The Mercurial Rev. Billy Graham

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

George Santayana

‘This past not only informs our self-understanding in the present but also carries narrative momentum that creates expectations of future continuity.”

James C. Miller

The reason to continue to be preoccupied with the past is that it hovers over the present and constantly giving birth to the present. This means that if one gets their past wrong, or if one has a wrong understanding of history, or if one misinterprets what has occurred one will perpetuate the error so that the error twists one’s own self-identity in the present and will create a future that is based on a lie thus ensuring the twisting of both future self-identities and collective identities. An accurate and proper history is that important.  If I can control individuals or peoples understanding of their past I can control their present and their trajectory into the present.

As such, a proper understanding of whatever history we take up is important. This is even more true of what is called Historical Theology. Historical theology is that theology which asks: how has the church in the past interpreted the Bible? How has the church formulated and expressed its theology? The answers to these questions have monumental implications for if the Church has been wrong in the past the odds are overwhelming that it will be wrong in the present and will continue on the trajectory of error into the future.

This provides the context of why it is so important to critique the errors of Billy Graham now that he has passed. This essay will not labor to argue that Billy Graham did not articulate some very orthodox truths at certain times. There are countless videos, interviews, and articles where one can read or listen to orthodox statements by Rev. Billy Graham. Ironink tips its cap to Graham for those countless times when he was orthodox in speech and writing.

However, it is those times when Rev. Graham was not so orthodox that troubles me. In the old James Kennedy “Evangelism Explosion” program one was taught that the proper response to someone who was offering up a works performance answer to the query as to why God should let them into His heaven our response should reference omelets and rotten eggs. One was taught to gently challenge the listener who was pinning his hopes on heaven on the basis of the good eggs (works) in his life with the reality that his omelet also had some rotten eggs in it as well. Then one was taught to ask if they would accept a prepared omelet made with five good eggs and one stinky rotten egg. Obviously, the answer one is hoping for is “no.” From there one was taught to press on their listener the necessity of trusting in Christ alone and not their performance to have a certain foundation and hope for heaven.

In the same way, Rev. Billy Graham’s life and ministry had many many fine and wholesome eggs in it. However, Rev. Billy Graham’s own words also demonstrate there were many filthy eggs in his life and ministry as well. Unless we identify those rotten eggs the danger is to continue to repeat the lousy methodology and message that those sulfur smelling eggs represent. If all we do with the history of Billy Graham’s work and message is look at the teeming denizens of people shoehorned into his venues as combined with the countless numbers of people who “went forward” or the millions of dollars spent in his organization we will walk away repeating the very practices that Graham repeated as inheriting them from those who went before him (Finney, Sunday, Rodeheaver, Moody, etc.).  It is these practices that were packaged, marketed, and decentralized so as to now represent many modern local churches in the West today. The local Church as it gathers for worship every week, notable exceptions notwithstanding,  has become an up-to-date version both in its theology and in its worship what a week-long Billy Graham Crusade was for an urban setting. Unless this theology and worship are challenged, as it comes to us in its historical sitz-em-Leben garb the Church will continue to suffer the insufferable malaise that this theology can only produce.

Rev. Graham started off well enough. His parents were reputed to be Calvinists and he was educated by what then would have been considered “Fundamentalist” schools.  In 1939 Graham was ordained by the Southern Baptists. Not long after graduating from Wheaton Graham Pastored and then worked with the “Youth For Christ” organization and then it the sawdust trail as a Tent Revival minister.  Graham was aided along the way by, of all people, William Randolph Hearst, who legend has it sent a missive out to his reporters to “Puff Graham,” in their articles. Truly, God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

In 1948, at the tender age of 30, Rev. Graham said that ‘the three greatest menaces faced by orthodox Christianity are Communism, Roman Catholicism, and Muhammadism.’ This would have been a pretty standard position for a young conservative Protestant in 1948.  Also, there can be little doubt that at this age Graham’s message included the foundational ideas of Christianity that included man’s sin,  man’s fall, and man’s restoration by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Though Graham always gave an Arminian flavor to these ideas the ideas remain present in his preaching as any cursory examination of his sermons reveals.

So, we have four points that we credit Rev. Graham with.

1.) His opposition to Communism

An opposition that is necessary to Christianity since it is perhaps the best heretical and anti-Christ imitation of Christianity. Graham said as much in a 1954 interview Graham stating, “Either communism must die, or Christianity must die because it is actually a battle between Christ and anti-Christ.” 

2.) His opposition to Roman Catholicism

An opposition that is required since Roman Catholicism anathematized biblical Christianity at the Council of Trent and has never repudiated that anathematization.

3.) His opposition to Islam

An opposition that someone conversant with Church history would realize is necessary since Islam has always seen Christianity as a weed that must be pulled up by its roots.

4.) His preaching of Christ crucified.

The Christian message has always placed Christ at the center and in reading Graham’s sermons there is no doubt that Graham attempted to do this in his own Arminian Baptist way.

We might say this is the positive take away from Graham. These are matters we can agree with him on and salute him for articulating during his career. However, having said that we must see that Graham spoke as a trumpet giving an uncertain call. What Graham gave with his right hand he often took away with his left hand. So, at best what we end up having is a man who leaves the thoughtful Christian scratching their head in bewilderment.

That there was confusion in Graham is seen as early as 1957 when he offered,

“The one badge of Christian discipleship is not orthodoxy but love.”

