we need to do is have more "christian" laws and more "christian" politicians. They are basically saying that the true gospel is powerless. Anyway, you would probably enjoy Zen's article:

  2. I will apologize up front for what I'm about to say, because it will undoubtedly make some angry. I do NOT believe that God is a conservative -- nor is He a liberal. But at the same time, I am concerned that we ignore to our peril the idea that Christians being called back to their duty to love God and their neighbor will solve the problems of this country. We are told to "occupy the land in which we dwell". As Christians, we must do no less. But there is a vast number of people for whom the call to love God and their neighbor cannot be used since they haven't bought into the Christian ideals. But honor, integrity, commitment to principle, personal responsibility -- those ideals apply to Christians, non-Christians, even pagans. I don't agree with all of what took place last Friday -- not at all. But it was a tiny start to shift the thinking away from the me-centered ways back toward a common goal of morality and basic decent values.

    As to whether or not God spoke to Mr. Beck, I can't say...but that isn't my responsibility. My job is to listen, sift, discern and decide if I am doing my job as a Christian first, and a citizen of this land. If some of what he says is truth, then I must respond. If some of the meat is filled with bones, I can spit them out.

    There are reasons enough to be throwing stones, but we need to be sure we are throwing them in directions that are helpful.

  3. "Jesus Christ is not a national mascot." That is a great line and very profound. I have no doubt that Glen Beck hears the voice of God in his head, although I suspect it is really just Rupert Murdoch on the intercom.

  4. Candy,

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your perspective.

    I think your statement "back toward a common goal of morality and basic decent values" tells the tale. This is where I tend to differ with almost all of my (politically) conservative Christian brothers and sisters. You define these as honor, integrity, personal responsibility, and commitment to principle. These are all commendable traits. Yet I know liberals who live by these values and act in accordance with them, and yet they are committed to a different vision of the common good than conservatives. Does this de-legitimize their honor, integrity, personal responsibility, and commitment to principle? I should think not, and neither should you.

    At the root of all of this is the assumption that Christians should wield earthly political power for the sake of righteousness. This brings with it a whole host of prior assumptions that have to be worked through in order to even accept the basic proposition. We cannot avoid the pro- and anti-Constantinian historical paradigms that vie for dominance, we cannot avoid the continuity/discontinuity conflict regarding the relationship between the Testaments, and we cannot avoid dealing directly with basic disagreements that exist between Christians regarding just what/how/why/ the Sermon on the Mount, Romans 13, and the Petrine Epistles say what they say. Add to this the sad litany of Christian political history, whereby the Church has controlled or wielded strong influence upon earthly governments. The documented violence and bloodshed has been grievous. I acknowledge that this is just as true--perhaps even more so--with any other religious system that gains worldly power. That should tell us something about the very nature of earthly political power itself.

    All of which is to say that I disagree with you that loving God and loving neighbors is not enough to influence the direction of culture. I am not a Hebrew exegete, but I think your interpretation of God's command to the Jews in exile in Babylon to "occupy the land" does not mean to take it over politically. I think rather it means that they were to remain faithful to God even in their daily lives in a foreign place that wielded power over them. God did not seek to transform Babylon by the presence of the Israelites.

    The New Testament does not tell Christians to transform society by earthly influence and power. Jesus rejected this in his temptation, he submitted himself to death at the hands of imperial power, and the early Christians subverted that power by refusing to bow to it, asserting their allegiance to Christ.

    I think that loving God and neighbors is exactly what members of the Church should be doing. To say that is not enough is like saying that the Gospel is not enough or to say that we need the Gospel and...(insert here whatever political action or cause you wish). I will go even further and risk alienating everyone: The American conservative Church is now held captive to the insidious idolatry of religious nationalism, and the rally this weekend was exhibit A. Repentance must begin with the household of God.

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  6. One more thought (sorry!)--

    The Black Robes on the stage with Glenn Beck included the indefatigable end-times TV personality John Hagee, who, as a supposed minister of the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, has called for nuclear war with Iran on behalf of the nation-state Israel. That in itself is enough to indict Beck's entire enterprise.

  7. April,

    Thanks for your comment, and thanks for the link. I am only familiar with Jon Zens from afar, as I used to attend a "New-Covenant" Reformed fellowship in the Phoenix area back in the early 90s that had a loose affiliation with Mr. Zens. His analysis of the current situation is quite perceptive.

  8. Amen, Jay. It’s important to call out Beck on his lie before he does more damage. Like you, I have been blessed by God with the gift to discern the content of men’s hearts -- particularly their spiritual content. Also like you, God has lifted me to a special position spread the news when I identify the false hearts among us. Beck lied. (All of you are going to just have to trust Jay and I on this point. It’s a gift. You may not have it.) The rally was not about, or for, God. What saddens me most is that God may have honored some of the thousands of personal prayers uttered from the lips of Beck’s fools on Saturday. Surely God will have understood the false premise of the rally and closed his ear to those prayers.

    I thought we could compare notes on Beck’s lie and his claim that God guided him in preparation for the rally. Which of these scenarios is the way you think it all came down?

    1. Beck did pray for guidance and fooled the Holy Spirit into giving him guidance.
    2. Beck sincerely prayed but got no answer from God. He either imagined or made up the answer to suit his right wing ideas.
    3. Beck didn’t pray at all. His entire faith is a lie.

    I know it has to be one of these but I just can’t quite figure out which. Thanks again for pointing out the liar among us. This is exactly what the Church needs right now. (Lord knows we have enough prayer warriors and missionaries.) What we need are more like you and me to help identify devils parading as Christians.

  9. Note: My sarcastic comment above is given in the spirit of the “spoon.” Jay remains my friend (I hope.)

  10. Andy, thanks for posting. You are just now figuring out that I am the all-wise, all-knowing oracle?!? What took you so long?



  11. Alright Jay it's time for a little honesty. Did you watch the rally? Did you listen to Glen Beck's speech or any of the speeches? Just curious. I can't wait to hear your answer. I'm also so glad that you can discern peoples hearts and that God is not available for people like Beck. ;)

    Uh Oh I'm a Christian and I also have an American flag outside my house. What can be done!

    Your loving sister,


  12. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the question. I drew all of my information about the rally from a variety of news sources on the internet--CNN, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times,, all which highlighted various portions of the rally. Since we are phasing out satellite television in the coming months, I have deliberately avoided television as a means of news gathering.



  13. How about actually watching it. You can go to and watch the keynote speech he gave. I would love to hear what you have to say after you hear the whole thing.

  14. Uh oh. Didn't actually see the rally, but read news reports from other folks who also may not have seen the rally. Seriously, Jay, at a minimum that should have been a footnote in your blog. Did you write the piece before or after it happened?

  15. Jay, you should watch the three hour rally and reblog. The rally consisted of excellent worship and responsible personal challenges. The tone was strikingly positive. Personally I believe that God used the event to change hearts. I’m sorry you missed it. Beck is enigmatic and inconsistent. So what. You’ve been given the ability to discern complex things. Use it!

  16. @Andy:

    Did Beck preach the gospel, i.e. Christ crucified and resurrected? Because it really sounds like he led the nation in generic deity-worship and moralistic platitudes.

    I'm not going to have the time to watch a three-hour rally for several days, so I don't think it's asking too much for a quote or three to support your position. Thanks!

  17. I watched a replay on C-SPAN last night and my conclusion was that the rally was simply WEIRD. Beck did NOT preach the gospel, from what I heard (I came in toward the beginning of his speech). His speech was pluralistic and I think Garrett puts it well with the "generic deity-worship and moralistic platitudes."

    The reason I say it was "weird" was that all of his relativistic, empty rhetoric (in my opinion) was followed by overtly Christian prayers ("in the name of Jesus") and "fundamentalist" worship tunes (NOTE: that's not a criticism!).

    The thing that was lacking was any political/policy framework. There were consistent calls to "bring this nation" back to values, principles, and God, but there was little clarification.

    My guess (from knowing lots of Beck supporters) is that 1/2 the crowd translated this as "we need to pray to vote in LOTS of Christians!" (anti-Jay Hershberger proposal) and half the crowd translated this as "we need fundamental, individual, culture-wide change" (is this an anti-Jay Hershberger proposal?).

    I have no problem that Beck says he heard from God. I have just as much authority to say he did as I do to say he didn't. It's a struggle I myself often have (e.g. "Was that God telling me something or just pizza dreams?"). The only problem I had was that his rally WAS so incoherent and weird.

