I normally do not write about controversial issues. But in this case, I feel I must. When you read this, I pray you might understand why, and the spirit in which I write.
A number of churches in the greater Vancouver area had made the decision to have Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, come to Vancouver to conduct an evangelistic rally. Evangelistic “crusades” were once quite common place, and they provided a wide public forum for the gospel. These events usually accomplished a number of functions. They won a number of non-believers to faith in Jesus. They tended to make the message of the gospel widely known. And they tended to unify the church.
Sadly, a number of churches have joined together to publicly express their rejection of the Franklin Graham crusade. According to these churches, which include everything from the United Church, to Baptists and the Alliance, Franklin Graham is a poor representative to the gospel. His statements regarding Muslims, homosexuals and others in the LBGTQ community seem unacceptable to them.
I am, in this blog, choosing not to respond to the complaint. Others have responded far more effectively than I am able, and for that reason, I will not express my thoughts. I do know that some of those who oppose Graham’s coming, do so because of their liberal Christian stance. They hold a different view of the Bible than I would. But others say that while they hold a biblical view of the matters in question, believe the way in which Graham has expressed himself is too harsh and not demonstrating the love of Christ. But for the sake of this article, I direct my comments toward those who would be considered in the evangelical camp.
When King David received the news that Saul had died, his response is instructive to all who would consider a time such as this. The Bible tells us that he constructed a lament for Saul and for his son Jonathan. “He said: ‘Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.’” (2 Samuel 1:19-20)
While David and Saul certainly had their differences, David’s response to Saul’s death was certain. His loyalty was fully engaged with the people of God. He would not publish Saul’s misdeeds where the name of the God of Israel was not worshipped and adored.
The principle is clear. God’s Bible believing people belong together. When there is a dispute among us, the very last place we should go is before the unbelieving world, lest, as David says, “the daughters of the Philistines should rejoice.” We ought to be known for our solidarity. Yes there are times when we will disagree, but to do so by publishing the disagreement in the Vancouver Sun, seems completely akin to publishing the news in Gath and Ashkelon.
The media seems intent on reporting both conflict and controversy. I know of one Christian leader in the U.S. who was recently cancelled on CNN because his views were not as extreme as the media would like. By openly publishing a letter, we give the impression of a deeply divided Christian community. Furthermore, we also give the impression that the Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics and the unique saving message of Jesus is not clear at all. That will be the takeaway. And in the end, it will harm our efforts to reach the lost.