Newsweek Magazine . 14 August 2006. Excerpt from interview with Billy Graham ~ A unifying theme of Graham’s new thinking now is humility. He is sure and certain of his faith in Jesus as the way to salvation, but when asked whether he believes heaven will be closed to good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people, Graham says: “Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won’t … I don’t want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.”
You would think, when a man of Graham’s pedigree made a statement like that, people would lean forward and listen more closely. “This is something to think about…a perspective to contemplate and pray about.” That was, however, not the response.
If you were in the church at that time, you heard the howls of the defenders of the faith. He was labeled a heretic, a universalist and a false teacher. That response prompted my cartoon, posted above. We have curiously morphed from being people of the Good News to doctrinal police and moralists who think they impress God by what they condemn. I suppose the church has done this a lot throughout our long history. It’s something Paul addresses all the way back at the beginning of the church.
In this teaching, we’ll be reading Romans 2:1-16 as we continue our study in that book.
When you read Paul’s warnings, what overall theme emerges to you? Do you think Paul is trying to say there is no right or wrong? What would you consider the best defense against adopting a moralist approach to our Christian faith?