I was still rubbing sleep from my eyes, preparing to groggily reach for my morning coffee, when a story jumped off my smart phone screen, catching my eye. The Fox News editorial headline read, “It’s Open Season on Christians in America.” The piece by Todd Starnes hailed Billy Graham’s Johnny-Cash-loving, once rebellious son as a prophetic “voice crying in the wilderness.” Personally, I have had a soft spot in my heart for the Graham family since, as a young boy, my father proudly told me the story of how he, as a young pastor, was part of the leadership team hosting the Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles in 1958. “So what is the ever-biblically-bold Franklin saying now?” I pondered. The weighty words I read next hit me right between the eyes!
“I believe we are perilously close to the moral tipping point for the survival of the United States of America. I refuse to be silent and watch the future of our children and grandchildren be offered up on pagan altars of personal pleasure and immorality,” Graham wrote in Decision magazine. Upon absorbing these two sentences, Franklin and Starnes had my full attention! Franklin Graham was addressing, head-on, the fundamental issues that I have been thinking about, writing about, and fighting about for my entire career as a constitutional attorney. In fact, the book proposal I am submitting to my literary agent this month is precisely about how American Christianity is rapidly succumbing to powerful pagan cultural myths.
So, what evidence does Graham cite for his dark diagnosis?
- The U.S. Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
- Radical Islamic terrorists on our shores increasingly in our midst slaughtering innocents, in an age of truth-denying political correctness.
- The deep-seated antagonism and hostility towards Christianity in every seat of power in this nation—government, media, courts and education.
Many other Christian leaders have bemoaned these and other very serious problems we now face. But what is the solution? In this season of nearly wall-to-wall political coverage, is it politics? Graham says no. “The only hope for America is not the Democratic Party and it’s not the Republican Party. The only hope for America is God.” And Graham has put his money where his mouth is by launching a Decision America Tour that includes a series of prayer rallies at capitol building in all 50 states. “It’s trying to lead this nation in prayer, confessing the sins of our country, asking for God’s forgiveness and encouraging Christians to get engaged in the political process,” he told Starnes.
Graham explained to Starnes that he is addressing issues many pastors, especially younger ones, do not. “The younger pastors—so many are caught up in the pop culture, and the pastor in a church is more about being cool,” he said. “We’re beginning to put theology in the back seat and I’m concerned about the church. To be honest with you, the problems we have in America today are the failure of the church,” Graham said. This, by the way, is another issue I tackle in my book. Graham went onto explain that as government has grown bigger the church’s historical role in feeding and clothing the poor and health care has diminished. His point: It’s time for Christians to get off our bottoms and reengage the culture.
Indeed, our salvation is not in politics, it is in the Lord! Although I am a confessed political junkie, over the past decade I have increasingly realized the limits of politics to bring about meaningful enduring change. If America is to be changed, if America is to be transformed to the depth necessary to see lasting progress, our hearts and minds must be renewed. Only God can do that! That is why I have been hoping for, praying for, and looking for revival. Not a passing fad, but a profound reformational shift on par with the First or Second Great Awakenings.
So what can you do, what can I do? What are some take away action points?
- Pray for America: that the Gospel will be clearly preached, that we will respond by confessing our sins, repenting, and that, by God’s favor and grace, we will see revival (some would say reformation) in our lifetime. This starts with the church (See II Chronicles 7:14).
- Pray for the church: that pastors and Christian leaders will become biblically bold and courageous, reject powerful pagan cultural forces, preach the full counsel of God, and lead the flock biblically.
- Engage the culture: develop a comprehensive biblical worldview and apologia, be willing to suffer and be persecuted, live out your faith publicly without fear, speak the truth in love (See Ephesians 4:15), share the Gospel, and vote for leaders who will not subvert religious liberty. Be salt and light (See Matthew 5: 13-16).
Yes, Franklin Graham is right about America. Will you join us in prayer and godly action today? I believe with all of my heart that this is the only way we will see meaningful hope and change.