Billy Graham's final sermon: 'I've wept' for America

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Dave Gilbert's picture

I'm reminded of this verse, which puts the fear of God into me as does all of His word:  " Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. " Luke 6:26

 

Also, this from, of all places, World Net Daily: " .....a man who has preached to more people – 2.2 billion – than any Protestant in history and who has appeared on Gallup’s list of the most admired men in the world 56 times since 1955, more than any other individual in the world. "

 

Admittedly, I don't weep for America. Knowing its history intimately and its continued rejection of God, spiraling immorality and the rest, it deserves judgment...do I want to see it come? Part of me says, "yes" and part of me says, "no". The biggest part of me wants to see God's will done, no matter what.

 

Dave.

jimcarwest's picture

The Billy Graham special was provocative and no doubt well received by most.  One has to admire certain things about Graham.  He has kept his reputation pure and morally untarnished.  He has maintained a sterling record on financial accountability and honesty.  Unfortunately, his record on the gospel is very tarnished.  He never met a modernist he didn't find acceptable in his crusades.  His praise for Popes, and Bishops, and Mother Teresa  is extremely disappointing.  His coziness with politicians is shameful.  His follow-up philosophy has put many new "believers" into false religious institutions.  All in all, Graham has probably done more to harm the cause of Christ than to advance it.  He gained a superlative reputation among the world's elite, but he has really never suffered anything for the gospel.  He set many records for the number of people he addressed in his lifetime, but can you imagine Jesus or Paul following Graham's plan for evangelism? 

Wayne Wilson's picture

There is plenty of legitimate criticism of Billy Graham over the course of his career. Those issues are completely unknown to the vast majority of Americans who regard Graham with respect, even if they're not sure why.  

 

I say, use it!  The video is a very effective presentation of the Gospel for people today. It is clear on repentance and what it means to come to Christ.  Nothing is watered down.  If people are paying attention, use it!  It will be forgotten in a week or two. use it! Link to it, share it, get it out there.  It's the Gospel.  

jimcarwest's picture

Wayne, I see your point, but it sounds somewhat pragmatic and quite similar to what Graham himself must have been thinking when he invited Cardinals and apostates to sit on his evangelism committees.  Graham preached repentance and faith, but his associations and praise were often for people who were diametrically opposed to what he preached.  Don't you think that was a little confusing, not to say hypocritical?

Wayne Wilson's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

Wayne, I see your point, but it sounds somewhat pragmatic and quite similar to what Graham himself must have been thinking when he invited Cardinals and apostates to sit on his evangelism committees.  Graham preached repentance and faith, but his associations and praise were often for people who were diametrically opposed to what he preached.  Don't you think that was a little confusing, not to say hypocritical?

 

I do think it was at the time. Yes.  But I don't think using this excellent Gospel video is similar to what Graham did at all.  I can't even think of a way that it's similar.  So I would still use it today, absolutely.   Very few average Americans know anything about those issues.  If the Gospel were in any way compromised in the presentation, I would think differently, but as it is "in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice."  In this case it's the truth being presented, and presented very well indeed.

Ron Bean's picture

Some fundamentalists seem to need a visible, human enemy. In the early years, the enemy was, in a small sense, Fosdick or Ingersoll or Russell. For more than 50 years it's been Billy Graham (one of the BG's we were against along with Bill Gaither and Bill Gothard). Now he's 95 years old and the unpardonable sin of his compromise is only known and remembered by fundamentalists. IMO, his alliances with liberalism and Roman Catholicism aren't being repeated by the majority of today's conservative evangelicals. (To compare Al Mohler's visit to BYU to Graham's ecumenical evangelical crusades is a real stretch.) To most people he's an old, respected, preacher who used to be famous. Nearly everyone has heard of him. meanwhile no one has ever heard of his critics and no one is hearing them now.

I'm wondering who will take his place as the brother fundamentalists love to hate.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

jimcarwest's picture

I understand your perspective, but it seems to me that Graham's simple gospel message is clouded even by the examples he chose in the video to illustrate the gospel.  He chose a rap singer who, after conversion, continued to perform rap in the same disco-rock-music environment.  Of course, Graham did this during all his years in the crusades.  He brought celebrities who had hardly left their knees right to the platform to declare their faith before being discipled and qualified, hoping to influence others with the power of the gospel.  It is no wonder that some of these "babes" didn't pursue a life in Christ.   And I ask you, do you suppose that the BGEA will suddenly change their practice of sending the names of people who contact them after seeing this video to "the church of their choice"?  Over the years of his crusades that resulted in new convert's and inquirer's names being sent to all sorts of heretical churches.  That is completely irresponsible for a Christian leader to do.  I do hope some will come to know Christ through the video, but can we not be concerned about whether the follow-up ministry will also be consistent with the gospel?

jimcarwest's picture

Your comments seem to parrot the same criticisms that new evangelicals had for those of us who were concerned about Graham during the years of his active ministry.  We were said to be the "angry, hate-filled fundamentalists."  My comments are for "in-house" consumption and based upon a desire to keep alive the history of our fight against theological compromise that was the result of the birth of new-evangelism.  Of course, we rejoiced then, and we rejoice now in all who come to Christ through the preaching of the gospel.  Nevertheless, though Paul rejoiced that Christ was preached "even of contention," this did not prevent him from calling out the names of numerous individuals who compromised the gospel.  In fact, he told the believers in Rome to "mark them that cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine you have received and avoid them" Rom. 16:15.  I don't them any of us would limit that to the first century. 

Wayne Wilson's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

I understand your perspective, but it seems to me that Graham's simple gospel message is clouded even by the examples he chose in the video to illustrate the gospel.  He chose a rap singer who, after conversion, continued to perform rap in the same disco-rock-music environment.  Of course, Graham did this during all his years in the crusades.  He brought celebrities who had hardly left their knees right to the platform to declare their faith before being discipled and qualified, hoping to influence others with the power of the gospel.  It is no wonder that some of these "babes" didn't pursue a life in Christ.   And I ask you, do you suppose that the BGEA will suddenly change their practice of sending the names of people who contact them after seeing this video to "the church of their choice"?  Over the years of his crusades that resulted in new convert's and inquirer's names being sent to all sorts of heretical churches.  That is completely irresponsible for a Christian leader to do.  I do hope some will come to know Christ through the video, but can we not be concerned about whether the follow-up ministry will also be consistent with the gospel?

