Sunday, March 4, 2012

Franklin Graham on the Faith of Barak Obama

Is it my imagination or are we constantly living in multiple controversies simultaneously in the Christian community these days? The latest flap is Rev. Graham’s Santorum versus Obama on the genuineness of their individual Christianity. Graham was asked if he thought that Obama was a Christian. He was clearly unprepared for the question. His response seemed to lack conviction and it showed. This is not necessarily all bad. What born again leader could say that they accept Obama at his word without a degree of discomfort on their face? In all fairness to Graham, he was attempting to avoid self-righteous politics which all too often Christians are guilty of. However, in the end, Rev. Graham fell victim to the very thing he seemed to want to avoid. A better response than to waffle around and take Obama at his word would have been to ask the interviewer why he was asking such a question of Graham to begin with. Did the interviewer really want to know, sincerely, what Graham believed and why or did he want to create some controversy and drive up ratings? You decide.

Gospel ministers are not in the business of making pronouncements on the faith of political leaders, good, bad, or indifferent. Gospel ministers are in the business of promulgating the gospel. This does not mean that they ought to remain silent when given the sort of platform that Rev. Graham often finds himself occupying. This interview was one more opportunity for Franklin Graham to preach the gospel, as offensive as that may have been. After all, did not Paul himself tell us that such preaching of such a message would only be greeted by offense? (I Cor. 1:18) Paul said he determined to know nothing among the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This is the business of the gospel preacher.

We entangle ourselves in unnecessary and grievous distractions when we busy ourselves in the affairs of politics and mere social concerns. Behind every social ill there is a spiritual deficiency and it is that deficiency that ought to concern us. It is simply wrong for any gospel minister to publicly praise the faith of any political candidate if for no other reason than to avoid the appearance of pernicious politics within the Christian community. The business of gospel ministers and apologists is to proclaim the gospel and defend the faith, not to serve as defenders of the political party they deem closest to that faith. When Franklin Graham asserts publicly that one candidate is a believer while claiming that the president is not, he opens not only himself up to the criticism of partiality and hypocrisy, but the rest of the Christian community with him. If Rev. Graham should apologize to anyone, it should be to the Christian community for the embarrassment he has caused us all.

Is Barak Obama a Christian? Is Rick Santorum a Christian? Is Mitt Romney a Christian? In the promulgation of the gospel, what difference does it make? It makes not one iota of difference if these men are true Christians or not. What matters is the opportunity this questions provides in the publication of the gospel. This is a chance for us to address what it means to be Christian. And that we cannot answer that question without answering first “what is the gospel?” A person who is in fact a Christian is one who is a true follower of Christ in everything He commands. Can a man be a Christian and at the very same time adopt the lifestyle of defending, protecting, and promoting the murder and butchery of innocent babies whether in or outside the mother’s womb? Christians certainly have eternal life abiding in them. Yet John says that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (I John 3:15) Hence, it follows that since abortion on demand is the wholesale murder of babies, no person who endorses such a practice, who protects, defends, or excuses such a practice can possibly be a Christian. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. Scripture explicitly teaches that He is divine. No man who denies that Jesus Christ is God is a Christian. The entire gospel hinges upon this truth. Without it, Christianity is another man-made cult doomed to die or become as irrelevant as the next one.

Questions about politics, along with most other questions can provide us with the opportunity to present the gospel. When we get lost in the question itself and forget to think critically and strategically, we miss the opportunity as Franklin Graham did recently. Franklin Graham as far as I know is a godly man. I am reasonably sure he is not pleased with how this incident unfolded and ended. As far as the NAACP is concerned, no gospel minister should feel an ounce of obligation to answer to this group. They hold no sway or authority over the church of Jesus Christ nor should they. No one within the Christian community owes the NAACP anything above and beyond the typical courtesy any other non-religious group deserves. For the NAACP to get involved at all demonstrates their usual desire to intimidate and manipulate all for political gain. Gospel ministers should pay such a group very little mind.

Christians should refuse to give any of these intimidation tactics any place in their conversations. It would be best to ignore any hints of the race card, be it with Barak Obama and the NAACP or T.D. Jakes, not to mention the hysterical use of the homophobia card. I pay little attention to such nonsense because anyone with their wits about them knows full well these tactics are little more than attempts to intimidate those with whom they disagree and desire to silence. Nothing infuriates them more than simply ignoring them and focusing on the real issue of the day. And what is that issue? That issue is Jesus Christ and the revelation of God in Him! He is the gospel!

Gospel ministers must be about the business of preaching the gospel and making disciples. They must spend their time on being acquainted with the Scripture, preaching and teaching from the Scripture and setting an example for the believer to follow. I am convinced that ministers are as confused as ever about who they are and what it is they are to be doing. This should ever be part of our prayer: God teach your ministers to be YOUR ministers.

1 comment:

  1. you are calling out Graham (who is not a reverend, btw) for making a call on Obama's faith, yet you basically make a call on Obama's faith. you also leave no room for nuance vis a vis the abortion debate, but that's another issue.


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