Paul's Passing Thoughts

Billy Graham: The Former Contemporary Pope of Confused Protestantism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 23, 2018

BillyShortly after the American Revolution, the brand of Protestantism that came over the pond was integrated with Enlightenment ideas which are much closer to biblical metaphysics than Platonist ideas that gave birth to Protestantism. The result was a kinder, gentler Protestantism, but still a cultural train wreck.

Remember, Protestantism never sought to replace the Catholic Church, but only to reform it. Luther, nor Calvin, ever left the Catholic Church. Both churches still claim the same doctor of grace, Saint Augustine.

Pre Revolution Protestantism was just another version of the same old song and dance church-state that plagued humanity since the 4th century. Before then, and shorty after man was banned from the garden, it was the pagan-state. While masses applaud the Protestant Reformation, a blind eye is turned to the historical brutality and despotism of the Reformers. A taste of this confusion is seen in the adulation of the Reformers while many of their historical understudies, like the Nazi regime, are disdained.

This is why separation of church and state was, and still is a hallmark of Americanism, but not because the marriage of force and faith always yields tyranny, but because Platonism hijacked religion. Platonism completely rejects the abilty of man in general and the individual in particular. The rest is, as we shall say, history until mankind could no longer bare the misery. Enough was enough, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” The liberty of man is really the crux.

Because Platonism calls for a strict dichotomy between invisible good and material evil, predeterminism is a key factor; abilty to choose goes hand in hand with ability to control individual destiny. Enlightenment ideas more along the lines of Aristotle propagate the general idea that man can know reality and is able to obtain legitimate upward mobility in all areas of life. The founders of Americanism, when it gets right down to it, were primarily concerned with the freedom of man rather than freedom of religion. Freedom of religion was merely an element in their long list of other individual freedoms. You may also note that Enlightenment ideas are still a caste system albeit based on formal education which explains our culture’s infatuation with expertism.  Nevertheless, it beats the caste system of old that disdains individualism and sees it as the paramount root of all evil.

So, as American history moved from the Revolution, its defeated European Protestantism became confused as Enlightenment ideas were integrated into it. Ironically, this is exactly what prompted the Reformation to begin with; the Catholic Church was being influenced by Aristotlean  ideas through Thomas Aquinas. While a ready excuse was feigned indignation over indulgences, the real issue was the Catholic Church’s move away from Platonism which necessarily requires statism. As a side note, Platonism shows up in the form of Gnosticism during the ministry of Christ, and was the number one enemy of the New Covenant. On its death bed, the former Puritans who oversaw the former colonial Protestant theocracy made a push to remarry with the government, but this attempt was soundly defeated by James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments in 1785. Said Madison,

Because experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

As the church moved forward in America this integration did not eradicate the fundamental principles of what some of the founding fathers called, “Platonist Christianity.” The integration of Platonism with the Bible necessarily requires a progression of salvation found only in an institution, or the institutional church. This is the same old historical song and dance: the orthodoxy of religious philosophers is enforced by the warrier class, and the greatest threat to civilization is anti-altruism. The sole value of every individual is abilty to contribute to the whole of society as dictated and judged by the state. Now stripped of its abilty to call on the state to enforce its orthodoxy, or its ability to drown, burn, or hang those who questioned their authority with state sanction, the church maintained its progressive justification even though progressive justification goes hand in hand with Platonist statism.

Why is this? Progressive justification only recognizes a system that saves the totally depraved individual progressively as he or she obeys those supposedly given authority by God. It is a salvific caste system. In contrast, a one-time, and for all-time transformation of the individual (once saved, always saved) enables the individual and sets him or her totally free from fear and condemnation. Hence, justification is a one time act that is settled and sanctification is a progression of love exemplified by the efforts of the individual and aided by the Spirit of God. Contrary to this, progressive justification makes sanctification part of the salvation process overseen by the church; it is explicitly Platonist in principle.

What were the results of this? While giving the progressive sanctification of new birth justification intellectual ascent as part of the integration of individualism, the practice always EMPHASIZED the only thing that ever mattered in Protestant orthodoxy: salvation. As far as sanctification, people are little more enabled to affect it anymore than salvation which is zilch. Stated simply, the church acknowledged the new birth intellectually, but has always functioned according to progressive justification overseen by the church. Everything is about salvation, while real change for the better in sanctification is given mere lip service. While the church portends a moral compass for society, its testimony exemplifies libertinism resulting from salvation by church membership.

What did this look like historically? A strong emphasis on salvation, or justification, with a tacit nod towards sanctification…of which Billy Graham was pope between 1947 and 1970. Without belaboring all the details, everything was about getting people saved; evangelism itself was the primary measure of sanctification. Everything was really about the gospel while the banner over the church advertised a balance of 50/50 which was patently bogus. Sure, there were popes of everything salvation before Graham like RA Torrey, DL Moody, and Billy Sunday, But Graham ruled the roost during the aforementioned 23-year period. While some argue that his rein lastly well into 2005, his style of so-called “easy believism” began to decline with the advent of Neo Calvinism (1970-present).

