A liberation theology of the right

Arrrrgh. I’m writing about politics again. Or am I writing about religion? Here is a section from “God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck” by Southern Baptist pastor/seminary professor Russell Moore:

It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.

Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we’ve relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We’ve tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political “conservatism” and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.

Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.

He hit the nail on the head. This rally was a quasi-religious and nationalistic call to morality and civil religion, but not a call to follow Jesus Christ. Many in the crowd didn’t seem to know the difference.

HT: Cranach (the blog of Gene Edward Veith)

Grace and Peace

7 thoughts on “A liberation theology of the right

  1. Charles Kankelborg

    What an interesting way to think of it — liberation theology of both the left and the right. Is there an analogy here to the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ time?

    I am only peripherally familiar with Mormonism; how would you say they view Jesus differently, and how does that play into the topic at hand? My only disappointment with Moore’s essay is that it is so short.


  2. WebMonk

    One of the most important differences is that in Mormon theology Jesus is not God. He is literally the son of God (as in God had some sort of “sex” with a spirit wife and the result was Jesus), and the half-brother of Satan.

    They use many of the same terms – “saved”, “Son of God”, “salvation through Jesus” – but who that mean by those terms is drastically different than who a Christian means by those terms.

    I can say “dog” when referring to a bear. I can describe it as furry, mammal, etc, in a way that sounds really similar to a dog but it doesn’t change the fact that when I use the word “dog” that I would be meaning something completely different than you if you were to use the word.

    Same thing with Mormons – they use a lot of the same terms but are referring to a wildly different thing.

    There are a LOT of other differences, but that is the most foundational, IMO.


  3. Matt Strid

    Ahhh, So glad I’m not the only one frustrated with the conservative parrots echoing Beck and others as though they have apostolic privilege.

    Thanks for the post, once again.


  4. Tim Helble

    I think the statement we often see in Christian books and hear in Christian media regarding Mormon’s belief that Jesus was the spirit brother of Satan doesn’t tell the whole story. From what I recall from reading Doctrine and Covenants, Jesus was the first born spirit child of God the Father and one of his celestial wives. Satan was the next spirit child, but I don’t think it’s specified whether or not he had the same celestial mother as Jesus. Later came millions and millions of other spirit children, including you and I. We all start as God’s spirit children, then obtain bodies here on earth through our parents. (That’s why Mormons say we don’t have a sin nature – we all started out as God’s spirit children.) Our lives here on Earth determine what kind of exaltation we get after we die. If we did really really good works (e.g., go on a mission, always tithe, get married in a temple, get baptized for lots of dead people) and don’t sin (at least not too much), we go to the highest level in the celestial kingdom and get to have our own planet to go through the whole process again.

    O.k., let’s get back to Earth. God the Father wanted to come up with a plan of redemption for people on earth. Jesus and Satan offered their ideas on what the plan should be. Jesus said we should have free will and Satan’s plan required people to obey God – no free will. God the Father chose Jesus’ plan, Satan got ticked off and got 1/3 of the angels to follow him, but God cast them all out.

    The above is what I recall from studying Mormonism for quite a while back in the ’90s – if I’m wrong on any detail, I hope someone will correct me.

    If Beck is a good Mormon, this is what he believes. O.k., back to geology!


  5. WebMonk

    Tim, that’s about what I remember too. I’ve talked with a couple Mormons doing missions and got confirmation that it is indeed accurate, though they seemed to downplay it for all they were worth.

    Their main area of emphasis seemed to be to show how the Bible backed up a couple points of their Mormon doctrine. The Trinity, which they obviously deny, was one of them, and I can’t remember what their other items of interest were.

    The most common thing mentioned was that Mormons are Christians are in agreement – we all believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we are saved by placing our trust in Jesus.

    That was about as much as they seemed to know of Christian beliefs, though. When I started to poke into issues of how we are saved and what we are saved from, it got a bit fuzzy.


  6. Tim Helble


    The biggest contrast I found between Christianity and Mormonism was the following:

    Ephesians 2: 8-9 (Bible), “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not yourselves; it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

    2 Nephi 25:23 (Book of Mormon) “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

    That’s a pretty big difference!


  7. geochristian


    I’m sorry it has taken me a week to respond.

    I have Mormon relatives and coworkers, and attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City for my first two years of college, so I have had a good amount of exposure to LDS teaching. Most of the Mormons I know are great people, and they share my mostly conservative values.

    My basic problems with Mormonism are as follows:
    –A different Jesus: not the eternal Word of John 1, but the spiritual offspring of the heavenly father and mother.
    –A different God: not the eternal Triune God of all there is, but a created being. God was once a man who went through all of the right temple rituals and eventually became an exalted being who eventually was able to be God of his own world. In Mormonism, there is a God the Father, and a God the Mother.
    –A different revelation: The Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures are contradictory to the Bible. Historically, there is no reason to accept these documents as divine.
    –A distorted view of history: Mormons claim that the early church was Mormon in doctrine. There is not a trace of this (including all their temple rituals) in the New Testament or in the early church fathers. They claim that Israelites colonized the New World before Christ. There is absolutely no evidence for this either.
    –A different salvation: To Mormons, Jesus gets us started, but we need to do all the right Mormon things to advance to the highest level of heaven. This runs counter to the Biblical teaching that our justification is 100% Jesus’ work and 0% ours.

    From the clear teachings of Scripture and the clear teachings of the Christian Church from the beginning, Mormons are wrong on just about every single major point of doctrine: God, man, sin, scriptures, Jesus, salvation, eternity.


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