This is the kind of false dichotomy which we will see more than once in Graham quotes.  First, Christian discipleship has several badges, one of which is orthodoxy,

“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:” (2 John 1:10)

“Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and obstacles that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Turn away from them.” (Romans 16:17)

” If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing…” (I Timothy 6)

A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject… (Titus 3:10)

Second, there is also the fact that love apart from orthodoxy is undeterminable and unknowable. How can one know what love is or looks like apart from God’s Word (orthodoxy)?

Graham may have been responding to the love quote cited above to his Fundamentalist detractors but their lack of sense doesn’t warrant Graham’s lack of sense. The cited quote is really quite bad.
Keeping with the “love” them Graham even could insist that God loves Satan in a interview with Larry King,

King:  Does God love Satan?

Graham: … he must love him, but the end of Satan is hell. Hell was created for the devil and his angels, or his demons, not for men.

God loves Satan?  Someone better tell God,

“You are not a God who delights in wickedness; . . . You hate all evildoers.” “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked.”
“He who sits in the heavens laughs. The Lord holds them in derision.”

Psalm 5:4–5,  Psalm 11:5, Psalm 2:4

And if God did not create hell for men, how is it that men end up in hell?

But beyond what looks to be a studied confusion on the subject of love Graham would end up contradicting his early quote about the menaces to Christianity.

On communism, Graham seemingly had concluded that Communism was far less a problem when he visited the USSR in 1982. During that visit, Graham responded to a question from a reporter on religious persecution in the USSR by saying, “I have not personally seen persecution.” Graham sought to walk that comment back later but the comment was taken so seriously that even in light of Graham’s attempts to walk the comment back Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, referring to Graham, in his reception comments upon being awarded the 1983 Templeton Award,

“It is with profound regret that I must note here something which I cannot pass over in silence. My predecessor in receipt of this prize last year – in the very months that the award was made – lent public support to communist lies by his deplorable statement that he had not noticed the persecution of religion in the U.S.S.R. Before the multitude of those who have perished and who are oppressed today, may God be his judge.”

Apparently, Solzhenitsyn was not satisfied with Graham’s attempts to walk back his comments. One is left asking who should be given the benefit of the doubt, Graham or Solzhenitsyn.

On the menace of Roman Catholicism, it is clear that Graham’s ecumenicalism eventually did not see Rome as a menace.

“I think he’s (Pope John Paul II) with the Lord because he believed. He believed in the Cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the Cross, no matter if you were talking to him from a personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross, and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer.”

Now Rev. Graham was certainly intelligent enough to know that the Jesus and the Cross and the Resurrection of Roman Catholicism is filled with a meaning that is fundamentally different from the meaning that Jesus, the Cross, and the Resurrection has for Protestants. Indeed, so different is their respective understandings that once the explanations of each are laid side by side one discovers that they each believe in different Jesus’, different Cross’ and different Resurrections so that they embrace different Christianities. He knew of those difference well enough in 1948 that he could speak of Roman Catholicism as a menace.

That Rev. Graham had warmed towards Roman Catholicism is seen in a McCall’s magazine interview from 1978,

“I found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Catholics we only differ on some matters of later church tradition. I find that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics.”

This is beyond confusion. Confusion is something like this,

“I fully adhere to the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith for myself and my ministry, but as an American, I respect other paths to God.”

Billy Graham 
Parade Magazine Interview

One might as well say,

I fully adhere to the fundamental tenets of Christian Marriage for myself and my ministry, but as an American, I respect other venues that married men choose for satisfying their sexual needs.

We might be able to overlook Graham’s false dichotomies and oxymorons but the quote where Graham says that “I found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Catholics,” is deeply troubling because if he really believed that then Graham’s earlier preaching of the Cross is emptied because Rome does not believe that the Christ alone by His work on the cross saves.

Dr. Gordon Clark caught Graham in an emptying of the sufficiency of the Cross upon attending one of Grahams Crusades.  Clark wrote in his book “Predestination,”

“Toward the end of the service (there in Indianapolis), Billy Graham asked people to come forward and a crowd came. With them, before him, evangelist Graham addressed the large audience still in their seats and delivered a five or ten-minute diatribe against Presbyterianism. “Don’t pray for these people who have come forward,” he said. ‘You may have prayed for them before, and that is good. You can pray for them later on, and that will be good too. But right now prayer is useless, for not even God can help them. They must accept Christ of their own free will, all by themselves, and God has no power over the will of man.”

If Graham really believed that God has no power over the will of man than it is not God through His provision of Christ and Christ’s Cross work that saves but man saves himself as he engages the power of his will to activate a merely tendered salvation. Maybe Graham really was a Brother with Rome?

1989: Graham spoke about a meeting with Pope John Paul II-“There was a pause in the conversation; suddenly the Pope’s arm shot out and he grabbed the lapels of my coat, he pulled me forward within inches of his own face. He fixed his eyes on me and said, ‘Listen, Graham, we are brothers‘” (6/8/89 Today).

Graham said that that was a great happening in his life.

That Graham became squishy on the centrality of the Cross and the importance of a unique and known Jesus was articulated in an interview with at least twice. Once with McCall’s magazine,

“I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost–were going to hell–if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God–through nature, for instance–and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ‘yes’ to God”

(“I Cant’ Play God Any More,” McCall’s, Jan. 1978)

And again in an interview with Robert Schuller, Graham speaks:

“I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ…. He’s [God] calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.”

