When I was a wavering, dithering pagan, a back and forth atheist, and an every so often philosopher, my heart broke for the susceptible; those caught unaware by the wildly abundant and ever-present fake teachers of Christianity. I used it as my foremost reason to not give any credence to what I called religion. The hypocrisy of it, after all. Thus, I remained away and caught up in the doctrines of “whichever way the wind blew.”
I am fifty-eight years old and I have been a Child of God for six years. I have now not suddenly dropped my position. I have not abruptly lost my compassion or my thinking mind for those at risk. I’m annoyed for the victims; I hear the hiss of the serpent and the softly whispered question, “Hath God really said?” My heart breaks for the vulnerable and now there is the added component – I am mad on behalf of Jesus.
But, alas, I find that now if I speak out, I must incur the wrath of sisters and brothers that demand tolerance for those of whom I question, especially if the persons are esteemed celebrities. “Everyone is going to make a careless statement,” I hear them say. “Don’t be on a hunt.”
The sad truth for me is, I can have far more significant and engaging conversations with the Pagans and Atheists about how Billy Graham may have or may not have influenced universalism and the theology of present day folk like Rob Bell than I can have with those in the Church. And let’s just forget about Beth Moore. No discussion is allowed. The same is true for many of the lead dominoes. They say enough truth to be on the inside and then they can influence to their heart’s content with extra biblical or twisted scripture. They cannot be touched.
If I pursue discussion within the Church, my character is going to maligned. My defense: that I am trying to be useful to God, to honor Him, would be, as it has been, invalidated. I’m just not believed.
The fruit of the false teacher is the false disciple. There is no shortage of crazy things being said out there by the truth vandals. Some are far more obvious than others. When I was indignant, dating all the way back to the 1980’s, with Jim and Tammy Baker, I doubted reasonable people, within an orthodox, Christ following setting, would disagree with me by calling it the shameless ransacking of naïve people that it was. I still believe that is correct.
What I didn’t know, once I became a Christian, is that folks inside the Church are often highly protective of the less obvious false teachers. Maybe they’ve been in the Church most of their lives; probably so. It may be a visceral nature of their thinking about such matters. And therein lies my deepest and most sorrowful struggle. I love, beyond all measure, the people in my Church. They are my breath on earth. I don’t know exactly what I must do to find accord. If we speak of such matters, they believe I am insulting them and, as well, they believe, in their truest hearts, that I am of ill will when I speak of such matters.
Before my birth in Christ, I did not think twice about the influence that Billy Graham may have had on the Evangelical world. My guess was that it was all pretty good. And then, while studying the life of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones (Welsh Protestant minister of Westminster Chapel in London for almost 30 years and medical doctor), I discovered that in 1963, Graham asked Dr. Lloyd Jones to chair the first World Congress on Evangelism. Dr. Lloyd Jones told Billy Graham that if he would stop having liberals and Roman Catholics on his platform and stop the alter calls, he would support him.
Billy Graham would not change his views and Dr. Lloyd Jones refused to approve or laud or even work with him. Dr. Lloyd Jones took the same attitude to Billy Graham’s London crusades. He stated publicly that to have visible unity with those who are opposed to essential matters of salvation was, indeed, sinful. Further, he contended that the invitation system (the altar call) was a source of mass delusion and harm to churches.
This really caused me to ponder. What effect did Billy Graham have on us? I studied the subject for myself and became aware of history I before did not know. He did make comments that would lend themselves to a universalist belief, even though he talked about Jesus as being the only way. Well, that is the little leaven. People also saw him embrace the Pope in unity visits and he sent many of those saved during his crusades to Catholic Churches. Those are just the facts. If someone inside the Church says, “Well isn’t that awesome? Isn’t inclusion remarkable?” Or, on the other hand, one may get the response, “No. He saved so many people. None of that matters.” Okay, then. I just want to have an intelligent discussion about how such a powerhouse preacher may have influenced orthodoxy throughout the years and into today. I don’t believe even that would be acceptable.
Beyond that, of course, I would love to discuss how tempting that would have been for Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, right? Billy Graham was insanely popular. He was applauded by the British and American Evangelicals, the media, Hollywood and Government Dignitaries. Or, possibly, he was so rooted that the lure of fame didn’t tempt him at all. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that he stood by the Word and he stood by God. He declined all overtures by the bigger than life Billy Graham.
And forget about Beth Moore. I mean, if she can say that she gets direct revelations from God, including that the Catholic Church is part of our unity as a Church, that the Apostle Paul would be horrified at the way we deify him and that Paul is not Jesus and Jesus is not Paul (wait, what? – is that an indirect way of saying all scripture is not the Word of God or what? What does that even mean, teacher?) and chat with glee with Jen Hatmaker via podcast or happily converse in unity with Joyce Meyer or Brian Houston, why in the world, if that only amounted to saying a few things out of line, would anything else matter? Thus, the list shall cease. I will continue to quietly equip myself with the truth and pray that I can continue in fellowship with my beloved fellow Christians, though I am a misfit.