The Greatest Ecumenist: Billy Graham

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Billy Graham was the leading ecumenist and most successful promoter Christian unity of 20th Century. He did far more for ecumenicism than anything coming out of Vatican II or the National Council of Churches.

The NCC promotes dialogue but the organization has never really reached out to conservative or evangelicals Christian churches. Their dialogue is mostly within the context of mainline denominations, actually, often going beyond Christianity and embracing other religions than Christianity.

On the other hand, Billy reached out to the RCC and mainline Christians to promote the gospel of Christ through mass Crusades, while remaining faith to Jesus being the way, the truth and the life and the only way to the Father.

Granted Graham did make a few out of character statements by going overboard in his zeal for unity for which we give him a pass. His son, Franklin, has checked these aberrations of his father in his old age and weakened state of mind. Franklin, for instance, has boldly warned Christians of the dangers of Islam.

Also, the NCC has promoted the concept of social justice, which is a guise for socialism. The organization stands for liberal political and social positions on feminism, environmentalism, disarmament, capital punishment, etc.; while Billy stayed focused on the simple gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He counseled both Republican and Democrat presidents.

Billy Graham: The Great!

When I was saved in August of 1972, Billy Graham was still in his prime. One of the first Billy GrahamChristian books I read was Peace with God written by Graham, which taught the basic fundamentals of Christianity and the Gospel. The book helped me to understand doctrinally the new birth, which I had experienced at the Burger King in Terre Haute, IN. I usually watched his city-wide crusades with my mother on TV.

His radio program, the Hour of Decision, played Sunday night on the radio. One Sunday night driving home from a small country Assembly of God Church, where I had been a guest speaker, Billy was teaching over the radio on the subject of the Trinity. It was that night that I came to an understanding that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. Graham’s emphasis on Christianity being a decision, was key to my later acceptance of the teachings of Charles Finney and Moral Government Theology. Sin is a selfish decision; following Jesus is a righteous decision.

A few years after my conversion I was asked to give the testimony at a Billy Graham Crusade conducted by one of his assistant evangelists. As I recall his name was White. Of course, I accepted the invitation. I was first told I would have 10 minutes. A week before the Crusade I received a call that I would only have 5 minutes.

Upon my arrival on the night of the Crusade, I was informed I only had three minutes. Whenever, I am asked to speak, I am careful about not exceeding my allotted time. In this case I was wondering if maybe they were cutting back on my time out of concern for what I might say, since I was already becoming somewhat of a controversial figure around the state. I learned how to testify in a preaching style. I limited my testimony to the three minutes; as I spoke I heard one of the pastors sitting on the platform say to another, “He’s not testifying; he is preaching.” I am not sure whether the pastor meant it in a critical or complementary sense.

Billy’s invitations to accept Christ as Savior were backed by the community choir singing, “Just As I Am,” which became the title of his autobiography, which I also read. Recently, “the whippersnappers” have been attacking me for being ecumenical. Billy Graham had whippersnappers who condemned him for directing those who made a decision in his crusades to return to their church, even if it was Catholic. I fully expect to see Billy in Heaven, whose one plea must be, “Thy blood was shed for me.”

Well done, Billy, carry on Franklin…

Larry Bird and Donald Trump

Donald J. Trump is to politics what Larry Bird was to basketball.

When Bird played at my Alma Mater, he was regarded at the greatest white guy to ever play the game, his teammates were average in skills but good team players.

Bird was the master of the pivot. The key to pivoting is to keep one foot stationary and on the ground while staying on the move with the other foot in preparing to pass the ball or take a shot against the defender. The opposing team was geared to defend against Larry. There would often be more than one player defending against the Bird. Everything revolved around Larry either taking the shot or passing the ball to a teammate, who had an open shot, because all the defenders were drawn to Larry.

Larry had the skills to make his average teammates look better than they actually were, even great at times. He had the keen eye to always see the opening to shoot or to pass the ball (often while looking in another direction) to a teammate for an easy bucket.

The key for a great player is to stay on the move; he does not remain stationary, flat footed, or lean back on his heels. The ploy is to fake the defender, often several times, before passing or shooting. Good players have one dominant foot off which they pivot. Larry was a double threat, because he could skillfully pivot off either foot, making it extremely difficult to defend against him.

