The Myth of Influence

There are 9 Comments

Bert Perry's picture

I'd argue that they're missing the point; the chief flaw in Graham is not that he allowed liberals as collaborators, but rather that he never really had a coherent strategy for discipleship in place as is evidenced by the dismal (2% I've been told) retention rate of those who "accepted Christ" at one of his rallies.  Take care of discipleship, and you solve a lot of these "influence" problems.  In Graham's case, you simply admit you cannot plausibly care for 50,000 new believers in Chicago and find another way of reaching people for Christ.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

This article could have been written by a fundamentalist. This raises the question, why shouldn't we consider some of the folks at Ligonier fundamentalists?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mike Harding's picture

It was a very good article and written from the perspective of an historical fundamentalist.  Agreed.

Pastor Mike Harding

WilliamD's picture

i discovered a subtle difference that makes a huge difference when talking about evangelism and discipleship. We often begin with evangelism and follow up with discipleship. It assumes that people only need to hear the words without any cultivation of preparation to understand to receive those words . 

 However discipleship should be seen as a process whereby it leads to evangelism.  They are actually not too different things, they're one in the same.  You should always be in the process of "gospelizing"  everybody we have a relationship with.   Whether they are believers or not, we are "discipling"  them with the gospel as a pre-convert or post convert.  This comes in the form of spoken word and gospel motivated action.  But either way, both need the gospel to be preached to them before and after conversion. 

Don Johnson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

I'd argue that they're missing the point; the chief flaw in Graham is not that he allowed liberals as collaborators, but rather that he never really had a coherent strategy for discipleship in place as is evidenced by the dismal (2% I've been told) retention rate of those who "accepted Christ" at one of his rallies.  Take care of discipleship, and you solve a lot of these "influence" problems.  In Graham's case, you simply admit you cannot plausibly care for 50,000 new believers in Chicago and find another way of reaching people for Christ.

That's a false dichotomy. You can't really separate out the one without the other. They go hand in hand.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

 

Bert Perry wrote:

 

I'd argue that they're missing the point; the chief flaw in Graham is not that he allowed liberals as collaborators, but rather that he never really had a coherent strategy for discipleship in place as is evidenced by the dismal (2% I've been told) retention rate of those who "accepted Christ" at one of his rallies.  Take care of discipleship, and you solve a lot of these "influence" problems.  In Graham's case, you simply admit you cannot plausibly care for 50,000 new believers in Chicago and find another way of reaching people for Christ.

 

 

That's a false dichotomy. You can't really separate out the one without the other. They go hand in hand.

Yes and no.  While I would agree that discipleship and active sanctification requires membership in a Bible-believing church, it is also true that many people in fundagelical circles will sign on to statements of faith they don't really believe.  A coherent plan for discipleship is going to separate the sheep and the goats far more effectively than simply signing a statement of faith, and may induce sheep who happen to be in mainline churches to separate from such churches.

To draw a word picture, I'm a former member of a GARBC church where the pastor and deacons unanimously didn't see anything objectionable about James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll greeting modalist T.D. Jakes as a brother in Elephant Room 2.  Unanimously.

There is also the reality--one which I'm sure just about anybody in fundamentalism would endorse--that with tens of thousands of denominations and independent churches in this country, with varying degrees of fidelity to their own statements of faith, it is a fool's errand to try and lump churches into neat categories without seeing how they express and flesh out their faith.  If you're going to do a big event in Chicago, with thousands of churches providing volunteers, far easier simply to put all of the volunteers through the same discipleship program they're expected to use with converts.

Which is, I'm persuaded, really the best way of getting church members to take the need for making disciples seriously, and would have been the best way to eliminate the perceived need for stadium events.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Fred Moritz's picture

Brother Perry wrote:

I'd argue that they're missing the point; the chief flaw in Graham is not that he allowed liberals as collaborators, but rather that he never really had a coherent strategy for discipleship in place as is evidenced by the dismal (2% I've been told) retention rate of those who "accepted Christ" at one of his rallies.

I respectfully disagree with you concerning Graham's chief flaw.  Cooperating with liberals as he did was directly contrary to biblical commands such as 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, et. al.

It is a matter of historical record that separation from apostasy was the issue. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones declined to be part of Berlin 66 over that issue.  The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College has archived for view some of the internal documents supporting their conscious decision to cooperate with apostates.  Robert Ferm wrote the apology for that unbiblical strategy in his book on Evangelism.  Ockenga articulated it in his 1957 press release and other articles.  Carl Henry spoke of it in a forum at Trinity about 1990.  I believe those "Know Your Roots" videos are still online at the Trinity website.  You can watch Donald Carson moderate, and Kenneth Kantzer and Carl Henry discuss evangelicalism in a two-hour forum.

Graham's chief flaw was cooperating with unbelievers.  Graham and Monroe Parker were close at one time (Parker even stayed in the Graham home).  Parker related personal conversations to me.  The big issue and flaw was cooperation with those who denied the faith.

Joeb's picture

Fred are you not painting with a broad brush by saying all Mainline Protestant Catholic and let say Eastern Orthodox Church members are unbelievers and apostate.  Do you know all these people's hearts and where they stand before our Lord.  A good example is Senator Marc Rubio who is Catholic yet openly professed his faith in Christ during his campaign.  

Now more importantly I don't see many Fundementalists getting their heads cutoff for their faith in mass.   I think numbers for the Eastern Orthodox Christians is 20,000 last year.  I don't think I heard that 20,000 Fundementalists got their heads cutoff or blown off. So by your statement these brothers went to hell even though most defiantly said my faith is in Yeshua by all accounts before dying.  

Now if you want to say these believers are getting weak teaching then you have good argument. My experience is theses  believers   supplement their teaching like Rubio by going to a Gospel preaching church too. 

Now I do agree a good argument could be made that Billy Graham used his ministry to gain influence.  Also I do agree that he may have went to far by being to ecumenical but the fact is he recognized their were believers in these other churches and had a driving desire to bring people to Christ. 

For the record the Jones' did not have a perfect record either. Let's see Racism KKK Affiliation Hang the Gays etc.  

Remember it's the Convergant churches and Evangelical Schools who seem in better shape then the hardcore Fundamentalist churches and institutions. It's their young trained Preachers who are rejecting the pure Fundementalists and becoming sinful Convergents.  It's a shame because I think the hardcore Fundementalists have a lot to offer if they could do their message in love without condemning all others outside.  So many believers are compromising themselves.   

Fred if my assessment is wrong please correct me.  

Bert Perry's picture

Fred, understood that the Graham (and Sunday) organizations have both documented that they decided, against the advice of many others (including a bunch in the fundamental camp), to partner with people from theologically liberal, mainline churches.  No sense arguing that point!

I would guess, however, that if you were to really look at the motivations that guided this decision, you'd find about the same reason that most itinerant evangelists in the fundamental circuit don't bear lasting fruit, and about the same reason most VBS programs in our fundamental churches get gaudy "decision" and "conversion" statistics without putting a single rear end in the pew on Sunday; they assume that discipleship will take care of itself.  

And in my view, that is at least closer to the root problem with both Sunday and Graham--and yes, most of those itinerant evangelists and the like.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.