    For me, I'm no fan of civic religion, but I don't think that's *necessarily* what Beck was calling for. The problem about the rally was that I had no idea what he was calling for. It needed clarity, and lots of it. Who knows where everyone in the crowd was coming from. I simply don't like this floaty, fluffy, universalist stuff. I don't think that's the solution either. His speech was, in many ways, an Obama speech.

    That said, part me wonders how many assumptions the folks crying "CIVIC RELIGION!" are making. If it's not clear what the heck Beck is talking about (it isn't to me), what's so bad about a bunch of people getting together and praying for revival in the land? The only thing that's bad, in my view, is that they didn't specifically call out "JESUS" enough.

    My word for the rally (and Beck in general)? PRETENTIOUS.

  18. Sarah,

    Thanks for the tip. I watched the speech in its entirety. No doubt, Mr. Beck is articulate and passionate in his beliefs, and in his ability to use the medium of television to invoke and incite passion and enthusiasm in others. He is a brilliant entertainer, a quick intellect, and an effective motivational speaker. But...

    I am glad I watched the speech for it confirmed the substance of my thesis above. Random quotes:

    1. Mr. Beck begins by assuring the crowd that this is not about politics but about America turning to God. He then launches into a history lesson about American greatness, such as WWII, General Washington's participation in the constitutional convention, and Abraham Lincoln's greatness. So...this isn't about politics? The 1st 5 minutes proved conclusively that this was exactly about politics. The purpose of the rally was political, its speakers were political...Sarah Palin...and its purpose was really about stirring up religious nationalism in order to wrest the country from progressives in the next two elections. There is nothing wrong with voting out progressives. But to do so in the name of God, as if God were a conservative, is a lie.

    2. Mr. Beck then refers to President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the 2nd Inagural Address as "American Scripture, alive as any Scripture ever was..." QED.

    3. "We must get the hate out. We must not allow hatred to flow to us or to any American. We must look to God and look to love." Which God are we talking about? What does he mean by hatred? I do not think this is anything but the god of civil religion, a toothless God regarding the reality of Biblical truth, and used only in the service of enhancing and preserving political power. In the context of the speech, and Mr. Beck's show, I think hatred is defined as being critical of America. Which leads me to...

    4. "Tell the truth about America." What truths are allowed? What truths are not allowed? Who decides which truths are "true?" Truth is ultimately perspectival, and everyone--you and I included--views and interprets "truth" through the lens of our worldview. We cannot escape our worldview, but can only acknowledge it. Two people looking at the same data may arrive at opposite conclusions. Mr. Beck seems uninterested in any truth that doesn't comport with his worldview.

    5. Mr. Beck appealed to all of the pillars of "family values" that are trumpeted by the Christian Right: prayer, time with family, being honest, intact families with both parents,etc. All of this is fine as it goes, and I do not doubt for a moment that Mr. Beck actually believes in family values (what Mormon wouldn't?), but I cannot help but wonder, in the context of this overtly political rally, if that what is really going on here is that the troops are being told what they want to hear in order to secure their support for a specific political agenda. This is always been the case in the history of church and state. The state always moves to protect its existence and enhance its power, and the state always conscripts religion to that end.


  19. 6. "Once you find out who God really is, it will be the biggest blessing and the biggest curse in your life." I will not criticize Mr. Beck's religion, for he, like all of us, is free to worship and serve his god. However, I will point out that any serious study of comparative religion regarding Christianity and Mormonism reveals that the gods being compared are not the same. In the context of this rally, overtly political as it is, this is the civil god of politics, who, when the rubber meets the road in real legislation, suddenly has very little to say about much of anything moral, but is sort of a mascot to cheer the troops on. It is patently NOT the God of the Scripture who smites His enemies, brings plagues and pestilence upon the hard-hearted, and in mercy smites His own Son and raises Him up again for the sake of those who cannot save themselves. This same God, however, exacts a price: allegiance to God and not Caesar.

    6. His analysis of the country's financial crisis is spot on. Now that you have recovered and gotten back up off the floor...

    7. "The truth shall set you free..." Amen. But again, what truth are we talking about?