A number of conservative commentators including Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter are concerned over the “compromising comments” made by the President at the televised bi-partisan meeting concerning comprehensive immigration reform.

From the beginning, I noticed a pattern in Trump’s playing the game of politics, especially during the primaries and general election. He would make statements that indicated a softening of some of his hardline positions only to come back within a week or so standing as firm at ever if not stronger than before.

Republicans were concerned that he would get his pivot foot off the ground, that is travel in basketball terms. The ground symbolizes Trump’s basic message. His foes thought they had thrown him off message. Neither Republicans or Democrats or the media knew when he was faking. He had phenomenal success in outmaneuvering everyone with his many fakes, then sinking his jump shot, usually for a three pointer. With so many unpredictable moves Trump’s opponents would become exhausted. He was faster than any of them.

Remember, the President is often speaking strategically (faking), which is part of the art of the deal. Watch the Trumpster as he sinks a three pointer in any upcoming immigration deal, like he did with the tax cut.

Now you know why Coach Bobby Knight liked Trump so well and encouraged him to run before he even announced his candidacy for the presidency. Knight, who scouted the some of the greatest that ever-played college basketball, knew a winner when he saw him. Much of coaching is successful recruiting.

Knight was a factor in recruiting Trump to get in the political arena. Knight missed out with Larry Bird, losing him to Indiana State. But he backed the right man for the Presidency. There has never been any player who dominated the game like Bird; in my life-time there has never been a President who has been as dominate as Trump.

Ronald and Donald

Ronald Reagan was the first divorced president. Donald Trump is the second; he is twice divorced.

Reagan’s oldest daughter, Maureen, from his marriage to Jane Wyman, was most like her father in having his sunny disposition. There was another daughter, Christine, who only lived one day. His eldest son, Michael, who Ronald and Jane adopted, is the one closest to him in political philosophy and is a conservative talk show host. He did not support the candidacy of Trump. Patti and Ronald, Jr. are the offspring of Ronald and Nancy. Patti for years was a druggie and posed for Playboy; she did somewhat redeem herself in that she drew close to her father during his Alzheimer years and wrote fondly of him. Ron is an atheist and liberal political commentator.

Donald Trump is building a dynasty, which should carry the Trump brand far into the future. Ronald Reagan left behind no biological grandchildren, although his adopted son, Michael, fathered two children, hopefully Ronald’s grandson, Cameron, will honor the Reagan name. Maureen, adopted a daughter from Uganda. Reagan’s only brother, Neil didn’t have any children. Donald Trump has eight grandchildren with more likely to come, including Donald Trump III. Eleven-year-old Barron has already become a controversial celebrity, who likes to dress like his father.

Trump has done a marvelous job in raising successful children, who are devoted to his cause and actively campaigned for his presidency. Trump has dealt impressively with the difficulties of “the blended family.” His example should be an encouragement to so many families in this generation, who are dealing with this type of family situation.

Trump had three basic rules for his children, no tobacco, no drugs and no alcohol; later he added another rule, no tattoos. Evidently, his children have honored him in these areas. Trump has been more successful as a family man than Reagan, although a father can do the right things and still have rebellious children. God, himself, being a prime example. Reagan’s children accused their parents of being so into their devotion to one another, that the children felt neglected.

The fact the Donald was not faithful to his wives is a black mark against him, although he has straightened out in his old age. As a father, adultery and divorce are setting a bad example. Usually, children are scared by unfaithfulness to marriage vows; this does not seem to be a problem with Trump’s children, who must have at least had the insight to choose wives with good parenting abilities.

The old standard that the proof is in the pudding; or as Jesus put it, “Wisdom is justified of all her children,” gives a significant edge to Trump as a family man over Reagan.

Score: Trump gets an 8 and Reagan receives a 5 as fathers in Brother Jed’s evaluation.

What is the difference between Poland and Germany?

 

In 1979 when Poland was still under the domination of the Communist, Pope John Paul II returns to Poland to offers a communion to the people of Warsaw, who cried, “We want God!” God answered their prayer and the Communist regime quickly tumbled. Our good President Trump told the story in his speech.