Well, on the first point about Lecrae.  He seems like the real deal.  He's been a Christian for more than 10 years, I believe, hardly just off his knees.  His testimony was powerful and comprehensive.   I have very conservative musical tastes, but I have to admit I'm rather impressed with the content of some of the better Christian rappers.  Rap, as an art form, has way more content than popular music.  Some of it is pretty funny, too --- "I gotta back pack fulla tracts, plus I keep a Johnny Mac."  

Jim, I do think your point about follow up is a good one. I don't follow BGEA so I don't know what they currently do regarding church recommendations.  That would be a concern.  When I say, "Use it." I mean use it for us.  There is more solid Gospel content in that video than I see in most outreach efforts.  It connects with people.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Jim, 

I thought I'd also chime in about Lecrae.  I've sat under his Bible teaching at two different urban ministry conferences.  He goes deep with the Word of God.  His non-profit ministry provides Bible studies and tools for urban churches and ministries. He has certain songs that go deep, including a song that utilizes pre-suppositional apologetics towards a skeptic.  He has some songs that are geared for the edification of the church.  He has other music that is geared towards those who are outside of the faith.  

Yes, he has become a celebrity.  But hardly in the mold of your examples "of who had hardly left their knees right to the platform to declare their faith before being discipled and qualified, hoping to influence others with the power of the gospel."  And I can point to several within the urban ministry that I lead that have grown in certain aspects of their faith due to the Christ-centered influence of Lecrae.   

Greg Long's picture

I have serious concerns about some of Billy Graham's ministry, but this video was a crystal-clear presentation of the Gospel. It was well done, powerful, and pulled no punches.

When it first aired, I stumbled upon it by accident. I happened to look out my window and across the street and saw that my neighbor was also watching it on the TV in his garage (yes, I can see what he is watching in his garage from my living room--he has a 55 in. TV in his garage). After a few minutes I decided to go over and watch it with him but then I saw that he had closed his garage door, which generally means he has gone in for the night. I prayed that he would continue to watch it. I hope to talk to him about it in the near future. (This is the neighbor that I have already done two Bible studies with but who has not made a profession of faith in Christ.)

I didn't see a link to it in the above article, so if you didn't see it, you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bba2Dqaw6SI

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

jimcarwest's picture

I may stand corrected about Lecrae, and I don't want to cause people to doubt his credibility by expressing my doubts about celebrities who have appeared in Graham's crusades.  I am of the old school and remember occasions when it didn't turn out as well.  The name that came to my memory was the rock singer Cliff Richards whose "testimony" was lauded soon after his conversion.  And there were others.  I think you get the point.  You do remember that the same Apostle Paul who rejoiced that Christ as preached even in contention, named some in Scripture who fell along the wayside.  In Rom. 16:17, he enjoined the church to "mark those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them."  Frankly, BG would seem to fall into that category.  He preaches the right words on salvation, but he veers far away from the Scriptures on other issues and practices which has caused great division.  Wouldn't you agree?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Excellent review by Mark Snoeberger at DBTS.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Greg Long's picture

Wow, this review seemed really harsh and jaded. The one lady's testimony became the whole lens through which he filtered the entire presentation. It was almost like "Can you believe how off base her testimony was? Oh, and I guess the Gospel was mentioned."

To me, it was, "Can you believe how crystal clear the Gospel message was? Oh, and there were a few things the one lady said that were a problem for me."

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Dave Gilbert's picture

All I heard about during Billy's whole message was, " The Cross ", "committing one's life to Christ ", " God loves you ", many of the benefits of the regenerate believer's life, but very little of God's wrath, little about mankind's desperate and rebellious situation before Holy God, ( although he became rather pointed at one spot, about 8-9 minutes in, about sin, death and Hell )...I heard references and testimonies about people " looking for something " and finding it in Jesus Christ. What I didn't find, was anything said by anyone about, " God finding me when I wasn't looking. " ( Romans 10:20, Isaiah 65:1 )

 

I also can't get over something Billy said about the cross..." One of the reasons the cross is such an offense is because it demands a new lifestyle " I disagree with this statement wholeheartedly, because from what I see in scripture and what the cross demands, is that we believe. ( Acts 2:14-21, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 ) Nothing else, because everything else will eventually be provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit when we believe on Christ. Repentance, faith, holy living, true spiritual discernment, zeal, talents and everything else is all of God... ( Philippians 2:13 ). I realize Mr. Graham was probably speaking in the vernacular when he said that, but the reality of the true Gospel is its simplicity...it demands that we believe, from the heart. ( Romans 10: 9-20 )

 

Crystal clear? I found it to be rather "warm and fuzzy", with a sprinkling of the bad news...but at least the bad news was there, and probably enough to believe on for someone hearing it for the first time, IMO. To me, Mr. Graham's presentation has been, and continues to be, prefaced with many of the good things that can be found having a relationship with the one, true God... The good things Mr. Graham talks about seem to me, to be luring people to the Gospel message he preaches. He often "leads off" with the good aspects of God, and not the bad...appears to emphasize those as well, throughout his presentation. The Gospel I remember hearing as a young teenager scared the stuffing out of me, and for good reason.

 

Something to think on:

If the Gospel that Billy Graham preaches is such an offense ( and Paul declared it to be ), then why are so few people that Mr. Graham has and had contact with, genuinely offended by it? I've never heard of anyone who hates Billy Graham, honestly.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Dave Gilbert wrote:

I heard references and testimonies about people " looking for something " and finding it in Jesus Christ. What I didn't find, was anything said by anyone about, " God finding me when I wasn't looking. " ( Romans 10:20, Isaiah 65:1 )


These are not mutually-exclusive concepts. While it is certainly true that "there is none that seeketh after God," it is entirely possible (and indeed happens) that a person seeking after "something" because his life isn't right, ends up with God finding him, and giving him the "something" he didn't even know he was looking for. Certainly not all who are seeking "something" find the God of the Bible, but God in his mercy does find some of them.

Of course, it's also true that new (and even some not-so-new) believers don't always know how to correctly verbalize scriptural doctrine. Testimonies should be seen as what they are -- a personal experience, not a well-thought-out doctrinal treatise.

