The well-spoken man: An allegory of Billy Graham

Yesterday afternoon, I was under the impression that I had posted all of my thoughts regarding Billy Graham (see here and here), until the short allegory below came to mind. Thank you for your interest. I won’t be posting anything more about Billy Graham.

Imagine yourself being on a large ship, the Queen Mary, in the middle of the ocean. It’s a warm, sunny day and you’re relaxing on deck, enjoying the ocean breeze, but suddenly the big ship shudders violently as it hits a reef. You scramble as you get into the Lifeboat* and warn your fellow passengers to do likewise. But a well-spoken man appears on deck and counsels the frazzled passengers with his confident and soothing voice to stay on the ship, telling them that it remains seaworthy and dependable. The passengers let out a collective sigh of relief and express their gratitude to the well-spoken man for allaying their fears. The ship’s captain also extends his enthusiastic thanks. Everyone returns to the ship’s interior. You yell from the Lifeboat, “What are you doing? The ship is sinking! Get into the Lifeboat!” The well-spoken man looks back for a quick second and gives you a wink and a smile. From your Lifeboat, you watch the ship sink into the ocean and all passengers initially appear to be lost.

*In this allegory, the Lifeboat has room for “whosoever will.”


Billy Graham warmly eulogized by Roman Catholic leaders. Is there anything strange about that?

Yesterday, I posted a few thoughts on Billy Graham. See here. This morning, I scanned the internet and I was not surprised to find many glowing articles from Catholic sources eulogizing Graham, including the ones far below.

Bible Christians uphold the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Rome propagates a different gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The two gospels are not the same. They are, in fact, opposed to each other. But Billy Graham completely dismissed doctrinal distinctives and embraced Roman Catholicism with its false gospel as a Christian entity. He invited local Catholic bishops to participate in his crusades and directed Catholics who came forward at his altar calls to go back to their Catholic churches.

“Billy Graham risked a great deal with his core evangelical constituency when he began building bridges with Catholics” – from “How Billy Graham shaped American Catholicism,” below.

The Catholic hierarchy’s praise and approval of Billy Graham, especially for his ecumenical efforts, should be a red flag for Bible Christians who continue to honor Billy Graham. The Lord, Jesus Christ, and His apostles did not receive the approbation of the Jewish and pagan works-religionists of Palestine and the Roman Empire, neither did they seek it. But in today’s topsy-turvy world, ecumenism with Rome is viewed by many as a good thing, and those who object are ignored or even criticized. Can anyone imagine Catholic bishops of yore weeping at the gravesides of John Knox, Charles Spurgeon, or Martyn Lloyd-Jones as they will be doing at the graveside of their friend and ally, Billy Graham? Was the Catholic press full of accolades for Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones when they died? No? Then what has changed?

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

Billy Graham and Catholic priest, John Oetgen, president of Belmont Abbey Monastery in North Carolina, are pictured in 1967 after the popular evangelist was invited for a talk and to receive a degree from Belmont College. Graham called the gathering “a time when Protestants and Catholics could meet together and greet each other as brothers, whereas 10 years ago they could not.”

The troubling enigma that was Billy Graham

I see that Billy Graham died today (news article far below). There will no doubt be MANY laudatory tributes to Graham in evangelical Christian and religious circles and even in the secular media. Few people on this planet were as widely revered as Billy Graham over the last sixty years. He was the friend and counselor to American presidents and the face of evangelical Christianity to hundreds of millions if not billions.

But Billy Graham leaves behind an enigmatic and troubling legacy. On the one hand, there’s little doubt that thousands genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior as a result of attending a Graham crusade or by watching on television. On the other hand, Graham was instrumental in opening the door to ecumenical cooperation and “fellowship” with religious unbelievers, most significantly, with the leadership of the Roman Catholic church. Much of the ubiquitous ecumenical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel that we see all around us today within evangelicalism can be traced back to the example of Billy Graham.

Few evangelicals are of a mind to tolerate any criticism of Billy Graham, especially on the day of his death, but I have no qualms, especially considering the great damage done within the church by his accommodation, cooperation, and compromise with error.

