Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mitt and Billy

I have been mulling over what, if anything, to say about the kerfuffle over Billy Graham's meeting with Mitt Romney, his subsequent endorsement of Romney and the highly controversial removal of mormonism from the list of cults on the webpage of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Many of my fellow believers who are former mormons or on the front lines of mormon evangelism were rightly outraged by this and then today I read something that drove me to write this post.

Apparently the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association took out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal, using funds donated for this stated purpose "building the kingdom of God and bringing people into relationship with Jesus Christ" to buy an ad to advocate for someone who is diametrically opposed to that mission in every possible way. In part the ad reads:

"As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election may be my last," Graham says in the ad. "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman."


How exactly can we take seriously a statement like that? A man who belongs to and has been a leader in a religious cult that denies every crucial doctrine in the Bible and perverts the Gospel cannot in any sense of the word be said to "base their decisions on biblical principles". The Bible says nothing about gay marriage. The Bible says nothing about abortion being wrong but preemptive war being OK. The Bible does say an awful lot about being wary of wolves seeking to devour the sheep, wolves who externally look like sheep but are only interested in destroying God's sheep.

I don't pretend to know Billy Graham's motivation here nor do I discount his decades of service to the Kingdom preaching the Gospel night after night to more people than I have talked to in my entire life about any topic. I do know this much. This action is yet another example of the extent to which American Christians are willing to set aside any sense of discernment to win a political victory. I also know that Christians who know nothing about mormonism look to Billy Graham as a trusted leader in the church and that leadership is a responsibility that transcends political pragmatism.

Watchbloggers like the Pyromaniacs would jump all over Billy Graham for this under normal circumstances but instead we are treated to a six part series about why they are voting for Mitt Romney. If Graham had met with Thomas Monson and then removed mormonism from the BGEA webpage as a cult, you can be sure that the boys would have something caustic and ugly to say. But not when it comes to defeating Barack Obama! These same fellows blew a gasket about other Christians signing the Manhattan Declaration which calls for unity among Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians in working toward ending abortion. One thing all three of those groups share is a belief in orthodox trinitarian doctrine and that is something that Mitt Romney explicitly denies. Just don't point that out or you will get an earful of self-righteous bleating.

Listen to me carefully:

Defeating Barack Obama in this election is not the highest priority of the church.

Did you catch that? In fact it isn't even in the ten top. Dare I say not anywhere on our priority list at all as the church.

The apostle John spoke to this very issue in his second epistle:

A lovely visit with a wolf
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (2 John 1:7-11)

I wonder what John would have to say about the most recognizable figure in the church warmly greeting and endorsing someone that John called "the deceiver and the antichrist" because this election is so important to the church.

If you want to vote for Romney in the certain to be dashed hope that he will do great things like ending abortion, that is fine. Not my choice, not by a long shot. Obama is a horrible President and Romney probably would be a less horrible President and I don't feel obligated to vote for one over the other. Just don't blur the bright line between the Biblical Gospel and the perversion of mormonism to make evangelicals feel better about casting their vote for him. America will some day be gone and no one will care who won the 2012 election but those who spend an eternity in hell thanks to the lies of mormonism most certainly will care.

24 comments:

co_heir said...

A friend of mine worked for the Billy Graham organization for a number of years, and he believes the last few statements coming from them are really due to Franklin, not Bill himself. Either way, they are misguided, at best.

Women at the Well said...

I agree with about 95% of your post and think that you speak A LOT of truth, but even though Romney is a mormon can he not have a sense of some/many Biblical truths? By no means do I think he is a great spiritual leader or would even make a good president, but just b/c he is a mormon does that absolutely mean that he has no Biblical perspective at all (or at least very little)? Can the Almighty not allow him to see some truths (some, not a lot and not necessarily deep). In comparison to Obama who, in my opinion, is obviously not a devout follower of Christ, is it not at all plausible that Romney can have more truth than he? My mother was not saved for most of her life yet I felt God's love through her more than almost anyone I have ever known. She was not saved (until shortly before she died) but knew how to show deep love (only from God) to her son.

I'm not at all saying that B.G. was in the right for what he did, but I don't necessarily think that Romney has none/little view of Biblical Principles b/c he is a mormon. I would not want to seek him for Biblical counsel, but if my only choice is he or Obama in a vote for pres, I am taking Romney in 2 seconds. And that is what Romney is, one choice of two men for pres.

Hope this is coherent. Love reading your posts and I am so very, very saddened that the church in america is in the state that it is in. Especially in light of the belief that this election is not in the top 10 most important things for the church. Good point!

joe said...

Comment #2:

What is there was a REALLY good, conservative candidate who came up in the Republican party and stood up for many Biblical things and many traditional values and was, honestly a devout muslim. would the church support this person for pres? If so, that is really scary!!

