Saturday, October 19, 2013

"My Hope America" with Billy Graham, and a look at Graham's teachings (Part 1/2)

Billy Graham is about to turn 95-years-old. He is often called "the world's most admired man" or "the greatest living American." He is said to have personally presented the Gospel to 215 million people, and to millions more via programs on the web, tv, radio and film.

"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you." (Matthew 24:4)

Given Mr Graham's extensive-lasting impact on the world, his long life, and the flurry of interest around his upcoming movie, "My Hope America with Billy Graham", I am writing these things so that we can all be reminded that deception can come in any form and at any time.

If you have not been aware of the various aberrant and doctrines Mr Graham believes, then you might be shocked and upset that I am daring even to say these things about such a person of stature. However, as Cecil Andrews laid out the case against Graham carefully out in his 2001 speech, "Billy Graham: The Man and His Message," (link at end)

"We need to do that [test the spirits] not just with Billy Graham, but with many others who are up on pedestals in the evangelical world. They've built a reputation early in their life, but where are they today? I'll tell you, they are in the forefront of the compromising, ecumenical world that you and I are being challenged with."

When the Apostle Paul was tested by the Bereans, and his words and teaching compared with scripture, and the Bereans were lauded for it.

"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (Acts 17:11)

Note that they were said to be of noble character because of two things: they received the word with eagerness, and they examined them against Scripture to see if what was being taught was true. Mr Graham, despite his popularity, or perhaps because of it, should no more escape scrutiny than any other teacher of our faith.

Graham, Osteen, Warren

I have long thought personally, that the three seemingly-Christian men most impacting the faith in negative ways in the 20th and 21st century are Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, and Rick Warren. For the women, I personally believe Beth Moore has done the most damage. I've written about or mentioned most of those on my list, but not Mr Graham, because he is no longer active. However with his new film being produced and promoted, to be released next month, I felt it necessary to lay out the case for caution, for your scrutiny and edification. Take heed.

Born November 7, 1918, according to the website NNDB, which offers profiles of noteworthy individuals, "Graham's "big break" came in the 1940s, when publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst got wind of Graham's then-recurring theme that the Cold War was a showdown between good and evil, and that communists were Satan-worshippers. "Either communism must die or Christianity must die," Graham famously preached, and Hearst sent a memo to all of his papers' editors, ordering them to "puff Graham". Prior to that, Graham had been just another traveling evangelist, holding meetings in half-empty tents. After that and for the rest of his life, he has been America's most prominent Christian leader."

Please note that the man came to prominence expounding on political, worldly matters. His statement equates an eternal, heavenly faith structure with a man-made worldly political structure. Secondly, anyone who reads the bible knows that Christianity will not die, no matter how many political or governmental structures have existed or will come to existence. However, in 1949, communism was a very big problem, consuming the interest and attention of those in power.

Yet in 60AD, Apostle Paul did not say that "Either Rome's Emperor system must die or Christianity must die." It is written, 

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1)

Since then, Mr Graham has appeared on Gallup's list of most admired men of the 20th century, appearing 55 times since 1955 (including 49 consecutive years), more frequently than any other individual in the world.

"Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets." 
(Luke 6:26)

But let's go back to his beginnings. In his youth, Graham was rejected for membership in youth group because he was "too worldly". After graduating high school in 1936, Graham attended Bob Jones College but he felt constrained by the restrictions and called it too legalistic (likely because Graham had earned a stack of demerits for disobedience). In addition, he was almost expelled, and wound up having a long sit-down with Bob Jones, Sr. about Graham's future. Graham transferred to another college. After attending three total colleges, Graham eventually graduated from Wheaton in 1943 with a degree in anthropology. His college sojourn lasted 7 years, and please note his degree was not in religious or biblical studies. (Source, and source)

When he burst upon the scene in 1948 Graham did not seem to compromise on the basics, at least overtly, but over time he retreated on all fronts. David Frost said that in the beginning Graham used to say "the bible says" but as time went on he would more often say 'what Billy Graham thinks'.

The basics, or essential doctrines to which one must adhere or the truth is not in them, according to CARM.org are:

"The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith. They are 1) the Deity of Christ, 2) Salvation by Grace, and 3) Resurrection of Christ, 4) the gospel, and 5) monotheism. These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary. Though there are many other important doctrines, these five are the ones that are declared by Scripture to be essential (I call them primary essentials since the Bible declares them as essential). A non-regenerate person (i.e., Mormon or Jehovah's Witness, atheist, Muslim), will deny one or more of these essential doctrines. Please note that there are other derivative doctrines of scripture that become necessary also, the Trinity being one."

Though there are many troubling statements Mr Graham has made which gives one pause for thought, (I'll list them below and also provide links) the essential doctrine Mr Graham denies is the Gospel. Let's take a closer look. CARM.org again:

"The Gospel:

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Gal. 1:8-9). Verses 8 and 9 here in Galatians are a self declarative statement that you must believe the gospel. The gospel message which in its entirety is that Jesus is God in flesh, who died for sins, rose from the dead, and freely gives the gift of eternal life to those who believe."

He gives the gift of life to those who believe. Mr Graham has on many occasions, years and decades apart, denied the exclusivity of the Gospel, denied who are truly believers, and denied what they must believe. Here are specifics:

Graham & Schuller
In his interview with Robert Schuller in May 1997 on The Hour of Power, Billy Graham opened up the family of faith to Buddhists, Muslims, and non-believers. Here in a sermon from 2000, John MacArthur repeats the interview and expounds in between each of Graham's statements with biblical truth:

-------------------begin MacArthur-----------------------

John MacArthur: "Those of us who teach the Bible, those of us who uphold sound doctrine have to rise up and speak the truth. I've tried to show you the breadth of this problem and I want to conclude comments on people and issues with a particular focus this morning."

"Through the years we have all become influenced by Billy Graham. One way or another he has, for us, been the spokesman for evangelical Christianity. He has become the symbol of gospel preachers to the world and even to the church. He, more than anyone else, has influenced evangelicalism through his preaching, through his cooperative evangelism, through his influence on Wheaton College, Fuller Seminary, Christianity Today and many other agencies."

"There is an article in a journal that comments and reviews his autobiography, Just As I Am. And I think it's worth giving you some insight into that because I think it points out the breadth of this problem. The editor of the journal says, "While Graham has become the very symbol of gentle, compassionate and loving evangelicalism, he has also become the symbol for evangelicalism that speaks cautiously, politically and non-theologically. He was never able to escape the fuzzy a-theological pragmatism of modern evangelicalism. It is Billy Graham more than any other figure in this century who helped to create by his overwhelming persona the present evangelical crisis which threatens to destroy the very institutions and causes in which Graham invested his life and energy for over 55 years," end quote."

"That is a sad statement, but it is an appropriate one in view of the facts. A recent public interview with Billy Graham and Robert Schuller underscores this. Graham has uncritically praised Schuller's ministry, which is a ministry of what is called neo-orthodoxy combined with psychology, not a true historic Christianity. But in the discussion, and here it is verbatim, I'll just share some things that will open to you the understanding."

"Dr. Schuller speaks, speaking to Billy Graham. "Tell me, what is the future of Christianity?"

Dr. Graham: "Well, Christianity and being a true believer, you know, I think there's the body of Christ which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the body of Christ. And I don't think that we're going to see a great sweeping revival that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time."

"Now let me stop there. He said that non-Christian groups are members of the body of Christ, that people can love Christ and know Christ whether they're conscious of it or not and be members of the body of Christ. And therefore we're not going to see a sweeping revival that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time, ostensibly because it isn't necessary."

"He [Graham] goes on to say. "What God is doing today is calling people out of the world for His name. Whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not...he says...even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light they have and I think they're saved and they're going to be with us in heaven."

Dr. Schuller: "What I hear you saying is that it's possible for Jesus Christ to come into a human heart and soul and life even if they've been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you're saying?"

Dr. Graham: "Yes it is because I believe that. I've met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, have never heard of Jesus but they've believed in their hearts that there is a God and they tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived."

Dr. Schuller: "This is fantastic. I'm so thrilled to hear you say that. There's a wideness in God's mercy, Dr. Graham, there is...there definitely is."

"In response to that interview, the editor of this journal wrote the Billy Graham Organization and received a reply that said, "Dr. Graham's views were the same as they have always been." Apparently his views have always been that Muslims are part of the body of Christ, Buddhists are part of the body of Christ, non-believers are part of the body of Christ, people who have never heard of a Bible are part of the body of Christ if they're trying to be better than the people around them. People who never heard of Jesus are part of the body of Christ."

-------------------end MacArthur-----------------------

(Television interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller, broadcast in southern California on Saturday, May 31, 1997).

Graham refused to speak the Gospel to Larry King in 2005, and in fact refused to declare Jews or Mormons were lost souls

KING: But what about those faiths -- the Mormons and the others that you mentioned -- believe in Christ. They believe they will meet Christ. What about those like the Jews, the Muslims, who don't believe they ...

