Many Christians recently worshiped with self-proclaimed Mormon Glenn Beck at the Restoring Honor rally. Though the Mormon faith is considered a heresy by orthodox Christians, those claiming orthodoxy still maintain that this new style of interfaith worship honored Jesus and have cited several reasons. One common reason is that the true state of Mr. Beck’s heart cannot be known so we should give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Mr. Beck himself actually believes in the true Jesus and thus is himself outside Mormonism but doesn’t realize it. Maybe he’s stumbling along like most of us, and since God can use anyone, let’s assume the best, unite, and let God work it all out.
This sounds good on first hearing. But the Bible incessantly warns Christians, and especially church leaders, against false teachers. A Christian leader’s first duty is to be faithful to the commands of scripture. Though we cannot know the true state of Mr. Beck’s heart, leaders can and must hear and heed what God clearly commands. And God is very clear that false teaching is a major problem for all believers and the church must be zealously guarded against it.
Christian leaders who participated in the rally were understandably eager to appear open and friendly. But in so doing, they have failed at the sober task of protecting the body of Christ. God warns so clearly and often about false teaching for the very reason that such teaching will not be easy to identify when it appears nor enjoyable to resist. The error will be subtle and the pressure to accept it will be great – thus leaders must be alert and jealous for the church. The wolf will come in sheep’s clothing. A shepherd hesitant to poke and prod at the clothing will be unable to identify the wolf.
Not only does the Mormon error now gain greater legitimacy by being seen as united to orthodox Christianity, but Christians are now encouraged to follow their leaders in further openness and acceptance to any message that has the slightest hint of biblical terminology. The climate has been made more favorable for false ideas to be accepted readily, rather than examined and identified and rejected. Just a scrap of wool is all the wolf need wear and he will be welcomed with open arms into the flock of God. This is the climate the New Testament warns about over and over, yet is now fostered and cheered by national church leaders.
Yet, in our day of plurality and cultural relativity, shouldn’t Christian leaders be even more diligent and careful about what they embrace? The Christian consensus that once prevailed in America is gone. Leaders cannot lead if they do not clearly and carefully distinguish between the true and the false.
What God says:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood…. savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert. Acts 20:28-31
False Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. Mark 13:22-23
These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 1 John 2:26
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge” which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. 1 Timothy 6:20-21
Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:14
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:17-18