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Tolerant or Timid?

When the issue about Dr. Franklin Graham’s negative statement about Islam arose, I found myself siding with his Christian fervency on one side, but regreting his method of witnessing for the faith it on the other. First of all, it seemed clear to me that he did not hate Moslems as human beings, but rather that he rejected their religion.  He stated that he hopes all mankind will come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. I champion that element of his statement.

Still, sense he wants others to become Christians, I wonder if he might better have held out the olive branch of love to non-Christians rather than starting by attacking their religions (which are as dear to them as the Christian faith is to Christians). – A person offended is hard to win. Even the Bible says that.

St. Paul preached to the Greeks at Athens by first referencing their monument to the “Unknown God” (as being the true God). He did not insult their religion or them. He wisely met them where they were (rather than where he wanted them to be) and deftly took them (a step at a time) in his sermon from there to the Gospel of Christ.

It is a difficult question, of course, given the mealy-mouthed timidity of many Christians who would rather go along to get along than to take a firm stand for Christ so as to fit neatly into the current mantra of tolerance (at all cost) and political correctness. Dr. Graham, plainly, did not want to retreat from the Great Commission of winning souls for Christ and the fact that he holds his faith dear is certainly commendable. Even if he made a mis-step, I believe that his heart is going in the right direction.

Obviously, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists and all others of various religions prefer theirown faith to that of others (indeed even seeing other faiths as false, evil and dangerous).  –  This is tragically demonstrated in the imprisonment, torture and murder of Christian missionaries and native converts throughout the world.  – From reports I have heard, it appears that there was greater pursecution of Christians in the 2oth Century than in First Century Rome or in the last 2000 years. – It must be noted that Dr. Graham has not blown-up buildings, murdering thousands of innocent people to get his point across.

I believe there is a strong current in our culture to meld all religions into one vast (but ineffectual and false) religion. I have grave concern about this as I am sure Dr. Graham does. He may have been retaliating against this move. Indeed it does seem self-evident to me that if everyone believed all religions were equally valid with hisown, why would he continue to espouse hisown faith? Why would he bother to espouse any one faith above the others (or, ultimately, any faith at all)?

We, as Christians, are instructed to share our faith, but also to be “slow to speak” and to “bridle our tongues” from speaking wrongly. I wonder if many in the clergy are knee-deep in the hair-splitting complexities of theology, yet give no thought to social skills in conveying it.