Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ukraine and Romania

I'm just finishing up a 14 day trip through 4 countries that has found me in 8 different hotels with 5 different roommates. As you can imagine I'm pretty tired but I wanted to post a few pictures of just a few things I've learned:

The Russian Orthodox Church traces its origins to Ukraine.

The Orthodox Church seems to put more emphasis on works than what Jesus did on the cross.

Although beautiful to look at, the Orthodox church in Ukraine and Romania has found itself completley irrelevant and unable to reach the people.

This is the inside of a Ukrainian Orthodox church.

Life in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

Anyone hungry for some Ukrainian food?

Even though it's located less than 100 yards from their "home" the lead bishop of the Orthodox Church in Romania has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with these children.

Who will share the love of Jesus with these children?

Marian and me in Sept. 2005

Marian and me in Sept. 2006

On my trip to Romania in 2005 I quickly bonded with a young boy named Marian. I believe he is probably 5 or 6 years old, but life in these wretched conditions makes one's age difficult to determine. Having no running water, electricity, food, or even a toilet, can take it's toll. It was such a blessing to be able to find my friend Marian again on my return visit. I didn't think I'd be able to find him among the hundreds of other children and if I did I wasn't sure how he'd be. I was thrilled to see how much healthier he looked this year. He still had that same warm smile that I remembered and he seems to be overcoming impossible odds.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

So Have You Heard The One About...?

I've got a good one for you. While giving a history lesson to around 1500 Catholic theology students the Pope, reading from a 14th century document, says:

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
In angry response two Muslims stormed a Catholic hospital in Somalia and shot a 70 year old nun 3 times in the back killing her and her body guard. Then we find out:

"Hardline cleric Sheikh Abubakar Hassan Malin [in Somalia] on Friday told worshippers at his mosque to hunt down and kill whoever offended the Prophet Mohammed. "
Okay so let me make sure I have this right; These Muslims are angry about the Pope reading from a document more than 600 years old, which describes their religion evil and inhuman and to express this anger they go out and murder innocent people?

Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

Click Here or Click Here for the articles

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Has Billy Graham Become an Inclusivist?

I know I have a hard time imagining that as well but after having read a featured article in the August 14th edition of Newsweek magazine I was definitely surprised to learn of the evolution of some of his beliefs.

The article was written by the managing editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham. If that name rings a bell it may be because I wrote a critique a few years ago of his article about the birth of Christ. [To read those critiques Click Here and Click Here].

Here are some of the “highlights” (or lowlights) of Meachams interview with the most well-known evangelist of all time:

[In reference to the Bible] …"I'm not a literalist in the sense that every single jot and tittle is from the Lord," Graham says. "This is a little difference in my thinking through the years." He has, then, moved from seeing every word of Scripture as literally accurate to believing that parts of the Bible are figurative…

I’d be interested to know how he reconciles that with Second Timothy 3:16 which states “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” [emphasis mine].

[At one point in the article Meacham inserts a section from an interview with Franklin Graham, Billy’s son.] In perhaps his most celebrated remark, Franklin has referred to Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion," and declines to back down. "After 9/11, there were a lot of things being said about how the God of Islam and the God of the Christian faith were one and the same, but that's simply not true ... ," Franklin told NEWSWEEK. "The God that I worship does not require me to kill other people. The God that I worship tells me I am to love my enemy, to give him food when he's hungry and water when he's thirsty."…. Asked about his son's use of the phrase "evil and wicked" in reference to Islam, Graham says: "I would not say Islam is wicked and evil ... I have a lot of friends who are Islamic. There are many wonderful people among them. I have a great love for them. I have spoken at Islamic meetings, in Nigeria and in different parts of the world."

Refusing to condemn the worship of a false God? I could be way wrong, but it seems to me anything that worships and praises a false God would be, by definition, evil and wicked (remember the first commandment?). I guess I just can’t see how God would look at that sort of behavior and be pleased with it.

Finally, here is the biggest ouch moment for me. Billy Graham, the man who has preached of Salvation through Jesus alone, all over the entire world for the past 60 years goes on to say:

A unifying theme of Graham's new thinking is humility. He is sure and certain of his faith in Jesus as the way to salvation. When asked whether he believes heaven will be closed to good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people, though, Graham says: "Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won't ... I don't want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have." Such an ecumenical spirit may upset some Christian hard-liners, but in Graham's view, only God knows who is going to be saved: "As an evangelist for more than six decades, Mr. Graham has faithfully proclaimed the Bible's Gospel message that Jesus is the only way to Heaven," says Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross. "However, salvation is the work of Almighty God, and only he knows what is in each human heart."

Wow! I know, not what I was expecting to hear either. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that only God knows the heart, God loves everyone, and that God alone is the gatekeeper of heaven’s doors. But I also believe John 14:6 that says “Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. It seems clear to me that belief in Jesus for the forgiveness of one’s sins is a foundational requirement. I can’t understand where he see’s a loophole for those religions that deny Christ. Then again, the article is written by a strong opponent of historical Christianity and it’s quite possible that Billy’s words have been twisted against him to support Meacham’s personal agenda.

If you’d like to read the article, in its entirety for yourself, go to I'd be very interested to read any of your comments whether you agree or disagree with me.