|Billy Graham (Wikipedia)|
The Ugly Reality:
My grandparents took me to see Billy Graham once, when I was a little kid. In the fundamentalist church they were raising me in, Billy Graham was one of the Really Good Guys, an ee-VANNNN-gelist above all others. And I have to say that every once in awhile, forty five years later, I'll still watch one of his now-ancient "Crusades". His most basic message is indeed sound (plus it's fun to shake my head at what we fundamentalists were wearing and doing to our hair way back then).
Problem is, Billy's Gospel stops short -- and that means, left to its own, it misses the mark. The Gospel he preached never went (or goes) far enough to proclaim people all the way to Jesus Christ. He's like someone who let's you see the first 3 minutes of a 2-hour movie, and then turns the projector off as if there's nothing more. Here's an example, from his friend George W. Bush's book:
“[Billy Graham] made it clear that the path to salvation is through the grace of God. And the way to find that grace is to embrace Christ as the risen Lord -- the Son of a God so powerful and loving that He gave His only Son to conquer death and defeat sin.”Now see, on its face, combined with Billy's trumpet calls about sin, that's true Gospel. But that's only where a human heart first gets the message to veer off in a new direction. There's a lot more that still has to happen to change that human heart into a (truly) Christian one. Stuff like:
- Learning to give up the great things we get from the world's/devil's "wise" ways (like the fun of having more than others, of having wars or counting how blessed we are to be able to live in a "God-fearing" country, or of ignoring the pain and suffering of those who are weaker than we are), and learning to instead glory in God's foolish "the least of these" ways; and,
- Admitting in the actions of our lives and not just our mouths -- not how wonderfully loving, spiritual, and/or righteous we are -- but what smiling jerks-who-can't-be-trusted we are nearly every moment of every day; and,
- Letting the Holy Spirit start washing all the self-congratulatory, human-approval-seeking, and ever-please-my-senses poo out of our hearts so we can start shining with the Light of the World.
The fact that Billy Graham not only didn't preach that full message, but hasn't gotten it yet himself, shows in his public life and in the public lives of those he's always hung around with. Billy has always preferred to soothe the consciences and proclaim the glory of presidents and other big people of the world who willfully and repeatedly break not only national and international law, but also every speck of God's law, defending and ordering murder, lying, stealing, defaming the name of God, bearing false witness, oppressing others, and more -- all because they like how it feels, and because it brings great financial and political gains to them and their friends. And he's promoted and defended them, abusing his image as a "Man of God" to do so.
Billy Graham, like so many who have only tasted a tiny part of the real Gospel before veering off into something false and worldly, is a servant of Caesar and of Caiaphas. Much as I will always have a soft spot in my heart for him, I still have to recognize and say that he has proclaimed only that part of the Good News that doesn't question his loyalties or biases -- or those of his friends. He's simply been a very well-off, right-wing American who is a good speaker, has a religious bent, and likes to tell people Jesus is the same.
The Daydream not to hold your breath for:
If Billy Graham were a true Christian leader:
- He would never have been as popular and idolized as he has been and continues even now to be, because those who speak God's real truth are never well thought of in the world. However, he would have spent his humble preaching time leading people to not only believe in Jesus' salvation, and not only abhor superficial sin, but to also-also-also go to the Real-Deal and fully embrace the anti-world heart-change required to be a real follower of Christ. He would have judged how well he and others were doing according to Bible teachings, and not by how many false-seekers showed up each Crusade to pad his numbers.
- He wouldn't have been a "conservative" (or a "liberal"), or a republican (or a democrat or an independent or a socialist or an anarchist or...). He would have simply been a Jesus-based Christian, one whose answer to every problem was turning the other cheek, doing unto others as he'd like done to him, caring for enemies, standing up for the oppressed, ridding oneself of materialism, worshiping God for how different He is from our unholiness (instead of presuming He and we have so much in common politically and economically), and constantly telling people how different Jesus is from everything else they can imagine.
- He would have gone to his friend George W. Bush's book signing and, broken-hearted, wept over how far George has wandered from Jesus, begging George to repent of his war crimes, destruction of whole nations, murder of millions, the bald-faced lies in his book, and so on, and to instead surrender to the real Jesus Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to make him into the man God really wants him to be, so that he could truly be saved.
- He would have come to repent himself of all the worldly ways he has not only formed his own life, but also put forward to others as a "valid" way to be a "Christian". For example, he would never have accepted the $200,000 US salary he's paid even today, and he would never have built up a "ministry" empire for his heirs to continue making a rich living from (his son Franklin, continuing in his father's only-partly-Gospel work, accepts $260,000 US a year from their religious corporation).Those things would have been about making and keeping a name in the world for oneself, and so Billy's real Christian heart would have dropped them like a rag full of mucus.
- He would have publicly renounced the not-really-right teachings he's spent so much of his life putting out before, telling the world something like, "Being just another human being, like you all are, I really messed up. I overwrote Jesus' values with the values of my culture, and by doing so I taught a combination of myself and the devil to you, and called it Jesus. I'm REALLY sorry about that. And now, if you still have a heart to listen, I'd like to tell you about who Jesus Christ really is..."
This article written by Lynne at No Junk. Just Jesus. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.