I tried to resist commenting on this sermon by Jack Graham but it is further evidence of how desperately we need biblical reformation in our churches throughout the SBC and beyond that I feel compelled to at least give some quotes from it so that others can see my point. Very often--more times than I can ever hope to remember--I have simply let such uncharitable misrepresentations pass without comment and even without calling attention to them. Several reasons have motivated me to pursue this course of action.
1. Love hopes all things. I want to believe that brothers who misrepresent my beliefs are not doing so intentionally but out of ignorance or fear. When such attacks have been personal they have been easier to simply overlook. But when they are principled or are specifically directed to the truth of God's Word, they have been more difficult to ignore.
2. I find myself in agreement with such critics on many important issues and I do not want to detract from the good that they are doing by calling attention to the bad that they are doing.
3. The misrepresentations have been so frequent and so similarly unthoughtful that to respond to them all would be a full time job--and a repetive one at that! The same old straw men have been passed around by the detractors of the doctrines of grace for centuries. They are so familiar that I can easily express the false accusations as eloquently as those who really believe them.
But, the time has come, I believe to start switching on lights and simply calling attention to the slanderous, Bible twisting caricatures that prominent leaders spew forth about the Gospel of God's grace. I take absolutely no pleasure in doing so. But we need reformation. Desperately. Others are not so sure. Some sort of think that we do but do not think that the need is really that desperate. Maybe by turning on the lights to expose what is being said and practiced in some of the most respected places and churches within the SBC and beyond more people will be convinced that our need is desperately great and will pray and labor more intensely to see the Gospel recovered and local churches reformed according to the Word of God.
So...here is Part 1 of some selected quotes. I will resist the temptation to make extensive comments. What comments I do make will be in bold.
"Some people believe that God's love is selective. And their definition of his love is seen as almost capricious."
"[They believe] that God has chosen only to choose whom He chooses and that doesn't include everyone."
Now this is an unusual way to say it, and perhaps he simply got a little tongue twisted (what preacher has not experienced this!), but who would argue with this statement? Has God not chosen to choose whom He chooses?
"There is a brand of elitist theology that is being taught aggressively today in some seminaries, and Christian universities, some churches and well-known Christian ministries. A brand of arrogant theology that claims that God only loves the elect and that the rest of the world is without a prayer, without a hope without a chance to know this grace of God. And this perverted form and theology, this hyper view of the grace of God is an abuse of Scripture. It is a perversion of the promises of God and it is slanderous to the very nature and character of God. God's sovereignty, God's grace does not diminish his love for all people."
What seminaries? What universities? What churches? What ministries?
"Limited Atonement--the effect of what Christ did on the cross is limited only to the chosen and everyone else is predestined to hell and to judgment."
"I can stand up here and say to you: GOd loves you. every person."
"This past week I led a decision service for our 3rd-6th graders in our Bible school."
"I was able to look at those children and tell them that, 'God loves you. Jesus died for you,' that 'Jesus loves all the little children of the world.' Yet, according to this theological system that is so aggressively taught in some sectors of Christianity today, I would honestly have to look at many of those little boys and girls with their bright eyes and beautiful faces and warm hearts, I would have to look at them and say, 'No! God has chosen you but God may not have chosen you, God loves you but I can't tell you that God loves you. God loves this one but He doesn't love that one. God has chosen and predestined that one to be saved and God has predestined that one to be lost....'"
Who in the world believes that this monstrous picture is a proper way to deal with anyone, especially children? This is simply an emotional ploy that makes no effort to promote understanding at all. It is sad to see men of Dr. Graham's stature construct such straw men, then with great flourish destroy them and pretend he has dealt with something real and significant. It is like watching a little boy break a light bulb and then go around telling people he has extinguished the sun.
"That slanders the character of God. It is an arrogance that verges on blasphemy. The Bible says in the simplest of terms, that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life."
"It [John 3:16] doesn't say that God so loved the elect or God so loved his chosen ones, or God so loved part of the world. But God so loved the world. And you know, we better be careful about adding [to] and subtracting from the Bible and playing little theological games with truth."
"Why don't we just believe the Bible and take God's Word as it is? God loves every person. That's what the Bible teaches." (applause)
"Some teach that God's grace is irresistible. In other words, that you have no choice in the matter of whether you receive Christ or reject Christ. That once the grace of God appears to you it attacks you, and forces you and coerces you to believe. You couldn't say, 'No,' if you wanted to. Because God's grace is irresistible.'"
See my straw men comment above.
"God does not impose His will upon us. Lest God would be a despot a dictator. God has given us in Christ the opportunity and the awesome responsibility to either reject the gospel or receive the gospel."
Folks, it gets worse. I will post some other excerpts in the near future (assuming I have email access while traveling).