All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.— Hebrews 11:13-16 (NIV)
Much has been made this week of Franklin Graham’s comments both about the Ground Zero Mosque and Barack Obama’s religion. It has been more than hilarious to watch all the news networks, newspapers, and pundits try to explain Graham’s comments.
All of those who have been talking about his comments have talked about them from a political point of view.
Franklin Graham could care less. I could care less. What Franklin Graham said is dead on.
Specifically, this week Graham noted that Barack Obama was born a muslim.
“I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name,” Graham told CNN’s John King in a televised interview that aired Thursday night.
Likewise, Graham said if the State Department paid him or another Christian to do outreach, there’d be all sorts of outcry. But, due to double standards, there was no outcry over the State Department putting the Ground Zero mosque imam on the payroll.
Lastly, his words about Islam from last year have come back into focus due to his opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. Last year, he said, in part about Islam, “I speak out for people who live under Islam, who are enslaved under Islam, and I want them to know they can be free by Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.”
First, about Barack Obama’s faith — it is clear when he was enrolled in school in Indonesia his parents listed his faith as Islam. The New York Times, in 2008, buttressed that. One is not born into Islam (Rev. Graham got that point technically wrong), but as Streiff has pointed out, at one time his parents listed his religion as “Islam.”
Barack Obama says he converted to Christianity. Just like Hillary Clinton, we will take him at his word. If he claims he converted and has taken advantage of the gifts of the spirit without a true conversion, that is between him and God. I pity him if his conversion is insincere. “For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:2-3a)
I await calls from the birthers for the baptismal certificate.
In any event, it is beside the point. Franklin Graham does not speak as a man of the political world, but a man of faith. His view, and mine, is a reliance, by faith, on the Hope of ages past and yet to come — that is Christ against the world.
We live by faith as pilgrims in an alien world headed home to eternity. There are too many people in this world who, when confronted with questions of faith, opt for the polite answer instead of the real answer.
By faith and history, Franklin Graham understands that there is only one way, one Truth, and one life. No one goes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. No one.
That is what our faith teaches us. Shame on the media for dwelling more on Franklin Graham’s words than on the imam of the Ground Zero Mosque. But there is a reason for that too.
The political elites in this world view Islam as, frankly, primitive. “Well of course those crazy guys would believe in something like Sharia,” think the secular political elites. After all, they are several hundred years behind Christianity. Christians have evolved — go to any Episcopalian church and you’ll see a gay priest, a female priest, or what have you.
Christians like Graham, and me, are viewed with the same suspicion as muslim clerics who defend their faith, but Graham and you and me will be questioned because, after all, Christianity is supposed to be more evolved. Therefore, for us to hold true to our faith means there must be something wrong with us individually, not with the religion. (This, of course, is at a superficial level. Theologically, and I’m not going to explore the depths of this here, it is because the world persecutes Christians because the world is against Christ.)
The problem, of course, is the Truth does not change. Our convictions remain. Christ remains.
By faith we believe, we persevere, and we know that there will be a last day and a final judgment. On that day we who persevere win because Christ wins against this world. It is that simple. It is that offensive. It is precisely that which our secular media and political elites do not understand and cannot grasp. That is why they dwell on Franklin Graham and the political impact of his words. These people live for the now.
Franklin Graham and all those who follow Christ live for eternity.