Below, are a couple of posts I’ve published previously regarding Billy Graham:

Billy Graham – Part 1

Billy Graham – Part 2


Billy Graham, 99, Dies; Pastor Filled Stadiums and Counseled Presidents


“I certainly don’t need to be saved. I’m a good person.”

Have you ever shared the Gospel with a religious unbeliever and they shot back with something along the lines of, “I don’t need to be saved! I think I’m a relatively good person”? An unbeliever, whether religious or not, just does not see their depraved, sinful state and their desperate need of the Savior.

I’ve been slowly reading through Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.” It’s page after page of blessed teaching on the Lord’s great sermon that many people misunderstand. In the section I read last night, Lloyd-Jones compared the thoughts of the unbeliever with the attitude of a Christian. Here’s just a short excerpt:

“The natural man’s attitude towards morality is generally negative. His concern is that he should not do certain things. He does not want to be dishonest, unjust, or immoral. The Christian’s attitude towards morality is always positive; he hungers and thirsts after a positive righteousness like that of God Himself.

Or again, consider it in terms of sin. The natural man always thinks of sin in terms of actions, things that are done or not done. The Christian is interested in the heart. Did not our Lord emphasize that in this Sermon, when He said, in effect: ‘As long as you are not guilty of physical adultery you think you are all right. But I ask, What about your heart? What about your thoughts?’ That is the view of the Christian man. Not actions only, he goes beyond that to the heart.

What about the attitude of these two men towards themselves? The natural man is prepared to admit that perhaps he is not entirely perfect. He says: ‘You know I am not a complete saint, there are certain defects in my character.’ But you will never find a man who is not a Christian feeling that he is all wrong, that he is vile. He is never ‘poor in spirit,’ he never ‘mourns’ because of his sinfulness. He never sees himself as a hell-deserving sinner. He never says, ‘Were it not for the death of Christ on the cross, I would have no hope of seeing God.’ He will never say with Charles Wesley, ‘Vile and full of sin I am.’ He regards that as an insult, because he claims that he has always tried to live a good life. He therefore resents that and does not go as far as that in his self-condemnation.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones from “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,” Eerdmans Publishing, 1984, pp. 278-279

Roman Catholics and all religious unbelievers think they’re pretty good people and that they do a decent job of obeying the Ten Commandments. If you ask them, they will tell you.

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12

Am I good enough to go to heaven?

Observations on two current news items

A couple of topics come to mind on this lovely Monday morning that I would like to discuss:

As most of you know, the 2018 Winter Olympics are currently underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Olympics will conclude this coming Sunday, February 25th. I must admit that I’ve watched very little of the competitions up to this point. But some of the athletic skill that’s on display is absolutely amazing. These Olympic athletes train incredibly hard for four long years in order to qualify and compete in contests that are sometimes decided by a margin of nanoseconds. One must admire the athletes’ complete dedication to their goal.

The striving for an Olympic medal reminds us of the apostle Paul’s words in First Corinthians:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Paul’s Christian walk was disciplined and purposeful. What about us? Is our Christian walk even one-tenth as disciplined as those Olympic athletes who compete for a temporal medal? How much time do we spend in God’s Word. How often do we commune with the Lord in prayer? How often do we seek opportunities to share the Gospel and build up other believers? It’s a matter of the heart and desire. These Olympic athletes put us to shame, brothers and sisters.

This past Wednesday, a troubled teenager killed 17 people and injured another 14 in a shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I chose not to include this tragic story in the last Weekend Roundup. Why not? We live in a fallen world and it’s reported that 150,000 people around the world die every single day, many from tragic circumstances. I believe we should focus on spreading the Gospel rather than constantly reacting to the circumstances around us.

But I don’t have a heart of stone. I’m saddened for the victims of the Parkland shooting and for their families and friends and for all the children at the school who survived the mayhem. A nineteen-year-old with a well-documented, troubled past should never have been allowed to purchase a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle. It’s my opinion that no one needs to own a semiautomatic assault rifle, but the freedom to buy any type of firearm is so sacrosanct in this country that we’ll even allow an extremely troubled teen with a checkered record access to them.

