This morning while driving to work I was listening to “Joni and Friends” on a local Christian radio station. Joni Eareckson Tada provides a five-minute daily message aimed at encouraging Christians who face disabilities and other challenges. Over a year ago, I posted a message about how I was surprised that Joni had recommended “First Things,” an ecumenical journal published by Catholics, to her audience. See here.
In today’s message, Joni invited her audience to celebrate Billy Graham’s 98th birthday. Graham is widely esteemed by evangelicals as the most important and influential Christian of the last 100 years. There’s no doubt multitudes accepted Jesus Christ as Savior through the evangelistic ministry of Billy Graham and yet perhaps no one individual is more responsible for blurring the Gospel of grace in our times.
Many readers at this point might respond with, “Sheesh! Who would criticize such a beloved and respected figure as Billy Graham?” Most evangelical Christians don’t realize that as far back as fifty years ago, Graham and his organization invited local Roman Catholic bishops and clergy to participate in his crusades. When Catholics came forward at his crusades’ closing “altar calls,” they were referred to Catholic workers and counseled that their decision to accept Christ was only a recommitment to their sacramental baptism and confirmation. Catholics who had attended Graham crusades were returned back to their churches on Sunday to hear that salvation was by sacramental grace and merit rather than by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Many would be shocked to learn that Graham also espoused religious universalism. See my earlier posts on Graham here and here for more details.
Continuing with her message, Joni repeated a regrettable myth I’ve heard many times over the years, that Graham was being kept alive by the Lord at his advanced age as a witness to the world and was a part of the Holy Spirit’s restraining of evil in these last days. Joni speculated, like many others have also done, that Graham’s death might actually trigger the moment when the Holy Spirit no longer restrains evil in the world.
We Christians are given to venerating our leaders rather than Jesus Christ. Billy Graham had his faults. Some of his faults were tragically significant in regards to the Gospel witness. Much of today’s spirit of ecumenism with religious unbelievers can be traced back to the influence of Billy Graham. I don’t idolize the man. I’m sorry his cooperation with unbelievers helped to foster today’s compromising, laissez-faire approach to the pure Gospel of grace. Rather than being a restraint against evil, I contend that the betrayal of the Gospel by Graham and other celebrated evangelical leaders was/is part of the rising tide of evil encompassing the world in these last days.
The Lord used Graham in a great way initially, but the temptations of success and popularity diverted him from the Narrow Way, which has influenced many others.
“And you know what is restraining (the man of lawlessness) now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7
I was driving home from work today when I spotted a “Coexist” bumper sticker on the back of the car in front of me. You’re no doubt familiar with these stickers. In place of the letters C-o-e-x-i-s-t, the sticker substitutes symbols of various religious and humanistic belief systems. The original design was created by Polish graphic artist, Piotr Mlodozeniec, in 2000 and has been revised by several others.
A few sources describe the symbols as follows:
- The C with the star is the crescent moon, the symbol for Islam.
- The O is the symbol for peace.
- The E includes the symbols for male & female with some also saying the “e” is symbolic of science (i.e., E=mc2).
- The X is the star of David, symbol for Judaism.
- The I is dotted with a Wiccan pentagram.
- The S is the symbol for the yin-yang, supposedly representing Eastern religions such as Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.
- The T is the cross, the symbol for Christianity.
The symbols allegedly signify the capability or desire of humans to live together in peace.
Every genuine, born-again believer who sees that sticker knows better. There is only one way to ultimate peace and salvation and that’s through Jesus Christ. All other religions are idolatry. When I see a car brandishing a Coexist bumper sticker, I say to myself, that poor soul doesn’t know Jesus. We need to tell more people about the Savior. I surely try to love all people but I don’t respect their idolatrous religions.
But the leader of a 1.2 billion member “christian” denomination teaches something very similar to that bumper sticker. The Catholic pope declares that people of all religions can be saved “if they follow the light they’ve been given” and are “good.” He says EVEN atheists will be saved if they “follow their consciences” and are “good.” That message is straight from hell. Every born-again believer who embraces the Catholic church as Christian needs to turn off TBN and start reading their Bible again.
“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” – Matthew 10:34-36
For more Bible verses that teach Jesus is the only way to God see below:
In a recent article, the managing editor of Christian Week, an interdenominational internet news source, named the “Top 5 Catholics loved by evangelicals today.”
On the list are:
G. K. Chesterton
Unfortunately, there are more than a few Evangelicals who are infatuated with Catholicism. Don’t they realize the Catholic church teaches that salvation is by sacramental grace and by perfectly obeying the Ten Commandments?
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21
We attended an Evangelical church for a little over a year where the young pastor spoke words of admiration about Catholics such as Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Peter Kreeft. What are they teaching in Evangelical seminaries these days? How to earn your salvation?
Some other Catholics I’ve seen or heard praised by Evangelicals include Mother Teresa, St. Francis, Pope John Paul II, and Thomas Merton. I’m sure I’m missing quite a few more. Popular books by Richard Foster and others praise the contemplative “disciplines” of Catholic mystics.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!