Friday, October 19, 2012


...but perhaps not as surprised as I would have been, several years ago:
The Rev. Billy Graham’s Web site has removed an article labeling Mormonism a cult, a move that follows Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s visit to the evangelical leader.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported the disappearance of the article earlier. The article had said that “Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists,  Scientologists, and others” were cults. Mr. Graham, 93 years old, met with Mr. Romney last week, on Oct. 11 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.
Graham has long been applauded for decades of his ubiquitous "Crusades" -- essentially the modern update of the tent revival meetings.  But one has to question how effective the tens of thousands of professions of faith have been, when the nation has slipped ever further from any sort of Christian moral compass over the same period.  Like much of evangelical society, it seems these have been big on flash, a mile wide and a millimeter deep.  It's not the walk to the stage that changes one's life... it's the internal commitment beforehand and the effort at discipleship afterward that does that.  I fear that much of Graham's apparent 'success' in evangelism has amounted to sowing seeds on paths and rocky ground, at best.

In recent years I've become perplexed about the man himself.  Long known as the 'pastor to the presidents,' it seems to me this proximity to power has blunted his willingness to call for true repentence.  From Nixon to Clinton, there were lost opportunities to proclaim God's standard, even while noting we all fall short.  True, it's difficult to balance this message of holiness and grace, but that doesn't make it any less important -- especially for those who are in such a position to speak to multitudes.

With this latest action, the Graham ministry has retreated from an opportunity to express loving correction on the issue of Mormon teachings.  That's an inexcusable dereliction of duty.  But it should not be a surprise, since we are cautioned:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

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