When we board an airplane, we expect all proper precautions have been taken to ensure none of the other passengers have brought aboard a firearm or explosive device. We’re rightly concerned about our personal safety. Something also needs to be done to curtail these ongoing school massacres. Some type of restrictive measure needs to be in place to deny very troubled people like Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz (photo right), and Adam Lanza a basic firearm let alone an assault rifle! This is a difficult issue but this latest catastrophe demonstrates once again that politics trumps rational precautions at the expense of children. Guns should not be absolutely sacrosanct.


That said, let’s get back to the only thing that will save any soul, the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

George Harrison: Lost and without a shepherd

George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Directed by Martin Scorsese
HBO, 2011, 208 minutes, available on Netflix

I was driving to work this past week, listening to (c)hristian radio, and Greg Laurie (not recommended) mentioned he had recently watched “Living in the Material World,” a documentary about ex-Beatle, George Harrison, on Netflix. So I set aside some time to watch this 3.5 hour documentary.

My five older sisters were big fans of the Beatles and I grew up with their music playing constantly from the family phonograph from 1964 until 1970 when they disbanded. Harrison (1943-2001) was the shy, quiet Beatle who eventually embraced Hinduism (particularly the Hare Krishna sect) with a passion. See my earlier post on Harrison and his influential Hare Krishna song, “My Sweet Lord,” here.

Scorsese’s documentary is an interesting and entertaining look at Harrison’s journey. He was brought up in a Roman Catholic family (as was fellow-Beatle, Paul McCartney), but finding no fulfillment in that impersonal, ritualistic religion, he got mixed up in Eastern “spirituality” through the music of Ravi Shankar. Of course, he didn’t find any real fulfillment in Krishna Consciousness either and regularly fell back into substance abuse and marital infidelity. After having been run ragged by the Beatles’ celebrity steamroller, Harrison sought “spiritual peace” and meaning in all the wrong places.

I enjoyed the many archived photos and videos of the “Fab Four,” along with the interview clips from Harrison, Pattie Boyd, Eric Clapton, George Martin, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, and Ringo Starr, along with many others.* But in the the end, this is a sad story of an unbeliever desperately trying to find spiritual meaning outside of Jesus Christ.

“I was brought up in the kind of Catholic situation up until I was about eleven years old, which was that God is this thing that we’re never going to see, we’re never going to meet, but you still have to believe in what we say. It’s like this blind faith in something that they can’t show you.” – George Harrison

The impersonal and ritualistic religion that Harrison grew up in was/is not Christianity. But you CAN know God through salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” – John 17:3

“When (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:36-38

*I learned from this documentary that Harrison was a major financial backer of Monty Python, the British comedy ensemble. There are times when Christians can be overly dour and humorless, but I found the clips of Monty Python’s satire of Jesus’ crucifixion and a mocking reference to His sermon on the mount in this documentary to be repulsive. It’s understandable why ex-Catholic and passionate Hindu, Harrison, would have found this anti-Christian humor attractive. It’s also obvious why Monty Python never filmed a skit goofing on backer Harrison’s Hare Krishnas with their shaved-heads and saffron robes, chanting incessantly and begging for money at airports.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 2/17/18

It’s more than a little ironic that THE false prophet warns of other false prophets.

There’s been a ton of headlines this week on this “Yalta-like” betrayal, folks. Francis, always a pragmatist, no doubt rationalizes that the RCC can have a bigger impact in China if it recognizes the Beijing-controlled bishops. This is just one more reason for church conservatives to hope for a quick end to Francis’ reign.

It appears that liberal cardinal, Blase Cupich, is going to be Francis’ point man in the U.S. in rolling out the lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and unmarried cohabitors.

Traditionalist Catholic virtual rag, The Vortex, bemoans that only a tiny percentage of RCC members actually take their religion seriously.

