Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Response to Billy Bashers

During the late 1990s, I worked for World Wide Pictures, the film ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. My job there was calling pastors throughout the United States scheduling evangelistic films to be shown in their churches as part of an outreach event. Although telemarketing work can get tedious, my job at World Wide Pictures was quite enjoyable. Most of the time, I talked with pastors and church secretaries who treated me courteously even if they weren’t interested in booking a film.

Occasionally I spoke with individuals who were critical of Dr. Graham (some of my co-workers labeled them “Billy bashers”). One objection that regularly came up was that Billy is “too ecumenical.” The New Oxford American Dictionary defines ecumenical as “promoting or relating to unity among the world's Christian churches.” One can aim to unify the body of Christ without compromising the integrity of the gospel. Jesus Himself prayed in John 17 that we all “become one.

A few days ago I exchanged emails with a Facebook friend who initially criticized Billy Graham because of a 2006 Newsweek article claiming the evangelist no longer believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. Since I never read that article for myself, I decided to investigate this matter. (Keep in mind the secular news media these days usually write biased reports concerning evangelical Christians.) I couldn’t locate the original Newsweek article online but did find this blog entry that mentioned a clarifying response from Billy himself…

Recently the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed “Mormonism” from their website's list of cults after Billy and his son Franklin met with (and offered support for) Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. At first, I was troubled when hearing about this for it appeared to be condoning false doctrine. Later I read this prepared statement by Ken Barun, the BGEA chief of staff: “Our primary focus has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ…we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

Although I don’t agree with every decision made by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, I’m honored to have worked for a ministry that’s probably led more people to Christ than any other. Billy Graham has retired from doing crusades but continues to speak out and stand for Biblical truth (note the above newspaper ad). So until he goes home to be with the Lord, let’s keep Billy in our prayers. Scripture commands us to honor our fathers in the faith, not pass judgment on them.

“Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers.” - 1 Timothy 5:1 (NLT)

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