THAT NEO-EVANGELICAL EVANGELIST, II
In our previous article we briefly delineated neo-evangelicalism. Fitting within such a framework, Graham said in St. Louis, “I am not a fundamentalist. I consider myself to be a Conservative-Liberal.” In Europe he had said, “I am not a fundamentalist. I am not a modernist, I am a constructionist.” In this connection I think of Nimrod. He, too, was a constructionist. I also think of Noah. He was a constructionist. But we cannot put Nimrod and Noah in the same boat. Their construction was by no means on the same project. Noah was an ark builder. Nimrod was a Babel builder. Graham belongs either to the Noah construction company or to the Nimrod construction company. But that judgment I leave to the reader.
We read frequently of Graham’s construction operations in the news reports and to Bible-believing Christians, each report is in its own way a new shocker. We are given a jolt, for example, when we read of his close connections with the modernist-liberalist National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. The San Francisco Examiner of December 5, 1960, reported that “Evangelist Billy Graham preaching to an overflow audience in Grace Cathedral (the Episcopal citadel of Bp. Jas. A. Pike, who denies the virgin birth and the trinity), warned yesterday that America’s race problem will get worse…Graham spoke in a program sponsored by the Christian Men’s Assemble, held in conjunction with the opening of the meeting of the National Council of Churches.” Two years before this, in Grace Episcopal Cathedral, Graham was an honored guest at Bp. Pike’s “consecration” on May 15, 1958.
When Graham was at the Cow Palace, May 24, 1958, he had Pike on the platform to read the evening prayer after warm words of praise. On Dec. 4, 1960, Pike had Graham in the Grace Cathedral pulpit for the National Council address. Graham therefore gives public recognition to and has fellowship with the man who said of the virgin birth, that he would not “deny in the least the doctrine of the virgin birth, namely the paradox which the myth presents so well.” Of the Apostles’ Creed Pike says, “I certainly do not believe that Christ ‘sitteth on the right hand of the Father’,” and adds, “I feel the same about ‘ascended into heaven,’ and the same about ‘conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary’.” Of the doctrine of the Trinity he said, “I see nothing in the Bible, as critically viewed, which supports this particularly weak and unintelligible philosophical organization of the nature of God.” It is not the calling of a true man of God to “help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord” (II Chr. 19:2). Nevertheless, of such a nature is Graham’s endorsement of the ecumenical movement. Like Janus or Amyrald, Graham has two faces, one out of which he insists that he is a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention which is not a part of the World Council and another out of which he puffs the National and World Councils.
From neither the news reports, the packets, the critiques on Graham, nor from his own words as heard on radio or TV is it easy to determine the doctrinal standards of the man. I could tell you what articles of faith are held by Carl McIntire, John R. Rice, Bob Jones, et al., but using a large magnifying glass on Graham reveals little in this regard. Although he has memorized the Westminster Shorter Catechism, he apparently has only one article of faith and that undefined, namely, the deity of Christ. Relative to his NYC campaign, he said, “I am urging you, however, to accept into our fellowship any man who accepts the deity of Christ and will rally to my preaching.” Back in 1951 Graham had said, “We do not condone nor have fellowship with any form of modernism.” But now he condones and has fellowship with all who will accept Grahamism. Six years later, in April 1957, he said, “I intend to go anywhere, sponsored by anybody (by Jews? Hindus? Romanists? Apostates?—RCH), to preach the gospel of Christ, if there are no strings attached to the message…” But has not B. G. tangled up his message with his own strings? Is not every one of his “messages” cluttered up with all sorts of conditions man must fulfill before God can save him? Does he not attach to his message the string of man’s essential goodness, with the string of universal redemption and another string of natural man’s will free to choose Christ? Does he not involve his message in a veritable net of Arminianism?
How he twangs that string of free will! Man’s will is free to will and to choose good or not to will and not to choose good. It is in his power to be regenerated or not, to be converted or to continue unconverted. On this point, isn’t that B. G. to a T? “’Christ never allowed men to straddle the fence,’ (then B. G. is on the side of the NCC and WCC?—RCH) Dr. Graham said. ‘He always demanded a choice’.” But Jesus never did demand that men choose between good and evil. He did not say, I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life or death. He said, Choose life! He did not say, Choose you this day whom you will serve, whether God or the devil. He said, if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve, whether it be the gods of your fathers or the gods of the Amorites. But as for Me and My house, we will serve the Lord!” Christ did indeed demand of men a choice, namely that they will the will of God. But He never supposed, thought, taught nor implied that the natural man could choose anything but sin. He never taught that it was within the power of un-regenerated man to make a choice unto good. Until he is given a new heart he will invariably reject the good and choose the evil. Man’s heart is evil from his youth and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil and that continually. He, accustomed to doing evil, cannot do good (Jer. 13:23).
