Dear Franklin Graham, Please Leave the Ministry

Seriously, sir – it’s time to go. You seem more interested in political ranting than in doing any real ministry. Let’s take your recent rant calling for America to stop allowing Muslim immigrants into the U.S. You said:

FranklinGrahamWe must reform our immigration policies in the United States. We cannot allow Muslim immigrants to come across our borders unchecked while we are fighting this war on terror. If we continue to allow Muslim immigration, we’ll see much more of what happened in Paris—it’s on our doorstep. France and Europe are being overrun by young Muslim men from the Middle East, and they do not know their backgrounds or their motives and intentions. Islam is not a peaceful religion as George W. Bush told us and as President Barack Obama has said—that is just not true. Our president and our politicians in Washington need to wake up before it’s too late. This is not the time to be politically correct. Our nation’s security is at stake. The future of our children and grandchildren is at stake. We should not allow any political or religious group who want to destroy us and our way of life to immigrate to this country. Right now let us continue to pray for the victims and family members of the ‪#‎parisattacks.

I have three major problems with your statement.

First, your statement is about American policy and has nothing to do with ministry. You head the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. You are not a voice of a conservative political caucus.

Second, you are conflating politics and faith. You give a very harsh political statement about immigration policy and end it with a call to prayer. Are you NOW trying to switch back into the role of spiritual leader? If you want to play politician, leave the ministry. If you want to be a spiritual leader, stop using a ministry platform to push political ideology.

Third, your attitude is explicitly contrary to the Bible. Yup – I’ll say that part again. Your statement is in direct opposition to the attitude of the Bible. The Bible actually has a lot to say about foreigners. For example:

The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8)

“I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.” (Genesis 23:4)

The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.” (Exodus 12:49)

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)

“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. (Jeremiah 22:3)

You see, God’s people have been foreigners before. We’re supposed to understand what it’s like to be displaced – living in a world that is not our own. Because of our understanding we’re supposed to be sympathetic to the foreigner and alien. But instead of looking to treat them well, you look to treat Muslims with fear and disdain.

God COMMANDS that we treat well the foreigners living among us. I Turkey syrian refugees kurdsknow, I know, you’re technically talking about immigration, not the foreigners who are living among us. But let’s follow your line of reasoning to its conclusion. What about the Muslims who are already within our borders? You would seem to advocate removing all of them, because we can’t possibly know all of their backgrounds, motives, or intentions.

You say, “This is not the time to be politically correct.” You should change that to say, “This is not the time to be biblically correct.” I’d love to see your proposed plan to airports receiving flights from other nations:

Are you a Christian? Welcome to America! Are you a Muslim? Go, home, terrorist!

Your rhetoric is cheap and encourages both fear and animosity towards non-Christians. Please stop the charade and stop claiming to represent Jesus to the world. Run for office.

Leave the ministry.

Dear Christian, Can You Be More Bigoted Please?

Look up any single word in a dozen dictionaries and you may find a dozen varying definitions. IntoleranceThe other day I saw someone on social media calling Christians bigots.

It made me want to look up the word to see the variations. While you will find definitions that fit the way liberals use the term against Christians, dictionary.com had this:

big-ot [big-uh t]

noun

1. a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

In some sense, then, I believe that Christians SHOULD be bigoted.

Yes, we need to be utterly intolerant to a different creed, belief, or opinion. In Acts 4:12 we see the Apostle Peter preaching:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Peter is merely reflecting the words of Jesus in John 3:18:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

There is no room for allowing other creeds to coexist along side of the Christian creed. Jesus is not A way to God.

Jesus is THE way to God.

So yes, call me a bigot. I won’t waver in my belief that the Christian way is right and any other way is wrong.

Where Christians and non-Christians get confused, though, is understanding that we can treat people well in spite of religious differences. I can believe that my way is the only way and still treat people decently. A difference of beliefs does not necessitate anger and animosity towards those who differ.

Liberals tend to see this as a cop out. I’ve been told if Christians really treated people decently we’d allow people to believe what they want to believe (ironically, they are refusing to allow me to believe what I want to believe).

Conservatives tend to see this as a sell-out.Sellout If we hold firm to our beliefs then we will separate from the world around us and shun evil. This is why so many Christians are up in arms about selling wedding supplies to gay couples. This is why Christian doctors are refusing to treat infants of gay couples.

I will be blunt: THIS IS NOT TREATING PEOPLE WELL!

We can disagree theologically and still be decent human beings. So I will do my best to treat people well.

But don’t ask me to cave on my belief about salvation just because you feel excluded. 🙂

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I’m Not Intolerant, I’m a Christian

intolerance

Over the last few days I’ve had several experiences with people regarding the idea of Christian intolerance and -phobia. In case you didn’t know, the in-thing is to take whatever Christians are against and add -phobe or -phobia to the word, thus creating a new word that labels the Christian as a hater.

Do you disapprove of homosexual behavior?

You’re a homophobe.

Do you disagree with Muslim faith?

You’re an Islamophobe.

Apparently anything you stand against is now something you’re afraid of. Except the definition of phobia is now being broadened to include “dislike of a specified thing or group.”

That makes me:

– a greenbeanophobe (never liked ’em – never will)
– a V8ophobe (c’mon, drinking tomato juice?!?)
– a wasabiphobe (I thought it was something else when I put a whole spoonful in my mouth…)

and a whole host of other things I dislike. It’s misleading to attach -phobe to designate dislike of something. It is attempt to attach a negative and derogatory label without understanding anything about anyone’s position.

In terms of faith it often comes down to Christians being labeled “intolerant” and/or “bigot.”

But I’m not intolerant.

Tolerant

I have a willingness to allow the existence of other opinions and behavior I don’t agree with. I have never forced anyone to change to my way of thinking. So I guess I’m tolerant. Yay, me!

As for bigot, the all-knowing Wikipedia defines it as “someone who, as a result of their prejudices, treats or views other people with fear, distrust or hatred.”

But prejudice is “prejudgment, or forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case.”

I have not pre-judged other faith groups or formed an opinion before becoming aware of relevant facts. As a Christian, I will go with Jesus when he says:

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Or Peter when he preached about Jesus:

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

So I’m not prejudiced. My views about other faith groups are based on my understanding that Christianity is the only way to God. And if I’m not prejudiced then I’m not bigoted, for bigotry requires prejudice.

So here I am: a tolerant, unprejudiced, non-bigoted Christian.

But I’ll still tell you that Jesus is the only way and that, as much as we can, we need to conform our lives to the character of God and the kind of lives he calls us to lead as revealed in the Bible.

And that message won’t change, no matter what the Christianphobes say about it.