ONE OF AMERICA'S LEADING
EVANGELISTS TODAY ?
This is an open letter which was delivered to Mr. Graham March 24, 1951,—during
"Greater Fort Worth Evangelistic Crusade" held in Fort Worth, Texas.
Dear Brother Graham:
First, I should like to assure you that I thank God for, and believe and earnestly contend for, every blessed truth that you preach as "fundamental" to salvation, such as Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:19-24; Titus 3:5, etc. I rejoice over every soul that has been truly brought to Jesus Christ by the gospel in your meetings, and has thereby found rest and peace in this restless and feverish world. May God help us who know the matchless and all-sufficient grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be more and more alert to our responsibilities and opportunities to preach the soul-winning gospel, bearing in mind that "GOD giveth the increase". 1 Corinthians 3:7.
But, Billy, the Word of God has a great deal more to say about our walk as believers than it does about our speaking to the lost concerning their need of salvation, though both are important. For instance, you know as I do that Paul's epistles were written
primarily to instruct the members of "the body of Christ" how to walk pleasing to God. We read in 2 Tim. 3:16-17 that, "All scripture is profitable" to us Christians to "thoroughly furnish" us "unto all good works". Why? ? Because God has plainly said, "The just shall live by faith . . . faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God ... Whatsoever is not of faith (the Word of God) is sin! .. . and without faith it is impossible to please God". Rom. 1:17; 10:17; 14:23; Heb. 11:6. In other words, Billy, if we want to please Almighty God, we believers must walk by the Word of faith; we must not only talk like we are saved, but we must walk like it too. God says, "Mark them which walk!" Phil. 3-17. Any crowd of infidels can talk like they are together, but only Christians subject to the Word can walk in unity!
We are forbidden to act like this warring, scrapping, divided, selfish, and self-seeking world, while we are commanded over and over again to demonstrate that we really are members of the One true Church, "the body of Christ". (1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 1:22-23; Acts 2:47). I am positively convinced, Billy, that your popularity hinges on the disgraceful fact that you have utterly ignored this all-important phase of our Christian life—the need of oneness in our walk—a need so necessary to our testimony before a Christ-rejecting world that the Lord prayed about it in Gethsemane before taking the long, bloody road to Calvary. Read John 17:11-23. But, as if that were not enough, you have not only failed to set the example of "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit" of Eph. 4:1-5, but you are giving your strength to our common Enemy to actually help divide and separate these members of "the body of Christ" in their walk!
For example, in your message on "three judgments" entitled "Casey At the Bat", you spoke at large on the judgment of 1 Cor. 3:12-15, when Christians will receive the things done in the body, "whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10). After the message and invitation, those who went into the "prayer room" were instructed by Grady Wilson, associate evangelist, to "study the Bible daily,
pray much, and join the church of your choice". You have also advised Christians several times during the campaign to "get into some church and go to work". (You would much rather advise them to join a local congregation of the Southern Baptists—of which you are a member—but you wouldn't dare. Your political, back-slapping, campaign policy of fraternizing with most of the sects in town won't allow it.) Billy, God has specifically told Christians to "mark them which cause divisions . . . and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly: and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simpler" See Romans 16:17-18!! Because of this command, obedient Christians will mark you, as well as every sectarian preacher in this town.
As I tried to point out to you at the Loring Hotel (when you walked off and left another brother in Christ and me standing in the lobby), in 1 Cor. 3:1-3 the Apostle Paul severely rebuked the Christians in Corinth for being carnal, and told them they were carnal because they were divided. Every one of them said: "I am of Paul", or "I am of Apollos", "I am of Cephas", I Cor. 1:12; 3:3-4. The parallel today is, "I'm a Baptist", "I'm a Methodist", or "I'm a Lutheran", etc. By your turning new "converts" over to these and other religious organizations, you are helping to promote the same kind of carnality among believers that characterized Christians in Corinth. Such carnality can only result in more "wood, hay and stubble", both for you and for them, or don't you really care what rewards other Christians will receive? God help you to see this truth, Billy. I tell you these things out of love for your soul, and because I honestly desire to bring glory only to the altogether wonderful and glorious Name of our risen Lord. Divisions among Christians can only make Christ the laughing stock of this already divided, pleasure-mad world.
While preaching on the judgment for Christians, you built a pretty hot fire under gambling, loose living, corrupt politics, vice, etc. Why did you stop with those sins? In not having the courage to expose the sin and divisions among Christians, you disobeyed God as did Saul in 1 Samuel 15:1-23, when he was commanded to "utterly destroy" the Amalekites (a type of the flesh today). He was told to leave nothing. Saul thought he could decide for himself what should be destroyed and what should be saved. And so in verse 9 of this chapter, we read that he destroyed everything that was "vile and refuse", but he spared the rest. You spoke vehemently against dancing, immorality, drinking, etc.—sins that are obviously "vile and refuse"—but like Saul, you spared the sword against what you deemed a "good" thing, namely, "division among Christians". This sin of division is listed (along with other sins of the flesh) in Gal. 5:19-20 as "heresies", which means "party spirit" or "to choose", and is sandwiched between . . . "adultery . . . and drunkenness". Experience has helped to educate you to see that you can not afford to speak against the sin of "heresy" or "sectarianism" (both words mean exactly the same—comp. Acts 24:5 with 24:14) as you do drinking, because raising your voice against only choice sins is absolutely essential to your personal $ucce$$ as an evangelist!
After the "new converts" filed into the "prayer room". the "personal workers" had cards filled out on which they indicated the individual's "church preference". Can any but shallow minded or deceived Christians believe that you are "God's man" when (as you told me you do) you turn young and untaught Christians over to such "works-for-salvation" sects as:
1. The so-called "Church of Christ"— which teaches water baptism and perseverance (hold on faithful until you die) for salvation.