    8. The Black-robed Regiment. This was the most offensive part of the speech for me, because it proves conclusively that the "god" Beck calls upon is a god whose only interest in "restoring America" which really means preserving American political power in a particular ideology (conservatism). Beck even admits that the clergy behind him "do not agree on the fundamentals. But they do agree that god is the answer." Which God? YHWH? The Triune God? Allah? Mormon? Krishna? Sorry, this is nothing but civil religion, not true religion. I would have been more impressed if Mr. Beck had honestly stated that he believes everyone should become Mormons. They certainly have all of the right family values. They have taken care of their own in a way that puts many Christian churches to shame. But he would never say this, because to do so would be to suddenly cause the whole thing to fall apart. Which just proves my point that this is not about true religion, but civil religion, and a religion that will save no one but the state itself. That is not a religion I am particularly interested in practicing.

    9. "Let us ask for redemption." What does that mean? What kind of redemption? The redemption of the Cross? Or the redemption from the threat of progressivism? The problems associated with the former should be plain for you to see. I think it is the latter.

    One final thought. The weapons of the Christian's warfare are spiritual, not carnal. Earthly political power is a carnal weapon in the hands of a Christian, and therefore must be exercised with the greatest of caution, care, and knowledge that not only it cannot war against the true enemy, but might actually create and foist evil upon others. Mr. Beck's Black-robed Regiment does not confidence instill.

    OK, you get the point. I was not sanguine about listening to the speech. I am now happy that I did. It is exhibit A of everything I said above.

    Your irritating and infuriating brother-in-law, :)


  20. Oops. Sorry. Two number sixes. 10 points, not 9.

  21. Joseph,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I love that you posit proposals as "anti-Jay Hershberger." That is high praise indeed.

    I think my analysis of this as "civil religion" stands. Your last point makes my point. If Mr. Beck had specifically stated that what the country needed was to turn to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, the entire affair would have fallen apart (see my elaboration on this in my response to Sarah). So long as we do not define what or who this god might be, we can conscript him/her/it to our earthly political agendas. The minute we start asking the hard questions, it falls apart.

  22. For everyone:

    Here is a more in-depth critique from a specifically Christian perspective.



  23. Jay, thanks for your augmented comments! Garret, no, Beck did not present the core of the gospel. I wish he had.

    Since folks seem to be curious about how Beck’s views on the gospel, following are quotes from his blog on this subject:

    “You cannot earn your way into Heaven. There is no deed, no random act of kindness, no amount of money to spread around to others that earns you a trip to heaven. It's by God's grace alone that you are saved. Now, that doesn't mean you aren't supposed to do works and deeds — "faith without works is dead." Our work is a demonstration of our faith.”

    “…I called Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. I wanted to make sure that mainline Christianity has the same definition of individual salvation that I have. He agreed that salvation is an individual relationship between a person and God through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth and the light." I can't be saved for someone else and they can't be saved by me. When Jesus died on the cross he died for everyone that ever lived, but individually. It was one act for the entire collection — it was for each person individually.”

    “…merry Christmas and here's all the music to celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ who died for the sins of the world. Ain't that great?”

    “God is a God of freedom and individual choice and a God that sent a savior down that says as an individual, accept my sacrifice and there's salvation.”

  24. Andy,

    As I stated in my response to Sarah, I will not criticize Mr. Beck for his religion. Any study of comparative religion reveals that Mormons and Christians use the same religious language and terminology to refer to ideas about god that are different at best, or even categorically antithetical. Fine. But the devil is always in the details, and this is exactly where the use of religion in politics cannot go without becoming antagonistic and tribal.

    It also demonstrates the uselessness of civil religion regarding politics, for the religion has to be so devoid of any sort of specific content that almost any government, government official, politician, political spokesperson, or political group can say or believe anything they want about god that will help them in their political cause.

  25. Clarification for Andy,

    I spent Sunday morning reviewing the various on-line news resources about the rally the day before, began writing my original blog on Sunday evening, and finished it Monday morning before posting it.

  26. Point well taken. I guess I shouldn't have said the only thing missing was "Jesus," because I meant to include that one more key component was also missing: a clarification on the role of government.

    On this point, I think if anything specific were said, it would have all "fallen apart" as well.

    Failures of both omission and commission, I suppose. Still, perhaps not as dangerous as if the WRONG thing would have been made very, very clear.