Germany effectively rejected the Bible with the higher criticism, which was centered in 19th Century Germany. They were crushed in WWI. Then they got Hitler and the National Socialist Workers Party and defeated again in WWII. They are big losers.

Germany never repented after WWII; they are still essentially socialist without the racial anti-Jewish overtones. Germans still don’t want God, the Bible or Jesus Christ. They don’t even want Martin Luther. Now they have Merkel, and hordes of Muslims and rioting in the streets. Poland has peace and is becoming prosperous and wants to be great again. They are smart enough not to open their borders to the barbarian Muslims.

Germany has largely rejected the historical values of Western Civilization, which Trump outlined in his speech. Poland was liberated with the help of the Pope, the Prime Minister (Thatcher) and the President (Reagan). Poland boards the Trump train. Will Merkel, the Russian or the French leader want to ride with Trump? I do not anticipate that they will for they do not have a heart for God, like the Lionheart and the Polish people.

Americans need to cry in our streets, “We want God!” We have a champion in the White House.

Trump

It is almost to the day two years ago, when Mr. and Mrs. Donald J. Trump walked down the escalator of the Trump Tower. At that time, few people thought that he would become the 45th president of the United States. But the anointing of God was upon the man.

After Saul was rejected by God as King of Israel, the Lord sent the prophet Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king. As Jesse presented seven of his sons, God showed Samuel that none of these were his choice. Finally, Jesse reluctantly presented his youngest son, David, who was a ruddy and handsome, but merely a shepherd boy. And Jehovah said to Samuel, “Arise and anoint him for he is the one.”

The prophets in the Bible like Samuel often had access to kings. In my time, the two men of God who had the most access to presidents were Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell. Of the two prophets, Falwell was the most political; he was the founder of the Moral Majority. Falwell was the man most responsible for politically activating Evangelicals and making them a strong enough force to elect Ronald Reagan president.

Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, founded by his father, stepped into the prophetic role of his deceased father by anointing Donald J. Trump as God’s man to become the 45th president. When he did so, Falwell compared Trump’s leadership abilities to Winston Churchill’s.

I doubt if before Trump’s announcement as a candidate, if he ever entered Falwell’s mind as a potential president. Falwell in endorsing Trump chose him over 16 more experience politicians who had greater political recognition. He chose Trump even over the one who seemingly had the greatest stature, Jeb Bush.

Jesse’s son, Eliab, first came before Samuel, who thought, “Surely, the Lord’s anointed is before me.”

But the LORD said unto Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Apparently, God refused the establishment candidate, Bush and the even the upstart from Texas, Ted Cruz, who was another evangelical favorite and choice of some would be prophets, none of whom had the stature of Falwell.

From the day that Falwell chose Trump over all the Republican sons and one daughter, the Spirit of the Lord was upon the Donald and he won the Republican nomination and the general election for President. After being offered the cabinet position of Secretary of Education, Falwell determined to stay at his position as chancellor of the greatest university in the world.

We learn from the Bible that God surprises us again and again by the instruments he chooses to accomplish his will. He chose the little nation of Israel, the reluctant Moses, the shepherd boy, the young virgin Mary, the uneducated fishermen, the hated tax collector Matthew, the persecutor Saul of Tarsus. God gives his power to the least likely of people and through them changes men, nations and the world.

The Four Questions

 

What is the origin of life?

What is the meaning of life?

What is the source of morality?

What is our destiny?

 Daily on campus we tell the students that any religion or philosophy has to answer the questions of origin, meaning, morals and destiny. At Indiana University recently, an atheist asked, “Who are you to say that a belief system has to answer these questions?”

I answered, “These are questions that all thinking men ask. That is why a moment ago you asked me about evolution. You want to know how it all started. Everyone asks, “What does that mean?” Or when you say something is meaningless, you are assuming something else in meaningful. Children very soon start asking, “Why?” They intuitively know there must be an answer. Often times they can ask some difficult questions. We have all said that an action is good or an-other action is bad, or someone is good or someone else is evil. What is your standard of judging actions and judging people? We all do it and we all have a standard. There is not a person here who has not wondered what happens after death. Christianity offers the most reasonable and coherent answers to these four basic questions of life.”