Dave Barnhart

Greg Long's picture

Dave Gilbert wrote:

All I heard about during Billy's whole message was, " The Cross ", "committing one's life to Christ ", " God loves you ", many of the benefits of the regenerate believer's life, but very little of God's wrath, little about mankind's desperate and rebellious situation before Holy God, ( although he became rather pointed at one spot, about 8-9 minutes in, about sin, death and Hell )...I heard references and testimonies about people " looking for something " and finding it in Jesus Christ. What I didn't find, was anything said by anyone about, " God finding me when I wasn't looking. " ( Romans 10:20, Isaiah 65:1 )

Yes, he did get "rather pointed" about sin, death, and Hell. Although he didn't specifically use the words "God's wrath," it's hard to talk about hell without communicated divine judgment on sin. He talked about how Jesus took our punishment on the cross, which of course refers to substitionary atonement. Substitionary atonement is all throughout this presentation. He also said, "On that cross God was laying on Jesus our sins." He also said, "And that was not the real suffering. The real suffering was when he said, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' In that terrible moment, he and God were separated." If he hadn't mentioned sin or hell or taking our punishment, he would be criticized, and yet he did mention those things and you are still criticizing him.

Dave Gilbert wrote:
I also can't get over something Billy said about the cross..." One of the reasons the cross is such an offense is because it demands a new lifestyle " I disagree with this statement wholeheartedly, because from what I see in scripture and what the cross demands, is that we believe. ( Acts 2:14-21, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 ) Nothing else, because everything else will eventually be provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit when we believe on Christ. Repentance, faith, holy living, true spiritual discernment, zeal, talents and everything else is all of God... ( Philippians 2:13 ). I realize Mr. Graham was probably speaking in the vernacular when he said that, but the reality of the true Gospel is its simplicity...it demands that we believe, from the heart. ( Romans 10: 9-20 )
What he meant by "One of the reasons the cross is such an offense is because it demands a new lifestyle" is that people must repent of their sin to come to Christ. He later said that God "can make you a totally new person" (after quoting 2 Cor. 5:17). He was clear that it is the work of God that enables a person to live a new lifestyle.

And he DID talk about believing in Christ. At 17:15 he said, "[You are offered] eternal life if you come to the cross by repentance and faith." At 23:00 he says, "There are many things about the cross and about salvation I do not understand, and I'm not told I have to understand it all. I'm told I'm to believe. And anyone can believe. A blind man can believe. A deaf man can believe. An old person can believe. A young person can believe. And that word 'believe' means 'commit.' I commit my life totally to him. Jesus Christ from the cross says, 'I will save you. I will forgive you. I will change you. I will make you a new person--if you come to the cross by repentance and faith. Come to Christ!" Then he explains repentance. At 25:53 he says, "Now God says, 'Receive him! Believe in him! Put your trust and your confidence in him, and I will forgive your sins and I will guarantee you eternity in heaven." At 26:39, when he is leading the sinner's prayer, he encourages people to pray, "I believe you died for my sins...I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior." So to imply that he didn't talk about believing in Christ is just completely wrong.

This message of repentance and faith/belief in Christ is the Gospel and is entirely biblical, as this is the message Jesus and the apostles preached (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3, 5; 5:32; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:20; 20:21; 26:20; 2 Tim. 2:25).

Dave Gilbert wrote:
Crystal clear? I found it to be rather "warm and fuzzy", with a sprinkling of the bad news...but at least the bad news was there, and probably enough to believe on for someone hearing it for the first time, IMO. To me, Mr. Graham's presentation has been, and continues to be, prefaced with many of the good things that can be found having a relationship with the one, true God... The good things Mr. Graham talks about seem to me, to be luring people to the Gospel message he preaches. He often "leads off" with the good aspects of God, and not the bad...appears to emphasize those as well, throughout his presentation. The Gospel I remember hearing as a young teenager scared the stuffing out of me, and for good reason.

Something to think on:

If the Gospel that Billy Graham preaches is such an offense ( and Paul declared it to be ), then why are so few people that Mr. Graham has and had contact with, genuinely offended by it? I've never heard of anyone who hates Billy Graham, honestly.

There are things in Graham's ministry that can be critiqued, and I have already stated I do not agree with his ecumenical approach. But I'll say it again, this particular presentation was a wonderful proclaimation of the Gospel.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Dave Gilbert's picture

I'll intersperse my replies into your quote:

 

Greg Long wrote:

What he meant by "One of the reasons the cross is such an offense is because it demands a new lifestyle" is that people must repent of their sin to come to Christ. ( I disagree...nobody has to repent before they come to Christ... while it's true that there are passages that call mankind to repentance and belief, if one looks carefully at the Scriptural presentation of the Gospel, all anyone has to do is believe. ) He later said that God "can make you a totally new person" (after quoting 2 Cor. 5:17). He was clear that it is the work of God that enables a person to live a new lifestyle.

 

And he DID talk about believing in Christ. At 17:15 he said, "[You are offered] eternal life if you come to the cross by repentance and faith." ( I agree to an extent, except all that's really "required" is faith, and even that is a gift of God ( Ephesians 2:8-10 ) At 23:00 he says, "There are many things about the cross and about salvation I do not understand, and I'm not told I have to understand it all. I'm told I'm to believe. And anyone can believe. A blind man can believe. A deaf man can believe. An old person can believe. A young person can believe. And that word 'believe' means 'commit.' I commit my life totally to him. Jesus Christ from the cross says, 'I will save you. I will forgive you. I will change you. I will make you a new person--if you come to the cross by repentance and faith. Come to Christ!" Then he explains repentance. At 25:53 he says, "Now God says, 'Receive him! Believe in him! Put your trust and your confidence in him, and I will forgive your sins and I will guarantee you eternity in heaven." At 26:39, when he is leading the sinner's prayer, ( The "sinner's prayer"? This isn't scriptural, and I also " went forward " and prayed this type of prayer after I believed, as well!  ) he encourages people to pray, "I believe you died for my sins...I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior." ( This type of prayer or the exhortation to do this is found nowhere in the New Testament ) So to imply that he didn't talk about believing in Christ is just completely wrong. ( Don't you see the difference between Billy Graham's "gospel" and the Gospel shown in Scripture? The point I'm trying to make is this: Billy believes in "decisional regeneration"...i.e. the ability of mankind to effect his own salvation by "cooperating" with God...by man coming to Him ( at any old time he wants to ) instead of God calling us to Him through the Gospel when He decides to...it's evident in the way he talks, the language he uses, and the methods he uses. )

This message of repentance and faith/belief in Christ is the Gospel and is entirely biblical, as this is the message Jesus and the apostles preached (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3, 5; 5:32; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:20; 20:21; 26:20; 2 Tim. 2:25).

