Glenn Beck is an idolator. That's right. He would put the US flag and constitution in a place that only God can occupy. I wanted to post these comments from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in 2009 because I was struck by the condemnation of the notion of collective salvation. Yes, I know that individual salvation is a Protestant cornerstone, but it is wrong of him to claim that other doctrines have no place in Christian life. On NPR, an official of the Southern Baptist church called collective salvation an "oxymoron" - indicating that either (1) he doesn't know what an oxymoron is or (2) he is so closed minded he thinks of the idea as not just erroneous, but literally logically impossible and unthinkable. Not so fast. Of course, the concept of collective salvation is an old one in Eastern churches and has deep roots in Jewish theology.
Here are these remarks from last summer:
"The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy - that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being. **** The I only emerges as we connect - and that is really what the word means: I am because we are, and I can only become a whole person in relationship with others. There is no "I" without "you," and in our context, you and I are known only as we reflect the image of the one who created us."
It's important to realize, then, that Beck and his ilk are not just mixing religion and politics in a very unholy and un-American way (and I mean unholy, because it is a desecration to try to pin the transcendental to such mundane elements as the Tea Party), but they are peddling a specific version of Protestantism that is sectarian in nature.