You may have heard about how Franklin Graham was disinvited to a Pentagon prayer service because of his refusal to rescind comments that he made attacking Islam, as it is the subject of not a little controversy. Two thoughts.
1. Some use incidents as these as evidence that America is turning away from Christianity. My position is that nations and governments are all of the world, and as such have rejected Jesus Christ and will be judged by this same Jesus Christ. While the rejection of Jesus Christ by our nation and its institutions is perhaps more overt in some respects than in the past, and while there probably are indeed fewer legitimate Christians in America in terms of the percentage of the population than there were in times past, America is still as it always was … of the world. The church of Jesus Christ is the ekklesia, the elect that is called out of the world. Further, America is just one of many nations that has existed and will exist in human history. While God has used America’s Christians to do a lot of great things (i.e. in missionary evangelism), let us not fall into the deceptive thinking that America has a special standing before God; that America is or ever was in some sort of covenant relationship with God, or any of the other myths of American culture and tradition. There was only one nation brought into existence as an act of special creation by God with the purpose of being the light to the nations. That nation was Israel, and Israel’s purpose was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God did not create America or any other nation to carry out the purposes that Jesus Christ – God in the flesh – already accomplished.
2. For the record, I agree with what Franklin Graham said against Islam. This places me in league with virtually all of the supporters of Graham in this controversy. The point of divergence is that I will apply what Graham said against Islam to Judaism, Mormonism, Roman Catholicism and any other false or heretical religion or belief system that denies God’s revelation and exalts itself against the God of the Bible. So Graham attacks Islam, suffers (minor) consequences for it, and is the evangelical hero of the moment in some quarters. But suppose Graham were to say the same about Judaism? These same people wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. Many of them would be front and center denouncing Graham as anti-Semitic and hateful, and they would by no means be limited to premillennial dispensationalists. The very same people who run their little “Jihad Watch” websites and blogs reciting violent statements in the Koran ignore that the very same exhortations to commit genocide and kill nonbelievers appear in the Old Testament, making them perfectly valid for Jews to practice. They know full well that Jews are operating in darkness because they reject the New Testament revelation – that of an explicitly fully revealed Jesus Christ – that puts the Old Testament into context. Yet had Graham gone after Jews the way that he did Muslims, how many people would find his being expelled from the Pentagon prayer event to be overly objectionable? The same number as would had Graham said those things against Roman Catholics and Mormons. The conservative evangelicals on the religious right, who rely on conservative Catholics, Mormons and Jews, would in particular be apoplectic. Which, of course, is why you rarely hear evangelical leaders speaking against those false religions anymore.
Yes, I know that Franklin Graham made those comments after September 11th, when Muslims killed a great many Americans. But in addition to Graham’s unwillingness to challenge Roman Catholics on their many heresies because he is an ecumenical sort like his father, it is curious that Graham was moved to such strong speech by Muslims’ killing Americans but not Americans’ killing Muslims. What does Graham think of our overthrowing the Iranian government over oil profits? What does Graham think of our overthrowing the Iraqi government to put Saddam Hussein in power, and then sponsoring Hussein’s Iraq government in a war against this same Iran (after they turned on us) that killed millions of Muslims? What does Graham think of first war against Iraq, which happened because Hussein invaded Kuwait as part of a scheme to get OPEC to raise oil prices because our proxy war against Iran left his nation broke? What does Graham think of the crushing sanctions against Iraq after the first Iraq War, or the second Iraq War? Apparently, it is just fine for America to kill millions of Muslims with wars, proxy wars and sanctions. We’re America, and we can do whatever we want, right? But when the Muslim world responds to our killing millions of THEM by killing a few thousand of US, this is how Graham responds (and keep in mind, this was Graham’s softened public relations backtrack from his original, harsher comments)? Graham talks about how Islam treats its women when America invented pornography and is trying to impose legalized abortion on the rest of the world through the U.N. and other NGOs?
Here is a quote: “Graham later wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal saying he did not believe Muslims were evil because of their faith, but “as a minister … I believe it is my responsibility to speak out against the terrible deeds that are committed as a result of Islamic teaching.” Fine. But let’s hear Graham, as a minister, replace “Muslim” with “Jew”, “Mormon”, “Roman Catholic”, “Jehovah’s Witness” or “AMERICAN” in that sentence. Theologically, he would be justified. But if he did, the same people defending him over this now would have rejected him over it. The reason is that these people aren’t interested in legitimate Bible-based Christianity. If they were, it would be Muslim, Mormon, Jew, Catholic … six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Instead, these people are fighting political and cultural battles. Because after all, politics and culture – the world – is the only sphere where preferring the Muslim to the Jew or Catholic makes sense. It’s the only sphere where an aggressively hostile attitude towards Muslims can coexist with the “Christians must support Israel!” mindset when in truth there is no New Testament justification for EITHER.
Now again, what Franklin Graham said against Islam was 100% true. The problem is that the same people who supported Graham in what he said against Islam would abandon him in a heartbeat were he to say the same against Jews, Catholics, or for that matter whatever policy that got us into this Iraq/Iran mess. The reason for this double standard, this hypocrisy is worldliness, and this worldliness is not something that can be blamed on the people that had Graham disinvited from the prayer event.