There are things in Graham's ministry that can be critiqued, and I have already stated I do not agree with his ecumenical approach. But I'll say it again, this particular presentation was a wonderful proclaimation of the Gospel.

 

Sir,

 

I think I understand our main differences to an extent.

I see the Gospel as exactly what and how it was delivered by the Apostles, and not a shred more. You appear to see what Billy Graham delivers, in it's entirety, as the Gospel. My opinion is that, what Billy proclaims contains the Gospel, but I say that he's added things to it to make it appeal to the largest audience possible. I hope this helps to explain things from my perspective.

 

Respectfully,

 

Dave.

Greg Long's picture

No, I see the Gospel as the message preached by Jesus and the apostles: repentance and faith/belief in Christ. Please look up the verses I listed above.

Yes you are correct...if you do not believe repentance is part of the response God requires to the Gospel (and let me be clear--I believe God gives the ability to respond in repentance and faith), then we will disagree about this video.

But I wanted to make sure to clear up any misperceptions, because you seemed to imply he didn't talk about believing.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Dave Gilbert's picture

You are quite correct, the Lord does indeed command repentance and require it...I also believe He has to grant it ( as you indicated above ):

 

2 Timothy 2:25, " In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; "

Acts 11:18, " When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. "

 

Greg,

 

My apologies for seeming a bit "hard-edged" towards the things you are saying. It's not personal.

 

Yes, Billy talks about believing...but I can almost guarantee he and I do not share the same view on what constitutes saving faith ( in other words, who flips the "on-switch" when it comes to salvation ). I'm nearly positive that the Lord has used him to spread the gospel, but as far as I'm concerned, he and I are worlds apart.

 

To give you a bit of background, I've grown distrustful of the nuances, cliche terms and pet phrases in use by most churches and ministries in these last days, and frankly I desire a return to truly biblical language when referring to biblical things...But I don't see it coming in my lifetime. What I see is a continued usage of phrases such as "trust Christ", "accept Christ", " Ask Christ to come into your life / heart " etc. instead of the biblical "Believe on Christ", " Repent and Believe " and so forth. My problem I suppose, but there it is for the record.

 

I also distrust most visible churches today because I see an almost mass capitulation to the things of the world in so many of them. Compromise on top of compromise among so-called Christian "leaders" and denominations has led me to the belief that there are very few genuine believers ( well, at least as far as those in positions of "leadership" ) in these last days. Suffice to say, I don't trust high-profile evangelists like Billy Graham simply because of his track record with compromise and worldly associations. I personally look at Billy Graham as a false teacher, not only for what he says in many cases, but also because of who he keeps company with.

 

Also, for the record, I believe jimcarwest hits the nail right on the head with several of his posts above.

 

Now for the scary part, and this has to do with the subject of believing: Many people think they believe in Christ, and He will say to them: " ... Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: " As well as Matthew 7:13-23.

 

Regards,

 

Dave Gilbert.

 

PS: I put the term "leadership" in quotes, because I don't necessarily believe in one man leading a body of believers. I believe the biblical model is a group of elders who rule over ( with the idea that "ruling" is to watch over, and not "lead" ) the proceedings of the assembly and make sure things are done orderly and that teaching is done Scripturally. I also believe what often passes for leadership in many churches these days is nothing more than the doctrine of the Nicolaitaines, which the Lord hates.

Ron Bean's picture

Billy Graham's uniting with liberals and Roman Catholics in evangelistic efforts was wrong. (I can't think of anyone today who has followed his evangelistic example.) When he passes away, the era of large public evangelistic campaigns will end. For fundamentalists, he was the "test" of which side you were on. For the observing world, he was, in their eyes, a Christian that most of them respected. That observing world, if and when they even notice Billy's enemies, see another example of Christians fighting among themselves. Well, not really fighting each other because Billy Graham never responded to his critics. 

I have a question for his critics of which I am one. Is Billy Graham a Christian. If you think he is, why does your treatment of him resemble that of the hatred we ought to have for apostates? (Unless you believe that lack of separation equals apostasy.) If you don't think he's a Christian then say so. And start looking for someone to replace him as the object of your affliction.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Dave Gilbert's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

Billy Graham's uniting with liberals and Roman Catholics in evangelistic efforts was wrong. (I can't think of anyone today who has followed his evangelistic example.) When he passes away, the era of large public evangelistic campaigns will end. For fundamentalists, he was the "test" of which side you were on. For the observing world, he was, in their eyes, a Christian that most of them respected. That observing world, if and when they even notice Billy's enemies, see another example of Christians fighting among themselves. Well, not really fighting each other because Billy Graham never responded to his critics. 

I have a question for his critics of which I am one. Is Billy Graham a Christian. If you think he is, why does your treatment of him resemble that of the hatred we ought to have for apostates? (Unless you believe that lack of separation equals apostasy.) If you don't think he's a Christian then say so. And start looking for someone to replace him as the object of your affliction.

 

And I, for one, never said I did. But to warn believers about false teachers is Scriptural.

 

Mr. Graham, amongst a whole host of others, has demonstrated time and again his reluctance to obey Scriptural commands of separation when confronted with them, by those who only sought to correct him lovingly with God's word. Even in the beginning of his ministry, he was admonished ( and even begged by the ministers of that time ) not to speak some of the things he did, not to endorse whom he did, and not to use the methods he did.

He refused, and did things his way ( or what he believed was God's way ) instead of heeding Scriptural reproof. After decades of doing this and not repenting of his errors, I frankly do not see him as a brother...whether or not he professes Christ...his actions are contrary to his claims in many cases. Passages describing false teachers and unbelievers come readily to mind, especially, " By their fruits ye shall know them. ", "Know ye not that the friendship with the world is enmity with God?", and " If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him ". An article I found very interesting here: http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/graham/general.htm

 

Also, to set the record straight, I don't actually hate any man, at least as far as my spirit goes...I love them and treat them as I would myself and as my neighbor. I also do not consider myself as a "fundamentalist" but rather someone who believes the entire counsel of God in all matters, and am willing to receive scriptural correction from whomever and wherever it comes. I do not believe the unscriptural "essentials" doctrine, because to me, every word of God is truth...there are no "essentials" to be divided from "non-essentials". The saying that is often attributed to Augustine of Hippo, " In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. " is not something I subscribe to, because every word of God, His very words, are important to me as a believer.

