Guest commentary by author Debbie Thurman
In defense of Franklin Graham
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[OCT. 19, 2005]
Jesus Christ chose to preach to the people of
his day through parables, many recorded in the New Testament. Some
listeners in the crowds were confused, even though he spoke in
everyday metaphors to illustrate his teachings. Sometimes he gave
crystal-clear admonitions, however. The Pharisees and other Jewish
sects that opposed Jesus chose to take his words out of context and
tried to trip him up. They never succeeded.
Therefore, I am not surprised by the recent moronic twisting of
several simple sentences that the Rev. Franklin Graham spoke at
Super Conference in Liberty University's Vines Center on Oct. 3.
Having read a few laughable media accounts and some even more
laughable letters to the editor, I think someone needs to set the
Here, once again, are the "offensive" words the
Rev. Graham actually spoke in reference to New Orleans and how he
envisioned God working in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
"There's been satanic worship. There's been sexual perversion. God
IS GOING TO USE that storm to bring revival. God has a plan. God has
a purpose." The emphasis is mine.
Simple, direct words whose meaning has been totally perverted by
modern Pharisees. Two statements of fact, whether or not we like
them, followed by simple statements of vision from a godly man who
believes he has been called to fulfill the Great Commission by
taking a "cup of cold water" in Jesus' name to the suffering. And we
should condemn him for that?
In their haste to judge Graham, while at the same time vilifying
him for what they perceived as his own judging, the rabble failed to
note the tense of the verb "is going to use." Graham did not say or
even imply that Katrina was God's judgment for New Orleans' Sodom
and Gomorrah sinfulness. He said he believed God could and would
bring something good out of the disaster. But he's not the popular
and cool Rick Warren, so we don't give him a pass for seeing divine
purpose in tragic events.
It's too bad Franklin Graham has to bear the burden of being
Billy Graham's son. Billy had the good fortune to have been placed
in God's work during a time when the world was much more biblically
literate -- a time prior to the moral free-fall of today. However,
Billy is not the demigod that posterity has made him. He, too, is
just an imperfect man who heeded God's call to evangelism. God has
blessed that work mightily.
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Some think Billy Graham might have been a little mealy-mouthed
about condemning the sin he observed in his day. Does Franklin feel
called to kick that message up a notch? Perhaps one has been more of
a Peter while the other is more of a Paul. Sadly, biblical
illiteracy will cause many to fail to understand that statement.
Regardless of how one views the differences or similarities
between father and son, we have no business condemning Franklin
Graham or his Samaritan's Purse ministry because it offers Gospel
tracts or stuffed lambs that play "Jesus Loves Me" to
hurricane-displaced children, along with other basic assistance.
That such gifts are viewed as offensive is beyond the pale. The love
of Jesus offensive? Has anyone bothered to ask the children?
If that has become the case, then perhaps it is time for Christ
to return to gather his true church and leave the offended heathen
behind. Jesus said, "Whoever receives one such child in my name,
receives me" (Matt. 18:5). It would be instructive to read Jesus'
warning two verses later to whomever "causes one of these little
ones who believe in Me to stumble."
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Luke 14:35).
Debbie Thurman owns Cedar House Publishers in Monroe, Va. She is
a freelance journalist, editor and author of seven books. As a
commentator, she wrote extensively in past years for The North
County Times, San Diego, and The News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.
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