The Festival of Hope is a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association event scheduled for next week in Vancouver, Canada. Franklin Graham following in the footsteps of his father, Billy Graham, as the heir apparent to his father’s evangelistic association was to share the hope of the Gospel with the city of Vancouver.
A group of church leaders and pastors claiming to represent “over 60% of the Christians in the metro area” have published a letter opposing Franklin Graham coming to Vancouver. Despite assurances that he would “avoid controversial topics while in Vancouver” and preach the “simple Gospel,” these leaders were adamantly opposed to him coming because of statements he has made about the LGBTQ community, Muslims, and his support of Donald Trump’s Presidency.
I would think any man of conscience who believes the Bible is the Word of God should hold convictions on social and political issues that are controversial, especially with those who hold very different views on the same issues.
For me, politics are about issues, not personalities. This is why I never endorse candidates, because when it comes to politics, politicians’ personalities are unpredictable. Franklin’s father learned that when he supported Richard Nixon throughout the Watergate affair until Nixon resigned the Presidency in disgrace.
To the best of my knowledge Franklin never endorsed Trump prior to the election, but in its wake has said his victory was the “hand of God.” Without further clarification I cannot say what Franklin means by that statement, but I too believe it was the hand of God. Not because I prayed for Donald Trump to be the President, but because I prayed for God’s will to be done, and I believe God is in control of human history.
I think these leaders who oppose Franklin Graham coming and sharing the Gospel are allowing politics to interfere with the preaching of the Gospel, and like politics the Gospel should not be about personalities.
Paul wrote, “I have been informed…there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” I Corinthians 1:11-13.
The believers in Corinth had developed preferences for a particular preacher or teacher of the Gospel, and it had reached the point it was causing divisions within the church. Paul was making the point that the Gospel is not about personalities, it is about Christ; it is not about the messenger, it’s about the message.
It is not clear to me why Canadians are so interested in American politics, but it is clear they are making a political statement, not a Gospel statement. Franklin Graham is proving to be as articulate and effective at preaching the Gospel as his father was, and those opposing him in Vancouver would be wise to leave politics out of his coming.