One fellow who was responding positively to my teaching asked, “How can you say that because Christianity has the highest ethical code that it is necessarily the right code?” I answered, “Should we not accept the system that promotes the highest good over the lesser good? Should we not choose the best over the better? Should we not believe the system that offers the most freedom and which best promotes the physical and mental health of mankind?”

When I demonstrated that God’s existence is necessary, just as a building requires a builder, a painting requires a painter, a sculpture requires a sculptor, etc., a girl asked, “How do we know that the creator is the God of the Bible?”

I answered, “Not only does creation testify to a creator but to a loving creator who has supplied everything we need in order for us to be happy. None of the gods of other religions so loves that he takes upon himself  human flesh and is willing to suffer at the hands of his creation. Our God loved so much that he came to serve his creation, not to be served. And he gave his life as a ransom.” Christianity is unique in that two millenniums ago when the nations were still sacrificing men unto their pagan gods, the true and living God became a man and sacrificed Himself unto men.

Bro. Jed

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

 

On your birthday, I think of Charlemagne (Charles the Great) (742-814), King of the Franks, who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope in 800 AD.

Charlemagne made Western Europe great again by reuniting Western Europe and reviving education and culture after the Western Empire had fallen three hundred years earlier. By the sword and the cross, Charlemagne became the father of Europe and the great defender of the Christian religion and the Western Church. Like his grandfather, Charles the Hammer Martel, Charlemagne is credited with saving Europe from the Saracens.

The story of President Donald J. Trump has yet to be told. Christians pray that you will fulfil your destiny to make America great again and to protect the Church from the pagans from within (the Democrats and their cohorts) and without (the Muslim hordes). May your success and greatness even surpass that of Charlemagne as you act according to God’s will.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!

   Terre Haute’s historic downtown houses of worship sponsored a Stained-Glass Sunday Afternoon, which I toured today. I am a member in one of these churches, which has spectacular windows including one behind the altar, which I have meditated on virtually all of my life, that depicts Jesus’ Resurrection flanked by Peter and John.
   Most of these churches were built in the early 20th Century and feature Gothic Revival architecture. So much of our faith can be revealed through architecture and especially the stained glass, which relates Biblical history, particularly the life of Christ. Before the invention of the printing press in the late 15th Century stained glass was crucial in conveying the message of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Savior.
   Many, who have lived in Terre Haute for all your lives, have never been inside these lovely places of worship. Now you will have to wait until next year’s tour. Or better yet, if you don’t have a church home, visit a historical church on Sunday morning, wherever you live. Or if you don’t care so much for history, all the churches have a certain beauty, which is the Spirit of Christ dwelling in the soul’s of the congregation. One doesn’t have to have the stained glass.
   Sometimes, I feel like I am a prisoner of history. I have a master’s degree in U.S. history, I taught the subject for over five years; I own a home built in 1925 in the historical district of Terre Haute and there are so many aspects of our modern culture to which I cannot relate. Most of the hymns I enjoy singing are over hundred years old. I read few modern authors.

All’s Well That Ends Well.

I was listening on the radio to the local news from Ventura, CA. The biggest story was the rescue of a cat and dog from a fire. The rest of the news was also inconsequential.

I got to thinking how the vast majority of Americans go about their daily activities peacefully and busily but without major crisis, unless there is a death in the family.

Then the national news came on, which anxiously speaks of a nation in crisis. The new mantra is “breaking news,” which is intended to take our breath away. Each day has become “a busy news day.”

   I don’t suppose most Americans watch network or cable news. They don’t care about the alleged Russian and Trump election connection, nor any other issue on the National News. They might tune to get a report on the latest terrorist attack but within 10 minutes it all gets repetitive. And anyway, it happened far away from you and me.

Life goes on folks. Be thankful that you are living a quiet and peaceful life with family and friends in your hometown. But don’t neglect the real question, “Where will you spend eternity?” This life will soon be over even for those of us that are most healthy and vigorous.

Put your faith in Christ and all will work out well at the finish. Make the church of your choice the center of your spiritual and social life for the sake of the Lord and your family. In church you will meet the best people who can be your friends for life. And remember, all’s well that ends well.