Schuller: “What, what I hear you saying that it’s possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they’ve been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you’re saying?”

Graham: “Yes, it is, because I believe that. I’ve met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard of Jesus, but they’ve believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they’ve tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived..”

Schuller: “I’m so thrilled to hear you say this. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy.”

Graham: “There is. There is”

(“Graham Believes Men Can Be Saved Apart from Name of Christ,” Christian News, Oct. 20, 1997, p. 15).

Now, what Graham is advocating here is called “soft inclusivism.” There are those who would say that Graham is not denying Christ or the Cross but merely believed people can be saved by Christ and the Cross without being explicitly knowing Christ and the Cross. However, should one really believe this one wonders how it is the urgency of Missions or preaching could be maintained? If soft exclusivism is true why would St. Paul, as inspired by God say,

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 and how shall they preach, except they be sent? 

Well, returning to Graham’s three menaces, we still have Islam to consider. In 1948 Graham listed it as a menace but later in life comments by Graham suggest that Billy also became weak on this menace as seen in a David Frost interview,

“I think Islam is misunderstood, too, because Muhammad had a great respect for Jesus, and he called Jesus the greatest of the prophets except for himself. And I think that we’re closer to Islam than we really think we are.”

Closer to Islam than we really think we are? Muhammad had a great respect for Jesus? No one who refuses to embrace Jesus as the Christ has a great respect for Jesus. This is just claptrap that helps nobody.

So, Graham at worst reversed himself on the menaces he cited when he was 30. At best Graham muddied the waters. Graham also either reversed himself or muddied the waters on the uniqueness of and necessity for the finished work of Jesus Christ. This kind of doubletalk is a positive impediment to the cause of Jesus Christ. Yes, Graham said many many good things regarding Christianity. Alas, Graham also said many many other things that contradicted directly the good things he had to say regarding Christianity.

Now comes the answer to the objection that says, “Well, so many people got saved under Graham’s ministry so I should keep my mouth shut.” Allow me to say that I believe that many people were genuinely converted to Christ via Billy Graham’s ministry. What does that prove? It does not that Billy Graham understanding of Christianity was Christian but rather that God can use crooked sticks to draw straight lines.

Remember, all because Balaam’s Donkey properly warned Balaam that doesn’t mean we conclude that Balaam’s donkey was a Christian. Praise God for the message that converts even when it falls from the lips from someone who sends a double message.

Secondly, on this score of we should be uncritical of Billy Graham because so many people were saved under his ministry we should respectfully inquire about the effect of the Billy Graham crusades.

Billy Graham’s ministry began just after WW II’s end. Let’s concede just for a moment that scads and scads of people were saved via that ministry. Now let’s take a step back and look at the culture. What kind of impact did those scads and scads of people being saved have? During the years of BG’s ministry,

1.) Birth control was made legal (Griswold vs. Connecticut)

2.) Abortion was made legal (Roe vs. Wade)

3.) Sodomy was made legal (Lawerence vs. Texas)

4.) Criminal Rights were expanded (Miranda vs. Arizona)

5.) Obscenity laws were rolled back (Miller vs. California)

6.) Freedom of Association laws were negated (Brown vs. Board of Education)

7.) No fault divorce was implemented

I could go on but one sees the point I’m sure. All those scads and scads of Billy Graham converts didn’t seem to make much of a dent in the sanctification of our social order.

Maybe someone would argue that all those converts may have not made a dent in the decline of the broader culture but they certainly made an impact locally. Really? What counties? What states? What cities had their social order impacted for Christ by the transformation of Billy Graham converts?

A cynic could easily conclude that all the money spent on those crusades was more about profit for individuals than it was about the Kingdom of God being advanced.

And just so people understand this isn’t personal I’d say much the same about Wesley, Finney, Rodeheaver, Moody, Sunday, etc. Revivalism has been a scourge and if there is any lesson to be learned from it, it is that people enjoy being conned more than people have an interest in Christ.

Many more quotes could be adduced. I have just offered a Whitman’s sampler of suspicious Graham quotes that testify that Graham’s ministry was at the very least a mixed bag. My contention is that as long as Graham’s ministry and methodology are unquestionably praised then we are just going to continue to repeat his egregious errors and the Church will continue in the malaise in which it has been now for decades. Our narrative momentum needs desperately to be changed.

May the Lord Christ give us the wisdom to repent of our own sins and errors and to love His Church enough to want to defend her even against her putative friends.
















Advent Snippets Over The Years

“There is quite a postmillennial flavor that comes through in Mary’s Magnificat. The Eschatological “NOW” age is dawning and with that “NOW” age comes the King and the Kingdom and the consequence of the arrival of the King will be the real end of the wicked who are characterized as proud, rich, and mighty oppressors of God’s lowly people. There is then a corresponding lifting up of God’s people who have been oppressed and are lowly and hungry.

The age to come in Christ has come and is now rolling back this present wicked age. The expectation is that this rolling back, while Spiritual in its most fundamental Kingdom expression, is a rolling back that is corporeal and tangible and so postmillennial at the same time. Real wicked men who are of their Father the devil and who are chiefs in synagogues of Satan are brought down and God’s persecuted oppressed righteous are raised up.

To deny postmillennial eschatology is to deny the heart of Mary’s expectations in her Magnificat.”