Thanks for making me think

abnormalreaction said...

This is sickening, and sad.

Arthur Sido said...

co_heir,

My hope is that this is not coming from Billy himself but others in his name.

Joe, I agree with comment #2 but I don't see a commen #1? I wonder the same thing and I don't think so. Mormonism has done a great job in infilitrating the church over the last decade and we are seeing that fruit today.

Arthur Sido said...

Women at the well

I don't think Obama is a believer in any sense in spite of his past church attendance but Romney actively rejects the Bible. Where the issue becomes so dangerous is that we have elevated a number of political and strategic issues to the level of "Biblical truth" and ignored the more pressing and more relevant actual Biblical truths. The Bible says that a little bit of leaven leavens the whole lump and even when Romney is right on an issue (like abortion, assuming you believe in what he says) his false view of God and his denial of the Gospel taints everything he does. I would never even consider voting for Obama and I simply cannot in good conscience vote for Romney but my bigger concern are statements like these that have only one purpose: political influence. This is proof positive for why the church needs to be distinct from the state.

dle said...

Arthur,

Thanks for adding to the list of Christians noting this bizarre hypocrisy. Too bad that there are so few of us.

What really gets me is that there was a born-again, pro-life obstetrician of provable honesty and remarkable humility who ran for the GOP nomination. Where were all these "values voters" when it came to supporting him?

Aussie John said...

Arthur,

Thank you for an excellent article.

As one who is watching from afar, I'm absolutely flabbergasted at the views of people such as your correspondent, Woman at the Well, who evaluates those whom they assume are Biblical believers on the basis of some moral stance.

Here are the fruits of tradition based, moralistic Christianism, and its mushy view of love.

damancd said...

As someone looking on from abroad, it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to see how this presidential race once again highlights what people consider to be priority issues. It is perhaps necessary to have these experiences to see what we value most and when it comes down to it what we hold most dear. A friend reminded me about something some guy said about treasures and heart, and if it's not money in this case, it is certainly something else that doesn't reflect what Jesus wants so much.

Still, as you are constantly inferring, it's not to be distraught and in despair, it's to focus on those things that Jesus held as important, indeed to hold onto Jesus Himself as far more important than the occupier of the White House, after all Presidents come and Presidents go, but Jesus still prevails.

Arthur Sido said...

dle

That is one of the most disturbing aspects to this whole election cycle. Why would an actual pro-life and born again Christian not get the support of evangelical Christians? Because he opposed preemptive wars. What a horrific indictment of the state of "Christianity" in America.

Arthur Sido said...

Christopher,

I often envy you for your ability to view these issues from afar and thank you for your perspective. It is so hard to look at these things from within the perverse political-religious world that dominates the church in America.

Arthur Sido said...

John, while many believers evaluate Romney based on a scale of moralism, there are many so called Christian leaders who know better and still play this up because they seek political victories over the truth of the Gospel. I find that to be far, far worse. Yet we wonder why "the church" is so rotten to the core? With leaders like these in the church in America, the enemy can feel free to concentrate elsewhere. We are our own worst enemy.

Bob MacDonald said...

Another foreign view.

Obama has been a good president. And he is a man of faith, an honest broker, like Samuel. It takes more than 4 years to turn around 20 years of me-first policy. The option for the poor and the dispossessed is the option that the Spirit prefers, not the option of the rich and their self-protection.

As for Romney, I am glad to see you are considering (finally) his religious views. There is no need to extend the canon of Scripture, especially to a set of imagined books without historical grounding.

Take a little wine for your stomach.

Arthur Sido said...

Bob

As for Romney, I am glad to see you are considering (finally) his religious views. There is no need to extend the canon of Scripture, especially to a set of imagined books without historical grounding.

I am not at all sure what you mean by that. I am a former mormon and have been vocal about Romney as a wolf.

Obama as a man of faith? I have seen no evidence that he has faith in anyone or anything but himself. A man who holds abortion as a sacrament is not someone I would hold up as a man of faith or an honest broker.

As far as Obama being a "good president", I can't think of any measure one could use where that statement could be true. It does take time to turn things around but not only has Obama not turned things around he has made virtually everything worse and landed us with $5 trillion in new debt so far (and if he were reelected I can only imagine how much more he would manage to rack up). My disdain for Romney is mostly theological, although he is a Johnny come lately to "conservatism", but Obama is an ideologue for every bad political notion that has been dreamed of.

Bob MacDonald said...

Sorry - when I said 'you' I meant it generically - not personally. I should have said 'you all'. And when I said (finally) it was because I have been surprised how little of this issue has been mentioned. Maybe you all are more polite than I give you credit for.

Re the US deficit - yes you-all have a problem as we all do if you-all fall over the fiscal cliff. Inequality is now becoming more and more obvious. (article today here.

Bob MacDonald said...

Re abortion as a sacrament, I could not find any substance to this accusation against your president.

I assume you got my apology for using 'you' carelessly when I meant you-all to the south of me.

In this case, I ask you singular to support what reads to me as calumny against your president.

Arthur Sido said...

Bob, if you watched any of the Democratic convention and the continuing chatter about a "war on women" it is quite clear that defending abortion on demand is a sacred duty for Democrats and that anyone who does not toe that line is unwelcome. In the religion of self-gratification that Obama represent, abortion is absolutely a sacrament.

"Inequality" is not an issue that our Federal government has an legitimate role in "solving". Given the decades long "war on poverty" that has done little to help the poor and a lot to swell the size of government, it should be clear that redistributive policies are not helping the poor much at all, other than providing them with free Obama-phones.

Bob MacDonald said...

Arthur - thanks for your reply. I remain unpersuaded by three word sound bites. The operative word for me is one - care. How do we care for each other as God cares for us and gave himself in the life of his Son for our sake. Both republican and democrat can throw labels at each other like self-gratification. Such hurling of abuse is not a caring response and is unbelievable to me. I do not see how anyone who names the name of Jesus can act this way.

I looked the other day for a quote from Mark Twain that recognized America as worshiping Mammon first. I must be remembering this 19th c accusation from another source. I do think that Western Civilization has this problem - our attention to money and fear of fraud has not been effective, perhaps because we pay attention to money, efficiency, first, rather than to the care we are called to.

Nowhere is our attention to money more obvious than in the 20 years of deregulation that led to the fraud of the asset-backed-paper trades that resulted in the collapse of the US housing market and the financial debacle of 2008 - a self-inflicted wound. Perhaps the electorate has forgotten.

Care is expressed in Psalm 121 and in Deuteronomy 8, the lesson on the land which we sang a few weeks ago - the music in Moses' voice shows the love of Torah that is also expressed in Psalm 119 - God's care for us and for the poor is not a trickle-down care.

How we form words around policy to enact such care cannot be trivialized but must be acted moment by moment, word by word.

One quip I came across yesterday from Mark Twain was - if they let us vote, it's only because it doesn't matter. I can't concur - I do vote - but caring goes beyond the act of voting. It is embedded in the policies we allow and in daily interactions - even in the face very complex problems.

Anyway - I think I must pray for you-all - you are not within my control as are most if not all of the world's great problems.

Arthur Sido said...

Bob, you show up here singing the praises of Obama as a "good president...a man of faith...an honest broker" and then get upset when you are called on it. The government programs and redistributive policies that you seem so fond of have done nothing to help the poor and have landed this country and many other nations around the world at the brink of economic disaster.

I don't place my faith in either political party and neither candidate for that matter. By an objective reckoning Obama has been a terrible president who "inherited" a mess that he asked to fix but has instead made it worse. I will not cheer if Romney wins but I certainly will not weep if Obama loses.

Bob MacDonald said...

Arthur - your critique of me is interesting - I am not upset. Perhaps my hope that we should 'care' is misplaced. I think there are many financial and other problems in the world and I don't blame them on one person. There is some kind of collective me-first problem that I won't name here.

Bob MacDonald said...

Just came across this post on Obama's Faith - fits somewhat with what I have been noting here

Robin H. said...

Thanks Arthur. It's downright scary to see so many of my fellow believers supporting Romney. My thoughts are "if one can be deceived into accepting/endorsing a blatantly false doctrine, what else are we in store for??" I will be writing in Ron Paul's name this election. My conscience will let me do no less.

Arthur Sido said...

Robin, I am doing the same!

Bob, I think what is misplaced is assmuming that support for government programs is the same as "caring". As a side note I read that article on Obama's faith and referenced it in a different post subsequent to this one.

Bob MacDonald said...

Government programs and caring. There is a positive connection. Government and fear and bureaucracy. There's a connection here too. It would be equally wrong however to assume that government programs are not caring or that they automatically result in bureaucracy based on fear. There is no shortage of 'not caring' in the private sector and no shortage of bureaucracy, incompetence and us-first thinking based on the worship of Mammon.

On can interpret the entire Bible as being about governance - not about rigidity but about community polity expressing the will of God on behalf of all.

Too much is too much, but equally too little governance leads to error, fraud, and failure affecting many people. The asset-backed paper scandal of 2006-2008 is a good example. Has the US forgotten already what financial deregulation led to?

I wonder if this is the area where neither democrat nor republican can really do much. (Mark Twain - they wouldn't let us vote if it made any difference.) The interests of lobby groups overpowers the will to good. One could get depressed. But it would be a mistake to blindly equate government with the bad. Government is more than a necessary evil.