The constructive and warrantable critics of Billy Graham, the “one-world” evangelist, are on the increase as multitudes of people are being alerted both as to the wrong doctrine, as well as to the shockingly unscriptural methods of the man. It has been his policy in the past not to pay any attention to his critics, to ignore giving them any answer. He has announced over his radio broadcast that he can neither burden nor side-track himself with answers to critics. His own words were, “I never answer my critics.”(1) Yet Dr. John R. Rice says that often Billy would call him long distance, or write a long letter beseeching Rice’s aid to defend his campaign, though he himself, as he said, would not defend it.(2) Graham’s staff in the Minneapolis office may undertake to defend him, his policies and doctrine. Or he has a foreign, at present, British apologist to defend his case. Or his father-in-law, Dr. L. Nelson Bell, executive editor of Christianity Today, a neo-evangelical publication, takes his part. But he himself has not fought, and it would seem, cannot fight his own battles.
One of the stock answers Graham defenders make against the thrusts of critics is to insinuate that they are guilty of Phariseeism. Often this accusation is hurled in the face of any who dare to make the mildest criticism of Billy Graham, as from the barbed remarks of relatives this writer has experienced. The accusation has it that just as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day objected to His keeping company with publicans and sinners, so Graham’s critics are “typical of the Pharisees of our day” when they object to Graham’s policies, methods and close connections with modernists and leftists. Graham critics are then guilty of modern Phariseeism and so of “legalism.” They are legalists in that they forget the greatest of all Christian virtues, — love. Graham’s critics are jealous, Pharisees and willfully blind legalists. In this way they are supposed to be shamed into silence.
For this reason many have been hesitant to make any criticism of Graham. But the above argument is not as devastating as it seems. It has an inherent weakness, — a double weakness, — first, it cannot be made to stick, and second, it boomerangs on Graham’s head. For the Pharisees complained of Jesus’ having any association with publicans, harlots and sinners. They self-righteously condemned him for any such contacts. This argument is employed to defend Graham’s visits to the Skid Rows, the Soho districts, the Skulley Squares of the cities of the world. Night clubs and honky-tonks exploit Billy Graham as a result of his visits to such places. They capitalize on his having been there. In connection with such visits, he has had to flee the clutches of strip-tease girls and belly-dancers in order to escape becoming too compromised by the trash of this world. Neither the man nor his supporters seem to know that this is casting pearls before swine and giving that which is holy to the dogs (Mt. 7:6).
Now, though Jesus did come into a limited social contact with publicans, harlots and sinners, he never allowed them to exploit or compromise him. The Pharisees admittedly condemned Him for such affiliation, but never for companying with Sadducees. For Jesus never associated with any Sadducees. He rather excoriated, exposed and reprobated them. But Billy Graham is in thickly with modern Sadducees, has them on his sponsoring committees, on the same platform with himself during his campaigns, and has them who are Unitarian in belief and therefore adepts of another god to lead in “prayer” before his vast audiences. Graham is in the habit of welcoming Sadducees and Pharisees both into his sponsorship and to his support. Jesus neither claimed nor sought the sponsorship or the support of either Pharisees or Sadducees. Therefore we are not Pharisees because of criticisms we make of Billy Graham. We would be, if we joined in support of his campaigns. So the Pharisee argument falls flat on its face.
Of late, the self-styled Graham-apologists are saying that Graham does answer questions. But this does not mean that he actually answers critics. It is further said that now he does answer questions that concern his policy and ministry in relation to notorious modernists, liberal organizations and the leftist National Council of Churches. But this does not mean that he answers on matters of doctrine. Graham, for example, has never answered the contention that he is thoroughly Arminian in doctrine. A very good sample of what he believes and preaches may be found in the contents of that document well known in the Reformed church world as “The Rejection of Errors.” Certain very interesting questions this summer have been put to Graham from the church liberals, most of which he has answered in his usual slippery way.(3) One question which he failed to answer was;
Q. Do you believe that we who teach that Christ is the word of God and that the Bible bears witness to Cod’s revelation in him—but that the Bible is full of parable, myth, allegory and is often quite unhistoric and inexact — are “false teachers”?
