Evangelism Media Newspaper/Magazine Articles

UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES & WRITING TO THE GUARDIAN – EN Article

This months EN article….

1 Chronicles 12:32 is a fascinating verse. It speaks of ‘men who understood the times and knew what to do’. In an age of confusion it’s clearly something that we need today. The devil’s tactic as the father of lies is to sow discord, create confusion and magnify division. It appears that he is having a field day over the Franklin Graham visit.

Figure Image
photo: iStock

The basic facts by now are well known. Franklin Graham had decided to come to the UK for a tour this year and had booked major venues in cities throughout the country. As the result of campaigns by LGBT groups aided and abetted by some in the church, including the Bishop of Sheffield and Colin Kerr, a Church of Scotland minister – all of the original venues have now cancelled their bookings. Franklin Graham still intends to come and it may be that the publicity will have done him no harm.

Evangelicalism Divided

The second most disturbing aspect of this story is the division that it has once again shown up in evangelicalism in the UK. There are those who are opposed to Graham coming because they do not think the methodology of big stadium event evangelism is appropriate for today’s UK. It is expensive and largely ineffective. And it runs the danger of taking away from the bread and butter of everyday church-based evangelism. But I would hope that those who, like me, have these reservations nonetheless have the grace to hope and pray that we are wrong – and also to understand the times and realise that there are wider issues involved here.

Then there are those who fully support Graham coming – viewing him as having an almost prophet-like status or, at the very least, having inherited the mantle of his father. To these brothers and sisters any criticism of Graham or his methodology is seen as tantamount to questioning the work of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, there are those who are opposed to Graham coming, largely on tactical and political grounds. This for them is the major issue – and anything that stops him coming is to be welcomed.

Writing the Guardian

Which is why, it was with great sorrow, that I read a letter in The Guardian from 15 evangelicals stating their opposition to the tour because:

We find it hard to reconcile his public and partisan statements on such issues as immigration, poverty, gun control and Israel with our understanding of the teaching and values of Jesus Christ.’

Although these brothers and sisters expressed their view that Graham should not be banned, they nonetheless expressed the hope that he would cancel the tour.

Why is this so disturbing? The Guardian is a secular newspaper with a history of anti-evangelicalism. Why write to them? This is a letter that they would of course weaponise. But, worse than that, the letter mentioned all the buzz issues for Guardian readers (Israel, immigration, gun control, poverty) yet left out the two main issues that have been cited for his ban – homosexuality and Islam. There was a certain straining at gnats and swallowing camels. I’m afraid that the letter fell into the world’s trap and one that The Guardian loves to use – conquer and divide.

Some say its good for us to get into the secular press and show that we don’t all agree. I don’t agree. Getting into the press to join the mob calling for a gospel preacher (which despite his flaws, Graham is) is not prophetic ministry – nor is it being salt and light. It just reinforces the view that the world has of Christians as being as divided and tribalistic as they are.

But the main problem with all of these views is that they miss out the key issue here – which is not Graham’s methodology or even the way he presents the gospel, or his politics. It is the reasons given for the ban.

In Glasgow the SEC cancelled their booking after pressure from Glasgow City Council – whose leader Susan Aitken gave as her reason that having Graham preach in Glasgow might be breaking the law. All the other venues spoke of their ‘values’ not permitting them to have Graham. They were referring primarily to two things – his criticism of both Islam and homosexuality. A precedent has been set. In future, the LGBT social-media mobs know that all they have to do to stop any church using a public venue is play the ‘equalities’ card and they’ll get us banned. It will soon be illegal to proclaim the gospel in a publicly-owned building.

This is not just about Graham. Destiny Church in Edinburgh lost their booking in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall for the same reason. I know of at least two other evangelical churches that have been impacted by this (and I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg). One is having their building lease revoked (because it doesn’t reflect the owners’ ‘values’) and another is facing a campaign against being allowed to erect their own building.

It’s easy to write to The Guardian and reflect the political views of its readers. It’s easy to appeal to your own Christian tribe. What’s not so easy is to stand by brothers and sisters who you may disagree with, but whose freedom to preach you want to defend. But if we don’t, then one day it will be us that are banned – and who will speak for us?

The cancellation of Franklin Graham’s tour events is a seminal moment for the UK

The Death of Beauty – EN Article

8 comments

  1. Please don’t misunderstand me when I say I take comfort in ‘evangelicals’ speaking against the Franklin Graham events. I believe it is symptomatic of what the Lord is doing to expose those within the evangelical tent who hold more to personal partisan prejudices than they do to the need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached ‘every which way’. There has been a a ‘Gideon’s army’ pruning going on for some years now and this situation is yet another example of ‘the plumb line of righteousness’ (cf Amos 7:8) https://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/264733/Christians_Together_in/Survival_Kit/I_will_set.aspx

  2. Perhaps not directly relevant, as they come from a different situation, but the words that came to mind as I read , were those of Martin Niemöller:

    “First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.”

  3. Sound advice, David. Somebody quite important to us said, “By this all men shall know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

  4. It’s remarkable that, on these 2 subjects, not many are referring to the words of Jesus:

    * “No-one comes to the Father except by me.” Both Christianity and Islam make clear exclusive claims for themselves, that cannot be reconciled by either side
    * “From the beginning, God created them male and female.” “For this reason, a man shall leave his parents and be joined to his wife.” And other passages that make it clear that sexual activity is only acceptable within the context of marriage – a man and his wife.

    You are either following Jesus’ teachings or you aren’t.

    And if Christ is coming back and judging the world, I wonder how he will feel about all this?

  5. Shared this on my blog with this intro: ‘In my humble opinion this by David Robertson is essential reading for ALL who claim to follow Jesus Christ, and especially for church leaders… ‘

    A reader kindly queried my use of ‘claim’ and suggested I reconsider that term. I replied,

    “I use ‘claim’ deliberately in order to make readers stop and think! It’s not about the particular issues behind this controversial ban upon preaching the Good News, but essentially about whether or not every follower (ie. me and you too) is keeping Jesus as Lord of EVERY part of our lives – if He’s not Lord of ALL then He’s not Lord at all.

    “My personal focus is to try meeting His triple insistence in John 14 of obedience as a demonstration of loving Him (vv 15, 21, 23). Next, is to avoid judging my brethren.”

  6. …a letter in The Guardian from 15 evangelicals stating their opposition to the tour…

    Did they forget about 1 Corinthians 6:1? “Suppose one of you wants to bring a charge against another believer. Should you take it to ungodly people to be judged? Why not take it to the Lord’s people?”

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