One in five Americans believe that the President is a Muslim, even though the President himself has declared that he is a Christian; everyone seems to have forgotten about his infamous pastor. Now adding a twist to this debate, Glenn Beck, the Fox News anchor, has declared that the President may be a Christian, but no one understands his Christianity because he believes in liberation theology.
“You see, it’s all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance; collectivism, not individual salvation. I don’t know what that is, other than it’s not Muslim, it’s not Christian. It’s a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it,” Beck said. [After Washington rally, Glenn Beck assails Obama’s religion]
This is funny on many levels. It assumes that there is one generic version of Christianity and President Obama’s Christianity. It was never true historically nor is it true now. From the time of Paul and the Gnostics, there have been varying interpretations on the life of Jesus. Each group called the other heretic and groups which gained political power, eliminated rival sects.
For instance, the letters of Paul speak often of both the nature of the gospel and whether the good news is meant for only those of the Jewish faith or should be shared with the “Gentiles.” In addition, it is well documented that the Early Church was split between a more orthodox view of Jesus and that of Gnosticism, which denied the humanity of Jesus in favor of a Jesus that only appeared to be human. Read the Gospel of John, for instance, and one comes away with the stark impression that John is very concerned with whether or not God did indeed come “in the flesh.”[Now, It’s the Wrong Jesus.]
Now move forward in time and you have Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, each different from the other. Then there are American Christian groups, like the Mormons, of which Beck is a member. According to a Pew Poll only 46% of white evangelicals have a favorable opinion of Mormons and some even think of them as unbelievers.
“The Apostle Paul warns Christians against uniting with unbelievers in spiritual endeavors,” Howse wrote. “While I applaud and agree with many of Glenn Beck’s conservative and constitutional views, that does not give me or any other Bible-believing Christian justification to compromise Biblical truth by spiritually joining Beck.”
“Jesus Christ’s Church has universally rejected Mormonism’s Anti-Trinitarian theology and its claim that mortals may become God,” David Shedlock, a contributor to the evangelical blog Caffeinated Thoughts, wrote in a post this month. “Beck asks Christian leaders to ‘put differences aside,’ but Beck himself daily peppers his broadcasts with Mormon distinctives because he cannot keep his beliefs to himself.” [Some evangelicals on defensive over partnering with Glenn Beck, a Mormon]
Thus when Beck says “Christians” don’t recognize Obama’s Christianity, a large number of “Christians” don’t recognize Beck’s Christianity either. For many of them he is a heretic.
In the final review, “Christian” is a self-defined attribute. It doesn’t make any sense for anyone to declare or decry anyone else’s identification as a Christian. If someone says they are, then they are. If they say they aren’t — even if they’ve been baptized and attend services regularly and participate in all the rituals — then they aren’t. This isn’t something that another person can add to or take away from anyone else. This is what “Freedom of Religion” ultimately means.[Nomenclature]