By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – Shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney enjoyed cookies and soft drinks with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham on Thursday at the elder Graham’s mountaintop retreat, a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
First things first: I am not writing this post to tell people that they should or shouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney on November 6th. I am writing this only to illustrate how false teaching of any sort only serves to increase the darkness and encourage the enemies of God in the world.
Again, this is NOT about the election – it is about Billy Graham and the lack of Biblical truth that surrounds him and his “ministries”.
For such a widely known and promoted figure like Graham and his “ministry” to make a public change like this regarding the nature or identity of false theologies like LDS is incredibly destructive. The excuse offered (that they have removed the information because), “we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized” is total and utter baloney, and in and of itself shows a desire to place the concerns of men over and above the concerns of Holy God.
This whole presidential election aside, the removing of this information, followed by a longwinded and vapid response as to what Billy believes about Mormonism will do more to legitimize the acceptance of Mormonism as being Christian in the eyes, ears, and even hearts of the world (including many weak churches) than anything else has in DECADES! “Graham Ministries” has in effect cut the legs from under many Christian pastors, teachers, and apologists in discussing or debating this topic with others – whether in their churches, or in the public arena.
Rest assured, the cries of “Even Billy Graham – “America’s Pastor” – says that Mormons are Christians…just like everybody else” will ring louder than church bells across the nation and in the media for years to come! And the damage it will do among churches and individuals in regards to what is truth (and standing on it), will last far longer.
I could go into all kinds of things that Graham has said, done, and written over the years, that serve as proof that even if he once spoke of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he has LONG since embraced the (ecumenically propelled) false theology of universalism. It is truly sad that so many Christians have and will continue to make excuses for his perverted teachings by ignoring the totality of what he has said and taught and endlessly citing the places and spots where his words would be considered correct. Even a teaspoon of Drano will poison a whole gallon of water, and even if this were the ONLY instance where the Grahams have said, done, or promoted a wrong doctrine, it would still amount to nothing less than: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Gal 5:9). But the truth is, over the years, false teaching has been more and more liberally sprinkled throughout Graham’s output.
Some will argue that his crusades have seen multiple thousands of people become converted to the cause of Christ, and his associations have helped still more people in third world countries etc. Some will say that they themselves were converted after attending one of his events, or after watching him on television, or while reading one of his books (and so on). Saying that no one has ever been saved in this fashion would be foolish since the Holy Spirit of God works where, how, and when it chooses (I know of people who the spirit literally grabbed from the very midst of the most un-Godly situations); but it is ALWAYS AND ONLY by the workings of the spirit of God, never by the actions of men – even the most “godly” ones.
Matthew 24:24 – For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
2Peter 2:1 – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2Peter 2:2 – And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
They have always been among us, even in the time of Christ, and they are among us today. Jesus wasn’t talking about the lone weirdo who stands outside the 7-11 in his underwear shouting “The burning is come!” while he rubs mustard all over himself as some sort of mystical sunblock – ANYONE can spot those folks. And it is easy for the unsaved, those who outwardly oppose the cause of Christ to spot spiritual frauds because they (1) have no biases FOR the truth and the love of God in them wanting to actually hear/see more of His work, and (2) they wear a spiritually twisted armor that intentionally rejects ALL of it, even that which is truth.
But for those of us who want God yet live in the fallen flesh…it takes discernment and effort.
Some will say that we shouldn’t speak out against another (or their ministry) like this, but hold to a spirit of unity, when the truth of the matter is that Paul promoted unity among fellow believers, among true Christians ONLY, and spoke strongly against being “unified” with those who are not saved.
2Corinthians 6:14 – Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
2Corinthians 6:15 – And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
Still others will say, that we should just ignore this stuff, keep our mouths shut, let God take care of it, et cetera. Professing Christians in the USA today go to great lengths to come up with excuses to not speak out against the rising forces of darkness in the world – especially ones who profess to be Christian in any way, going so far as to say we should never even use strong or harsh words against those claiming to be of Christ. Really?
When Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, he didn’t mince words, in fact, Matthew wrote in three separate places of Jesus speaking words that were in no way sweet or easy to digest:
Matthew 3:7 – But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
Matthew 12:34 – “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
Matthew 23:33 – “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
Christ’s own chosen followers were not above a harsh rebuke when needed. 3 Gospel writers include His stern (and public!) admonishment of the apostle Peter:
Matthew 16:23 – But he turned, and said unto Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
Mark 8:33 – But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”
Luke 4:8 – And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
Even if you chalk up Matthew & Mark’s writing of it as a nose-thumbing to their fellow apostle, Luke’s inclusion of it in his gospel shows that the event was still being told, still being passed on by others, and still without being watered down into some “Hey, back off there buddy-boy!” nonsense.
The apostle Paul also had no problem responding to false teachers in pointed fashion (and he is considered to this day to be the greatest of all evangelists):
Acts 13:10 – And said, “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”
In closing I say to you again, this post is NOT about the upcoming election of November 6th, and nothing in it should be used as your measuring stick of who to cast your vote for. As far as the election goes, we are faced once again with trying our best to pick the lesser of the evils before us, and no, I do not say that as a way of hurling insult at any of the candidates, but only to point out what Christians know as a fact:
There is only ONE righteous king in all of creation, and his name is Jesus Christ; and the whole of creation will not be ruled by a good or righteous king until He returns.
If we Christians do not stand up and speak out for Jesus as we are called to do, if we do not stand up and speak out against false teachings and teachers, when they become popular enough, and powerful enough that they meet with kings (and those who would be) in the public arena as men like Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen do…our silence allows them to muzzle Christ and tickle the ears of the world without restraint.
The skies grow darker by the day, and the beast and his minions become ever more bold.
Revelation 16:13 – And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
Revelation 16:14 – For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.