The celebration of Christmas means the King has come and with the coming of the King there is the Kingdom He brings. When Christmas rolls around each year it is a celebration not only of Salvation won but also of Triumph guaranteed. The King has come and now all lesser Kings must make obeisance. With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the age to come has come face to face with this present evil age and is rolling the present evil age back as the epochs of time pass by.

Christmas is a time to renew our confidence that though the wrong seems yet so strong God is the ruler yet and has set His resurrected Regent on Mt. Zion to rule over the affairs of men.

Merry Christmas and let’s do Battle for the already victorious King of Kings.


It’s Christmas Eve day!

Mary is 9 Months pregnant and w/ Joseph is looking for quarters.
The Shepherds are getting ready for “just another day at the office.”
The Kings of the East are plodding along day after day

Herod is a minor league Middle East Despot not a great deal different from your current average, Barack, Hussein or Mohammed.

And yet despite all this “normalcy,” it is just hours until the birth of he who taketh away the sins of the world.


In the Genesis record, God said, “Let their be light” (Gen 1:3) and that light appears overcoming the darkness, saturating the creation realm with God’s authority.  In Isaiah the Servant of the Lord was promised to be a light both to Israel and to the Nations who were not yet covenanted with God as Israel was,

“I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness,
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations.” Isaiah 42:6

He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

In the Gospel accounts, that Servant of the Lord promised … the Lord Christ is the Redemptive light come to inaugurate a new age, a new realm, and a glorious new day as from the Father of lights (James 1:17). He is the light who enlightens every man (John 1:19) Christ is the new covenant age light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5). The Apostles saw He who was the radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:1) as the glory of the One and only who came from the Father (John 1:1-4). As the age to come Light, the followers of the Lord Christ never walk in darkness (John 8:12). Christ as the Redemptive light of the age to come demonstrated and revealed itself with a white-hot intensity at the transfiguration wherein even His clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:1-4).  In the crucifixion He who is “the Light of the World” is snuffed out and as on cue, the light goes out for three hours Christ (Matthew 27:45). Light is picked up again in John’s Revelation wherein John the Revelator falls as dead as before a supernova God-man (Rev. 1:14-17). Finally, as the Scripture started with light, it forms an inclusio by ending with He who is the light, as it closes with the motif of Christ as the light which illuminates the new Jerusalem.  He who ever was very light of very light remains the light of the world (Rev. 22:4).


Covenantal Succession … Covenantal Nurture

It is the assumption of Scripture that infants are genuine members of the covenant.  That is the reason why in the text before us this morning parents are commanded to nurture their children in terms of Christian covenantal thinking.

There is no debate on that point when we consider the Old Testament. All concede that Circumcision was the sign and seal that indicated membership in the Covenant. It is only in the New Testament where we begin to find widespread and sometimes heated disagreement that NT infants, just as their OT counterparts, are to be branded with a brand that indicates that they are genuine members of the covenant. In the NT, so the reasoning goes of those who go their own way on this matter, infants are not members upon birth, of the covenant.

Of course, if those who demur with us on this point are correct this means that one of the purposes of Jesus death and resurrection was to the end that infants of covenant parents would be expelled from a covenant in which they had previously been a party too before the death and resurrection of our Lord Christ.  This is an odd way to think about a “New and Better” covenant.

Covenant succession merely holds that God’s general way of collecting the Church is via His gathering into the Church the children of His children.

Causes of the decline of Covenant succession

1.) Social Contract theory as applied to the Church

According to this understanding of social order theory long established in the Enlightenment West, each person is by nature an independent locale of sovereign self-authority,  having full legal capacity to act on their own behalf and so not subject to the authority of another. In this theory, each atomized individual is absolutely equal to every other atomized individual and so by sovereign “right” authorized to act upon his own determination.

With this theory, man’s natural liberty was held as being the privilege to do whatever he wanted to do.  In this theory man himself determines what shall be given up in order to live in civil society. Man, as the individual sovereign is everywhere supreme.

Well, you can see how this social contract theory, when adopted by the Church would lead to the idea that it is the individual man himself who does or does not consent to belong to this community of faith.

Whether as pertaining to a broader social order or as pertaining to the Church an objection must be raised to this theory that we believe has had such a baleful influence upon both the social orders of men and upon the Church of Jesus Christ.  Men have never existed as sovereign atomized individuals using their own sovereign free will to determine whether they will or will not be a party to a social contract or to being claimed by God in Baptism. Instead, men are born as members of peoples, as well as Churches as ordained by Him. So, just as men do not choose their own civic obligation but are born to it so men who are born to believing parents do not choose their belonging to the Church but are ordained by God to that end.

2.) Revivalistic Assumptions vs. Scriptural Assumptions

With the first great awakening as followed by the 2nd great awakening, the emphasis as it relates to speaking about conversion moved from the covenantal nurture of children in the covenant to having a dramatic personal emotional experiential encounter with Jesus.

Louis Bevins Schenk in his book on “The Presbyterian Doctrine of Covenant Succession writes,

“The presumption of regeneration in the case of children of the covenant, based upon the covenant promises, was largely displaced by the Church’s practice of recognizing as Christians only those who gave ‘credible evidence,” satisfactory to themselves of regeneration.”

This is the conversion mindset in which most of our churches think today. From evangelism programs like “Romans Road,” “Evangelism Explosion,” or the “Four Spiritual laws,” this is the contemporary Church’s understanding of how conversion occurs. Before this time the whole idea of “altar calls” that have become famous with Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham would have been a curious phenomenon.

