Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Orcas is Beautiful

We arrived on Orcas Island about 4PM yesterday. What a beautiful setting! My sister's house looks across the road to West Harbor. The weather is outstanding. Rich and my brother-in-law are out hiking this a.m. Alex and Nate are chasing rabbits. There are so many rabbits on the property. I am having coffee, being quiet, and now reading through some blogs...

I brought a few books to read with me. I started with "girl meets God" by Lauren Winner. It is a memoir of a Jewish woman that converts to Christianity. Lauren has her degree in the history of American religion. Something she reports in her book, really struck me. She recounts the beginnings of Billy Graham's crusades. Lauren tells the history, "In 1957, Billy Graham held a revival in New York City...He wanted to make sure the local churches were prepared to welcome and support the converts, so...Graham and his people...met with local Christian leaders, helping to prepare New York churches to receive what Graham hoped would be a large influx of New Christians...Graham was Baptist, evangelical, in 1952 he began to reach hundreds of thousands of readers with a newspaper column...and a year before his New York crusade, he founded Christianity Today the country's leading evangelical magazine. His credentials were impeccable.

Graham's work with the local churches in NY sparked a huge controversy: Graham met with fellow evangelicals, he also worked with Catholics, liberalish Presbyterians, and others outside of the orthodox Protestant fold. In today's pluralist climate, such overtures may not sound terribly edgy, but at the time they were radical."

Graham took a lot of heat, writings came out against him, powerful conservative Christians were outraged, and they denounced the rising young evangelist. Bob Jones, John R. Rice and others. "Graham, however, stood his ground, insisting that the fighting, feuding and controversies among God's people...is a very poor example." that "God has people in all his churches," and that "the one badge of Christian discipleship is not orthodoxy, but love."

I have read or seen more of Billy Graham in the last month than in a very long time. I am sure that it is because of all the publicity he got around his last NY meetings...as I watched him interviewed and now reading this, I wonder about a few things we, the 2005 church could learn from him:

He held strong to his beliefs without condemning others (Christians) that held difference in their theology and practice...

He was very "big" he had a gift to be with people from all walks of life and faith, and these people (usually heads of governments) were drawn to him (sort of like Jesus)...

He stood his ground, with love in the midst of being accused of heresy from the very conservative wing of Christians of his time...he was accused of being too nice, too compliant...

He still to this day has impeccable credentials...

I am wondering if Billy Graham's example of inclusiveness is not an accident for those of us today that watch as an amazing cultural shift is taking place in our world...

I wonder if we too, could hold our ground in love...

I wonder if we too, could have people that differ with us be our friends...

I wonder if we too, could be accused of being too nice, too compliant when accused of not having it right...

There is a place for disagreement, there is a place for discussion of disagreements, but what I see written about brothers and sisters in Christ over the blogsphere and not face to face or even email to email, is a very sad commentary for our time...

I read so many backhanded attacks on people that are trying to faithfully live out their service to Christ...it doesn't even seem to be conservatives attacking more liberalish folk (although I see this as well), it seems to be happening in all corners of the church...

I think public critiquing has it's place, but I wonder why it can't be done with much humility and love...

Okay, my rant is over, back to vacation...

4 comments:

Jen said...

Rose, I love this post. Paul and I were just "ranting" recently about how sick we are of everyone saying bad things about everyone else in the Christian world. I am/have been oh so guilty of this, and I am making the resolution to just stop it. Thanks for writing about this.

Robin said...

I love Billy Graham amd I love listening to him. I say and interveiw with him on "Larry King Live" the other day and the thing that impressed me the most is how he kept in balence so well of not Judgeing but firm about sin and morals in the church but balenced it with so much love. He truly loves every individual regardles of their sins.
I think we tend to look at people sometimes by their sins and making that about who they are instead of seeing them for who they are and the giftings they have for humanity...

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Rick Jackson said...

Unfortunately this is revisionist history. Rice defended Graham until Billy went contrary to the plain Word of God. Rice continued to love him and pray for him until his death. With Rice it was always about Biblical principles and not about personalities. But look how people judge Rice without knowing the facts, without getting both sides, by doing so they do exactly what they claim he was doing (which he wasn't). I love Dr. Graham but I love Jesus more and when any of us go against God's Word... we are wrong.