Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Finishing Well?
...last words are lasting words

The Apostle Paul said to a young Timothy, I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7). Here Paul is urging him to be a faithful soldier, uncompromised in the heat of battle (2 Tim. 2:3-4); to be disciplined athlete and run the race with perseverance according to the rules of Scripture (2 Tim. 4:5); and finally, to be a hardworking farmer, laboring tirelessly for the gospel-putting your hand to the plow and not looking back (2 Tim. 2:6). To be a faithful soldier, one must deny himself the affairs of this life; to be a disciplined athlete, one must deny himself the appetites of the flesh; and to be a hardworking farmer, one must deny himself the applause of men. Those words are all our prayer, constant aim and goal aren't they? To finish faithfully by God's grace this earthly journey until we are home with the Lord (cp, Phil. 1:21). We all know and are keenly aware of our own blind spots, failings and shortcomings in this life. Yet still the Lord calls us to encourage each other to Christlikeness and confront sin head on when it rears its ugly head within the church or the individual lives of believers (Galatians 6:1-3).

In that spirit, one can only wonder what was the motivation behind Mr. Graham's words about the Clintons from Saturday evening of his final American crusade in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, NY. He paid political and spiritual homage to Bill and Hillary who are considered the Democrat Party's, most Dynamic-Duo. Though Hillary Clinton is a liberal Senator from the state of New York, a BGEA crusade dedicated to the heralding of the gospel of Jesus Christ seems a bit out of place for such grandstanding (and it would have been just as inappropriate if it were Republicans he was paying tribute. The cross waves higher than the flag.)

Here are a few excerpts:
"Hillary and I are honored to be here tonight... 46-plus years after I attended my first Billy Graham crusade," Clinton said. "I took Hillary in 1971, and in 1979, when he came back to Arkansas, I was the governor. So I've been doing this a long time." He said Graham won his heart decades ago when he refused to speak to a segregated audience. "I was just a little boy, and I never forgot it and I've loved him ever since," Clinton said. "He's about the only person I know who I've never seen fail to live his faith."

Graham returned the favor, lavishing the Democratic power duo with praise. "They're a great couple," he said. "I told an audience that I felt when he left the presidency he should be an evangelist because he has all the gifts and he'd leave his wife to run the country."

Did you hear that, beloved? Was that a political endorsement we just heard at a meeting designed for evangelism? But the shocking statement was that Bill Clinton should be an evangelist because 'he has all the gifts?" What spiritual gifts does a non-believer possess qualifying him to "do the work of an evangelist", Mr. Graham? This is absolutely preposterous! How dare he slight the work of the ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-5) by showing favor to one that does not know the Lord, has lived unashamedly in gross lasciviousness most of his adult life and presidency, and to this day has never repented of his sins in response to the gospel call? This is inexcusable and could forever taint the BGEA.

Rev. Graham caused some controversy in 1998, when he seemed too quick to forgive Mr. Clinton just weeks after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. "I forgive him because I know the frailty of human nature and I know how hard it is," Graham told NBC's "Today Show, adding that Clinton "has such a tremendous personality, that I think the ladies just go wild over him."

My friend, the late Dr. Stephen Olford, wrote Billy a hard letter confronting him over his pronouncement of "absolution" on Clinton's life and shameful conduct. He tried to spin comments after the fact without much success. By the way, Stephen was probably the only person in the world who could have written such a confrontational letter to Billy, for it was Dr. Olford who was used by the Lord in the late 1940's to walk Billy through a period of intense revival, renewal and repentance before his ministry exploded. Billy, himself credits the Lord using Dr. Olford in leading him in this ministry. If Stephen were alive today, what would our dear brother being saying to Billy this morning? It could be summed up in one word: repent!

I appreciate a man of unwavering conviction; and especially when a man has the courage to act upon those same convictions. Rev. Rob Shank (National Clergy Council president), with great sadness of heart, walked out on his "role model of twenty-five years" as Billy was paying homage to the Clinton's. (Read more of Rob's honorable actions.)

Take Heaven by Storm,
Steve Camp
(2 Cor. 4:1-7)

Here are a few other links you might be interested in as follow up:
CNN; Houston Chronicle; NY Daily News; USA TODAY


Kevin Jones said...

Hi Steve,

Good to see you blogging. I was shocked to hear the Rev. Graham’s comments about the Clintons. I can just imagine Bill as a contemporary TV evangelist (the scary thing is, I really can).

However, I’m not sure it’s fair to characterize this statement as a political endorsement. I think that Graham, in his own way, was just trying to be charitable and kind to the Clintons. I think it showed an incredible lack of discretion and was terribly ill-advised, but I’m not sure that I could infer that he is actively advocating Hillary’s candidacy.

I really appreciate your point, “and it would have been just as inappropriate if it were Republicans he was paying tribute. The cross waves higher than the flag.” I think that Evangelicals have become a little too cozy with the Republican Party (I am a Republican, by the way.) But it seems at times that we sacrifice the message of the Gospel for political goals.


Steve Weaver said...


Welcome to the world wide web of blog! You have the perfect temperament to be a successful blogger. Your love for the truth, courage to speak the truth in love and wit will be a welcome addition to the blogiverse.

Concerning this post, thank you for your courage in addressing this issue. I am disappointed in the lack of response from the evangelical world to some of Graham's recent comments (Although, I don't know what is going on behind the scenes.)

By the way, I enjoyed your ministry through music at the Founder's breakfast in Nashville last week. R.C. hit a homerun, didn't he?

SJ Camp said...

Hello Kevin:

Thank you for your comment. That is why I approached it in terms of a question. I agree--we don't know with certainty at this point. And I was not trying to make a political point pitting one party against another party.

Good to be part of "blogworld." I haven't announced this to anyone as of yet. Just a few days old and still developing graphics and such.

But thanks for jumping on early.
Grace and peace,

SJ Camp said...

Dear Steve:

R.C. did hit a homerun and as usual was biblical, historical and theological all at the same time. I wish the counterparts in evangelicalism would be as lucid on the Word and issues.

Thanks again for your kind words... Good to be "blogentarian." Graphics and design to follow soon.

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4;5-7

Ron Poarch said...

Hi Steve,

In response to Kevin Jones' point that it might not be fair to characterize Graham's statement as a political endorsement...

We don't even need to deal with his intentions or not - the bigger issue was what were Bill and Hillary doing with him up in front in the first place?


SJ Camp said...

Nothing happens by accident on any crusade. They were invited and asked to participate. NO question. I agree with you about intentions; I wasn't trying to judge his motives--only his words.

Good thoughts, thank you brother...
Rom. 13:1-7

PS - best free campaign time Hill ever received though...

Jami said...

I think Billy Graham is a good, smart man, and recognizes these traits when he sees them in other people. Much like Bush 41.

Billy Graham hasn't re-spun his remarks. His undoubtedly Republican and less talented son did.

It was pretty classless of people to boo the Clintons at that revival. Nice Christianity there.