However, while never denying that God deals with some people like this — particularly those who come to Christ as adults — this isn’t the model that we find emphasized in Scripture as it pertains to covenant children. In Scripture, the parents are to lay hold of God’s promises that God will be God to us and to our children for a thousand generations and then are to train their children up in the faith in light of God’s promises. In this model, the whole idea of a dramatic conversion experience slips away in favor of covenantal nurture.

3.) Datable Conversionism vs. Covenant Succession Conversionism

Consistent with what was just mentioned the whole ascendancy of a datable conversion became the be all end all for much of the Church. The idea is that “every Christian knows the day they were ‘born again.'” This stands in contrast to the idea of covenantal succession where God

4.) The failure of Covenantal Nurture

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Too often the cash value of baptism to many who are party to the contemporary Church is that they have kept their religious responsibility to their children. They have had them Baptized.

This is why the form distinctly says, in the charge we just read that parents

“must, therefore, use the sacrament for the purpose that God intended and not out of custom or superstition.”

While we are of the persuasion that in Baptism God has placed His claim upon us we are not of the persuasion that Baptism entered into apart from covenantal nurturing laid upon us as parents guarantee our child is right with God.

Listen to the 19th century Southern Theologian R. L. Dabney on this point,

The instrumentalities of the family are chosen and ordained of God as the most efficient of all means of grace—more truly and efficaciously means of saving grace than all the other ordinances of the church. To family piety are given the best promises of the gospel,.. How, then, should a wise God do otherwise than consecrate the Christian family, and ordain that the believing parents shall sanctify the children? Hence, the very foundation of all parental fidelity to children’s souls is to be laid in the conscientious, solemn, and hearty adoption of the very duties and promises which God seals in the covenant of infant baptism. It is pleasing to think that many Christians who refuse the sacrament do, with a happy inconsistency, embrace the duties and seek the blessing. But God gives all his people the truths and promises, along with the edifying seal. Let us hold fast to both.

~ R.L. Dabney

So, if we are to return to a time where covenantal succession is again the norm in our families and in our churches and among our people we must once again practice covenantal nurture. We must teach our children the Scriptures. We must catechize our children. We must anticipate and answer their objections before they have those objections that we know will arise. As we are teaching our children God’s judgments, statutes, and laws we must point out to them how the culture and too often the visible Church wars against those judgments, statutes, and laws. We must introduce our children to systematic thinking because there is nothing non-systemic and non-systematic in the thinking of God. We must dip and saturate our children in a Christian Worldview that they will see non-Christian worldviews as strange, exotic and ugly.  As parents, we must love them, and not provoke them. We must live out before them the majesty of God’s grace that has redeemed us for the sake of the finished work of Christ alone.

Some areas to keep an eye on in order to practice covenantal nurture,

a.) Protect your children from the culture,


The media is a messaging machine and that messaging is seldom based on a Christian world and life view. As such children need not be exposed to Media until they are far far older and have the ability, as coming from covenantal nurturing, to identify and sniff out the false theology behind the false messaging.

Neil Postman in his now classic work warning against the danger of modern Media wrote,

“But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple.”

If we are going to practice covenantal nurture in hope of covenantal succession we must understand that technology is, as a rule, no friend of Covenantal succession.

Public Schools

“I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.” ― Martin Luther

I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social, nihilistic 4. ethics, individual, social, and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.

Dr. A.A. Hodge

b.) Protect your children from unexamined friendships

From the youngest of ages, it is your role to be the portal that all must pass through in order to get to your children.  You must be aware that other children of other families may not share the same Christian confession that you own. This means you must be sharp to watch out that friendships are not cemented with those who will, perhaps quite apart from malicious intent, challenge the truths that you are seeking to instill within your children from Scripture. You are seeking to nurture and disciple your children in the Christian faith. If you allow your children large swaths of “playtime” with other children — even other children from Christian homes of a different confessional stripe — you are courting a bad result in your efforts of covenantal nurture.

The Message of Covenantal nurturing

The message to our children that we must start with in terms of covenantal nurturing is that God provided Christ as the one who would fulfill all the law’s obligations as laid upon the sinful children of Adam and who would give to those same children the righteousness of Jesus Christ to those who would in faith rest in Christ’s righteousness alone as their acceptability to God.

The covenantal nurturing message to our children is that God is at war with unbelieving man and has reconciled Himself to unbelieving man by the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is only by the reconciling work of Jesus Christ in His work on the Cross whereby we and they can have peace and blessing with and from God.

We must nurture our children in the way of a faith that rests in Christ’s work alone in Justification but then also teaches them that in Sanctification their faith is to work as they turn to the law and to the testimonies for God’s word on how they shall live as Christians.

We must remind our baptized children that God’s claim is upon them and so they are to grow in the Christian faith. Our challenge is not that they might decide to become Christian but that they would know God’s eternal claim upon them and become what they have already been freely declared to be in Baptism.

We must nurture them to learning of God’s character. His Sovereignty, His Justice, His Wisdom, His Holiness, His Goodness, His Mercy, and His Grace.

We must nurture them to trust in God’s Word and God’s promises as opposed to their experiences, emotions, and mystical revelations. We must nurture them what it means to be a kind and caring people while at the same time warning them against the dangers of a suicidal altruism.

We must nurture them in the ways of taking godly dominion to every area the sovereign God calls them and of the great truth of our postmillennial hope.

