Thursday, May 05, 2005

Billy Graham Clarifies His Take on the Gospel

In spite of his praise for the former pope, Billy Graham has gone on record stating that only those who exercise faith in Christ alone can enter heaven, contradicting an earlier report by PBS' "Frontline" program in which President Bush interpreted Graham's words differently:

According to a statement released by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association April 30, Graham’s message and George W. Bush’s belief are “consistent ... that the essential Truth of the Gospel is that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone, ‘for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12, NIV).”
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association issued this statement of clarification:

“The Bible teaches, and for more than six decades Mr. Graham has faithfully reached in crusades around the world under the banner verse of John 14:6: ‘Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father except through Me.”’

“Mr. Graham has always believed that the Eternal God of the Bible welcomes all, disregarding their past. Their goodness does not help them nor does their badness deny them the privilege to come to God. But, they must come God’s way, not whatever way they choose.

“No one comes to Him by ‘doing the very best that they know how’ for none are capable to do good enough for the perfect standard of God’s righteousness. Instead, the Bible says that there is ‘none righteous, no not one’ (Romans 3:10).

“We all must come to God by His grace in faith, ‘not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us by the washing of regeneration and a renewing of the Holy Spirit’ (Titus 3:5).”
In the wake of Graham's former praise of JPII, this is of course good news. Maybe someone should explain to Graham that the former pope did not trust in Christ alone apart from works of righteousness for his salvation--after all, as I recall it was Mary who opened wide the gates of heaven for him, not Christ. And, we must assume that the former pope affirmed Trent's position on working to increase justification and to merit eternal life. The pope didn't believe that "none are capable to do good enough for the perfect standard of God's righteousness." The pope didn't believe that a man's "goodness does not help [him]." Graham's gospel stands in contradiction to the pope's "gospel." Perhaps if Graham had a clue as to what Roman Catholicism officially believes and teaches, the praise he lavished on the former pope might have been tempered a bit by biblical truth.