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Billy Graham: Obstacle To Prog Christianity


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I just recieved my June TCPC newsletter in the mail. The article that caught my eye was/is intitled,

 

Billy Graham: Obstacle to Progressive Christianity

By Chris Ayers

 

The article points out how outspoken Graham has been in his suport of President Bush and his vice President Cheney. But then the artilce states how Graham involvement in poltics is NOT the only troubling thing for Progressive Christians. What I gathered from reading the article is that the author is annoyed how Billy Graham speaks as if for ALL Christians on how Graham asumes ALL Christians Do and MUST believe in and embrace and promote the trinity belief that Jesus was and is God.

 

I understand the author's annoyance with Graham's presumptiousness in asuming 'ALL' Christians Do embrace and MUSt embrace the trinity to be verified as Christians. The author Chris Ayers bring out that there is the Evangelical Protestant and Catholic belief where they view Jesus as both human and also God..and then that there is also the Liberal Christian view that God was not God, not divine and just a good man. But there IS yet a 3rd view that IS held by both Fundamental Christians AND Progressive Christians alike that is inbetween these two. Some, such as those on www.BibicalUnitarians.org/ call this belief Arianism or simply Bibical Unitarian. Form what the author of this source has explained to me this is the belief that God has NEVER been incarnated. They believe that when Jesus rose from the dead he was elevated and though Jesus did NOT become God nor equal to him, that Jesus DID become a divine being as God placed him to his right side.

 

There is yet another belief that is related to this..but different in that they believe much the same only that Jesus was THEE first being that God created directly and THROUGH whom God used to make all other things in the universe and that as such Jesus DID have a pre-life in heaven BEFORE coming to earth. I asked the bibical Unitarian owner what this belief would be called and he said he honesty did not know and so I named it Divinatarians. So here's how I see it..and tell me if this makes sense to you...

 

I see that there are the following views of Jesus in Christianity:

 

1. Trintarian= Jesus was and is God and Savior

 

2. Divinatarian=Jesus is NOT God but was the first being created directly by God through whom all other things in the universe were created and is Savior

 

3. Bibical Unitarianism= Jesus had no pre-life in heaven before being born as a human on earth but when he was resurrected he was then elevated to God's right hand man and thus became our savior.

 

4. Unitarianism=Jesus was neither God nor divine was fully human was an adopted son of God but is not Savior.

 

Now, as for the issue of Billy Graham. As I have talked about in the past on here, my own main problem with Graham is his view that the unjust have positvely no hope or second chance at redemption after this life.

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Though Billy Graham has been a fixture in the White House (every single one as far as I know, that he could have been in), he isn't any thing like a Religious Right guy. I have heard that many on the RR dislike him as he is too inclusive. It wouldn't be a brand I would stick on him. :-) I agree with some of the objections but I think that he is pretty mild compared with current fundamentalists that have been powerful. I think he is pretty much in the evangelical style, almost a middle class tent revival type. He's been very popular due to his gifts in oration.

 

BTW, one of the objections some Jews have with Christianity and also Jesus ( though I don't know that Jesus *really* said he was God, even though the Gospel of John said he did) is that Christianity is not really a monotheistic religion. Certain ways of interpreting the trinity, and I think it is a reasonable argument. Hinduism has aspects of (perhaps) one God, and most people do not think of it as monotheistic, of course there are a few more aspects. :-)

 

--des

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All good points,Des. Funny, anyone remember in the comedy the Bird Cage" when that sentor of Moral Order is caught up being associated with a sex scandel and he panicks and tells his wife that they need to do something quick to restore his wholesom image and his wife sugests, "We can call Billy Graham?" And the husband goes, "Nah, he's too liberal". :lol:

 

And about the Hindu trinity verses the Protestant/Catholic one, I agree 100%. Why do Evangelical Christians blast Hindus for their version of the trinity being more than One God but not their own version?

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There is a terminology issue, of course, as far as whether one defines Christian belief as "conforming to the historic Christian creeds" (whether that be literally, metaphorically, spiritually, metaphysically, or whatever), or more broadly as "belonging to the total history of Christian theological reflection." Obviously, definition #2 is the strong progressive version. However, while version #1 runs the risk of being too rigid and exclusive, #2 runs the opposite risk of leaving too little theological self-definition for Christianity. Sometimes, in an effort to escape rigid versions of #1 (Billy Graham style theology, for example), people rush to embrace #2, when a more nuanced version of #1 is really all that is needed.

 

Christology affords a good illustration. I've said before that, like most progressives, I don't believe in a literal virgin birth, a literal empty tomb, or the literal eternal preexistence of the human being Jesus of Nazareth. I might be tempted therefore to adopt one of the other theological views of Jesus, like Nestorianism, Arianism, Docetism, or any of the views you presented in your original post. However, in the process of doing so, I also lose whatever spiritual or metaphysical truth might be embedded in the Chalcedonian definition of the two natures of Christ, and one could argue that this truth is crucial to a distinctively Christian view of the world -- or at the very least, worthy of recognition for its profound significance to Christian thought. Likewise the doctrine of the Trinity.

 

My $.02, for what it's worth, is that these two doctrines are very poorly understood by most Christians (traditional and progressive alike), as far as their true spiritual meanings. This causes a buffet-style approach where you draw up a menu and everybody chooses what sounds good to them. But these doctrines aren't just simple surface claims: they're invitations to enter into a spiritual mystery. A deeper exploration of them would go a long way towards a common understanding. Some day I'll get around to doing it!

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I've really come to appreciate the concept of the Trinity, but not because it IS or IS NOT Biblical. Arguments can definitely be made from the Bible for both views, but to me, that is beside the point.