We must nurture them in the truth that repentance is a life long project. But then that even our repentance needs repenting over. We must model before them a humility that seeks to shed every ounce of that ugly sin of self-righteousness. We must demonstrate to them what it means to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought and to consider not only our needs but the needs of others. We must pray that they will see us on our knees praying for Wisdom and that they will hear us honestly attest ourselves to as being not yet wise.

God grants us His grace for what parent could possibly think themselves sufficient unto such a calling?

But God is Faithful and being faithful we anticipate that even in all our failures with our children He will be to our seed and their seed the God who calls them to Himself.

Funeral Service Rev. Anthony Lombardi

Call To Attention  — John 11:25-26 — Rev. Bryan Church


* Scripture Reading

Psalm 39:4-8

 II Corinthians 1:3-7 
Psalm 46:1-3 
I Corinthians 15:12-20

Congregational Hymn — To God Be the Glory

Eulogy — Rev. Anthony Lombardi

In the Baptist tradition it is common to have a “time for testimonies.” In my 18 months in attending South Lewiston Baptist this was a characteristic part of the evening service. During Testimony time it was typical to hear from the voices of God’s people how God had shown himself faithful to them in the nitty gritty of their daily lives.

This is Dad’s testimony as to his conversion as he dictated it to Mom a few years ago.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

I came to know Christ as my personal savior between 16 & 17 years of age. I was invited by a friend to Sunday School at 1stBaptist Church on Staten Island. As a result of attending thatSunday School my life was transformed. I had been afraid of death but as a result of John 3:16 being explained to us over four weeks gradually that Scripture found root in my heart in Sunday School and my fear of death went away.

Later I was invited by that same friend who invited me to Church to watch his water baptism by immersion.

During the service we sang the hymn “At the Cross.”

Alas and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sovereign Die
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I

Well might the sun in darkness hide
and shut his glories in
When Christ the mighty maker died
For man the creature’s sin

At the cross
At the cross
When I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart fell away
It was there by faith
I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day”

That service impressed me so that I wanted to be baptized also.

I met with the Pastor expressing my desire for Baptism.

The Pastor asked me why I wanted to be baptized

I replied, “Because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ”

After this meeting, I then met with the Church deacons and again I was asked

“Why do you want to be baptized.”

And again I answered

“Because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ”

But actually I was hiding behind the fact that I saw my friend baptized and I wanted to follow his example.

They approved of me as a candidate for baptism.

Over a period of time, I found my life was transformed.

My language was cleaned up without awareness.
There was peace and joy in my heart that I never knew before
I found that I no longer feared death
They hymn “at the cross” became a reality, I found myself singing it constantly.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree
Amazing pity, Grace unknown
And love beyond degree

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe
Here Lord, I give myself away
Tis all that I can do

At the cross
At the cross
When I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart fell away
It was there by faith
I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day”

That was Dad’s testimony.

As a minister speaking at a minister’s funeral allow me to make a few observations.

Rev. Lombardi was given by God the talent of being a people person. Not all ministers have that talent. Dad had the ability to strike up a conversation with a wooden statue and in his conversations, he would soon be challenging his conversation partner about whether or not he or she had trusted Christ.

Dad’s way with people was convincing because it was genuine. He liked people. And people liked him. One time when taking him to some kind of appointment in Brunswick we were sitting at a light. Suddenly I noticed a driver in the car sitting on my side waving frantically. I rolled down the window only to find that the chap just wanted to say hello to Rev. Lombardi and have a bit of a chat there at the busy intersection.

Dad had a desire for missions that went at least as far back as his time at Houghton College. While going through his old yearbooks I find people mentioning his vision for missions in their written comments in the yearbooks.

Rev. Lombardi’s Gospel was simple but a simple Gospel should not be confused with a Gospel that is simplistic. The Gospel, it is said, should be shallow enough for a child to play in and yet deep enough that an elephant can swim in. Dad’s strength was setting forth the Gospel in a way that people could grasp.

And in that Dad was faithful to what God had called him. He was a faithful servant to God’s people in the various churches he served. He was a faithful servant to the residents at the Nursing home. And now, because of Christ’s faithfulness to His promises Dad has heard the “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter now into your Master’s rest.”

Much more might be said in the way of eulogy but my challenge would be for you to look around at the people seated next to you. You and His work here and this place at South Lewiston Baptist are and ever will be Rev. Lombardi’s eulogy.

St. Paul could write something similar to what I am trying to get at. St. Paul wrote to the small Corinthian Church,

2You yourselves are our letter,inscribed on our hearts, known and read by everyone.3It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.…

People of God you are Rev. Lombardi’s eulogy, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.

I can think of no words that would surpass that eulogy.

Congregational Hymn — At The Cross

Homily — Rev. Anthony Lombardi

As many here are already familiar, Rev. Lombardi’s had a passion for making Jesus Christ known. This was seen not only in his personal evangelism habits but also in his leadership in the Church in terms of an unstinting support of Gospel Missions and Christian Missionaries.

And so it seems proper to round of this gathering to speak once more of the Gospel that so animated the life of Rev. Lombardi … of Dad. It is both proper and consistent with his wishes.

The Christian Gospel is a good news announcement of the tidings of salvation. In understanding that salvation announced is the understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, as we consider salvation let us spend just a few minutes unpacking this idea of salvation.