GRAHAM: That's in God's hands. I can't be the judge.

KING: You don't judge them?

GRAHAM: No.

KING: How do you feel when you see a lot of these strong Christian leaders go on television and say, you are condemned, you will live in hell if you do not accept Jesus Christ, and they are forceful and judgmental?

GRAHAM: Well, they have a right to say that, and they are true to a certain extent, but I don't -- that's not my calling. My calling is to preach the love of God and the forgiveness of God and the fact that he does forgive us. That's what the cross is all about, what the resurrection is all about, that's the gospel. And you can get off on all kinds of different side trends, and in my earlier ministry, I did the same, but as I got older, I guess I became more mellow and more forgiving and more loving."

Is it loving to refuse to use the worldwide media opportunity such as the then-popular Larry King show to expound on what Jews and Muslims need to do to be saved? No, it is not.

In each decade from the 1950s onward, since Graham burst upon the scene, Christians have been presented clear indications of Graham's aberrant beliefs. He praised Catholicism in the 1950s, in fact in In 1967, he was the first Protestant to receive an honorary degree from Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic school. He has included rabbis and priests as counselors to inquirers at each crusade, effectively handing over little children seeking Jesus to a devastating cycle of apostasy and hopelessness. As mentioned in the Decision Magazine inquiry, Graham has believed since at least 1960 that most people will go to heaven. He believes in baptismal regeneration, the inclusion of old earth and evolution as part of God's works, that Mary the mother of Jesus should receive higher due, that there is life on other planets who worship God ... and so on.

His aberrant beliefs cannot be attributed to recent old age, infirmity, confusion, or anything else except that he was and is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

I am sorry to say that and it gives me no pleasure, but in testing his beliefs against the bible, one must conclude that Mr Graham does not know the true, biblical Jesus, and is in fact a liberal compromiser in pursuit of earthly rewards, fame, and celebrity.

"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20)

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6)

In part 2 I'll look at Mr Graham's movie, the movie's designated evangelistic strategy of 'friendship evangelism', discuss 'decisional regeneration', and conclude with some general remarks. Below are many links to writings, quotes, and videos of Mr Graham's apostasy. Please check them out yourself and as with everything test the spirits and use only the bible as your benchmark of truth. And stay away from Graham's "My Hope America" movie.

Part 2/2 here
--------------------------

Links

Tim Challies: Billy Graham and Ecumenicism (essay)

John MacArthur clip, A Wideness in God's Mercy? (video)

Cecil Andrews: Billy Graham: The Man and His Message (video)

World View Weekend: Billy Graham (article)

David Cloud: Billy Graham’s Sad Disobedience To The Word Of God (note: I disagree with a lot of Mr Cloud's teaching but the article I've linked to is mostly Graham quotes and discussion of same, with sources)

John MacArthur: Deliverance: From the Temporal World to the Eternal Kingdom (sermon)

Midwest Today: A Conversation with Billy Graham, 1997 (news article, printed interview)

CARM.org: Billy Graham

13 comments:

  1. Elizabeth,

    Thank you for covering this and the timing couldn't have been more spot on. I've already read/listened to the assessments of:

    MacA, Cecil Andrews, WVW, and David Cloud

    And I concur with all of them.

    Looking (sadly) forward to part 2.

    Thanks for being willing to be another voice who looks at Graham with Berean eyes.

    -Carolyn

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    1. Hi Carolyn,

      I can't thank you enough for taking the time to check out the links and review the material thoughtfully. That is really what I live for. I'm sad too, Mr Graham is nearing the end of his life, and I am not at all sure he is headed for heaven or if he will be one of those who say to the Lord on that day, Lord, Lord! (Matthew 7:21-23)

      I am pretty much done writing the second part, I'll post it Monday evening. I took today 'off', instead enjoying a tremendous worship at my home church, and listened to some of the Strange Fire sermons afterward. And, I made soup :) Have a good week ahead.

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    2. Hi Elizabeth, yw, but more correctly, I should have said I "had" already listened to MacA, Andrews, WVW, and Cloud - as in I didn't just listen to/read them today, but already knew about them from months/years ago.

      I am sad for Graham, I hope he's truly the Lord's and just going to lose rewards.

      Have a good night.

      -Carolyn

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  2. So glad to see that the watchman is truly watching! :) The Holy Spirit will lead and guide us into ALL truth! Thanks sister...

