Patriarchy as God’s Social Order

Ephesians 5:22 – 23 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

I Corinthians 11:9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 

I Timothy 2:11 
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 
12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 
Titus 2:5  the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

These texts, and others like them, provided a foundation for social order for Christian civilization in the West for 2000 years. These texts can be summarized by the word “patriarchy” which simply means “Rule of the Father.”

Patriarchy as a social order — a way to organize a society — grew up out of the text of Scripture and because of that has been roundly hated by those who hate the Scriptures. Indeed, so hated as patriarchy been that we have spent the last 100 years or so seeking to strip ourselves of this idea that God intended for men and women to each have their respective domains of hegemony. The Man as he who fights to provide and the Woman as she who is head of hearth and home under the protection and guidance of her husband. So hated has been this idea of biblical patriarchy that the whole biblical notions of roles for men and women have been so eclipsed that now we are living in a culture where not only roles for men and women have been denied but so have the idea of sexual distinctions between men and women legally disappeared.

That the idea of Biblical patriarchy is to be overcome for an egalitarian social order has been seen repeatedly in our culture. This desire to reverse God’s intended order for society goes way back. Indeed, one might say that in the Garden, with the serpents bypassing of the male covenant Head for Eve what was seen for the first time was this attempt to be rid of God’s assigned patriarchy. 

The desire to rid social orders of patriarchy has been characteristic of every Revolutionary Movement. In the 18th century French Revolution, it was Mary Wollstonecraft writing her  “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” This was, comparative to today, a rather mild statement, wherein Women’s rights in the new Revolutionary order was championed. At one point Wollstonecraft, whose own life and marriage was shipwrecked on her Revolutionary views wrote,

“It is vain to expect virtue from women till they are in some degree independent of men.” 

― Mary WollstonecraftA Vindication of the Rights of Woman 

Mrs. Cady Stanton’s “Women’s Rights” championed for Woman to be freed from her subordination to man! This freedom was to be seized from men who were seen as dictatorial if they did not agree with Stanton. Freedom was to be grasped by women as she makes herself independent of man.

That Stanton was at war with Christianity is seen by just a couple quotes,

“We found nothing grand in the history of the Jews nor in the morals inculcated in the Pentateuch. I know of no other books that so fully teach the subjection and degradation of woman. “

“The whole tone of Church teaching in regard to women is, to the last degree, contemptuous and degrading. “

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

And yet it is only in Western Civilization, formed and shaped by Christianity wherein women escaped the degradation found in the harem of the Muslim. It was only in Christianity where women were esteemed and protected and so delivered from being merely objects as you find in much of paganism. It was not Christianity that put widowed women on the funeral pyre with their deceased husbands (sutee). And as sure as night follows day, as Christianity and Biblical patriarchy is eclipsed, women will return to slave status.

Alexandra Kollentai 

Kollentai was one of the noteworthy Bolshevist Revolutionaries of the Russian Revolution. Early on she was known for her role in attacking what was then called the “bourgeiose family,” which was in point of fact the family based on Christian principles. She advocated the simplification of divorce, and for access to birth control and abortion, 

‘In my opinion, as a Feminist and a Communist, the fundamental importance and value of birth control lies in its widening of the scope of human freedom and choice, its self-determining significance for women. Birth control means freedom for women, social and sexual freedom, and that is why it is so feared and disliked in many influential corners today … [it] is the beginning of the end of a social system and a moral code.’

Kollontai following previous Revolutionary Feminists argued, 

“To be truly free woman must throw off her contemporary, obsolete, coercive form of family that is burdening her way.”

And again,

“In sight of the whole the home fire is going out in all classes and strata of the population, and of course no artificial measures will fan its fading flame.”

Modern Feminist

“Patriarchy perpetuates oppressive and limiting gender roles, the gender binarytrans phobia and cissexism, sexual assault, the political and economic subordination of women, and so much more. And it is of the utmost importance that we prioritize dismantling the patriarchy in our intimate lives, as well as in a larger systemic sphere.”

It has been argued by some Christian Feminists (Virginia Mollencott) that patriarchy is not biblical because patriarchy was merely the cultural soil out of which God’s revelation was given to us. Never mind that we find patriarchy in the garden of Eden before the fall. In this argument patriarchy is merely the culture wherein Scripture originated. Virginia Mollencott for example as argued that “We cannot assume that because the Bible was written against the backdrop of the patriarchal social structure patriarchy it is the will of God for all people in all times and in all places.” And from there she calls for the necessity to de-absolutize the culture of the Bible.

The problem there, of course, is that in calling for the end of patriarchy by de-absolutizing the culture of the Bible what Mollencott has done instead is to absolutize the culture of modern feminism as the grid through which Scripture should be read. So, for Mollencott and people like her what the State must do is pass laws that strip patriarchy from our social order and boy howdy have they done that. From women’s suffrage at the beginning of the century which had the effect of a wife potentially negating her husband’s vote as head of the family, to the encouraging of women en mass to leave the home and enter the work force as Rosie the Riveter, to our embrace of easy divorce laws and abortion in the 70’s to redefining marriage in the summer of 2015 to the embrace of all things Transgender we have been at war with all forms of patriarchy for decades. Indeed when viewed objectively the 20th century has given us an arc that clearly communicates the desire to be done with father rule. Indeed, the State and too often the Church are working diligently to overcome the crowning outrage and inconsistency of patriarchy by correcting God’s mistake of not letting woman become a man because He made her a woman.