  27. Joseph,

    Good points! Clarifying the role of government requires vigorous debate these days. Since the devil is always in the details, the details have a way of raising more questions than answers.

  28. Jay,
    I'm glad you watched it. I also watched it, and found it strange to see Beck talking about God so much. It made me uncomfortable, because just like you, when he says "God", I have no idea what he means. I would have liked it if he had kept it more political, and talked about freedom of religion and the benefits of faith to our communities and country.

    I didn't mind the black robes as a way of showing that our country has freedom of religion and that we can all agree that faith is important.

    Beck made my skin crawl a bit when he talked about America getting healthy, so we can then help other countries. I don't want America trying to be the saviour of the world.

    Those are the things I didn't like. I did like that he is encouraging faith, hope, morals, honesty, hard-work, etc..
    To be honest it reminded me a bit of Oprah. If Oprah had been up there saying all the same things, I think everyone would be praising her, and her message; but because it is Glenn Beck, the media immediately calls into question what his motives are and how awful and evil he is.

    I'm not a fan of Glenn Beck, just ask Doug, but I get really tired of everyone bashing him when most of them don't actually watch his show or listen to him on the radio. They take the word of the Huffington Post, among others, which has misquoted or taken out of context numerous statements of Beck's.

    I also think people need to step back and ask themselves, why does Beck have so much popularity? Why do hundreds of thousands come to listen to him at a rally? It isn't because he is a mormon or a republican. (He is, in fact, not a republican) It is because a lot of what he says rings true.

    I'm not sure what you were trying to say about truth. There is not a relative truth. Something is either true or not. It didn't bother me, hearing Beck talk about truth because I do believe that it is time for truth. It is time for people to seek the truth, which incidently, Beck consistently implores viewers to seek for themselves, and not take his word for it, "question with boldness". If we really had politicians who spoke the truth that would change our country for the better. The cynicism you exibit toward Beck, is an example of the lack of faith most of us have toward all our leaders, because so many of them think of truth as relative. This rally, among other things, was about personal responsibility, "take up your stick", and that "we the people" surround the leaders, they don't surround us. We need to be a moral people, deserving of moral leaders. If we are an immoral people, what sort of leadership will we have. Perhaps it was, at best, incoherrent at times. As I've listened to the post rally commentary, both from others, and Glenn himself, his goal seems to have been a perfectly noble one. To take a step in the direction toward moving people to make a committment to moral living. Just because the Christian Right stands for "family values" does that mean that anyone who states those values in a political arena is pandering? I want those values don't you? Aren't those values good for America? If Beck was encouraging those values to be legislated then I would have a big problem with his message but he wasn't. He was encouraging individuals to have these values in their own lives. Again that seems consistent with his message of personal responsibilty. This is political in the sense that progressives (and a lot of conservatives)belive it is the responsibility of the government to provide and care for its citizens. Our government simply can't afford this responsibility. So I'll be happy when anyone champions personal responsibility(even Obama). I also though a lot of Beck's speech sounded like Obama's acceptance speech.

  29. From FIRST THINGS on the rally. This is a thoughtful dissent with the fragrance of a sympathetic ear.

  30. Forgot to give credit to Joseph for the above link. Thanks, Joseph!

  31. Sarah,

    Thanks for your response. Good points and good thoughts. I am glad to hear that you do not have an uncritical respect for Mr. Beck. That is as it should be.

    My point about truth is that it cannot be separated from the worldview of the person who believes this or that to be true. This is a basic and fundamental philosophical axiom that even most orthodox and conservative Christian thinkers, theologians, and teachers accept. Douglas Wilson, Peter Leithart, Greg Bahnsen, NT Wright all affirm this.

    You have a worldview. It is the filter--the eyeglasses--through which you examine and evaluate the data of life that comes at you. More specifically, you have a Christian worldview. You accept this worldview by faith. You affirm that this or that is "true" but you must do so by faith. This is most easily established by the fact that two people can examine the data of life and come to equal opposite conclusions about it. Both believe their interpretation of the data is "objective" and the "truth." Of course, depending on the data in question, it is possible to say that one is right and the other is wrong, but even the third person who evaluates the two interpretations brings their own perspective to the data. The only thing we can do is to--in the words of Bishop Tom Wright--be aware of our own worldview, and be willing to allow it to be polished or even changed, the way that you would clean your glasses or even get a stronger prescription in order to see better. Sometimes, what we think to be true, even as Christians, is in need of adjustment, reformation, or even rejection. Sometimes, new data comes in that forces us to confront what we believe to be true about the world, and to accept that what we believed was actually either incomplete, based on bad data, or just plain wrong. But "objective" truth with regard to ideas and belief systems is unobtainable because it would require perfect knowledge in order to say unequivocally what is or is not consistent with reality. This is why faith takes over where sight fails.