But, we are reminded, B. G. wins thousands of souls to Christ. That many souls become converted to Grahamism is beyond question. We are absolutely convinced of it. But whether converted to God is quite a question. Souls undoubtedly were saved through the ministry of Judas. God saved souls through the ministry of Balaam. But He does not save souls through humanism and Pelagianism. Then, if souls are genuinely saved under Graham’s campaigns, it is because the Lord uses some part of His own bare Word in the heart of His chosen ones to clinch some truth previously and otherwise sown in their hearts. This is then done in spite of Graham’s philosophy. The late Dr. Jas. E. Bennet wrote a critique on Graham in which he reviews the latter’s “evangelism” as “A Ministry of Disobedience.” In it Bennet states, “…that souls were saved in spite of the methods and teachings of Billy Graham and his followers.”
We once saw Billy on TV in Philadelphia where he informed his audience that God never sends a soul to hell; that God has done all He can to prevent men from going to hell; and that He has raised up the cross over against the pit of hell and that the reason any go there is because they refuse and trample the cross under foot and so fall therein. This is misleading, dangerous doctrine. For Scripture says that God does send men to destruction. “Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places: Thou castedst them down into destruction” (Ps. 73:18)! When Billy was in Oklahoma, we heard him preach (?) to the Indians whom he flattered and praised for their sense of honor and truthfulness, as well as their bravery and endurance. How he painted the American Indian with virtue! Naturally, in all he had nothing to say of man’s total depravity, certainly not the Indian’s. He does speak of sin, in what sounds like rather strong terms, but sin is all too often presented in the abstract way of the moralist. He strikes out at the false gods of “selfishness,” of “covetousness”, etc., saying nothing, however, of the sin of modernism, ecclesiastical unbelief and the apostasy in the churches. He does not strike at the false prophets of today, nor expose them. He is too busy enjoying their company.
This company includes, among many offensive characters, E. Stanley Jones, as at the Los Angeles campaign, who has said that capitalism has “the cheapest and most tawdry” goal. Also, he identifies the kingdom of God with socialism. Another crony is John S. Bonnell, a Presbyterian minister in New York City connected with the NYC Graham crusade, who in Look, Oct. 6, 1953, wrote an article entitled “What Is a Presbyterian?” in which he stated that Presbyterians do not believe in the three persons of the trinity, nor the resurrection of Jesus, verbal inspiration of Scripture. Bp. Gerald Kennedy, a Methodist, headed the 1963 L.A. crusade and calls the traditionalist position “muddled theology,” and thrills over the writings of a man who has broken with historic Christianity. When we consider the long line of modernists Graham so freely works with, we wonder what sort of “Christianity” today he holds. He has been many times admonished according to such Scripture as, “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11), “be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (II Cor. 6:14 and “if there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (II John 10). His defense at this point is that these Christian principles do not apply to him or to his methods. It is certain that Herod felt the same way about the seventh commandment principles that John the Baptist applied to him. Ahab also in the identical manner tried to avoid the force of Micaiah’s charges that the fawning prophets of Ahab were motivated by the devil. A man caught in the company of guilty thieves may rationalize that the eighth commandment does not apply to him. But see Psalm 50:18-21.
Graham, a former fundamentalist, has now come to the place where he advocates and practices peaceful cooperation with the modernists. But to show them too much hospitality is to become partaker of their evil deeds. The next step will be peaceful capitulation. For already there is compromise with the false doctrine with which these modernists have destroyed the church. Their error strikes at the roots of the Christian faith and for that reason is to be utterly condemned. Constructionist cooperation with destructionists! Constructionist constructing what? The latest channel to “peace”—Babel-building! As Jas. E. Bennet said of Graham’s methods, they “have done incredible harm, not only to those who are seeking to be saved, but other unbelievers who have not yet made any profession of faith. They have spread false doctrines and made them poplar.”