 

My "metaphysical meanderings" have brought ME to the concept of the Trinity independently of what the Bible has to say about the matter. The fact that that happened to ME, independent of overt outside influences, made me go "A-Ha! No wonder the church fathers and the writer of John conceptualized God as a Trinity!"

 

I've come to appreciate that the early church fathers were philosophers as much as they were theologians. I've come to appreciate that the Church traditions can carry as much truth as the Bible.

 

JW's have a very literal interpretation of the Trinity that they then set out to demolish. It's a strawman actually, as most early church tradition does not teach or conceive of the Trinity in such black and white terms.

 

I truly appreciate the Eastern Orthodox view of the Trinity, which thru Theosis is more of a "Plurality" - All of mankind, all of creation, was created in order to be joined to God, to become part of the Trinity. All of mankind is the "Son" of God.

 

PS - I don't mean to imply that I don't think the Bible is very important to Christian theology. It is. However, I have come to appreciate that the Christian Church PREDATES the Christian Scriptures. :)

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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4 versions of views of Jesus in Christianity:

 

1. Trintarian= Jesus was and is God and Savior

 

2. Divinatarian=Jesus is NOT God but was the first being created directly by God through whom all other things in the universe were created and is Savior

 

3. Bibical Unitarianism= Jesus had no pre-life in heaven before being born as a human on earth but when he was resurrected he was then elevated to God's right hand man and thus became our savior.

 

4. Unitarianism=Jesus was neither God nor divine was fully human was an adopted son of God but is not Savior.

 

FredP Today, 09:11 AM Post #4

 

"Definition #2 is the strong progressive version. However, while version #1 runs the risk of being too rigid and exclusive, #2 runs the opposite risk of leaving too little theological self-definition for Christianity. "

 

I have found that defination #1 is thee most popular accepted in of course all of Protestantsim and Catholics both right and left and moderate, and the it is #4 that is the second most popular and from what I gathered, thee single most popular and accepted belief amounf Liberal Christians. And I honestly do not think that the vast majority of neither the far fundamental right, the moderate middle nor the liberal religious left even KNOW about the existence of any other beliefs accept #1 and #4. #2 DOES exist..but no body offical gave this belief a name..untill I gave it one. The only reason why 'I' even came to known that #3 exists is become I researched long and hard on the web untill I learned about it..Otherwise, I would not have known.

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"Definition #2 is the strong progressive version. However, while version #1 runs the risk of being too rigid and exclusive, #2 runs the opposite risk of leaving too little theological self-definition for Christianity. "

 

I didn't mean your views #1 - 4, I was referring to the definitions of Christian belief in my own post. Sorry for the confusion.

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And I honestly do not think that the vast majority of neither the far fundamental right, the moderate middle nor the liberal religious left even KNOW about the existence of any other beliefs accept #1 and #4. #2 DOES exist..but no body offical gave this belief a name..untill I gave it one.

Sorry, but a couple people beat you to it. Within Christianity, it's known as Arianism. It's basically the view held by non-Christian Neoplatonism as found in Plotinus and Proclus. But it's true that it isn't as well-known today as views like adoptionism or Unitarianism, even though it's far more sophisticated than both. Actually, Augustine argued against the pagan Neoplatonists on precisely this point, in considerable philosophical detail.

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I'm not sure if he is right about this or not....but the owner of the website:

 

www.BibicalUniatarians.org/

 

,,,told me that if you believe that Christ had a pre-life in heaven with God than you are not a Arianist..I 'think' that's what he told me..but I am not sure. Maybe I should asked him about this again...

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I thought Jehovah's Witnesses embrace a version of Arianism (#2), given their interpretation of verses like John 1:3 (NASB):

 

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

 

They mistakenly interpret "apart from him" to mean "except for him," implying that Jesus was the first created being.

 

Which is why the NIV clears it up:

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

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"I thought Jehovah's Witnesses embrace a version of Arianism (#2), given their interpretation of verses like John 1:3 (NASB):

 

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

 

That's what I thought too.Umm.let me asked the bibical unitarian web page owner and see what he says...

 

"They interpret "apart from him" to mean "except for him," implying that Jesus was the first created being"

 

And thus why they explain the phrase "begotten". That's why I asked how it is that someone could be Begotten and NOT made?

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I do not think Billy Graham is a hinderance to Progressive Christianty. In fact, there were a couple of news articles noting the difference in the perspectives of the young Billy Graham versus the older Billy Graham. One network news article noted that his moderation is likely what led to him not being on this large nationwide telecast set up by conservatives to discuss judicial issues (if I recall the topic correctly). His son was invited instead.

 

Graham's moderate stance has lead some to find fault with him (especially fundamentalists). I recall his 20/20 appearance where he was asked about homosexuality. He told Hugh Downs that he still believed it was a sin but not "The sin". He then chasitsed those in the church who focus on this issue to the exclusion of the many other sins impacting the life of the church. Truly, many in the church find this a suitable topic and exclude biblical issues of fair wages and social justice (things that might hit too close to home or cause them to have to do something radical).

 

North

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Yeah North, I'm inclined to agree. I have heard him interviewed and he just doesn't sound like a fundamentalist. And definitely not part of the Religious right. He definitely talked about a personal religion. In this context, I don't think he was too scary. Only thing his message may have appealed to some in mainline religions, but they may have been disaffected anyway.

 

 

--des

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On the Evangelical scale is is positvely a Lite rather than an extra dark one..which is a good thing. The REAL roadblock to Progressive Christianity is the SBC..However, I still strongly disagree with Graham's take on a fair chance at salvation in this life as well as his belief in the rapture.

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