It is easy to be critical of a bad man such as a killer, dictator, sleazy politician, or child molester (unless he is from the Arabian Desert) but few are willing to correct, criticize, or censure a man who has many admirable, very commendable traits. Dr. Billy Graham was such a man. He was one of the most kind, thoughtful, generous, and dedicated men in America. That makes it very difficult, dubious, even dangerous to say, “However, I have somewhat against him.”
Billy’s cooperation, complicity, and compromise with infidel pastors is the core of his sinful failure that brought enormous harm to the cause of Christ at the same time he was trying to reach people for Christ! Inadvertently, he was the source of confusion as he discouraged faithful workers, disrupted the churches, and distorted the Word of God that he was attempting to proclaim!
The uninformed or those who have conformed to the thinking of this world’s philosophy get very queasy when names are called or people are identified as needing to make personal corrections in their lives. However, John the Baptist sure called names even telling the Jews that their religious leaders were “a generation of vipers” in Matt. 3:7. Now that wasn’t the way to win friends and influence Jewish leaders. He told the world that King Herod was living in adultery, and it cost John his head! I hope I will not be “honored” in the same way because of my honest and true criticism of Graham. But when you get a wishy-washy Evangelical angry (he only expresses anger at Fundamentalists) he often reaches for his hatchet.
Paul warned in Rom. 16:17 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” He often named names! While he often praised individuals (more than 25 in one chapter), he told two ladies to stop fussing (Phil. 4:2) and pointed out an adulterous affair in the Corinthian church. He told of Hymenaeus and Philetus’ profane and vain babblings. To Timothy he revealed that Alexander the coppersmith did him much evil; He also reported that Demas was a quitter who returned to the world. He warned of Hymenaeus and Alexander’s blasphemy and of Phygellus and Hermogenes’ apostasy. Yes, Paul was a “name caller.”
Even Christ called people “serpents,” “blind guides,” and “hypocrites” in Matt. 23:23-34. According to John 2:15, He even made a whip and chased the money changers from the Temple. Note that it was premeditated in that He “made” the whip. It would take many whips to chase out the money changers today especially the television evangelists who plead like beggars and live like kings as they lie, embellish, and coerce money from the elderly, the naïve, the weak-minded, and the stupid. Sincere Christians are commanded to expose the charlatans as these Christians “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
Paul commanded us to “mark” believers who believe contrary to his “doctrine” and “avoid” them (Rom. 16:17). He told us rebuke sharply those who were not sound in the faith, not to be mean, but that they “may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13). Moreover, he said that such Christians were to be reproved (Eph. 5:11) and sincere Christians were told to “withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly” (II Thes. 3:6). He told us to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” those who need the same (II Tim. 4:2). Few Christians obey that teaching and even attack those who try to faithfully obey!
The Apostle John, the apostle of love, used very strong language in II John 10 and 11. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” Graham obviously chose not to follow John’s admonition thinking he could do wrong thereby helping him do right.
I realize that in criticizing such a popular and impressive man, I will expose myself to relentless criticism. That is only reasonable. I expect to be held to the same standard. There is no question that I have failed. However, I can honestly declare that I have never been bought, not by family, friends, foes, or fellowship. I have tried to be consistent with criticism whether of friend or foe.
There is a segment of Christians who think it is wrong to be negative, not understanding that most of the Ten Commandments are negative. They often use Matt. 7:1 as a response to any who criticize others as they tell us it is always wrong to judge others. Of course, they show how immature and uninformed they are when they use that passage against honest critics. Christians are supposed to make judgments every day about right and wrong. Christians are to judge but to judge righteously without being “holier than thou.” We are not to be hasty, harsh, or haughty in our judgment.
After looking at the facts and following Graham’s ministry from its beginning I am compelled to say that he compromised the Word of God to accomplish the task he felt called to do. It is an in- arguable fact that Graham changed 180 degrees in the early 1950s from the fire breathing evangelist who called sin by its name, lambasted Communists, and called out the radical Modernists in the National (then Federal) and World Council of Churches. Then he invited Roman Catholics into his bed. Those are facts that no informed, honest person can deny. However, if you think that plan, practice, and policy is biblical, then you can convince yourself that you have won the discussion. But, if you think Bible commands are important and all of us, without exception, are required to obey then you will be willing to look honestly at Graham’s life and admit that he made major mistakes as he was trying to do good.
Be that as it may, we must never do wrong in the attempt to do right. No exceptions!
Boys’ new ebook The Rise and Decline of Billy Graham: He Tried to do Right the Wrong Way! is available here.
Fact, Fraud or Faith?
by Don Boys, Ph.D.
Only an uninformed fanatic says that evolution or creation can be proved scientifically. Christians believe in creationism because we believe in the veracity of the Bible but we also have scientific evidence to support our position. In every debate I’ve had with evolutionary scientists, the arrogant, asinine accusation is made, “Well, evolution is scientific while creationism is religion.” Evolution is about as scientific as a voodoo rooster plucking ceremony in Haiti. Almost.