“You’re born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there’s a loophole.” Billy Graham.
American religious figure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Has Billy Graham denied that Christ is the only way to heaven? Is he a Universalist who believes that whatever a person holds to be true, he will be accepted by God as long as he is sincere?
In a recent post on billygraham.org, Dr. Graham wrote about the narrow way to heaven, confirming that Christ is the only way:
Christ spoke of two roads, two kingdoms, two masters, two rewards and two eternities. And He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). We have the power to choose whom we will serve, but the alternative to choosing Christ brings certain destruction. The broad, easy, popular way leads to death and destruction. Only the wayof the cross leads home.
Yet, the accusations are made. Billy Graham, they say, has denied Christ. It all stems from comments he made on Robert Schueller’s “The Hour of Power” back in 1997.
I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ. And that’s what God is doing today, He’s 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 that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.
Apparently, the comment from the Graham camp since the airing of the TV broadcast was simply that Dr. Graham has “always believed what he revealed in the interview.” Don’t expect more. Attempts at clarification would only bring more media attention. He’s not in a position where he can really defend himself without bringing more controversy.
One of the classic questions posed to the Christian is “What about those who have never heard the name of Christ? What will God do with them?”
God, Himself, is answering that question in the Muslim world, today. Charisma Magazine had an article last year titled: Why Revival is Exploding Among Muslims. It’s a misuse of the term “revival” as revival only comes to believers, but they are recounting the conversion of thousands of Muslims to Christianity after encountering Jesus in visions and dreams. People are being called by God out of the Muslim world.
Dr. Graham never stated a belief that Muslims would be saved for being sincere Muslims or Buddhists for being sincere Buddhists. That is a case of critics reading into his statement what is not there. He said that God was calling them “out of the world for His name.” How were you saved? You were called out of the world. You were an atheist, and agnostic, or you followed some other religion. You were called out of that. Being an atheist didn’t save you. God saved you out of atheism. He called you to Himself.
So, is there anything questionable in what Dr. Graham said? Yes.
English: Billy Graham Crusade in Cleveland Ohio, in June 1994. (PHOTO/PAUL M. WALSH) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the dreams and visions by which Christ is calling Muslims to Himself, God is not nameless. These people know they are being called to follow Jesus. Now, Dr. Graham encountered people whom God was calling but to whom He had not yet revealed Himself as Jesus the Messiah. There was a reason for this. Billy Graham was coming to preach the name of Christ! The Spirit of God preceded him to prepare the way. Conversely, in the Muslim world, people are being reached who have no evangelist to preach the name of Christ. Either way, God does not leave the way to salvation a mystery.
In answering the question regarding those who have never heard the name of Christ, Dr. Graham believes, hopes, and guesses that even without knowing they are following Christ, people are saved who follow the extent of the true revelation of God that God has given them. It’s a hope and a guess because the Bible is silent on this issue. Where the Bible is silent, we should be silent, too, and it is likely that Dr. Graham wishes he had kept silent. However, this is not the same as believing there is another way to be saved outside of Jesus Christ. He is simply talking here of a faithfulness to the extent of the gospel of Christ which God has revealed to us.
Lessons to take home: Stick to the Bible. We ponder questions beyond the scope that God has revealed, but whatever answers we may come to, they are only our opinions and guesses. That is worth less than nothing. What about those who die never hearing the name of Christ? This I know for a fact: God is holy. Whatever He does is holy. God is good. Whatever He does is good. When we stand before Him, we will have no cause to accuse Him of anything. Leave them in God’s hands. Our job is to take the gospel of Christ to all the world so that no one ever dies never having heard the name of Jesus.
Taking the gospel to all the world… You know who God has used to do that very thing? Billy Graham.