Thursday, January 19, 2012

Billy Graham: "There's so much that we have in common (with the Roman Catholic church)."

Posted by Christine Pack

Billy Graham
It will undoubtedly come as a shock for many Christians to realize that revered and well regarded pastor Billy Graham had strong ties to the Roman Catholic church, as well as some startling views on the exclusivity of Christ in salvation. Linking with Roman Catholics simply must not be done. Yes, the Roman Catholic Church teaches about God and Jesus and the Cross and Salvation, but they also add to the finished work of Christ on the Cross by requiring works of their adherents. This is no small thing. In the book of Galatians, Paul rebuked as Peter for allowing the Judaizers to add the "works" of circumcision and law-keeping as additional requirements for salvation.
“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) in front of them all, 'You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.'” (Galatians 2:14-16)
What the "circumcision party" did in this passage was heresy, but let's not just nod and embrace this truth as we read scripture without understanding that this same heresy is alive and well today. This heresy of Faith + Works is at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church and what it teaches, and this is why we must not link to them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Rather, the vast majority of them are as lost as lost can be, and need the life-giving truth of the gospel message. True, born again believers know that salvation comes by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone. There is no additional work that can be added or must be done for salvation.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Now, does this mean that the Christian simply gets a Get Into Heaven free pass by claiming belief in Christ, and then will continue to live in unrepentant immorality? No, the books of James and Galatians (among others) address these fallacies of "decisional regeneration" and "easy believism." A true born again believer who is in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit will bear good fruit, will put away the sins of their former life, and will become more and more conformed to the image of Christ over time. But these actions will flow out of a heart overwhelmed with thankfulness at God's great mercy in salvation, and will be empowered by the Holy Spirit. A true born again believer does not grudgingly put away sin and do good works, as if drinking down bad medicine. Yes, there is a battle with the flesh, but it is a battle. Sin is never truly enjoyed by the regenerated Christian: it is fought against and agonized about and prayed over and repented of. Is this a sad, torturous existence, with the believer looking sadly back at his old "fun" life and doing what he "should" do instead? No, in fact it is a joy and an honor to strive to know God's precepts and pray for God's grace and enabling power to live a righteous life. It is not bad medicine grudgingly drunk down so as to get the benefit of heaven. Good works flow from a heart that is overjoyed to be reconciled to a high and holy God, and thankful for his Word which show us what a righteous life looks like that we might strive for that mark by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is sort of a nutshell view of the biblical view of salvation and the Christian's life, but this is not the Roman Catholic view of salvation, which comes through Faith in Jesus PLUS confession, going to mass, doing good works, etc., etc., etc.

So with that in mind, please read below from portions of an interview that Billy Graham gave with Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral (and about which John MacArthur has also commented):
Dr. Schuller: "Tell me, what is the future of Christianity?" 
Dr. Graham: "Well, Christianity and being a true believer, you know, I think there's the body of Christ which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups. I think that everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the body of Christ. And I don't think that we're going to see a great sweeping revival that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time." 
What God is doing today is 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 they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light they have and I think they're saved and they're going to be with us in heaven." 
Dr. Schuller: "What I hear you saying is that it's possible for Jesus Christ to come into a human heart 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?" 
Dr. 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 about a Bible, have never heard of Jesus but they've believed in their hearts that there is a God and they tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived." 
Dr. Schuller: "This is fantastic. I'm so thrilled to hear you say that. There's a wideness in God's mercy." 
Dr. Graham: "There is. There definitely is."

 Additional Resources 

John MacArthur Discussing Billy Graham's "Wider Mercy" View

Doctrinal Errors With the "Wider Mercy" Doctrine

A Chart With Christian/Catholic Views Side-By-Side (courtesy of former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett)