Evangelist Franklin Graham has apologized to President Obama for questioning his Christian faith and said that he now accepts Obama’s declarations that he is a Christian. In a statement, issued Tuesday, Graham said:
I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama…I apologize to him and to any I have offended for not better articulating my reason for not supporting him in this election — for his faith has nothing to do with my consideration of him as a candidate.
This is the right decision and I admire Graham for doing this. While we are called to compare a person’s profession of faith with the fruits that are evident in their lives (Matt. 7:16-18), I believe that Franklin Graham’s original comments were wrong, and that for the following reasons:
- It’s one thing to bring your concerns about a person’s faith to that person in private, it’s another thing altogether to raise these concerns in front of millions on breakfast TV.
- While we can certainly question whether a person’s particular policies and practices are consistent with a Christian profession, it’s a huge step from that to proclaiming that a person is not a Christian.
- There have been previous Presidents whose lives have been contrary to their Christian claims, yet they have not been treated this way by Franklin Graham or his father. That incongruity is where the unfounded allegation of racism finds its energy.
- While the seemingly “Christ-less” testimony President Obama told Graham about how he came to faith is very worrying, it was told in private, and should not have been re-told in public.
- Graham’s criticisms of the President’s faith were not based on Scriptural marks, the fruits of faith, but on the way he told his testimony.
- Graham not only refused to say if President Obama was a Christian, he ended up giving more credibility to the allegation that he is actually a Muslim.
- While saying that he was not in a position to say if anyone was not a Christian, he did just that with President Obama, and then pronounced that Rick Santorum definitely was a Christian.
Three lessons to be learned from this debacle:
1. Train: We have to admire Graham’s bravery for going into the lion’s den and contending for the Christian faith in the public square. But public spokesmen like Graham should also be constantly and thoroughly trained to deal with the tactics of an extremely hostile media. In this interview at least, Graham seemed to walk straight into their trap and, judging by his rambling and defensive remarks, was completely unprepared for the question.
2. Honor: In opposing some of the anti-Christian policies of President Obama, Christians must stand out from the rest of the opposition by continuing to give honor to whom honor is due (Rom. 13:7). And if we honor God in this way, we have the promise that He will also honor us (1 Sam. 2:30).
3. Pray: We should be much more prayerful for men like Franklin Graham, Al Mohler, James Dobson, etc., who have the opportunity and the courage to represent Christ in such a difficult arena. May God give them much wisdom and wise counselors to help them continue to bear witness faithfully and persuasively.
But we should also pray for President Obama and all who lead us that they would all be truly converted to Christ, or that they would follow Him far more consistently.
Here’s the original controversial interview.