Tragedy of Compromise
the Sawdust Trail
with the Pope
close relationship with the Roman Catholic Church has indeed
been a puzzle to many. The Roman Church teaches salvation
by baptism, the necessity of good works to earn heaven,
the repetition of Christ's sacrifice upon the altars of
the church, the impossibility of knowing that one is going
to heaven, the necessity of venerating the virgin Mary,
and countless other heresies. In spite of this, Graham,
when ministering in Poland, preached in Roman Catholic churches
and was received warmly by their leaders. One Roman Catholic
leader hailed Graham as typical of evangelicals with whom
the Catholic church can have "fruitful dialogue."40
The executive vice president of Belmont Abbey College, a
Roman Catholic school that bestowed an honorary doctorate
upon Billy Graham, gave his opinion of the evangelist's
ministry: "Knowing the tremendous influence of Billy
Graham among Protestants, and now the realization and acknowledgment
among Catholics of his devout and sincere appeal to the
teachings of Christ which he alone preaches, I would state
that he could bring Catholics and Protestants together in
a healthy ecumenical spirit . . . . Billy Graham is preaching a
moral and evangelical theology most acceptable to Catholics."41
would think that an evangelist, one specializing in the
"evangel," the gospel, would call men away from
worthless idols and systems of error into the light of New
Testament truth. An evangelist is to point lost and groping
men to the clear way of salvation. This way of salvation
is not found within the Roman Catholic Church. Yet the evangelist
continues to populate Catholic churches with his converts.
confused Romanist [in the 1960s] wrote to Dr. Graham
expressing his concern over the fact that "many
of the old confidences are being shaken," and he
asked the evangelist: "Where will it all stop?"
Dr. Graham replied to him through the "Billy Graham
Answers" column of the Chattanooga Free Press,
and said, "Your church is going through turbulence
which both lay and clergy forces are bringing about . . . .
of worship may change, but the sincerity of our devotion
need not be altered . . . .
all donít pull out of the church! Stay in, stay close
to the Lord, and use these experiences as an opportunity
to help your church be what God intends and what the
what scriptural ground can a gospel evangelist tell a believer
in Christ to remain in an apostate church that denies the
very truths he is trying to preach? How tragic! How heart-rending
that a man who should know better would give such advice
as this! "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good
evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter" (Isa.
5:20). If one who is seeking to lead men and women into
the light cannot distinguish the light from the darkness,
how confused his leadership will be!
the testimony of one who took the advice of the evangelist
to his own spiritual detriment. He was saved in the Graham
crusade in New York City. He told the counselor who dealt
with him that he belonged to the Roman Catholic Church.
Only fourteen years old at the time, he listened intently
to Dr. Graham as he gave instructions to those who had come
forward at the conclusion of the service. They were told
to go back to the church from which they had come. "Since
Billy Graham sent me to the Catholic Church I was under
the impression that this was the right church . . . . What did
I gain from the Billy Graham Crusade? I gained about one
year and a half in darkness and ignorance of the Bible because
Billy Graham sent me to the Catholic Church."43
to the Liberals
policy of referring converts to liberal churches was defended
by W. R. White who was then President of Baylor University
in Texas. He declared it to be a healthy practice because
"new converts with a genuine experience of grace are
planted in those liberal churches as a New Testament witness . . . . Furthermore,
Christ, Paul, and all the great evangelists followed a similar
To read such a false statement as this from a Christian
leader is breathtaking. How could a Baptist preacher, professing
to believe in the Baptist distinctive of regenerate church
membership, ever for one moment defend the practice of sending
converts to churches that do not practice regenerate church
membership? One does not join a church in order to evangelize
its members. One joins a church in order to worship God
with other true believers, to be taught the correct doctrines
of Scripture, and then to go forth to evangelize the lost.
has taken its toll. In the early days of Graham's compromises,
there was considerable opposition among fundamentalists
and even those who had been his closest friends. Now, however,
vocal and public opposition to him has decreased to a mere
murmur. Even those who state that they do not agree with
him nevertheless tend to keep silent on the issue for fear
of disturbing their congregations or being thought of as
"fighting fundamentalists." "They have healed
also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying,
Peace, peace; when there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14).
But peace cannot be purchased at the price of the compromise
of truth. It is too high a price to pay.
question naturally arises: "If Graham is not a liberal
himself, why do liberals support his crusades?" One
obvious reason is the fact that Graham does not denounce
liberalism as most of the old-time evangelists did. He steadfastly
refuses to expose the errors of the apostates but rather
applauds them and honors them as worthy spiritual guides.
Possibly one of the most succinct answers to our question
was given by a leading British liberal, Leslie Weatherhead,
who was at the time pastor of City Temple in London, England.
do not personally agree with some of Billy Graham's
theology . . . but I certainly accept the value of Billy Graham's
witness and I note two things about him. He does not
thrust his theological views on another person, and
secondly, though in all denominations Ministers have
published criticisms of him, he has never once, to my
knowledge, lifted his voice or pen to tell us that in
his nostrils our theology stinks . . . . I should have thought
that any Minister who preaches to small congregations
might rejoice that Billy Graham is helping to fill our
churches for us. We can teach people theology when we
have got somebody to teach.45
he is saying, "Billy Graham can get people into my
church with his evangelical theology, and then I will proceed
to teach them my liberal theology." A great tradeoff,
is it not? Liberal theology is so bereft of power it cannot
fill churches; so it will feed off the evangelical theology
that does fill churches.
same spirit of compromise initiated and promoted by Billy
Graham now is pervasive among evangelical churches everywhere.
Do whatever you must do to get crowds, to fill the churches.
It is religious pragmatism run amuck. It is the "theology
of the convenient."
The Tradedy of Compromise. ByErnest Pickering. ©1994. BJU Press.
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