So, there is a video that has been making the rounds. Some people love the video while others hate it. Personally, I’m in the middle.
The video isn’t perfect. But, I also think they are getting after an important point. As Christians, we are not known by our love. We are known by our hate and our rage. We aren’t known as the people who lay down our lives for our neighbor we are known as those who will fight with our neighbor over all sorts of things. I hadn’t really paid much attention to this video until I saw an article published by Matt Walsh on The Blaze entitled, “If You Are a Christian But You Reject Christ’s Teachings, You Are Not a Christian“. What really caught my attention about the article is that it was posted on The Blaze.
Walsh is pointing out concerns about American Christianity in the piece- some with which I agree. He laments a Christianity that is often devoid of real content that is silent on important moral issues. I agree with those concerns, though I would prefer the argument to be made with a gentler voice. But, I believe those issues apply both to the Left and to the Right. In fact, I fear that Walsh himself may be following a conflated faith with as much political as spiritual content. [A few side notes here: 1) I don’t think spiritual and political content are always different. Our spiritual understanding should always influence our political understanding. My concern is that for many Christians I fear those are reversed or not connected at all. 2) I don’t follow Matt Walsh. I have some Facebook friends who love him and some who can’t stand him. This may be his first article I have read…though I have a vague recollection that I read one a year or two ago] At the same time, Walsh completely discounts the merits of the video. Despite what I believe are some clear issues I also believe there are some important points it addresses.
So, why do I care that this was published on The Blaze? I’m not sure how to say this without sounding anti-mormon; but, I’ll try. The Blaze is Glenn Beck’s website and Glenn Beck is a Mormon. I kind of feel like Walsh’s association with Beck and especially publishing this article on The Blaze gives some tacit approval to Mormonism as Christian. There is always an argument between Mormons and evangelicals over whether they are Christian or not. Mormons claim they follow Christ and evangelicals point out that it is a different Christ. I think both are right. Mormons can adopt whatever label they want. The term Christian applies to a very broad group of people and beliefs. At the same time, there is a clear ontological difference between what Mormons believe about God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and what the church has historically believed. That ontological difference does have spiritual consequences. Both, Mormon’s and evangelicals agree on that, though they disagree on what those consequences are.
If I think it is fine for Mormon’s to claim the descriptor “Christian”, so long as we understand the differing ontologies of God, then why do I care that Matt Walsh is giving tacit approval to Mormons being Christian? It is because his entire article is arguing that a group of people are not Christian. He argues, “The great danger in our society is not that it is populated by sinful people, but that it’s populated by heretics who campaign to move their favorite sins from the Bad column to the Good, as if God is some indecisive bureaucrat whose moral laws can be amended or abolished by popular vote.” I actually agree with his point. But, the irony is that he is making this point about progressives on The Blaze. By any historical consideration, Mormon’s are heretics. I don’t mean that pejoratively. Christianity has a long history of using the heretic label both in justified ways and unjustified ways. Plus as I understand it, Matt Walsh is Catholic so as a Protestant I am at least at some level a heretic. But, it seems as if Walsh is able to find unity despite differing conceptions on the nature of God but not if the person is progressive politically. I can find no record of Walsh calling out Mormon’s as not being Christian. But, it seems given Catholic and evangelical doctrine that they would also fit his above quote- at least on a theological level.
Which is worse- the theological heretic or the political heretic? As an evangelical, what concerns me is the ability of Christians to overlook and downplay important theological distinctions while playing-up political distinctions. Why call out the faith of progressive Christians but feel no compulsion to call out those who believe in an ontologically distinct deity? I’m not saying he needs to do the latter. But, I am saying that if he only does the former maybe he has, or at least shows, greater fidelity to conservatism than Christ?