Stolen Blessings: The LDS Connection
The Omega Letter (Link) (August 29, 2011)
Israel was beautiful. Israel always is. But this trip to Israel was different than any other I’ve been on – and “different” does not always mean the same thing as “good.”
If you love Glenn Beck and believe that he is both a good Christian and an honest man, perhaps today’s OL isn’t for you. I am going to be as charitable as possible, under the circumstances, but I have to call it as I see it.
Today’s review is primarily theological – later we will discuss the political elements of the tour and how our presence was received in Israel. There was a lot of really good stuff – but first things first.
We must begin at the beginning, inside a cloud of deliberate deception. Glenn Beck said that he had investigated the tour companies involved thoroughly, and recommended Voyager Travel as the one that he knew best.
So we also checked out Voyager Travel at their website. I didn’t do a very good job, as it turned out.
As you can see from the link above, Voyager Travel is represented as a secular tour company with tours to Norway, England, Alaska, Denmark, and oh, by the way, a special Restoring Courage Event in Israel by Glenn Beck. It seemed ok.
I personally never expected the tour to be “religious” – there were far too many different Christian denominations and other religious faiths among us, including a number of Jews, atheists or agnostics who came specifically to attend the Glenn Beck events and demonstrate their political support for the State of Israel.
During one of the few times that I had access to the internet while on the tour, I had reason to Google Voyager Travel, seeking information about our intinerary.
I don’t know how I missed it from home – (maybe the excitement of the trip?) but I didn’t Google it before signing up – I went directly to the URL recommended by Beck.
Had I Googled first, I might have notice that directly below the Voyager site was a mirror site of LDS Travel – identical in every respect to Voyager Travel, except that LDS Travel makes it clear that it is a Latter Days Saints Church operation.
The Voyager site is scrubbed clean of any reference to LDS – although the two sites were clearly the same. So, instead of signing up with a secular touring company, we were inadvertently contributing financial support to the LDS church.
In other words, we were contributing (to whatever degree,) to the advancement of Mormon LDS doctrine and missionary work.
It soon became clear that the event was a Mormon religious tour carefully disguised as a “Christian” tour. To maintain that fiction, the tour planners engaged a “Christian” guide service – which meant in this case that it was led by a Greek Orthodox Catholic guide.
George was a terrific guy to be around and an excellent tour guide – if one went to Israel to tour sites important to the Greek Orthodox Church -- or those dedicated to Mary. When it came to Mary, George informed us, the Bible was wrong.
In Mark 15:40 and Mark 16:1 where it says that Mary was the mother of James the less, Joses, and Salome, George told us, “This is not true.” George insisted that Mary was ever virgin and Jesus did not have any half-brothers or sisters.
Sites dedicated to Mary were high on George’s list; although we missed many sites listed in the itinerary to accommodate Glenn Beck’s constantly-changing schedule, we didn’t miss any of the “Mary” sites, like the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Grotto, or the Wedding Chapel in Cana.
I say that to illustrate the religious nature of the “Christian” tour set up by Voyager Travel, which was supposed to be “non-denominational with a Christian perspective.” That should have tipped us off – to non-Christians, Christianity is determined by church affiliation, not doctrine.
Christians know that Christianity is a matter of doctrine, not church affiliation. One can be a member of a church and not be a Christian, or not be a member of any church, in some instances, because they are Christian.
Again, let me emphasize that George was a wonderful guy and an excellent tour guide whom we all came to like very, very much.
But the tour itself was emphatically Greek Catholic and so all the traditional Greek Catholic sites, like the Church of the Resurrection, etc., were deemed “the true” sites, whereas the Garden Tomb was merely a nice place to pray and commemorate the Resurrection.
According to the tour guide, Jesus was really resurrected where St. Helena, mother of Constantine, discovered three crosses, including the One True Cross, buried under the Roman temple of Venus.
The site is of course divided, with the Vatican, the Greek Orthodox and Armenians all claiming that only they possess the tomb of Joseph of Armithea.
George insisted that the site belonging to the Greek Orthodox and only recently discovered, was the ONE TRUE site. Sigh.
We expected a wide range of theological views, consequently we were both surprised and a little uncomfortable when only the Greek Catholic view was permitted and only Greek Catholic souvenir shops were on the itinerary.
We also noticed very early on that our bus had about a half-dozen overtly Mormon members, and probably another half-dozen who kept it to themselves.