This question should have been answered instantly, unhesitatingly, with a clear, unequivocal affirmative. What sort of testimony is it, to God, to His Christ, His truth, His Gospel and His Word, for a preacher to remain silent on such a basic issue? How can he save his hearers from confusion and make it clear to them as to where he stands? What possibly is to be gained by such silence? He may avoid offending the modernists and the liberals throughout the denominations in the world. That is his aim at the moment. This is to shelve principle for expediency. Graham occasionally talks about false teachers, but never attacks any, much less does he identify any. Some day they may sink him in an irrecoverable bog of embarrassment. Graham does not want to commit himself to the extent of going on record as saying these neomodernists (neo-orthodox) are not false teachers. For though then he would conciliate them, he would almost irreparably estrange himself from the Bible believing world. The true church and the true preacher do not fail to instantly deny that the Bible is myth, allegory or “quite unhistoric,” and to forthrightly affirm that the Bible is the verbally, infallibly inspired Word! But as shown in the previous installment, this is not the first time Graham has been lax on this vital point. It is no surprise, then that Graham followers can accept and live with the New Confession of the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Both he and they hold the “theology” of the Rejection of Errors.
Through his syndicated column one asked Graham:
Q. What is predestinatiom? Some say a person is predestined to heaven or hell at birth. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. In your opinion, was I predestined to accept Christ as my Savior?
A. Unfortunately, Cod has no power over the will of man. That is to say, He cannot save a person against His will, but at the same time, He is not willing that any should perish. He has made it possible for all men to be saved. But the Bible indicates that salvation depends upon man’s willingness to be saved. It would be a kind of tyranny if God saved people against their will. But his heart embraces all men, and in the word “whosoever will may come” is the universal invitation, with no one excluded. Were you predestinated to be saved? Since it is His will and desire that everyone be saved in that sense you were of the elect. But this does not imply that if a person is lost, that God ordained it so. It is because that person was not willing to place himself within the scope of God’s redemption by yielding his will. The Bible indicates that God will do everything short of coercion to redeem people. But even He cannot save them against their will.(4)
This answer is in almost every sentence completely erroneous. The initial remark, where Graham infelicitously confesses an unfortunate god, is flatly contradictory to Psalm 110:3, which see. His next statement being a half-truth is a whole error. The first work of grace in the order of salvation is regeneration, and although that work is not wrought in the heart of man against his will, it certainly is accomplishedwithout his will, according to John 1:12-13, which see. Then when a wonderful text is taken from its context, we have Scripture conflicting with itself. For how does God “is not willing that any should perish” agree with “What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (Romans 9:22)? If God is not willing that any one perish, but desires that every one be saved, then why is God willing to show His wrath and exert His power against certain ones fitted to destruction? That these who are fitted to destruction stand in contrast to others who were afore prepared unto glory is proof positive that God does not have it in mind “for all men to be saved.” Graham’s next assertion that “salvation depends upon man’s willingness” is a species of one of the worst errors traceable down to Arminianism to Pelagianism to humanism. Where Scripture insists, “So then it is notof him that willeth, nor of him that runneth (i.e., placeshimself within the scope of God’s redemption), but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16), Graham nevertheless flies in the face of Holy Writ, teaching that it is of him that willeth! That God does not ordain that a sinner be destroyed, condemned or lost is contrary to this Pauline passage and also contrary to Jude 4, which see. Graham’s “gospel” then is identical with the philosophy expressed in that part of the Canons of Dort known as the Rejection of Errors. His oral and literary productions have the effect of entirely canceling Bev Shea’s much better message, “How Great Thou Art!”
1.Billy Graham— The Pastor’s Dilemma, E. Hulse, p. 52, M. Allan Publrs, Ltd., Middlesex, Eng. Order: Reiner Pub., Swengel, Pa., 17880, 75 cents.
2. ibid., pp. 52-3.
3. Christian Beacon, Aug. 18, 1966, p. 2.
4. Quoted in the Baptist Examiner, July 30, 1966, pg. 1.