Hey, here’s some local Catholic news! First story – Denise Donato presides over Mary Magdalene church just a mile away in East Rochester. More and more of these breakaway “inclusive” Catholic churches are popping up. Second story – Just seven years ago, the bishop of the next-door Syracuse RC diocese, Robert Cunningham, referred to an underage abuse victim as “culpable” in a courtroom deposition. Finally convinced that the “jig is up,” he’s ready to begin doling out parishioners’ cash. The Rochester diocese where I live still has not compensated victims. A spokesperson for the DoR said it’s “finalizing details” of its compensation program and will be announcing it soon. I was an altar boy for four years and, thankfully, none of the parish priests made advances towards me, but I could tell, even as a child, that they were strange men. My Catholic high school guidance counselor, an Irish Christian brother, did make subtle advances, but I just laughed in his face. The Irish Christian Brothers declared bankruptcy in 2011 after paying out $17 million to 400 victims.

Catholics are taught the consecrated communion bread wafer is literally Jesus Christ, so they bow down and kneel before it in worship. So sad.

This meeting of “evangelical leaders” with Ivanka (not Donald?) included Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, Paula White, and Greg Laurie, ALL TBN regulars. I don’t often comment on politics, but this stuff nauseates me.

RCC conservatives have noted with dismay that Francis’ Vatican is quite friendly towards pro-abortion folks. Here’s another example. Thanks to Maria at Pilgrim’s Progress revisited – Christiana on the narrow way for this story.

There’s no Cracker Barrel on our side of town, so we have to make do with other options for Sunday post-church brunch.

Chris Hillman: Country-rock pioneer

The Asylum Years (includes the previously released albums, “Slippin’ Away” and “Clear Sailin’”)
Chris Hillman
Omnivore Recordings, 2018, 1 h 15m

Readers of this blog know I was a fan of the folk-rock band, The Byrds, and I’ve recently embarked on a year-long project of reviewing all twelve of that band’s albums. A couple of weeks ago, I ordered the new CD re-release of founding-Byrd, Chris Hillman’s solo albums, “Slippin’ Away” and “Clear Sailin’” and I’ve been enjoying the tunes while pounding away on the keyboard at work this week. Hillman has had an interesting career and I thought I’d write a few words about him.

Nineteen-year-old mandolin picker, Chris Hillman, was bouncing around on the California bluegrass circuit when producer Jim Dickson drafted him as the bass player for the fledgling Byrds in 1964. The only problem was he had never played bass before. But Hillman was a quick study. By the group’s third album he was contributing vocals and by the fourth he was contributing songs. When Gram Parsons joined the group in 1968, he and Hillman hijacked the band down to Nashville to record the seminal country-rock album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo.” Parsons soon split and Hillman followed, to co-found the influential but unprofitable Flying Burrito Brothers in 1969. After the Burritos landed in 1972, Hillman did stints as Stephen Still’s wingman in Manassas (1972-1973) and as one-third of the CS&N copycat, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band (1974-1975). SHF never amounted to much and the president of the label advised the trio to record solo albums instead, resulting in “Slippin’ Away” (1976) and “Clear Sailin’” (1977). Hillman then reunited with two of the other founding members of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark, as the short-lived McGuinn, Clark, and Hillman (1979-1980).

Hillman claimed to have had a “born-again” experience* while in Manassas and participated in several small-label, Gospel themed albums following MC&H.  Throughout this long journey, Hillman was learning the music business and all of the skills needed to be the front man of his own group. In 1985, he put together The Desert Rose Band, which achieved much success in the country music category. In a span of ten years, the band recorded five albums and scored a remarkable eight top-ten country singles. After the DRB dissolved in 1994, Hillman released a number of enjoyable country and bluegrass albums, often in tandem with his former DRB partner, Herb Pedersen.

Chris Hillman is hardly a household name, but people in the recording business and knowledgeable fans are aware of his pioneering contribution to the country-rock category. Hillman, although never considered to be a virtuoso instrumentalist or vocalist, was still able to carve out a remarkable fifty-three-year career for himself via determination and perseverance, peaking with his ten-year stint as front man for The Desert Rose Band.

