Friday, October 19, 2012

When Politics Trump Theology

     Recently, it was reported that after meeting with former Governor Mitt Romney (the Republican Nominee for President of the United States) Billy Graham the well known and influential pastor/evangelist had the Mormon faith removed from his association website under the listing of cult.  It appears that politics has trumped theological depth for many Christians in the United States.  I would have thought that Billy Graham would have learned his lesson in this regard when his words and leadership largely helped install Richard Nixon as President of the United States, and we all know how positive that was.
     One of the greater ironies of all of this for me, is that the same people who condemned Rob Bell for writing a book that inspired a world wide conversation on Heaven and Hell, will somehow excuse this decision by Billy Graham because American Politics has trumped thorough, historically grounded and scripturally deep theology.
     I remember and cherish the messages in audio and video that I have heard Billy Graham preach.  He is a gifted evangelist and scriptural exegete.  I remember even being brought to tears by some of them, for their depth and sincerity.  And his prayer life is the stuff of legend.  But, in this regard I must say I am disappointed with Pastor Graham.  When our affiliation with the political party/policy/perspective of our nation (which is our free choice) trumps our faith perspective and theology than something has gone amiss.
    I would not have minded if Billy Graham would have endorsed Mitt Romney for candidacy for the office of President because he agreed on political grounds with Romney's policies; however, to throw away theological distinctiveness because we are persuaded that a candidate is the one we want to support for office is to sacrifice the thing that is more true about us than anything else - our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven.
     Returning to Rob Bell and his book titled Love Wins, I want to ask all of those out there who so ardently labeled Bell a heretic for his thoughtful reflections on salvation and eternal life, if they are now going to be consistent and label Graham properly, a heretic for accepting that a Mormon is a Christian.  Inspite of the fact that they do not adhere to Trinitarian Christian doctrine.  If they are going to be consistent this is there only recourse, otherwise, they have to contradict themselves and declare boldly that their political views as an American have actually trumped their followership of Jesus Christ.