Invariably, of course, an overemphasis on salvation led to weak sanctification which created a widespread discontent in the church. Unable to supply curative answers for the deep problems of life among well meaning church goers, the Neo Calvinist movement presented a “beefy” Christianity with real teeth. “You see,” posed New Calvinism, “the problem with church is,” get ready for this, “too much sanctification.” I’m not kidding. The Neo Calvinism movement pointed to the anemic efforts of sanctification in the church as indicative of the problem because sanctification was believed (by those rascally evangelicals) to be separate from justification. The problem with church, insisted Neo Calvinism, is that church tries to implement sanctification through the efforts of the believer when sanctification is really the progression of justification. Yes, insisted Neo Calvinism, sanctification is “justification (salvation) in motion.” Otherwise stated, “justification (salvation) is not a gas station that you stop at once to begin the Christian life, but rather you stop at it often on the road of life to refill your tank.” And we all know what the gas station is…it’s the church, God’s salvation gas station on earth. Supposedly.

In what I think to be a deliberate ruse to deceive by utilizing assumptions, the so-called “Biblical Counseling Movement” is really counseling on how to “preach the gospel to yourself every day” or otherwise the art of being sanctified by justification. The “change” is not increased competence in the art of living, but the art of seeing your need for more and more salvation in a deeper and deeper way. Though initially, the movement was truly intended to rectify weak sanctification by a confused Calvinist and experienced impressive results that might have saved the institutional church as much as it could be theoretically, the movement was hijacked by the Neo Calvinist movement and turned into a progressive justification Sunday school.

This is true Protestant orthodoxy that stripped away the integration of enlightenment ideas proffering human agency in sanctification, or for that matter, any human agency in any other venue of life. After all, “God is sovereign” and in “total control.” It merely redefines God as a Platonist. Augustine himself described Platonism as a pre Christianity philosophy. Augustine himself claimed that understanding the Bible without Plato’s insight is a fool’s errand. And keep in mind, Luther was a monk in the Augustinian Order, And John Calvin cites Augustine no less than 400 times in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. These facts are not mere happenstance.

Consequently, the Neo Calvinists accused the likes of Billy Graham with promoting a professionism with no visible life transformation. But how does Neo Calvinism define a transformed life? That’s an easy question; they define it as mindless devotion to the institutional church. Remember, they also accused the church of having too much sanctification, that is, a sanctification that included human agency in transformation. However, Neo Calvinism also defines transformation as an increased gratitude for salvation as we continually see our need for it in a deeper and deeper way.

Prior to 1970, the church put little emphasis on progressive sanctification. After 1970, the church began to deny that there is any such thing as progressive sanctification apart from “Phariseeism, legalism, and moralism.”

Nevertheless, in all of this, church according to Billy Graham still maintained a significant amount of authentic Protestantism shared also by the Neo Calvinist movement. Though half pregnant in progressive justification, Graham promoted religious expertism, and was guilty as anyone in human history for exacerbating laity ignorance. It isn’t enough that few Protestants know what a Protestant is, church defies common sense in every opportunity it can find.

And lastly, after being stripped of its very identity as a church-state by the American Revolution, and while claiming separation of church and state intellectually, the real heart of the church is to once again have its orthodoxy enforced by the state. According to the Charlotte Observer,

The Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol next week, an honor accorded to only 33 Americans – 11 of whom were presidents. Graham will be the first private citizen so honored since Rosa Parks died in 2005. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Graham’s body will lie in the Capitol rotunda from Feb. 28 to March 1 so the public can pay their respects. Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat at the age of 99.

This conjures up uncomfortable thoughts on so many different levels. If nothing else, our thoughts turn to the fact that our Savior was hardly afforded such recognition by earthly government for specific theological reasons. The fact that Graham, or anyone associated with his legacy would allow this is stunning. But yet the church can do nothing without including something of steroidal cognitive dissonance. Graham had a simple wooden casket constructed by prison inmates. And undoubtedly, the typical churchian will marvel at such humbleness while waiting in line for hours to ponder his body where only the famous lie in state.

Such is the reality when authority and elitism is truth apart from individual reason.

paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Responses

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  1. John said, on February 23, 2018 at 5:57 PM

    A huge RCC admirer, friends of the popes, and heavily involved with the Lausanne Covenant; sigh, yet another man-made piece of junk) the media (those who cared, anyway), Graham was described like this: “a giant has fallen; a great, great man of God.” What they had to failed to mention were the millions he had made from directionless sheep and the “Beatlemania “popularity he had way back then.And the rules and regulations (control, etc.) But what is it with this man worship? It’s most irritating . . . like an inflated beach ball in the throat.

    Protestantism is a magician with the sleight of hand unmatched by no one.

    Look, Graham might be in the presence of Jesus right now and of course, that would be fantastic: I can’t say anything about that because I don’t know. However, when it comes to pure Calvinism I call it, as it is simply a different and diabolical mess.

    Someone, build me a stadium. I wanna feel like a Beatle. For only 15 minutes I want to be worshiped.

    Like

  2. republican mother said, on March 1, 2018 at 7:31 AM

    The Billy Graham “library” is a hoot. Lots of books for sale, of course!

    Check out the video one of my favorite Youtubers did where he tours the Billy Graham library.

    If you can watch the part with the talking cow without twisting your face- you win!

    Like

    • John said, on March 11, 2018 at 4:28 PM

      RM, I win. What’s the prize? A trip to Burger King?

      Like

      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on March 12, 2018 at 8:01 AM

        No, a trip to Xenia for the 2018 conference.

        Like


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