But whenever a discussion erupted that questioned LDS participation, whether or not the LDS was actually running things, or whether all the tour leaders were Mormons, one of our Mormon ‘minders’ would quickly appear to change the subject.
If the topic was Mormon doctrine, several Mormons would attach themselves to the discussion to ‘correct misconceptions’. Some of the Christians in our group renamed them “The Decepticons”.
It will take a series of OL columns to discuss the tour itself. Much of the tour was good. There were many, many unexpected blessings. Today is simply the introduction.
But as the title of today’s OL infers, most of the expected blessings were not there.
The best place to begin, I think, is with a statement made by Glenn Beck at the first event in Caesarea-by-the-Sea in the very same open-air theatre in which Paul the Apostle was put on trial before King Herod Agrippa.
(A Roman amphitheatre is a completely round structure. A theatre is shaped like a half moon, as is the one in Ceaseara.)
It was in that very theatre that the saddest eight words in the New Testament are recorded when Agrippa said to Paul:
It was there, on that very spot, that Glenn Beck recited the wonderful reception he received by Israeli political leaders, Jewish rabbis and even several Muslim leaders.
Only the Christian leaders received any word of condemnation from Glenn Beck, who choked up with tears when he said accusingly, “it was only the Christians that questioned my salvation.”
What Beck was insinuating in no uncertain terms was that those Christians that questioned his salvation were more intolerant, less good and less, ummm, Christian than were the two thousand or so Americans sitting in that open-air theatre in Ceaserea.
We will start with that statement, since it immediately divided the group into ‘camps’ and set the stage for the rest of the tour.
He made that statement, from the very place King Agrippa was almost persuaded, while surrounded by famous born-again Christian authors like David Barton, John Hagee and Mike Evans, all of whom took time out from their own sermons to salute Beck’s “courageousness” in offering his support to Israel.
(Maybe so, but I personally thought the thousands that forked over more than $6000 a piece to come to Israel as Hamas rockets were pounding the Israeli coastal cities were just as courageous – and they weren’t getting paid to be there.)
Significantly, not one of the famous born-again evangelists questioned Glenn Beck’s salvation, although Glenn Beck made it clear that the issue at hand was the status of Glenn Beck’s salvation through aegis of the LDS (Mormon) church.
Given Beck’s statement, offered more as an accusation of those unnamed ‘Christian leaders’ than anything else, it seems essential to me that we examine salvation as the Mormons define it:
So, since Glenn Beck’s salvation is in seven parts, of which Glenn Beck is currently only in Stage Three, (Mortality), even Glenn Beck ought to be questioning it -- since it ain’t over yet and nobody, LDS or otherwise, has it until it is over, according to LDS theology.
This is a good place to recap and summarize where we h ave come with this so far. By concealing the relationship between Voyager Travel and the LDS, many well-meaning Christians were duped into contributing to the LDS Church and their efforts at LDS evangelism.
We were deceived into contributing to a religious system than cannot save and a god who is neither eternal nor Biblical, and a created, rather than Divine Jesus whose only qualifications for the job was being a better planner than Satan.
We were tricked into providing money for use by Mormon missionaries that will lead people away from salvation rather than for it and loaned our legitimacy to that cause by appearing together with thousands of others in a show of support that was supposed to be for Israel but was manipulated into a night to honor Glenn Beck’s ‘courageous’ stand of faith in a god who cannot save.
The entire premise of the tour was that of having the courage to stand for what we believed in. It began by deceiving the bulk of those attending who certainly would NOT have signed up with an outfit called LDS Travel by disguising it as something else.
The uneven yoking of the LDS, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, non-denominational and born-again Christians under a single religious banner may have sounded spiritual, but Satan is a spirit, as well.
There were other travel agencies, but Voyager was the one recommended by Glenn Beck. Is it possible that Glenn Beck didn’t know that Voyager Travel changed its name from LDS Travel in order to deceive non-Mormons? Is it conceivable that there could have been any other reason for concealing the LDS connection?
Beck said he researched Voyager travel agencies carefully. If he didn’t know about the LDS connection, he lied about researching it. If he did know, then he must have agreed to burying the connection between the LDS and Voyager Travel.
Glenn Beck’s tour was supposed to be about truth. But since the truth was inconvenient, it was surrounded by a bodyguard of lies.
If the LDS really is just another Christian denomination, as its apologists insist, then why the deception? The answer should be obvious.
People don’t hide something unless there is something to hide.
Next Omegaletter: It wasn’t all bad news and stolen blessings. Tomorrow: Tiberius and the Galilee – with pictures. †
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