To the extent that this theological chasm can be bridged, though, the obvious place to fling out a rope bridge is the question of America’s providential purpose, since both Mormonism and evangelicalism (especially in their more populist manifestations) often incline toward highly-theologized readings of American history, the founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, etc.

In other words, when Mormons and evangelicals are at their worst and are indulging their least admirable tendencies to idolize the country at the expense of their religious teachings, there is a chance for them to find common ground. If you think that a serious religious revival in America might have something to do with a spirit of repentance and humility rather than with an extravaganza of validation and national self-congratulation, that is really a very damning indictment of what Beck is doing. As Joe Carter correctly says, “As Moore notes, the problem isn’t really Beck. The problem is believers trading the true faith for the syncretism of Christian-flavored civic religion.”

On a related point that Moore may or may not have had in mind when he was writing his post, Beck has previously framed his opposition to progressivism in Christianity in terms of ridiculing the idea of social justice. Certainly, some understanding of social justice isn’t the whole of Christian teaching, and social activism certainly isn’t a substitute for faith and participation in the life of God, but one would have a hard time persuading many serious and theologically conservative Catholics and Mennonites, among others, that social justice is not a major Christian priority. His total rejection of social justice doesn’t make any sense within the LDS church’s tradition or within the Christian tradition. If one insists on identifying the idea of social justice with the most political expressions of liberation theology, as Beck wants to do, a broad, rich tradition of the Church’s concern for the poor and dispossessed is simply cast aside, and so is a significant part of his own church’s social teachings. People may be buying Beck’s revivalism right now, but in the process they are selling their birthright for a mess of pottage.

On a more political note, it’s not as if conservatives cannot talk about social justice. Does Beck remember Pat Buchanan’s The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy? Was that just another kind of liberation theology? To put it that way is to show Beck’s conceit in this case to be empty.

P.S. After I mentioned this post to my wife, she said she thought Beck reminded her a bit of Gaius Baltar, and this comparison made some sense. Inasmuch as he is simply validating his audience’s way of life, it does seem to be very much like Baltar’s “we are all perfect just as we are,” which makes the entire exercise that much worse.