When the Christian faith speaks of salvation it assumes that there is a peril from which man needs to be saved. So we ask,

What is that peril … that danger from which man needs to be saved?

A few answers might be offered but if we are going to speak of the primary danger from which man needs to be saved the Christian faith offers the answer … God.

We know this because it stands written,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.”


“God is angry with the wicked all the time”


“Fear only Him who can cast body and soul into Hell.”

And again,

Be wise O ye Kings, kiss the Son, lest he be angry and ye perish in the way

And again,

God will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.

So when Christians speak of the Gospel — this salvation — we are committed to the fact, because of God’s revelation, that what man needs to be primarily saved from is the fulsome and unrelenting opposition of God. This just opposition of God is explained by man’s sinful, errant and twisted nature and desire to de-god God and en-God Himself as God.  Man is a hopelessly self-centered and self-aggrandizing being who forever wants to center around which all others orbit.

This opposition of God is explained by God’s perfect moral perfection as that Holiness is opposed to man’s total imperfection which issues in this self-orientation.

It is true that we also have need to be saved from our sin, saved from ourselves, and saved from the devil, but the primary reality we need to be saved from is God Himself. When man is saved from God all his other needs of salvation are met at the same time.

So, we are saved from God but then the question arises….

Who is it that saves us from God’s determined opposition?

And the answer to that is it is God who saves us from God.

We know this because it stands written,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…”

And again,

“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself”

And again,

“God sent His son … to be the reconciliation for our sins.”

Here we begin the wonder of the Christian message. A Holy and Righteous God having a just and legal case against self-centered and guilty man determines that as man can never save himself from God’s prescribed death penalty for sin God Himself will take upon Himself in the 2nd person of the Trinity the penalty for sin. Jesus Christ the eternal God-Man bears God’s wrath in His crucifixion so that those called by God are delivered from God’s studied and certain opposition.

As it stands written,

“He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

And again,

“For Christ also hath suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.”

And again,

“For Christ, when we were of no strength, died for the ungodly.”

You see those who are saved are saved from God by God.

In Christ God, Himself by Himself answers our greatest need of finding a way to relieve our guilt, forgive our sin, and extinguish our misery. God, out of great compassion and love has done all the saving and now He commands all men everywhere to repent. He speaks to men today, “Now is the appointed time of salvation.”

In being saved from God to God, God in Christ by paying the legal penalty against sin turns away the Father’s just wrath and God is satisfied so that men knowing the just anger of God against they and their sin can legally sue for peace.

Well, we have answered the questions of “Whom are we saved from,” and “Whom are we saved by.” Now we go on to answer who are we saved to and who are we saved for.

And the pattern continues. Just as we are saved from God and by God so we are saved to God.

It stands written,

“He hath delivered from the power of Darkness and hath translated us to the Kingdom of His dear Son.”

And again,

“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And again it stands written,

“You were … without Christ … and were strangers from the covenants of promise, and had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, ye which were once far off, are made near by the blood of Christ.”

This salvation is to God. Because of Christ standing in our place to be the one who bears our penalty we are restored to God. God’s favor is upon us and His face is always turned towards us in acceptance. God who was only a judge to those who opposed Him is now a Father to those who sue for peace offering as their plea Christ’s finished work on the Cross in their place. We have been saved so that no one can bring a charge against God’s elect. We have been saved so that now nothing can separate us from the love of God. We have been saved so that we are more than conquerors. We who have been saved know both the smile and the applause of Heaven because we have, due to God as the sole cause, sheltered ourselves in the safety of Christ and His work in our stead.

Finally, in terms of this Gospel we note that as we are saved from God, by God, to God, we are also saved for God.

We know this because it stands written,

“You are not your own, you were bought with a price.”

And again,

“Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.”

The chief end of man is to glorify God and fully enjoy Him forever.

God saves us for His own glory and the passion of our lives is to live for Him as He instructs us in His Word. We have been saved for God and so it is to God’s speech that we turn to know answer the question, “How shall we then live.”

In God’s Law-Word we find a guide to life. God’s authoritative law-word teaches us how to live for Him…. indeed, living for Him is the very reason why we have been saved.

So, because we have been saved for Him, and because we know what it is that pleases Him because it is revealed in His word we are a people who champion His cause as consistent with the Scripture.

My earliest memory of Rev. Lombardi ties into this point. Jane received a newspaper clipping in the mail. There with it was a photo of Rev. Lombardi and a group of Christians picketing a movie theater which was featuring a film that was blasphemous of Christ. Because He was saved for God to champion his glory he knew he was duty bound to protest a piece of art that dishonored God.

Those who are saved for God are intent of championing His cause and His authoritative Law-Word in every avenue of life. God’s saved people understand that there is no area where Christ does not point to and say…. “MINE.” God’s saved people, being saved for God are intent on teaching the nations to observe all things that Christ has commanded with the purpose of seeing that the nations of this world become the nations of our God. Being saved for God then means that the Gospel is a conquering word that opposes the wickedness found in a fallen world while all the time inviting those who oppose Christ to come and taste and see that it is better to be a friend of Christ than His enemy.

There you have the Gospel of salvation. It is an announcement that we have been saved from God, by God, to God, for God. The Gospel centers on God providing a substitute in Jesus Christ who as the God-Man in His death on the Cross pays the legal penalty that we owe and so heals the wound that man inflicted on himself and on the Cosmos. The Gospel makes all things new so that its effect, where it blossoms, is to bring the recreation of God so that where there was once conflict of interests between men there now resides a harmony of interests. The Gospel ensures that this present wicked age is being and will be rolled back by the heavenly age to come, so that the Dominion of God rules over the affairs of men. The Gospel builds the Kingdom so that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

It all sounds very strange to the ears of Modern man in a postmodern age.

