|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
As George W. Bush recounted in his memoirs, Dr. Billy Graham said they are - and thus denied the Gospel.
In his memoir, Decision Points, former President George W. Bush recounts a 1985 family gathering at the home of his father, former President George H. W. Bush. The elder Mr. Bush had invited Dr. Billy Graham to attend, along with about thirty members of the Bush family.
The "World's Greatest Evangelist" Presents a False Gospel
After dinner, the elder Mr. Bush asked Dr. Graham to answer questions from the family. The younger Mr. Bush recalls the scene in his memoir. The first question came from his father. The elder Mr. Bush noted that "some people say" that you must be born again in order to enter Heaven. But, said Mr. Bush, his own mother - who he described as "the most religious, kind person I know" - had never been born again. And so, Mr. Bush asked Graham, based on her religiosity and kindness, "Will she go to heaven?" (His mother, Dorothy Bush, a liberal Episcopalian who was then 85 years old, was present.)
Billy Graham's reply is shocking to anyone who truly understands the Gospel. Rather than presenting the one true Gospel of salvation from sin and the wrath of God, by grace through faith in Christ alone, to this lady who was nearing the end of her days as well as her assembled family, Graham instead said this: "Some of us require a born-again experience to understand God, and some of us are born Christians. It sounds as if your Mom was just born a Christian."
Thus Billy Graham proclaimed a false gospel on that occasion, just as he has on many others. He presented precisely the kind of broad, false evangelicalism that leads so many souls to Hell. Dr. Graham has been asked if Mr. Bush's account is correct, and has confirmed it.
Getting the Gospel Right
It is never, as Graham so wrongly put it, a matter of what we require in order to understand God, but what God requires of us. No one can understand God and His Word apart from the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). Even our most righteous (actually, self-righteous) acts are as filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). God requires repentance from sin and faith in His Son Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
None of us are "born Christians." We are born in sin (Psalm 51:5). Everyone who comes into this world is born condemned. The Lord Jesus Christ himself made these distinctions when he spoke with Nicodemus.
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again [in the original language, literally born from above], he cannot see the kingdom of God... That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again." (John 3:3,7)
Later in the same account, Jesus spoke of the condition of every individual who comes into this world:
He who believes in Him [in God's only begotten Son] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:18-21)
And so it is that the Apostle John, earlier in the same Gospel account, declares:
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it... He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe on His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:3-4, 10-13).
Test The Spirits
Dear friend, be careful to whom you listen. Likewise, be careful what sort of "evangelist" you recommend to the unsaved. And be careful to compare what any man says - even the man who is touted as "the greatest evangelist of all time" - with the infallible standard of the Word of God. In other articles in the past, we have presented key facts in the Gospel-denying record of both Billy Graham and his son Franklin. These two men have perhaps done more to inoculate the world against the truth of the Gospel than any others in history, except the popes of Rome and their clerical hierarchy.
Make sure that the preachers you listen to truly understand and forthrightly proclaim the absolute necessity of the new birth in Christ as it is declared in Scripture. Many today are following, as the Apostle Paul warned, after men like the Grahams who, it is sad to say, are proclaiming another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4).
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).
1. George W. Bush, Decision Points (New York: Crown Publishers, 2010), page 31.
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