 

With that said, I am well aware that I as a believer am still growing and that I need to be more gracious towards those that profess Christ, because not all of them are tares ( or false teachers ) and not all of them are willfully disobeying God. However, in the case of Billy Graham, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Jaunita Bynum, Joyce Meyer and a long list of others, they have been warned ( I imagine countless times ) by others from Scripture about their teachings, about their methods, about their worldliness, and have decided to continue in those practices rather than biblically repenting and turning from those errors. In my estimation, they wouldn't keep doing what they are known for doing, if they were in reality Christ's sheep. ( John 10:27-28, John 10:4-5 )

 

Ron,

 

No, I don't think Billy Graham is saved...

I think that he thinks he is ( which is why he does what he does "for the Lord" ), but I don't see the scriptural evidence past the "surface"...In truth, I don't know his heart, only God does...but for those on this forum who are of the mindset that everyone who professes Christ by their lips, no matter how popular and esteemed by men they might be, is born of God, should really take another look at them through the lens of Scripture. In addition, lack of separation in a genuine believer constitutes disobedience ( I have an abundance of experience with this, much to my shame ), compared to apostasy, which is a gradual falling away from the truths of Scripture over a period of time, with no possibility of returning. For apostates ( who fall away and never return ) it is my opinion that they were never saved to begin with...they are tares. People may disagree with this assessment, but if so, show me by Scripture and I will confess my error. I firmly believe that as long as people continue to repent and come back to the truth of Scripture when confronted with their error and lack of obedience, then it appears to me that they are saved, because that's how the Holy Spirit works IMO.

 

Billy Graham has never repented of his errors or his associations and ecumenical endeavors. His "gospel" is also different..but you have to look real hard to see it in many cases. I'll just post a quote of his from McCall's magazine, circa 1978: " I used to think that pagans in far-off countries were lost -- were going to hell -- if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. ... I believe there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God -- through nature, for instance -- and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying yes to God."

 

Another quote: " This past week I preached in the great Catholic cathedral a funeral sermon for a close friend of mine who was a Catholic, and they had several Bishops and Archbishops to participate. And as I sat there going through the funeral Mass, that was a very beautiful thing, and certainly straight and clear in the gospel. There was a wonderful little priest that would tell me when to stand and when to kneel and what to do" (O Timothy, Vol. 10, Issue 9, 1993, pp. 16-17). <----How much proof do people need?

 

How about this? http://www.hissheep.org/catholic/billy_graham_politician_preacher_prophet_heretic.html

 

Are all these quotes and articles about Billy Graham's compromise and disobedience to the word of God false? That constitutes quite a list of enemies, if they are enemies. Deciding that someone is a false teacher is a serious matter...declaring it is also a serious matter...but warning the sheep about wolves ( whether or not they are in sheep's clothing ) is also a serious matter and I believe one that should be done carefully and boldly, once the truth of it is known.

 

Lastly, I am not going to "start looking for someone to replace him as the object of my affliction"...I'm not someone who feels the necessity of always being adverse to someone to "qualify my existence", nor do I need some sort of enemy to strive against in a spirit of pride to sharpen myself or give my life "legitimacy". Those things don't matter to me, but obeying God does...because He called me by His Gospel and I am His child.

 

Respectfully in Christ,

 

Dave Gilbert.

Greg Long's picture

Dave Gilbert wrote:
I do not believe the unscriptural "essentials" doctrine, because to me, every word of God is truth...there are no "essentials" to be divided from "non-essentials". The saying that is often attributed to Augustine of Hippo, " In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. " is not something I subscribe to, because every word of God, His very words, are important to me as a believer.

Dave, you really need to rethink this particular belief of yours. It is absolutely true that all Scripture is inspired and profitable (2 Tim. 3:16-17). However, not every Scriptural doctrine is of equal importance. While that may seem like a shocking statement to you, it is not one I made up--it came from the apostle Paul himself.

In 1 Cor. 15:3-4, Paul says, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (ESV). The UBS NT Handbook says regarding this phrase: "Of first importance is literally 'in (the) first (plural),' an expression used only here in the New Testament. The phrase can mean 'first in time' or 'first in importance.' It seems likely that Paul intended both meanings here: 'first and foremost' (REB); 'of first importance' is another possibility." Warren Wiersbe says, "'First of all' means 'of first importance.' The Gospel is the most important message that the church ever proclaims" (Bible Exposition Commentary). (See also Clark, Barnes, Bible Knowledge Commentary, Calvin, JFB, Matthew Henry, Lenski).

Here's the point: the Gospel is of first importance. Not everything in the Bible is of first importance, because if everything is of first importance, then nothing is. The error of the liberals is that too little (if anything) is of first importance (and to agree with you, I think this is where Billy Graham erred in his ministry); the error of many fundamentalists is that too much is.

If this is objectionable, just think about it logically. I don't know any church which believes that there is one and only one correct understanding of the "sons of God/daughters of men" in Gen. 6 and that that doctrine is on par with the deity of Christ and salvation by grace alone through faith alone and that a person must believe the correct doctrine about Gen. 6 in order to be a member of their church. So even the staunchest fundamentalists recognizes there are "essential" and "non-essential" doctrines of Scripture; they just draw a bigger circle around the essentials.

Also to lump Billy Graham together with Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Jaunita Bynum, and Joyce Meyer, is slander to me. Billy Graham preaches the true Gospel; his error is in his associations and ministry methods. The others you mentioned do not preach the true Gospel at all. You will never see any of them give a Gospel presentation like the one we are discussing.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Dave Gilbert's picture

I'll sit tight right where I'm at.

 

Also, what's with the reference to the UBS NT Handbook? Scripture should be all we need to reference, to explain what we're getting at, shouldn't it? ( 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ). I personally see no value in other men's writings about the Bible and what it teaches...if the Holy Spirit dwells within us, then He is all we need to be guided into all truth. ( John 16:13, 1 John 2:27 ) What Warren Wiersbe says is irrelevent to this discussion, as is Matthew Henry, John Gill, John Piper or any other mere man, IMO. What does Scripture say to you?