The blood of God spilled to pay the legal penalty justly pronounced upon guilty and so condemned man and mankind?

So many find this good news … this Gospel to be either too fanciful or to objectionable. Yet despite those objections, it is this Gospel of salvation which has built the greatest civilization which has ever existed. It is this Gospel which once knitted generations of beautiful Christian families together over the centuries so that they shared a common Christian faith and a common Christian ethic. It is this Gospel that built Churches that were as glorious as the Gospel it proclaimed so that God’s people could be an engine for God’s dominion.

And it is this Gospel that took an Italian immigrant’s son who like us all bore Adam’s blemishes and shaped him and crafted him to be God’s minister unto his family and God’s minister unto his people in Lewiston Maine.

To God be the Glory.

Congregational Hymn — At The Cross

Closing Prayer / Lord’s Prayer

Doxology — Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow 

Benediction / Dismissal – Jude 24-25  — Rev. Bryan Church

Dr. Fancis Nigel Lee’s Apologetic For Biblical Nationalism

Of course, there is to be contact between the nations, but not supranational miscegenation or slow genocide. National seclusion is wrong, but even a supranational ecumenical movement can be guilty of seclusion! For as Dooyeweerd remarks:

“The history of the building of the tower of Babel, viewed in the light of the cultural commandment of Genesis 1, shows that seclusion and isolation in cultural development is contrary to the Divine ordinance. Cultural expansion, the spread of humanity over the surface of the earth in the differentiation of the cultural groups, and the cultural contact between these groups, have been set as a task to mankind.”114

And again: “In the removal of the rigid walls of isolation, historical development moves in the line of cultural integration. The latter has its counterpart in the process of an increasing differentiation. This process of cultural integration and differentiation should be sharply distinguished from the leveling tendencies which in our days threaten to penetrate the so-called under-developed cultures with secularized factors of Western civilization.”115

In spite of a slight amount of marginal intermixing and still less of intermarriage with other stocks, God preserved the Israelitic nation and its culture (and land and language) up to the advent of Christ.116 Neither did Christ destroy nationality but sought to preserve it and to cleanse it from sin and to perfect it. And this involved at least two things: His mandate to improve international relations, but also to sanctify national life to His glory. Christ insisted on His followers improving international relations. And this they were to do by loving their neighbors as themselves,117 yes, by loving even their hostile Samaritan neighbors.11”

Also, they were to pray for their enemies,119 even for their Roman conquerors,120 and, after Christ’s death and ascension, to go into all the world and teach all the nations, as commanded in Christ’s Great Commission.121 Yet they were also to sanctify national life and to promote specifically the national welfare. Jesus Himself clearly taught the necessity of the Israelitic believers’ ministering first to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,”122 and that it was not meet to take the Israelitic “children’s bread and cast it” to other nations.123 Nor should Samaritans be encouraged to inundate the temple of the Jews in Jerusalem, but rather worship God in their own temple in their own land, for “God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit,”124 that is, in one and the same spirit and not necessarily in one and the same international or supranational geographical locality. And, having assured His followers that nations would still be in existence on the future Day of Judgment,125 and that many would then come from the east and west into the kingdom of heaven,12~ He told His followers to go into all the world, and disciple all the nations121 (as nations!), beginning amongst their own nation in
Jerusalem, but going forth thence even into the hostile territory of “Samaria, and into the uttermost parts of the earth.”127

Shortly after that, the risen Christ poured out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost, causing the disciples to speak of the wonderful works of God in every then known language for the benefit of those Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Cappadocians, Pontians, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Cyrenians, Romans, Cretans, Arabians, etc., who were then in Jerusalem for the feast. Far from suggesting the future creation of a one-world nation with a one-world language, this important event certainly suggests the sanctification of the then existing nationalities to the service of God, inasmuch as “devout men, out of every nation under heaven” there heard the Gospel “every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born.”128

Nor did the Christians later lose their nationality. Even amongst the early Israelitic Christians, the Greek-speaking Israelites maintained their group consciousness vis-a-vis the Hebrew-speaking Israelites.129 Paul became a Roman to the Romans solely so that he might save some,130 but in spite of this he still remained an Israelite,131 spoke always to the Jews
first and then to the Greeks,132 and loved his people so much that he was prepared to sacrifice himself in their stead, as it were.l33 At the same time. he emphasized that in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew nor barbarian nor Scythian,134 and that as the nations of the world were progressively more and more won for Christ,135 and as Christians of each nation prayed for their kings and those in authority so that Christian men may lead a quiet and peaceable life and so that all men may be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth,136” national and international relations would improve, in spite of all temporary setbacks, as the Gospel runs its course through the world of nations.137

The Cretians may be liars, evil beasts, slow bellies; the Corinthians may be factious and passionate; the Galatians may be foolish; the Thessalonians lazy; and the Israelites blinded;138 but the day is coming when Christ shall be all in all.139

For “in the last days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”140 And in the new Jerusalem on the new earth, “the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. . . – And they shall bring~thc glory and honor of the nations into it.”141

Dr. Fancis Nigel Lee
Communist Eschatology — pg. 770-772