The Ramblings Of John Campea

Life Beyond The Movies

CNN says Franklin Graham should

CNN says Franklin Graham should “Keep his mouth zipped”
As I read more and more about the life of Jesus, one of the most surprising things that jumps out at me is the fact that He never went around preaching AGAINST things. As a matter of fact, the only thing that comes to mind that Jesus preached against was hypocrisy. Other than that, Jesus spent his time preaching FOR things. The kingdom, forgiveness, grace, justice for the poor and weak, the love of God. It strikes me that Jesus wasn’t for lying, or stealing, or murder, He just understood that if you told people about the love of God, and then modeled that message with your life, then there was no need to preach against anything because it would just come naturally.

We evangelicals however spend most of our time preaching against things. We yell and scream about homosexuality, we bash MTV or MuchMusic, we publicly decry the moral tone of today’s movies and media, we hold public rallies against abortion, we force public referendums on gambling and talk about how evil Islam is.

Is it any wonder that our culture knows practically NOTHING about what Christians are about, but know VERY WELL what Christians are against? It seems to me that if we spent 1 tenth of our time talking about and living out the life Jesus modeled for us as we do on preaching against things, the Kingdom would be far better served.

I came across this article on CNN today and thought it went right along with what I was thinking:

So maybe God, along with all of us, will find relief following a milestone last month: some leading evangelicals called on their own prophets of pugnacity to zip it. We can, er, pray, that responsible Muslim leaders will follow that wise example and similarly rein in their own extremists.

The “loving rebuke” by conservative Christians of their fire-breathing brethren came at a Washington conference. This helped move us back from the clash of civilizations that hard-liners in both Islam and Christianity are pushing us all toward.

Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, has led the call to arms with blasts like his description of Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion.” In addition, Pat Robertson dismissed Muhammad as “an absolute wild-eyed fanatic, a robber and brigand,” and Jerry Vines, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, labeled Muhammad a “demon-possessed pedophile.”

Mr. Graham is not a nut. His Samaritan’s Purse organization is an exceptionally well-managed charity that provides $150 million annually in food and medical care in some of the grimmest corners of the third world.

Still, he clearly subscribes to that essential human conceit that God is on the pew beside us, a member of our own sect. As Spinoza noted, “If a triangle could speak, it would say . . . that God is eminently triangular.”

The National Association of Evangelicals “has gone through periods of time when our differentiating value was the things we were against,” says Ted Haggard, the new president of the organization. “One of the reasons the board selected me is that I am a strong advocate of the things we are for.”

“I am for people being born again,” he added. “I am for people reading the Bible; I am for people receiving the benefits that Jesus has to offer and looking to Jesus as a model for life and godliness. These ideas are so positive that if we can communicate that, we don’t need to spend so much time articulating the things we are against.”

To be sure, Mr. Haggard and other evangelical leaders don’t seem to disagree fundamentally with the loudmouths; they just think that insults make bad public relations and put missionaries at risk.

“It’s really a concern about safety,” not doctrine, said Clive Calver, president of World Relief, an evangelical aid group, and he adds about Christian aid workers: “These people are in danger. I don’t want to see them killed.”

The demonization of Islam by the Christian right always seemed opportunistic. Cal Thomas, the evangelical commentator, notes that both left and right need enemies to galvanize fund-raising, and he adds: “The right has been looking for an enemy to replace communism since 1990. And maybe Islam is it.”

Nonetheless, even if it’s about P.R. more than substance, the step toward civility is important. My conversations with Muslims around the world have left me convinced that nobody has done more harm to America’s image in the Islamic world than Franklin Graham and those like him. So let’s all hope that Mr. Graham keeps his mouth zipped and focuses on what he does superbly: aid work.

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June 10, 2003 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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