Two men, both held in high regard by the world, one held in high regard by God. ◊
I read a recent article by political pundit, George Will, written after the death of 99-year-old evangelist Billy Graham. Clearly George Will was not a Billy Graham fan nor, as many have known for years, is the political pundit a fan of Christianity, as he is a self-described atheist. Actually, in a 2014 interview he referred to himself as an “amiable, low-voltage atheist.”
We listen to or read various TV or media pundits because they are right there before us. They are stars on TV news shows with a panel of pundits or their written articles are in editorial pages or magazines. They are promoted by an elite media class that propel these media figures consistently into our lives via television, the internet, or the written press.
Many might think these people are smarter because they are on TV or in the mass media when they are actually only people like all of us. They just happen to have made their way into a small crowd of people who have tremendous exposure and influence.
George Will actually looks smart with his bookish glasses. One politician quipped, “Take away the glasses, he looks like a dumb guy.” But George Will really is smart and erudite and writes about a lot of things like politics and baseball.
Regardless of his smart looks or intelligence, I believe he’s petty and small in his article and off base as well in his atheism. But of course, he’s free to have his own opinion. Here’s his take on religion in an interview with RealClearReligion:
I’m an atheist. An agnostic is someone who is not sure; I’m pretty sure. I see no evidence of God. The basic question in life is not, “Is there a God,” but “Why does anything exist?” St. Thomas Aquinas said that there must be a first cause for everything, and we call the first cause God. Fine, but it just has no hold on me.
I’m saddened that his opinion is not unlike many non-believers today, young and old alike.
Graham’s Simple Gospel
In contrast, Billy Graham was an American evangelist since the 1940’s. He preached to over 215 million in 185 countries over six decades. While raised in a Christian home (as was George Will whose father was a Presbyterian minister), Graham experienced his calling into evangelistic ministry shortly after graduating from Wheaton College.
Graham fully believed in the Bible as the infallible Word of God. His sermon message delivered in churches and later at his massive crusade events before thousands was simple and hopeful. His gospel message was encapsulated in the popular Bible verses found in the Book of John:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)
The simple message of eternal salvation through belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb of God whose death atones for God’s judgment against all of mankind, and therefore each one of us, was delivered with such passion, fervor, and conviction, that millions came forward each evening to publicly acknowledge their being “born again.”
A Word for Will
I know many people like George Will. They are very well-educated and accomplished producers in society. They have big hearts and good intentions. But they have a hangup with the Bible or with God or with both. They can’t rationalize a broken world around them and a so-called loving God. They also have a self-focused perspective on the universe and put their faith in themselves and mankind.
While they take particular issue with the Bible, when pressed they will reveal a superficial understanding of Biblical history and Christian apologetics not too far beyond what they learned in Sunday School or catechism in their youth.
Here below is a challenging text from the Bible’s New Testament Book of Romans. Given the chance, I would ask them to read and review the context and authorship, and give their own personal accounting and response. And saying they don’t believe the Bible is not a legitimate response. It’s like me saying I don’t believe in Mien Kampf. I don’t agree with it but I can discuss it.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:16-20)
I would imagine Mr. Will would have a clever response involving his unwillingness to delve into that which he holds no belief or for a matter which “just has no hold for me.” Unfortunate for him given God’s position in John 3.
Will would do better to go back and listen to the archived sermons of the truly humble and wise Billy Graham.
Do you honor man or God?
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. – Romans 1:21-23