Before I graduated from high school, I was very well aware of the vast differences between Mormonism and Christianity.  The two faiths have little in common, though they use very similar language, and Mormons insist that they believe the King James Bible “insofar as it is correctly translated,” a subjective phrase that offers an immediate out when there is disagreement between the teachings and revelations of the Mormon prophet, and the scriptures.  I was aware of the differences because I attended a conservative, evangelical Southern Baptist church while growing up, and a public high school in a community where close to half of the population held membership in the LDS church.  Many of the very active Mormon students who were my classmates were quite knowledgeable about their faith, most planned to give their two years of mission service, and they could very quickly and easily tell you the differences between their beliefs about salvation, eternity, the scriptures, the person and nature of Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, the devil, and those of any Christian church.  The differences, in fact, were many, the common ground, non existent. 

So I was quite shocked at the news that Glenn Beck, a professing, active member of the Mormon faith, not because he was born into it, but because he made a concious choice to convert to it from the Christian church in which he was raised, was invited to be the commencement speaker at Liberty University.  I’ve always thought of Liberty as being steeped in the doctrine and tradition of the independent, fundamental Baptist movement, a group that is more doctrinally conservative and which tends to measure Christian maturity in terms of adherence to doctrinal principles.  The fact that they would invite someone whose professed faith falls so far outside the doctrinal boundaries and definitions of what their school teaches is stunning; the fact that they would give their commencement platform in front of several thousand graduating seniors, their parents, family members, friends and university supporters to someone that they would consider apostate is almost impossible to grasp. 

“Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs?  Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”  James 3:11-12, ESV

Beck openly confessed to the vast differences between his beliefs and the faith of those who attend Liberty University.  Give him credit for acknowledging that. Perhaps he doesn’t believe, as most Mormons do, that those who are not part of the LDS church are apostate, a foundational belief of the Mormon church that is undeniably captured and recorded in the written record of its prophet.  Does Liberty University’s leadership accept Mormon teaching as legitimate, mainstream Christianity? 

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?  What agreement has the temple of God with idols?”  2 Corinthians 5:14-16a ESV

You’ll have to judge for yourself whether or not an invitation to address the graduating class of a Christian university constitutes a partnership, an agreement, an accord, or fellowship.  Judging from the applause he received, and the reception he was given, not to mention the honorarium, it would certainly be hard to argue otherwise.  As to whether or not Mormonism has fellowship with, or can find agreement with Biblical Christianity, it is relatively easy to pick up works by Mormon theologians which not only spell out the differences between their own beliefs and those of Evangelicals, Protestants or Catholics, but also ridicule them.  And there are plenty of works by Christians which point out the differences from that perspective.  One thing is clear.  There isn’t any common ground.  None.  And it is also only a matter of perspective as to which side would consider the other side the unbeliever, the lawless, darkness, Belial and the unbeliever.  I know what I believe.  And that’s why I don’t even invite Glenn Beck into my car or home by tuning in to his radio program.  I’d be devastated if the Christian university where I got my degree invited him to address its graduates at commencement. 

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again:  If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9, ESV, emphasis mine

Glenn Beck preaches a different gospel.  In the name of conservative politics, he was given a platform to preach it at Liberty University. 

Here’s a link to an article on the subject on SBC Impact.


About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

4 responses

  1. Randy M says:

    I wonder how many students will change their mind and not go as a result of this. I know of one in my church who has given back a scholarship.

  2. Jack Matthews says:

    Wouldn’t the Mormons consider it a coup for one of their own to have such a visible platform at a major Christian university, and look at this, and use it, as a full endorsement of their faith by mainstream Christianity? I think they are going to get a whole lot of publicity out of this.

  3. Stephen Fox says:

    Mormons and Southern Baptists have much more in common than you may allow; one being a highly greased Public Relations strategy.
    Harold Bloom in The American Religion has great insight into the common character of Southern Baptist fundamentalists and Mormons.
    I challenge you and your audience to read it closely.

    • Lee says:

      In terms of organizational structure, or elements of agreement on certain conservative political issues, perhaps Mormons do have some things in common with Baptists, Southern or Independend Fundamental, but that’s not an indication of agreement or common ground. In terms of basic doctrine, there is none. On the five most critical points of belief, which would include the nature of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the scriptures and the church, I don’t think you could find any agreement at all.

      But, Liberty isn’t a Southern Baptist related institution. It is independent, and has remained so even though Falwell was persuaded to marginally affiliate with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. In the long run, they’ve compromised their convictions in the name of conservative politics. They have said, very clearly, that correct voting and political affiliation is more important to them than correct Biblical doctrine.