On August 28th, 2010 something interesting happened on the mall in Washington D.C. Last Saturday there was a religious rally, a revival of sorts, attended by hundreds of thousands of people from across America and that was hosted and organized by Glenn Beck. All through the day on Saturday I monitored news sites to read about the proceedings and and catch video clips of what was going on at the rally. I read reports of pastors who had loaded up buses with members of their congregations in order to attend this rally that was supposed to be about America getting back to God (or god, as the case may be).
These pastors and many other Christians in the crowd joined those around them in singing hymns and saying prayers all with the hope of starting a sort of new Great Awakening in America that results in the people of this country rediscovering religion. I saw video clips of people who had their hands raised in worship during singing. I saw people with head bowed, eyes closed, and head nodding in fervent agreement as prayers were offered from the stage in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I watched as hundreds of thousands cheered with speakers spoke about the importance of faith. Is it possible that this was the start of some sort of spiritual renewal in America?
I certainly hope not. If anything, it shows the incredibly sad state of American Christianity. Have American Christians become so politically desperate and doctrinally defunct that they attend what amounted to a revival service with people from different faiths? Did the pastors who loaded up church vans ever think twice about attending a worship service led by a devout and outspoken Mormon? I confess that I cringed and felt my gut tighten a bit when I saw so many Christians who had no problem with joining a rallying cry for Americans to get back to their god, whomever that god might be.
Glenn Beck called on Americans to engage in a Great Awakening of sorts. Unfortunately, the man calling for this awakening does not have the theological credentials and passion for orthodoxy that a Jonathan Edwards or George Whitefield had. The great awakening Beck wants is incompatible with Christianity. As Christians we must always be on guard against this sort of heresy. Glenn Beck dressed his revival in a shroud of flags and patriotic feelings and many American Christians have too feeble a grasp of their own doctrine to see any problem with it. Those Christians who attended the rally should have been actively evangelizing the lost and deceived who were singing beside them, but instead I fear that many Christians have been deceived.
The letter Paul penned to Titus in the New Testament contains a recurring theme about the importance of sound doctrine. Paul calls on the church and church leaders to be well grounded theologically so that they can engage those who would lead the church away with heretical views. It looks to me like many pastors and many Christians have done a poor job of teaching sound doctrine if so many of them were ready to dismiss the teachings of Scripture in order to engage in a patriotic, flag waving, pseudo-revival. The Glenn Beck Great Awakening is not one that Christians should support or aspire to spread. The Glenn Beck Great Awakening is chock full of the heresy that Scripture repeatedly warns us to be aware of and to be ready to combat. Unfortunately, it looks like many Christians are ready to follow feel-good, ear-tickling heresy rather than engage in the hard and often unpopular work of the Gospel.