    Sorry for the philosophy lesson. That is a consequence of my spending my life in the academy.

    I think cynicism is necessary, especially in the case of the rally. Cynics are always unwelcome, and even the cynics need cynics to keep them honest. My previous blog entry here at Stirring the Pot is on that very subject. I guess I just know too much about human nature, especially when humans act collectively, to have any "faith" in government or politicians or leaders. May I gently suggest that such a "faith" is misplaced, especially since the Scripture tells us "do not put your trust in kings and princes, but in the Lord your God." Extend that out to include public personalities, and you can see why I am so suspicious of Mr. Beck, especially where religion is involved. I am afraid that history is on the side of the cynic in all of this. No matter how well-meaning Mr. Beck believes himself to be, the very act of orchestrating a rally like this for television with all of the commensurate stagings, music, celebrities--even Christian celebrities--and emotion-stirring speech making for the sake of political advantage to one particular ideological group, is a cynical act, an attempt to persuade citizens to cede power to the "right" politicians.

    I believe you are critically engaged enough to see this.


  32. Anyway, Sarah, I appreciated your thoughtful response and goodwill. Pray for me, that my understanding would be unclouded by my own assumptions, presuppositions, and biases. Especially as I contemplate taking on the collar.

  33. Joseph Sunde, who participated in the above postings, wrote a very perceptive piece on the whole affair. It is worth the time. Thanks, Joseph!

  34. So the DC Rally was a cover for political action... Really? If any of you actually viewed the TV shows or heard Beck's radio programs, perhaps the reviews and comments above would be a bit less cynical. What's remarkable is that God could move (I believe He is moving) amidst the mess of the modern media, that He could raise up a man who would challenge conservative Americans to discover their true Christian heritage, and ensure that a 3rd Great Awakening may come upon us. Yet, I'm hearing a chorus of nay-sayers who depend primarily on secondary or secular sources for their assessments.
    Based on the comments above, everyone gets their news from deviant mindsets (e.g., Maddow and Olberman at MSNBC, CNN, et al). In other words, I'm reading comments that reveal a severe deficit of first-hand observation.
    Beck has taken a lot of cheap shots from the lost legions of secular humanists, pun-ditz and collectivists (on the Left as nature would have it). What's sad and a bit surprising to me is the failure of so many professing Christians to appreciate the thrust of the Restoring Honor rally. What is this ? a contest to see who can be the most critical in your religiosity?
    So let me ask-- do you ever listen to Beck's radio show?
    Evidently not. About 2 months ago, Beck had one of the greatetst living American evenagelists on the show. The message presented was not political or partisan. It was about humility and genuiune repentance. IF your readers can't see the hand of God in American history (in the lives of men like Washington, Jefferson, John & Samuel John Adams, and numerous BLACK ROBE REGIMENT pastors who stood up against a corrupt British crowned/church), then you are blind or ignorant. Surely it's proof of the Progressive influence of Ivy League academia. For those who said it wasn't an authentic message, did you miss the testimony of baseball great Albert Pujols? Did you fail to see the colorblind aspects of the Rally? Did you fail to hear Aveda King on the Beck show, the niece of Martin Luther King?

    (Sarah Palin isn't my favorite speaker- but she wasn't the main draw at all.) Another cheap shot.!

    Perhaps this comment/rant will be the the only one to recognize and support the moral and spiritual import of the Restoring Honor rally. It was a clarion call to elevate the discourse above mere political posturing. It was and is a call to personal responsibility. Whatever your thoughts, I am challenging you to examine your sources of info and influence. Look into your own souls and find something constructive to bring to the table (or the keyboard :). What if folks took a break from the endless politicizing. Perhaps a true Awakening could begin spreading light across this last bastion of Marxist thought-- the American college campus.