In our current culture what R. L. Dabney said over a century ago has come to pass. With the absence of patriarchy

“Women have the natural right to do all the particular things that a man does if she can … to shave her beard, to serve in the army and ride astraddle, to preach sermons and to sing bass.”

This is not the way of Scripture,

Clearly, the Scriptures that have been elucidated teaches a Biblical patriarchy where the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the Church. Clearly, Scripture teaches the central importance of a Trustee family inasmuch as Scripture teaches that children are a blessing from the Lord. Clearly, Scripture teaches explicitly that God hates divorce. Clearly, Scripture teaches that parents are uniquely responsible for the rearing and teaching of their children. All of these patriarchal truths are now increasingly denied in and by our patriarchy-hating culture.

This also has not always been the way our Christian Fathers and Mothers have thought. Susan Fenimore Cooper, writing to resist the women’s suffrage movement could write,

“No system of philosophy (as Christianity) has ever yet worked out in behalf of woman the practical results for good which Christianity has conferred on her. Christianity has raised woman from slavery and made her the thoughtful companion of man; finds her the mere toy, or the victim of his passions, and it places her by his side, his truest friend, his most faithful counselor, his helpmeet in every worthy and honorable task. It protects her far more effectually than any other system. It cultivates, strengthens, elevates, purifies all her highest endowments, and holds out to her aspirations the most sublime for that future state of existence, where precious rewards are promised to every faithful discharge of duty, even the most humble. But, while conferring on her these priceless blessings, it also enjoins the submission of the wife to the husband, and allots a subordinate position to the whole sex while here on earth. No woman calling herself a Christian, acknowledging her duties as such, can, therefore, consistently deny the obligation of a limited subordination laid upon her by her Lord and His Church.
From these three chief considerations–the great inferiority of physical strength, a very much less and undefined degree of inferiority in intellect, and the salutary teachings of the Christian faith–it follows that, to a limited degree, varying with circumstances, and always to be marked out by sound reason and good feeling, the subordination of woman, as a sex, is inevitable.”

That language in today’s culture is almost grating on our ears and yet this was the mindset of our Christian Fathers and Mothers. And what have we made of ourselves since we have overthrown this kind of Patriarchy? 

We send young ladies to college apart from the oversight of their Fathers and,

Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

Relationships between young men and women have devolved into what we now call “the hook up culture.”

According to “projections based on census data, when today’s young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s, a record high share (25%) is likely to have never been married,” Pew Research noted in a 2014 study documenting the decline of marriage in the U.S.
  • Percent of all births to unmarried women: 40.2%

    We have sown the wind of anti-patriarchy and have reaped the whirlwind of broken homes, fatherless children, and a shattered social order.

    And all this because we abandoned God’s Word for the Family.

    Many will blame all this on Feminism but I believe in the end, this is the fault of men who desired the irresponsibility that comes with not having to rule. If God has designed men to be rulers then when ruling fails it can only be because men abdicated their place of ruling well as God’s representatives in the family.

Has Biblical patriarchy been perfect? No, precisely because it is implemented and lived out by creatures who are fallen. I myself in up close and personal ways have seen the failure of patriarchy. I’ve seen husbands out of control damaging their wives and children in the name of “being in charge.” But, this is once again the case where we dare not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Unbiblical Patriarchy should not determine our attitude towards Biblical patriarchy. Just as we would not conclude that terrible marriages, therefore means we should get rid of marriage completely we should not reason that all because we have witnessed bad patriarchy therefore, we should get rid of biblical patriarchy.

In this message, I have challenged many assumptions of the post-Christian West. In doing so, I realize that a sermon like this might be deemed “controversial.” But if any of it is controversial it is only controversial in the light of the Enlightenment project called modernity where egalitarianism has been the ruling motif. Overall, the point here is that in God’s social order men and women are not interchangeable cogs in a machine culture. They have each been gifted differently for the glory of God and for the good of one another. 

The healing of all this begins with men and women being regenerated by the spirit of the living Christ. Regenerated men and women have their minds awakened to God’s revelation and begin incrementally to challenge the assumptions of an age that have been at war with God since the fall of the Bastille. Only by the Cross can the family be restored. Apart from the finished work of Christ we can only expect more of this conflict of interest between men and women. We can not legislate our way out of this mess unless we are first turned to trust Christ. We can not muscle our way out of this unless we are first turned to trust Christ. Our only hope in restoring both individual lives and from that our larger social order is by once again being tutored by Christ.

Is Everything Politics?

“Everything is politics.”
Thomas Mann

For the purposes of this post, we will follow a standard dictionary definition for politics as found in the Webster’s dictionary,

a political affairs or business; especially: competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership.

