Yesterday, I began writing about Glenn Beck's recent sermon at Liberty University. I posted in full the letter that I wrote to Chancellor Falwell and VP Moore. I also want to provide you with a link to Beck's sermon if you are not familiar with what I am talking about, or doubt that Beck preached a "sermon" at Liberty University. You can find the message in its entirety here.
I sent my first email on May 1. On May 11, I sent another email as I had not yet heard back. That email is below.
My name is Adam Blosser. I am the pastor of Drakes Branch Baptist Church in Drakes Branch, VA and a graduate of Liberty University. I am writing to follow up on the email I sent on May 1 concerning Glenn Beck’s sermon at Liberty University convocation.
Unfortunately, I have not received a response. I know of several others as well who have emailed and have yet to receive a response. I recognize that the time since my last email has been very hectic on campus with graduation festivities. I am hoping that now that graduation is over, you will be able to offer a response to some questions that I have.
I really need to hear from both of you what you believe about Mormonism. Is it a denomination within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy as Beck said in his sermon, or is it the heretical fringe group that the Christian church has recognized it as since its founding? If the latter, was anything said to the students about the heresy Beck taught? If not, why not? Also, what was the agreement for this convocation message? Was Beck given complete freedom? Was he supposed to stick to conservative politics, but instead embarrassed you in front of your students? I recognize that this may not have unfolded as you planned or expected. I am hoping that now you will respond in a manner befitting the seriousness of this situation.
Brothers, this is a gospel issue that demands your attention. Mormonism is a false religion that claims to be Christian. Glenn Beck is a false teacher who presented his false teaching in a sermon on the convocation platform of Liberty University. Please, as Paul instructed Timothy, guard the good deposit by standing for the truth and speaking to this issue.
On May 13, I received a response from VP Johnnie Moore. That response is below
First, I must apologize for my delayed reply to you. We just emerged from an unbelievable graduation weekend at Liberty. We had more than 34,000 people in attendance and we celebrated the graduation of more than 17,000 students. It was quite the celebration, and it consumed my time entirely until this very morning.
Secondly, I would like to thank you for expressing your concern. Liberty takes concerns like yours extremely seriously, and that's why I'm writing to personally address your concerns.
You should know that Liberty University’s Convocation is not a church service.
We have explained over the decades repeatedly that convocation is an opportunity for students to hear from people of all faiths and from all walks of life. Liberty has also made it clear repeatedly that it does not endorse any statements made by any convocation speaker.
By contrast, our faculty are all required to profess Liberty’s statement of faith and to affirm our doctrinal statement. Our students are all required to take many credit hours of theology and Bible courses, regardless of their major. Our students have no question about what Liberty’s doctrinal statement is. It is posted publicly for all to see. Our doctrinal statement is our public statement on Mormonism. It is the same statement that Liberty was founded upon and it will never change.
College is about learning. How can you defend what you believe if you don’t understand what others believe? I believe our students are stronger in their faith because of our convocation speaker series and the wide diversity of views that they have been privileged to hear in person over the last few decades.
The president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr. actually spoke to this during his remarks at our 41st annual commencement exercises this weekend. You can watch those remarks here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_Uz82ZHAHg
By the way, many conservative evangelical leaders who are closer to Beck than me have told me that they believe Beck has had a born again experience recently. I do not know his heart but our audience knows that he was speaking only for himself and expressing his personal opinions and beliefs, not those of Liberty University or even of Mormonism generally. As Jerry Falwell, Sr., our founder, often used to say about speakers at Liberty who had different views than him, Liberty students are smart enough to eat the fish and spit out the bones! I believe that's as true today as it was in his day.
Thank you for your deep love for, and concern for, our institution. I hope this at least helps to explain our position - and it's a longstanding position - on guest speakers in Convocation.
As I said yesterday, the email that I received from Johnnie Moore is very similar to the one posted by Jonathan Merritt. You can find that letter here.
I found Moore's email to be gracious and kind. His love for Liberty and her mission is evident. I don't question any of those things. I heard Moore preach many times while I was a student at Liberty. He loves Liberty University. He loves the students. He desires to see God do a great work in and through Liberty. I am not calling any of that into question.
However, I must question the wisdom of some of the things he says and doesn't say in his response.
He does not address the reality that Beck's message was very different from that given by other secular convocation speakers.
Beck preached a Mormon sermon. There is no other way to put it. He stood up and said that he came prepared to say one thing, and God instructed him in his hotel room to say something else. I stand before my congregation each week and claim to speak for God. When I do, I call that preaching. I attempt to unpack the truth of God for the people of God from the Word of God.
Also, as I said in my initial email, "[Beck] spoke of Joseph Smith as a Christian martyr. He spoke of the 'Grand Councils' which is a Mormon heresy. He said that we should 'Live in such a way that you can demand miracles. Expect miracles. Call down miracles.' This too is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. We do not demand anything of God. He spoke of the atonement, but as you know, Mormons have a very different view of the atonement than Christians."
Moore said in his email that convocation is not a chapel service. I hear what he is saying, but it is doublespeak. Liberty has had men I respect like John MacArthur, John Piper, David Platt, Jerry Vines, Ronnie Floyd and others stand on the stage in convocation and preach. They have a time of singing worship songs at the beginning of each convocation service. If Beck was not preaching, what about these other men? Are you going to tell them that they were not preaching either?
It is not hard to see why this would be viewed as a blurring of the lines. It is not hard to see why this is troubling to those who believe that Mormonism is well outside of Christian orthodoxy.
This was a sermon. It was unlike other messages I have heard given on the stage of Liberty University by secular leaders. Again, had Beck given a political speech, I wouldn't approve, but I wouldn't have even sent my initial email.
I will further address the email received from Johnnie Moore in my next post. Thanks for reading.