2. The so-called "Lutheran Church"— which teaches (in spite of your protest) that "water baptism works forgiveness of sins,
delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this . . ." See "Luther's Smaller Catechism."
3. The so-called "Assembly of God"— with its wind-and-fire "tongues" movement, which teaches "healing in the atonement", and perseverance for final salvation.
4. The so-called "Christian Church"— which teaches that water baptism is essential for salvation, and the absolute need for
perseverance for entrance into heaven.
In keeping with the individual's own personal "church preference", the remaining "converts" were sent to other religious organizations in Fort Worth. You say you must do this because you are called to be an evangelist, not a pastor. But what shepherd that really loves lost sheep will go into the mountains, find them, bring them back, then turn them over to "wolves in sheep's clothing"? Read Isaiah 56:9-12 for an accurate and vivid portrait of modern day wolves, i.e. hireling preachers.
Thus you encourage those whom God has commanded to "be of one mind" and have "no divisions" to be divided and to start speaking "different things" just as soon as they are "born again". Honestly, Billy, what kind of a conscience do you have, anyway! Did not Christ pray in the garden, "Father, I pray that they (the believers) might be one . . . as we are . . . that the world (unsaved) may believe . . . "? This kind of unity is not just spiritual. Christ prayed for an outward demonstration of unity that the unsaved can see—a unity of walk as well as talk, that will convince the ungodly that His commandments are workable after all.
Billy, you pound the pulpit and make a great show of courage, but you are like a bird caught in a gilded cage as you flap your evangelical wings (clipped by the General Ministers Association) against the bars of public opinion. For example, you will recall that at the end of the 65th Annual General Baptist Convention, on the night of November 9, a young man asked you two questions:
1. "Billy, can you give me any scripture to prove that you should be a Baptist?" Busy signing autographs, you looked up long enough to. say, "Sure, I can give you plenty of them". He replied, "Well, give me just one". This you refused to answer. He asked again:
2. "Well, Billy, since you won't answer that would you mind telling, me if the Church which Christ is building is the Baptist Church?" Hesitating for a moment, you said, "This is no place to answer that question". No, Billy, it really wasn't the place (for you) because you knew that the house was seething with nearly every sect in Fort Worth. You couldn't afford to give a simple "yes" or "no" answer, for the personal convictions of your admiring public had shut your mouth on that subject. You know that their displeasure would lessen your popularity. The ruggedly uncompromising, battle-scarred Apostle Paul wrote " . . . For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ". Gal. 1:10. You cannot please God and man, Billy. Peter wrote: "Be ready always to give an answer to every man . . . " but you weren't ready, and you won't be until you are first ready to "preach the whole counsel of God" and thus free yourself of the blood of men and women before whom you now compromise the truth—Acts 20:26,27. God help you to "obey", Billy, which is better than being `"a "Big" ( ? ) evangelist.
In the book "Revival In Our Time", Mel Larson writes on Page 24, "If two words could describe him (Billy Graham) they would be 'sincerity and humility'. Any time people tend to praise him for anything, he says 'This has been God's doing. He deserves all the
praise' ". Those are "good words", Billy, but was it your humility and willingness to give our Lord all the credit for your success as an evangelist that caused you to modestly ( ?) accept an honorary "Doctor of Divinity" from Percy Crawford, President of King's College, and several other such honorary titles from other institutions ? Can you imagine the mighty Apostle Paul allowing anyone to pin a "Doctor of Deity" —or "Reverend" ("Holy and Reverend is —His Name". Psalm 111:9) on him for being a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ? Did Peter, James or John, Timothy or Titus, or any of the rest of the faithful evangelists of the first century (during which time the gospel was preached throughout the whole world—Col. 1:6,23) ever accept any honor from any man? But you did allow titles to be conferred on you. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 5:44, "How can ye believe which receive honor one from another, and seek not that honor that cometh from God only?"
Your willingness to be greater than was our Lord when He was here on earth is truly alarming. Christ said, "The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me they will also persecute you . . ." John 15:20. Though He spoke "As never man spake", though He was the fountainhead of all truth and wisdom, and though He performed astounding miracles, and even raised the dead, "He was despised and rejected of men ... Do you honestly believe that any yielded and humble servant of the Lord will be treated any differently today? Consider the life of suffering and rejection of the Apostle Paul. Surely you can't believe that your popularity and phenomenal rise to fame as an international figure came because people love the truth today more than they did when Paul was preaching.
"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." Luke 6:26.
"Yea, and all they that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:5 "In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, . . . having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away". That "form of godliness" can not possibly mean more drinking, more gambling, more vice, more insane asylums, Communism, worldly pleasures, etc. It means more "religion", more lip service, more professors of the truth who do not know the Lord or who refuse to walk according to the Lord's Word. Surely one of the master strokes of Satan in this mid-century has been to lead the vast majority of the so-called "evangelical world" ( ?) to believe that the "religious" stir in this country and abroad is the tidal wave of a "sweeping revival". No prophecy is given in the Word of God concerning a revival in these days. But we do find—"As the days of Noah were ... !"
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you".
(Signed) Bob Thompson
We who are distributing this letter belong to nothing a man can join or sustain. We meet together in the sufficiency and simplicity of Jesus Christ. We have no intention of advocating "a new movement" to compete with the proud, greedy, money-making bulwark of organized religion. That is not the Christian's calling. See Eph. 4:1-5. We do desire to meet and have fellowship with any and all who love Jesus Christ. Write us. We have free nonsectarian Bible studies that honor only our Lord Jesus Christ.
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