I think when Mann offered that “everything is politics” Mann was especially referencing the idea of competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership.  Mann was offering that all of life in all our relations is about competition for power and leadership. Of course, this assumes that the proper paradigm of human relations is the one of conflict of interests. This paradigm is in competition with the Reformed understanding that any social order ideally should be comprised of a harmony of interests.

That Mann’s paradigm has a long history in other non-Christian cultures can be seen in this proverb from the Muslim world,

“So before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; and the tribe against the world. And all of us against the infidel.”

Indeed, in this kind of mindset, everything must indeed be politics. Everything is conflict of interest. Everything is a kind of survival of the fittest.

Mann was not Christian but he understood as the state increasingly becomes God walking on the earth that the consequence is that everything becomes politicized if only because the State seeks to bring everything into its orbit and everything that resists that must be competed with.

In a social order or climate where it is true that “everything is politics” to deny that “everything is politics” is a political act. But, keep in mind that even when everything is politics for fallen man, it is still their humanist theology that is making politics their theology. They still haven’t gotten away from theology being the Queen of the sciences. They are merely calling their humanist theology, “politics.”

When fallen man gives up theology as queen of the sciences something has to replace it and that something is power politics. (This will eventually give way to naked power over time.) As such, politics for fallen man becomes his theology. When Christians are living in a social order where Politics are everything then they must craft a Politics that is based on their theology to compete with the pagan worldview that “everything is politics.” Christian theology emphasizes not competition with rivals but coordination with those who share a common faith. Yet, ironically enough, the Christian must compete with the humanist for this kind of politics and until a harmony of interests, political paradigm obtains the Christian must engage in a conflict of interest paradigm against the humanists who desire to make everything political.

In the end, though I pity the person for whom it is true that “everything is politics.” Imagine going through life seeing all your closest relationships as being a competition for power and leadership. I can’t imagine how miserable it must have been to grow up Muslim where even in the home everything is politics.

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.
















Redemptive History Testifies that Pentecostalism is in Error

The question is asked why we do not continue to see these kinds of healing and miracles today since the Kingdom is still present and for the answer we have to consider the place of all this in God’s redemptive History. The reason that all this is happening is that a very particular time in Redemptive History has arrived. All of this activity is giving testimony that this unique time in History has arrived. All of what is happening here and then later with the Apostles after Pentecost is part of a single, comprehensive crescendo part of history. All this is done in light of the Historical coming of the Kingdom and it is done only with the arrival of the Messiah and His Kingdom and the establishment of His Church. Here, in this point in History, the cornerstone and foundation is laid. From the close of the canon forward the superstructure is built upon this unique point in time history. To ask for more of this Historical uniqueness is like asking to be 25 again. That historical moment has passed. This is not to say that remarkable providences or inexplicable healings don’t still happen as God ordains. It is to say that we are at a different time of Redemptive History. Do keep in mind that were it the case that we were to have the same kind of demonstration of authority and power as we find in this Redemptive time, this time would no longer be seen as a time that was unique and Historically epoch. That time of Christ would be “just another” day.

While the Pentecostals and Charismatics are full of good intentions they sully the record and uniqueness of Redemptive History with their insistence that 2018 and every year must be the same Historical Epoch as the 1st Century when Jesus and the Apostles ministered.

Sermon Teaser
Charlotte Reformed Church
Morning Service — 04 February, 2018

Calvin on Social Hierarchy and Inequality as Christian Doctrines III — Christianity is Anti-Egalitarianism

I acknowledge, indeed, that there is not enjoined upon us an equality of such a kind, as to make it unlawful for the rich to live in any degree of greater elegance than the poor; but an equality is to be observed thus far — that no one is to be allowed to starve, and no one is to hoard his abundance at the expense of defrauding others. The poor man’s homer will be coarse food and a spare diet; the rich man’s homer will be a more abundant portion, it is true, according to his circumstances, but at the same time in such a way that they live temperately, and are not wanting to others.

John Calvin
Commentary on 2 Cor. 8:15

For the system of proportional right in the Church is this — that while they communicate to each other mutually according to the measure of gifts and of necessity, this mutual contribution produces a befitting symmetry [belle harmonie], though some have more, and some less, and gifts are distributed unequally.

John Calvin
Commentary on 2. Cor. 8:14 

We have seen already, how that to live well with men, we must obey our superiors. For it is the first thing that God commands us in the second table of his law: because the mean in descending from him to men, is to honor those whom he has set over us. Indeed when we speak of men, there is some equal fellowship: for we come all of Adams race: we be all of one kind: and all this imports an equality among men. Nevertheless forasmuch as it has pleased God to set certain degrees: we must hold us thereunto, and keep that order, so as the party which has any preeminence and dignity, may be acknowledged for such a one as is to be honored. And in this case we must not allege, why is he more esteemed than I? For that comes not of any worthiness that is in one more than in another: but of Gods will, who will have them so honored to whom he has given any preeminence.

Johnn Calvin —  Sermon 37 on Deuteronomy 5