 

Now, I agree that Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, was saying that the Gospel was the first thing ( of all the things ) he had delivered to the church at Corinth: " For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. " ( 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 ) But I somehow see a difference between "first of all" and " as of first importance "...it could mean the same thing, or it may be as I've stated above. By the way, I don't use the new English translations, because I don't believe in their accuracy when compared to the Authorized...but that's another discussion. Smile

 

To say that the Gospel has pre-eminence amongst all the doctrines is fair...but for me to say that there are "non-essential " doctrines is compromising with error, at least to my way of thinking. I once thought similar to what you are expressing, but as I've grown in Christ, His very words have become more important to me over the years...to me, there is no doctrine that is "non-essential". ( Matthew 4:4 ). Frankly, I've gone past the point of rethinking this issue. Thanks for the appeal, however. Smile

 

Another thing: If everything is of equal importance, then perhaps that's what leads to a man trembling at the words of God, like the Psalms say? Something that makes me think soberly, to be sure.

 

As for Billy Graham being lumped in by me with people like Benny Hinn and the like, I don't see the problem...to me, a false teacher is a false teacher is a false teacher...whether or not they are difficult or easy to spot is of no consequence. I know of many believers who think that Billy Graham preaches a false gospel ( in its entirety ), and so do the others...they're just easier to pick out of the crowd, IMO. Let me put it to you this way, Greg...if a person who is in a position to preach and teach the very word of God makes mistakes, then he's human and a sinner as are we all...to man's way of thinking. But if that person were to realize what a serious responsibility it is to teach God's holy word, it would scare the living daylights out of them to make a mistake doing it...once they realize how God treats someone who carelessly deals with it. He is holy, and He will take teachers to task...false ones and true ones, should they make mistakes. ( James 3:1 )

 

Greg, you may think Billy Graham preaches the true Gospel, but he doesn't even believe what he preaches...I just posted a couple of his quotes ( from many years ago ) above...that doesn't make you sit up and take notice? Jesus said, " I am the way, the truth and the life...no man cometh unto the Father but by me. " ( John 14:6 ). Billy Graham says that even people that have never heard the Gospel can find God...this means that he does not believe God's word at face value. So which is it? Is Billy Graham a true teacher of God's word who has just made a lot of mistakes ( that he hasn't repented of ), or is he a false teacher who comes to us in sheep's clothing? ( 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 )

 

There's more to Billy Graham than just his associations and ministry errors...there's also the statements he's made while he was associating and ministering.

 

Greg Long's picture

Dave, a few thoughts and questions:

  1. You do understand the New Testament was written in Greek, not English, correct? So we seek to understand the meaning of the original words of Scripture. The Greek word protos in 1 Cor. 15:3 can mean first in time or first in importance (among other meanings), and I was simply pointing out that commentators believe Paul is probably referring to first in importance, or perhaps using both meanings ("first and foremost").
  2. You say Scripture is all we need. Certainly I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture for life and doctrine. But God has also given us teachers to help us understand the Scripture (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11). You believe this to, if (I assume) you attend a local church in obedience to Scripture. Paul commanded Timothy to teach doctrine (1 Tim. 4:11; 6:2), and to train men who could teach others (2 Tim. 2:2). Commentaries are just helpful tools that teach us things to help us better understand the Scripture. (Obviously we should compare them with Scripture to see that they are true.)
  3. You misunderstand what is meant by "non-essential." It does not mean "non-important" or "not helpful/useful/profitable" (see 2 Tim. 3:16-17). It simply means that it is not on par with the central truths of Christianity about which we must contend. I don't know about you, but I am not willing to give my life as a martyr over my particular understanding of the sons of God/daughters of men in Gen. 6, and I am not willing to separate from brothers who disagree with my understanding of that passage, but I would do both of those things over doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, salvation by grace alone through faith alone, etc.
  4. Billy Graham's statements on Larry King and Robert Schuller's Hour of Power regarding the possible salvation of those throughout history who have never heard the name of Christ were serious error, I agree. And they do give me great pause concerning his ministry. I was glad to see that in this presentation he talked about Christ being the only way to the Father.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Dave Gilbert's picture

I'll intersperse my replies into your quote

 

Greg Long wrote:

Dave, a few thoughts and questions:

  1. You do understand the New Testament was written in Greek, not English, correct? ( I'm well aware of this...but I'm also well aware of those out there who, in their seeking to not only understand the meaning of the words of Scripture, they also keep trying to "re-invent the wheel" from those manuscripts when translating to English. ) So we seek to understand the meaning of the original words of Scripture. The Greek word protos in 1 Cor. 15:3 can mean first in time or first in importance (among other meanings), and I was simply pointing out that commentators believe Paul is probably referring to first in importance, or perhaps using both meanings ("first and foremost"). ( That's fine, Greg, I understand your perspective, but I continue to stand against using commentators myself...while I like to see who else "out there" sees the Bible as I do, I prefer to refrain from quoting them as any sort of reference., whether authoritative or not...just on general principles. I prefer to use my own words and articulate as best I can my understanding of something)
  2. You say Scripture is all we need. Certainly I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture for life and doctrine. But God has also given us teachers to help us understand the Scripture (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11). ( From where I'm sitting, none of those passages says anything about them being given to help us understand; I once believed this, but since the reality of 1 John 2:27 sunk in with me, I've modified this understanding to mean that God has given us teachers to guide us to the Scriptures that are applicable, not to help give us understanding. True understanding of the Scriptures, I believe, can only come from the indwelling Holy Spirit, IMO. ) You believe this to, if (I assume) you attend a local church in obedience to Scripture ( I confess that I do not "attend a local church in obedience to Scripture " as you say...what I do is attend a small fellowship of believers who break bread and study God's word, as well as glorifying Him for His mercy and grace as well as His revealing things to us by His word. I no longer believe that it is necessary for believers to be involved in what is known as "church".  Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." That is the definition of an assembly, IMO. I hold the opinion that what passes for "church" in these last days is full of religion and tradition, as well as pieces of God's truth...and quite a bit of error depending on which local church I would step into. While I value Hebrews 10:25, I don't see that passage as some sort of proof text on church attendance as some people might. By the way, I was taught this growing up in the fundamental Baptist denomination, but I no longer hold to it. )   Paul commanded Timothy to teach doctrine (1 Tim. 4:11; 6:2), and to train men who could teach others (2 Tim. 2:2) ( 1 Timothy 2:2 essentially states that what Timothy had heard from Paul and many witnesses...in other words, what has become Scripture, he is to commit to other faithful men. I stand by what I said above, about teachers. ).  Commentaries are just helpful tools that teach us things to help us better understand the Scripture ( I don't believe this, but I do agree with your follow-on statement -----> ). (Obviously we should compare them with Scripture to see that they are true.)
  3. You misunderstand what is meant by "non-essential." It does not mean "non-important" or "not helpful/useful/profitable" (see 2 Tim. 3:16-17). It simply means that it is not on par with the central truths of Christianity about which we must contend. I don't know about you, but I am not willing to give my life as a martyr over my particular understanding of the sons of God/daughters of men in Gen. 6, and I am not willing to separate from brothers who disagree with my understanding of that passage ( Smile Neither am I, actually, and starting where you said, " I don't know about you...), but I would do both of those things over doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, salvation by grace alone through faith alone, etc. ( How about shooting me a private message on what you believe are the "core doctrines" of the faith...it's always interested me when someone is willing to look at some things that God says in His word and treat them as more or less important than others ( I once did this, but even this is waning the more I grow in Christ TBH. I mean no offense, but I really am puzzled by what I have been seeing of this "essentials" doctrine. I'm aware it exists, but as I've already stated above, everything in God's word is important to me and not to be discounted. To be blunt, there really is nothing that should separate me from a brother or sister in Christ except if they are walking disorderly or have demonstrated themselves to be heretics, but there are extra-Scriptural beliefs I once held to that I no longer hold to ( and some I still stubbornly hold onto Sad ), simply because I've sequestered myself away from the errors I felt were coming from the "pulpit" and "Christian leadership", for a long period...it's been very helpful IMO. )
  4. Billy Graham's statements on Larry King and Robert Schuller's Hour of Power regarding the possible salvation of those throughout history who have never heard the name of Christ were serious error, I agree. ( Perhaps I should have made myself clearer...I believe statements made by those who profess Christ contrary to Scripture can amount to heresy, not just error. Heresy comes in when blatant statements or beliefs are maintained after having been corrected by Scripture or admonished twice ( Titus 3:10-11 ).  I believe Billy Graham has been admonished more than twice by others who know Scripture, so IMO, he has no excuse...it's past the point of error, to rest squarely as blatant heresy, IMO ) And they do give me great pause concerning his ministry. I was glad to see that in this presentation he talked about Christ being the only way to the Father. ( Personally I rejoice in the truth he does preach, because it shows that God uses even the Billy Graham's of the world to glorify Him...but I believe that mingled with the truths he preaches, are errors and outright heresies that would disqualify him not only from becoming the pastor of any local, faithful New Testament church, but also of being a singular "member" of one. In my opinion, his public statements of his beliefs would have long ago marked him as a heretic in any serious church of God at the local level, many years ago... but Mr. Graham's popularity, I believe, has served him well in helping to gain a following of those who would overlook such things, in favor of the fact that the Gospel still goes out from his organization...or at least most of the Gospel, IMO.)

 

 

 

 

All,

 

I am in no way "bashing" Mr. Graham because of differences one brother may have with another brother in Christ... I am expressing my beliefs that Billy Graham is not one of us because of his long history of not only compromise and error, but outright heresy in the face of admonishment... in some cases stretching back to before I was even born. Preachers back in the 40's and 50's when Mr. Graham got his start, are reported to have come to him and pleaded with him not to do and say what he still does, and to no avail. IMO,  Mr. Graham's track record with biblical truth ( I'm not talking about his presentation of the Gospel at this point ) over the years has only gotten worse with age, not better as a true child of God's should...therefore I not only consider him a heretic, I also consider him a false teacher and an apostate due to his long slide into compromise after compromise, as well as the statements he's made...that's the proof in the pudding and I've posted links to where those of you that might be curious can begin your own personal investigation of some of today's popular teachers...I don't ultimately trust those links above the Bible, but I do trust them in as far as giving someone a starting point to work with, should you be interested in their teachings.

 

At this point I will cease posting on this subject, as I have made myself abundantly clear in my feelings, and I ask all of you for forgiveness due to my domination of this thread...mainly because of my enthusiasm and love for truth.

 

Respectfully,

 

Dave Gilbert.

 

Greg Long's picture

Dave, thanks for the interaction. I agree that we are no doubt striking a deceased equine on this thread, and have also diverged into multiple bunny paths as well, so this will probably be my last post too (although feel free to respond to anything I say here).

I am not surprised that you do not attend a church; in fact, I suspected as much, which is why I made a statement to that effect. I have found on my time here on SI that those who hold views similar to yours and/or doctrinal views outside what might be considered mainstream Christianity tend to become dissatisfied with more and more churches until they can't find any that they agree with, which leads them to withdraw from attending church altogether.

Now, let me be clear: there is no Scriptural command to attend a church building, and there are no Scriptural requirements as to the minimum size of a congregation (the word "church," of course, simply means "assembly"). But according to the New Testament, a biblical church must be a place where: (1) the Word is preached; (2) the ordinances of baptism and communion are observed; and 3) there are pastors and deacons (some would also add (4) church discipline is conducted; and (5) the church is organized for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission). Does your gathering meet those criteria?

Also, you are once again taking a verse out of context. Mt. 28:20, as I'm sure you are aware, is part of a passage where Jesus talks about church discipline:

Matt 18:15-20

15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'  17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

18 "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (NKJV)

Notice the "two or three" mentioned in v. 20 is also mentioned in v. 16 (and v. 19 mentions "two of you"). So the "two or three" in v. 20 refers to the "two or three" witnesses of v. 16, which refers to establishing the validity of testimony against a sinning brother (see Deut. 19:15). Jesus is there in the midst when even just a few brothers confront a sinning brother (v. 16) or ask for something in Jesus' name (v. 19; perhaps referring to a prayer of excommunication).

But relevant for our discussion is that the "two or three" of v. 16 is clearly distinguished from the "church" in v. 17. In other words, Jesus does not see the "two or three" as the same as "the church." It seems that the church ("assembly") would normally be larger than two or three.

Obviously churches have to start somehow, and often churches do start with just two or three. But even though there is no minimum size in the NT, there is really no sense that churches are supposed to stay that small or that there is something better or more spiritual or more biblical about just a handful of believers as opposed to a larger group. And again, a NT church observes the two ordinances and has two officers.

