Franklin Graham is a son of the famous Christian evangelist Billy Graham; and Franklin now heads the evangelistic organization founded by his father. I don’t know that Franklin has the approval rating that Billy had/has, but he is widely admired among evangelical Christians.
But when I read statements made by this ‘evangelist’ (Franklin), what I see is an ignorant fool unworthy of anyone’s respect. According to an article in a Christian newsletter, Franklin has recently continued his vitriolic outbursts against Islam, saying “Islam is a religion of war”; and the article has this statement: “I have not changed my opinion at all.” He said he looked at Islamic State, at the Taliban and Boko Haram and thought: “This is Islam. It has not been hijacked by radicals. This is the faith, this is the religion. It is what it is. It speaks for itself.”
Doesn’t this idiot realize that such statements can be reversed, and made into accusations against the ‘evils’ of Christianity?? If Islam can be accused of being a “religion of war”, how much more can this charge be brought against Franklin Graham’s religion! Someone who hates Christianity could easily paraphrase the quoted statement by saying: “I have not changed my opinion at all. I look at the Christian persecutions of ‘heretics’, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Ku Klux Klan (which claims to be ‘Christian’ and uses Christian imagery), Christian support for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, Christian rejoicing at the “Israeli” massacres of Palestinians, and Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas; and I think: This is Christianity. It has not been hijacked by radicals. This is the faith, this is the religion. It is what it is. It speaks for itself.”
Can’t one find quotations from the ‘Christian Scriptures’ (the ‘New Testament’ of the Bible) which can be used to support the idea that Christianity is violent, and “Jesus” was a militant rabble-rouser? Don’t mockers of Christianity frequently refer to the ‘infamous’ statement attributed to “Jesus Christ” where he said that he didn’t come to bring peace, but rather a sword? He spoke of members of families being divided against each other because of what he taught. Naturally, when this statement is examined in its context, it can be seen that “Jesus” was not calling upon his followers to start using violent methods against unbelievers; rather he was saying the opposite: that unbelievers would persecute and violently attack his followers, and even members of their own families would turn against them. But we won’t allow Christians to appeal to context, as long as they refuse to acknowledge the context of ‘violent’ verses of the Qur’an.
The same is true for some of the statements of the apostle Paul. He exhorted to “fight the good fight of faith”, and commented that he himself had “fought the good fight”. He exhorted to “put on the whole armor of God”. Again, such quotes can easily be shown to have meanings quite contrary to what I am implying – if one allows the context to interpret the statements. However, Christians like Franklin Graham reject context from the cherry-picked ‘violent’ quotes of the Qur’an and ‘hadith’; so we won’t allow context to enter the picture with regard to such cherry-picked quotations from the Bible either!
Quoting again from the newsletter article: He said he was “sad” that Muslims in the Washington cathedral had “turned their back on the Cross” to worship “another God”. Graham said: “The God of Islam is not the same God of the Judaeo-Christian faith. “The God that we worship in Christianity is a God that has a Son. To Islam, that is blasphemy, to say that God has a son. Therefore, they do not worship the God that we worship.”
Well excuse my ignorance, but I wasn’t aware that the “Judaeo” God had a Son! I don’t know of any religious Jew who accepts the ‘Trinitarian’ teaching of ‘orthodox’ Christianity, and believes that “Jesus Christ” is “the Son of God”! To say that God has a Son is as much blasphemy in Judaism as it is in Islam. In fact, it is more so in Judaism, inasmuch as Islam – while denying the “Sonship” of Jesus Christ – wholeheartedly believes in the Prophethood of Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, the miracles he is said to have performed, that he is the “Christ/Messiah”, and that he is “among the greatest” of God’s Prophets. Islam also believes in the future “second coming” of Jesus Christ. Judaism denies all of these things.
So I wonder why Franklin Graham isn’t proclaiming that the Jewish God is not the same as the Christian God! Why doesn’t he say that Judaism is an evil religion (and a “religion of war” too, as anyone can see who has read the ‘Old Testament’)? But if he said such things, he would be labeled an ‘anti-Semite’, wouldn’t he? He would be ‘hated of all men”! It’s beside the point that he would be far closer to the teachings of the “Son of God” he claims to worship!
Here’s one more quotation from the article: He added: “I think it is very important that we do all that we can to try to share God’s love with Muslims because they have no hope outside of dying in Jihad. I want them to know, you do not have to die for God. God died for us. He sent His Son to die for us. We do not have to kill ourselves to please God. I want them to know that they can have eternal life.”
Again I say that Franklin Graham is an ignorant fool, who ‘glories’ in his ignorance and foolishness. Muslims most certainly do not believe that they have to kill themselves or die “in Jihad” in order to earn God’s favor and go to heaven when they die! They certainly believe that Muslims who are killed while struggling in God’s cause will be welcomed into ‘paradise’; but that is the same as Christians believe about Christian ‘martyrs’. It does not mean, though, that Muslims who have not had the ‘honor’ to give their lives in God’s cause are “without hope”! What nonsense this idiot spouts! Muslims certainly know that they “can have eternal life” – although they don’t see the need to have someone else “die for their sins” in order to have that eternal life.
Muslims are quite aware that their Qur’an teaches: For the [Muslim] believers, the Jews, the Sabians, and the Christians – those who believe in God and the Last Day and do good deeds – there is no fear; they will not grieve (5:69). They also know that the Qur’an frequently points out that God is “most merciful, most gracious”, and that any ‘sinner’ who turns from the evil of his ways and pursues faith in God and good deeds will be forgiven for the previous ‘sins’ and granted his ‘reward’ in ‘paradise’. But Franklin Graham does not know this, because he doesn’t want to know it; he glories in ignorance.
But again, does Mr. Graham believe that Jews will accept his teaching that “God died for us. He sent His Son to die for us”? Such a statement is blasphemy to a Jew, and one reason religious Jews hate Christianity. Why isn’t Franklin castigating Judaism? (It’s also simply absurd, by definition, to assert that “God died for us”. By definition, God is ‘immortal’ and can’t die! In the Christian narrative of the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion, it was “the man Christ Jesus” – not “the God Christ Jesus” – who died. True, Christianity asserts that Jesus was ‘fully God’ as well as being ‘fully man’; but he was man in order to experience death. He could not die as “God”. Those who accuse Jews of “Deicide” because of their inciting the murder of Jesus Christ are speaking an absurdity.)
Franklin Graham urged Christians to attempt to convert Muslims to their own faith. That, of course, is fine – so long as they don’t attempt to ‘convert by the sword’ as ‘organized Christianity’ has done in the past. They should also, however, learn about what Islam truly teaches before they attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity. That way they perhaps won’t insult Muslims by making the kind of ridiculous statements that Mr. Graham has made; and Muslims might at least be more willing to carry on conversations with them.