Pastor: When Something Doesn't Sound Right
- Monday, July 05, 2010
"We appreciate your inquiry concerning a quote attributed to Mr. Graham. Unfortunately, though we hear this question from time to time, we do not have any further information confirming that Mr. Graham ever claimed that a high percentage of church members (as much as 85%) are not saved."
"We would suppose that some denominations which stress the need for the new birth would have a much higher percentage of born again believers. A poll by the Barna Research Group several years ago may shed some light on this subject. They indicate that 'Protestant church attenders are two and a half times more likely than are Catholic attenders to be born-again Christians (60% to 23% respectively.'"
So, apparently, Billy Graham never even mentioned it.
Snopes alive! What are we preachers thinking! Why would we utter such harsh statements when we do not know what we are talking about!
(On Facebook, we got into a lengthy discussion concerning preachers being cautious in pronouncing "how many church members are lost." The fact is, anyone with the answer to that question should be challenged. Only God knows the human heart and only He knows how many are saved or lost. What complicates the issue is that according to I Corinthians chapters 1 and 2, the carnal believer and the "natural man" (unbeliever) may look and act alike. We would suppose that preachers who prefer simple answers to complex issues have simply decided that those who are living carnal lives have never been saved. Such a conviction, however, even if strongly held and eloquently preached, does not line up with Scripture.)
No wonder some of the more inquiring minds in the congregation turn us off. We are feeding them hearsay and innuendo and gossip, and expecting them to treat it as God's Truth.
As the Lord said to the sham preachers of Jeremiah's day in a not-too-dissimilar context, "What does straw (man's ponderings) have in common with grain (God's Word)?" (Jer. 23:28)
Three or four years ago, I was attending a large denominational event in our state and was struck by something the speaker said in quoting Winston Churchill. He should have known, but I'd wager that he didn't, that in his vast audience were people who knew as much about Churchill as he did. He completely misrepresented this man.
On the theme of faithfulness to our duty for which we will all give account to the Lord, the preacher told how during the dark days of World War II, Britain's coal miners threatened to go out on strike for higher wages. If that were to happen, it could cripple the war effort, weaken the economy, and leave millions of Britons in the cold. Churchill had to put a stop to the strike.
The speaker told how Winston Churchill met with the mine owners and a representative group of miners and delivered an impassioned speech that drove them out of the meeting hall and back into the pits to dig the coal.
According to my notes, the speaker quoted Churchill thusly: "One of these days, we will all stand before the Lord Jesus Christ at the final judgment. He will turn to the fighter pilots and ask, 'What did you do?' and they will say, 'We gave our all in the defense of liberty.' He will say to the soldiers, 'What did you do?' and they will answer, 'We faced the enemy and risked everything for our nation.'"
The speaker went on like that for a bit, then, quoting Churchill, he said, "Then the coal miners will come before the King of Kings, and He will ask, 'What did you do?' and they will say, 'We cut the coal.'"
The minister went on from there but I was stuck. Something about that did not sound right. I have a shelf of Churchill books in my study and while I had heard that story, I was fairly certain he had never spoken of anyone standing before Jesus Christ at judgment.
The next day, on returning home, I went straight to the large volume of Churchill's wartime speeches. I found the one in question.
The date was October 31, 1942. Churchill was addressing a conference of coal-mine operators and miners in Westminster's Central Hall. A brief speech, it can be read in five minutes. As Churchillian rhetoric goes, it wasn't all that much. No brilliant oratorical flourishes, nothing really memorable until the final paragraph.
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