As to your views on "teachers," I'll just say that that is not what "teacher" or "teaching" means. It refers to explaining the sense of Scripture, not just pointing people to the right verses. I would quote a Greek lexicon but that won't mean much to you. Smile See Acts 18:24-28 for an example.

I would also note that you are not consistent in your application of your beliefs, as you directed us to other sites that explain (one could say, "teach") us why Billy Graham should be rejected. And you are also posting on this site trying to convince others of your beliefs, explaining to us ("teaching"?) why we should believe the way you do.

But again, I understand why you believe the way you do about Billy Graham, even though I am not personally ready to call him a heretic, false teacher, or apostate.

Thanks again for the sharpening, Dave. God bless.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Dave Gilbert's picture

Greg, if you look carefully at verses 15-17, you will see church discipline...however, verse 19 expands things to include two brothers or sisters agreeing on earth about anything, and having it done for them. Then verse 20 goes on to make a generalized statement of where Christ would be present and that is among people gathered together in His name...is this not an assembly? Could be, might not be...but I think it is, because the words at face value clearly state it as a gathering in Christ's name....nvm. I'm teaching again. Smile

 

You made this statement: " I am not surprised that you do not attend a church; in fact, I suspected as much, which is why I made a statement to that effect. I have found on my time here on SI that those who hold views similar to yours and/or doctrinal views outside what might be considered mainstream Christianity tend to become dissatisfied with more and more churches until they can't find any that they agree with, which leads them to withdraw from attending church altogether. " "Mainstream Christianity" is of no consequence to me...I've often found that the doctrines they hold are in essence, a complicated mixture of truth and error, when compared carefully to Scripture.  Appealing to mainstream Christianity seems strangely similar to appealing to mainstream American politics, IMO...those outside of the mainstream are either considered leftist wackos or right wing extremists. Let's just say you are partially correct about me, but it's much more complicated than that...

 

At the age of 35, after 20 years of worldly living,  I went from carnal Christian to shock and shame over having disobeyed my Lord so thoroughly in the matter of biblical separation ( by the way, no church discipline ever came my way, just the usual topical preaching...a good talking to by my pastor would have probably gotten my attention, but that never happened at my church. It took a conservative Baptist website and their articles on biblical teaching to smack me upside the head ) then I finally opened my bible and started reading it wholesale instead of letting my pastor "spoon-feed" me every Sunday and Wednesday. Imagine my surprise when I discovered things my long-time church ( fundamental Baptist that has since gone to some sort of "contemporary Baptist" ) never even spoke about...such as election. I took things further and started comparing traditions and other doctrines they held to, straight back to the bible, and discovered yet more error. I wondered how such a large pile of skewed teachings could be built up, and then it hit me...compromise and false beliefs about Scripture over a long period of time.

 

I started looking at the "denominations" and saw yet more error mixed with the truth of Scripture, and it really got me wondering...wondering if there were really any actual New Testament churches left, at least close ones. I have reached some conclusions about what has happened to the visible church over the last 2000 years, but this is neither the place nor the time for my observations...suffice to say, I'm quite dismayed at what's happened. Now I'm left with two choices...try to find other believers who actually believe God's word at face value outside the "system" of what I have come to believe is institutionalized Christianity, or go back in and see if there's anyone there who will at least listen.

 

Please understand that in my explaining these things I am in no way looking for perfection...but I am looking for those who would be made perfect in Christ...and that means submitting their minds and lives to God's word through His Holy Spirit and being conformed to the image of Christ through the transforming of the mind. I've run into far too many people who profess Christ that have "hobby horses" or pet doctrines that when shown the truth of Scripture, get all upset and angry about it, only to dismiss the event and go back to being comfortable in those false doctrines. I present the afore-mentioned doctrine of grace called election as an example. Someday soon I will probably go back into one of the more conservative and Bible-believing churches and test things, but I still have much to learn from the Lord. I need more teaching on being gracious, for one, and not leading with my chin. Smile

 

 

 

About teaching...OK, you got me. I'll have to rethink through my enthusiasm and see where I overstepped the bounds of exposition and just pointing people to Scripture. Acts 18:24-28 is spot on, and thanks for bringing it to my attention.

 

Now for a shocker...I'm 47 and haven't had much experience with this sort of thing in my lifetime, so I'm going to fumble about for quite awhile...the subject of interacting with others to any great extent, I mean. I've spent most of my life either sitting in some pew getting spoon-fed my understanding, or sitting in some small fellowship hammering out everything I was taught in those early days, from the Bible alone, without the teachings of a pastor to get in the way or confuse me. I think the Lord has brought me along fairly well, but apparently I  still have much to learn about interacting with people.  Sad

 

I'm just an average country boy who works in Shipping and Receiving ( with a lot of technical background in various jobs before that ) with no formal ( and really unnecessary, from my point of view ) education in Biblical Studies. To my way of thinking, a person who is truly indwelt with the Holy Ghost shouldn't need man-made Bible colleges to instruct them in the ways of the Lord...but there can be benefits to attending them, such as becoming proficient with interacting with others, to list one. <----one of my weak spots, I'm afraid.

 

 

About my consistency...spot on again, I confess. Once again my level of interaction vs. enthusiasm for the truth reaches out and bites me...:(

 

Thank you for the encouragement Greg, even though you and I do not agree on everything. Biggrin

 

 

pvawter's picture

Dave,

I appreciate your candor with respect to your position on the local church, and a couple of thoughts might be appropriate, if I may.
You admit that you need to grow with respect to your ability to interact graciously with others, but I would submit that avoidance of a local church actually produces the opposite effect. As a pastor, I remind those under my influence that the close proximity of the church family leads inevitably to some jostling and jolting of one another (we are all sinners, after all), but that provides exactly the opportunities necessary for the Spirit to do his sanctifying work in us. Think of all the opportunities to forgive our brothers for uncharitable acts and attitudes that we miss if we exclude ourselves from the church, and how many opportunities to ask for forgiveness for our own unkind actions.

The other point I wanted to mention was that your statements concerning the church you grew up in, may not, indeed do not reflect all churches. You mentioned specifically the doctrine of election that had fallen into neglect, but are there not many other churches which affirm that Biblical teaching? In your haste to dismiss the church in which you were raised, may you not have dismissed the multitude of others without adequate consideration?

Paul