I owned both “Slippin’ Away” and “Clear Sailin’” when they were first released in the late-70s and I’ve really enjoyed reliving the moment with this re-release. “Slippin’ Away” is the better of the two. That album was produced by Ron and Howard Albert and features some heavyweight players including Steve Cropper, Donnie Dacus, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Jim Gordon, Russ Kunkel, Bernie Leadon, Al Perkins, Rick Roberts, Tim Schmit, and Lee Sklar. “Clear Sailin’” has many enjoyable moments as well, with backing from Richard Marx ( not THAT Richard Marx) and the defunct Loggins & Messina band. The twenty combined songs (fifteen were written or co-written by Hillman) are just some good, breezy California country-rock.

*Hillman claimed to have accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior in the early 70s as a member of Manassas after hearing the witness of bandmate, Al Perkins. He said he walked away from the Lord for a long period, but became serious about his faith again in the early 80s. However, he states that he eventually grew uncomfortable with evangelicalism and joined his wife’s Greek Orthodox religion with its heavy liturgicalism and sacramentalism. See here. It’s impossible to imagine a person who had genuinely accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone returning to the chains of religious works righteousness and legalism.

Below: The video for “Summer Wind,” a #2 single for Chris Hillman and the Desert Rose Band in 1988.

Is it OK to eat Chicken in a Biskit crackers on Fridays during Lent?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season for Roman Catholics, so I thought it would be appropriate to dig up this old favorite about the challenging complexities of abstaining from meat on Lenten Fridays.


This morning I was listening to the 10/30/15 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show on The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, New York. “Father” Dave Baker was taking questions, assisted by moderator, Mike Denz.

One of the listeners had a question regarding the church’s rule on abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent, which I thought was quite timely because we’re currently in the Lenten season. Because the Catholic church absolutely forbids meat on Fridays during Lent, any Catholic who defiantly consumes meat commits a “mortal” sin and is doomed to hell for eternity unless they confess the sin to a priest.

To continue reading, visit the original post via Is it OK to eat Chicken in a Biskit crackers on Fridays during Lent?

Catholic dioceses continue to battle over corpse of Fulton J. Sheen

Centuries ago, it was very popular for Roman Catholics to make pilgrimages to designated “holy” sites and shrines as part of a spiritual/penitential exercise or in an effort to obtain indulgences to shorten time spent in Purgatory after death. Catholic churches across Europe competed with each other to obtain the best “relics” (body parts or personal effects of “saints”) in order to attract potential pilgrims. The pilgrimage busine$$ is definitely not what it used to be, but devotees still flock to various sites.

I’ve previously posted a number of messages regarding the strange, ongoing legal tug-of-war over the corpse of former archbishop, Fulton J. Sheen. Sheen was one of the first Catholics to use the new media of radio and television to propagate the Catholic religion and became a national celebrity in the 50s and 60s. Sheen died in 1979 and is on the fast-track to sainthood because of his celebrity except for one huge snag. As we see in the recent news article below, the dioceses of Peoria, Illinois and New York City continue to fight over the final “resting place” of Sheen’s remains. He was born in El Paso, Illinois near Peoria but earned his great fame in New York as auxiliary bishop from 1951 to 1966. Both dioceses desperately want to be “home” to the crypt of this soon-to-be-canonized saint, but the Vatican won’t canonize Sheen until his “resting place’ is settled once and for all. They surely don’t want the negative publicity that would follow if he were canonized in the middle of this squabble.

None of this has anything to do with Christianity.

  • “Holy” sites and relics impart no blessings.
  • Natural man glories in the creature rather than the Creator. Can anyone imagine a passage in the New Testament in which two churches were fighting over the remains of a deceased believer? The veneration/worship of Sheen’s earthly remains is idolatry.
  • According to the New Testament, saints are all those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, NOT some subgroup of super-sanctified “holy” people.
  • Sheen proclaimed Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit rather than the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” – 1 John 5:20-21

Bishop Fulton Sheen’s bones at center of raging court case

See my previous post on the fight over Sheen’s corpse here.