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  3. Sometimes we're too narrow-minded to think that God limits salvation to those who are fortunate enough to receive the revelation of His Word. Well, guess what, Paul's exposition in Romans 1 and 2 deals with this difficult subject of whether the gentiles who have never heard of the Law (Torah) are judged by the same standards. Paul said their conscience "bears witness" to this Law and are judged by the same standards but that barring clear revelation, gentiles should at least try to follow the dictates of their conscience and glorify God, however limited their understanding of Him may be. I believe with all my heart that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and that's why I strive to share the gospel however way I can to the world. BUT...I agree with Billy Graham that we must trust God to administer fair judgment to everyone, including those who had lived and died in remote places of the world without ever hearing the clear-cut truth of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we must have the wisdom to understand these things and not come to hasty conclusions and pass cheap judgments in an attempt to discredit great men and women of God who are doing their share of spreading the gospel. Ravi Zacharias was asked the same thing and he wisely said, "Why don't you trust the judge of all the earth to do that which is right. You follow Him and He will help you right the lives that are born in different worldviews and leave eternal judgment to Him. Thank God it is not up to you or to me."

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    1. We are "narrow minded" because that is how God said He will work. He set the limits. It is not up to us to widen them. My answer to you is Romans 10:13-14

      "for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." 14How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?"

      God won't violate His own standards and save those who have not repented and called upon Him, who is the only way

      “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6.

      In this case, narrow minded is apt, because Jesus said the way is narrow. (Mt 7:14).

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    2. You stated:"we must trust God to administer fair judgment to everyone, including those who had lived and died in remote places of the world without ever hearing the clear-cut truth of Jesus Christ." The proof that God exists has been clearly revealed to all! Romans 1:19 states: "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." It doesn't matter where you live or what position you hold, all men are without excuse and God's Wrath remains on them because they have sinned against a Holy God.

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  4. I always hold out hope that the Lord reveals himself one final time before those who don't know Jesus die so that they might be like the man who was crucified next to Jesus. It's never too late, praise God. But that never negates the fact that you must die to self and be born again through Jesus, even if that happens on your death bed. That said, that is a risky assumption to make and we should always evangelize the lost as if they may die today, because in fact they might. Our testimony might be that very last time the person hears the gospel before they walk out and get hit by a bus.

    Regarding Graham's comments on good and evil early in his career. That gives me great pause. God has laid upon my heart and I have submissively wrote a thesis that I share often called, "Woe to us when good defeats evil." The general premise is that Satan perpetuates evil (such as Nazism, Communism, Islamic terrorism) not so that evil wins, but to provoke a humanist response of "good" to overcome. And its this moral good without the foundation of Christ that Satan molds into the antichrist ecumenical world system which will ensnare many lukewarm christians.

    Those who evangelize for the uncompromising authentic Christ will find themselves pushed to the fringe and lumped in with other extremists views as enemies of the state.

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  5. I have just watched The Cross from the My Hope America with Billy Graham. I have rarely heard or seen a more clearer presentation of the gospel. May the Lord bless this evangelistic outreach to our needy nation.

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    1. Hi ANonymous,

      I'm glad you watched it and I'm glad you commented. But please always remember that it's both the message AND the messenger that counts. Mr Graham believes that Jesus is not the only way, among other foundational errors. Paul rebuked the divining slave girl even though on the surface, what she was speaking was truth. (Acts 16:16-24)

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  6. I watched Mr. Graham's My Hope America and he specifically pointed out that we are to repent and ask Jesus into our lives. I'm sorry but it seems that this is one of the reason's why people turn away from Christianity due to the fact that other's make evangelist's look wrong in their teaching's and are discredited. He lead many people to Christ and I was also so moved by My Hope America that I prayed the Lord's prayer again into my life. We are all sinner's and will someday stand before God and He is the only one who know's our hearts.

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    1. Hello Mr or Ms Mansfield,

      Of course false teachers will say the “right” things and of course Mr Graham said pray and ask Jesus into your life (an invitation that in itself isn’t as biblical as it sounds- nowhere does the bible say that is how we are saved, it is Christianese which often leads to easy believism). However, that aside, Mr Graham said specifically told several different interviewers over a period of years and was specifically confirmed in writing that he believes people who don’t know Jesus or have not heard the Gospel will be saved. This is ecumenism and it is also a ‘wider mercy’ doctrine, both of which are false.

      Yes Jesus knows our hearts, but He also said we "WILL" know the false ones by their fruit.(Mt 7:16) The two notions are not mutually exclusive.

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