From Franklin Graham's Compelling New Book
August 1, 2002 - Tolerance has become the new watchword of our times. It is heralded as perhaps the highest virtue in Western culture that glues people of differing backgrounds and ideologies together for the sake of promoting cultural unity. And why shouldn’t it be? It sounds good, right?
by Franklin Graham
In fact, it sounds so good that anyone who would dare talk negatively about this sacred cow of civility would almost be considered immoral. But that’s just the point. The media and the governmental bureaucrats tell us to be tolerant of everything and anything except the Gospel of salvation, all in the name of political correctness. It seems almost ironic that Christians are not being tolerated by such a "tolerant" society.
So I admit, I get frustrated and a bit defensive when I encounter intolerance toward the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Western societies these days, just about any viewpoint, religion or behavior is exempt from criticism in the name of "tolerance." It is "politically incorrect" to give anything but reverent respect to the most off-the-wall ideas that come from individuals. All of this is done in the name of "tolerance."
But such tolerance is not universal. One of the few loopholes in the "law of tolerance" involves followers of the Name of Jesus Christ. If you are a born-again Christian, don’t expect the same tolerance that others enjoy—the playing field is not level as it relates to other beliefs.
For decades now, Christians have been on the run over issues like prayer in public forums and Nativity scenes erected on public property. Even saying "Merry Christmas" is being altered to such euphemisms as "Season’s Greetings." But such aggressive opposition to the insertion of the Christian faith into the secular arena has not been brought against other religions.
To illustrate: Since the September 11 attacks, there has been heightened interest in the United States concerning Islam. For instance, one California school district went so far as to require seventh-grade students to learn the tenets of Islam; to study important persons in the history of the religion; to learn verses from the Koran; to pray "in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful"; and to chant "Praise to Allah, Lord of Creation."(1)
Can you imagine the lawsuits that would raise their ugly heads if a teacher commanded students to memorize Bible verses, to recite the Lord’s Prayer, or to pray in the Name of Jesus? ...
Is Jesus the only way to God? This question has received renewed attention in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, because the planners and perpetrators of those wicked deeds were followers of Islam.
As I write these words, the United States is engaged in a war against terrorism. But this war has a unique twist for Americans. We are not fighting to stop a Hitler or godless Communism. In fact, both sides of the current war frequently invoke God’s name. Osama bin Laden, just weeks after some of his operatives slammed the planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, said the following in a videotaped message: "There is America, hit by god in one of its softest spots. Its greatest buildings were destroyed, thank god for that. There is America, full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank god for that."(2)
In America we are calling bin Laden evil personified. We pray to God that he, and others like him, will be found and stopped. Yet, Osama is giving thanks to "god" for the obvious "blessings" of destroyed buildings, thousands of deaths and widespread fear. Are we talking about the same "God"? Beyond Islam, are other religions simply different, but equally valid, paths to the same Supreme Being, whatever name someone happens to give him or her—or it?
There is no question more important than this.
As I have learned through my experiences after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 and the Inauguration in 2001, in America we seem to be embracing the idea that one religion is as legitimate as another. Tolerance of the sincerity of others has become our creed. Sadly, though, we can be both sincere and wrong. When we are, the consequences can be catastrophic.
As a pilot, I have experienced the sensation known as vertigo. Vertigo occurs when a person becomes temporarily disoriented, say, in a cloudbank. When you cannot see up, down, left or right—the cloud masks your visibility. Your senses tell you that you are headed in a different direction than you are actually going. A pilot who succumbs to vertigo can fly his aircraft nose first into the ground, taking his life and the lives of those with him, all the while sincerely believing that he is heading in the right direction. His only hope for survival—for life—is to rely on his aircraft instruments, the objective standards of measurement that accurately portray what is really happening. Relativity is not an option in the cockpit!
In relationship to God, it is not enough to go on what feels right or what we sincerely believe is true. To have life eternal, we need to relate to God on His terms, not ours. He is, after all, God. So, the test of any faith’s validity is whether it conforms to His standard. It is not enough to have a subjective belief based only on a person’s experience; every person’s belief system needs to be scrutinized and tested objectively.
With this in view, does bowing down to Allah mean the same thing as worshiping the God of the Bible? What about adherents of the thousands of other religions? When they pray or call out to some higher essence or being, are they all seeking to make contact with the same divine person? Or are there other gods?
The Bible tells us that there are other gods. Do they really exist? Are they real? They certainly seem real to those who worship them. Even God Almighty Himself acknowledged this was the case in the first Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me."(3) That is the key point. There are false gods of this world and then there is the one true God, who revealed Himself in the Person of Christ. ...
"Christianity is a religion for losers," said one famous American billionaire.(4)
"Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers," said a famous American politician.(5)
It makes no sense! What drives two such otherwise intelligent, motivated and successful men to publicly slam the followers of the greatest Name in history?
The wealthy man founded a television network and owns two sports teams and several ranches in the United States. He is an outstanding yachtsman who once won sailing’s prestigious America’s Cup. Time magazine once selected him "Man of the Year," and he is generous in supporting favorite charities and causes. Even though he may apologize later, this man has a habit of bashing Christians. Why does a brilliant man like Ted Turner go out of his way to blast believers loyal to the Name?
Then there’s the politician. As a young man, he valiantly served his country as a Navy SEAL. Later he made a name for himself as a professional wrestler and actor. He has served as a volunteer for organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His entry into politics was as the mayor of a large suburb adjoining a major American city. In 1998 he shocked the political world with his election as a third-party candidate to the governor’s chair. With so many outstanding credits to his name, why does Governor Jesse Ventura, of the great state of Minnesota, say that religion is just for the "weak-minded"?
In recent times it has become almost a requirement for the sophisticated and intelligent to take a swipe at the nearest Christian. A recent magazine article explained how to many of the "culturally elite," the enemy of civilization is not terrorism but instead religious believers of "all types, including Orthodox Jews and Christians."(6) ...
Maybe we should not be so shocked; people have been taking potshots at Jesus for more than 20 centuries. Even one who was to become an ardent disciple started out as a skeptic. When Nathaniel first heard about the remarkable young Carpenter from down the road, his response was, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"(7) Later Jesus’ own family members expressed doubt. Jesus told them that the world "hates Me because I testify ... that its works are evil."(8) On another occasion, Jesus explained that those who follow Him would face trials and persecution. He was right. ...
After all these centuries, just why is the Name so controversial and still stirring such a brew of conflicting passions? Answering that question is the single task of this book. It is important for you to know much about the Name. This is not just another interesting spiritual topic. An understanding of the Name is the key to all of life. The Apostle Paul hit the nail on the head concerning the Lord Jesus Christ when he wrote the following to the Christians at Colossae: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."(9)
The Ted Turners, the Jesse Venturas and others who ridicule or demean the Name and His followers must not understand what they are doing and whom they are dealing with. Unfortunately, the fence-sitters and even many who follow the Lord Jesus do not grasp the incredible scope and impact of His life either.
That is why I have written "The Name."
The Name stands before, beyond and after all others.
In the beginning was the Name. At the end will be the Name. In the present time all things depend upon the Name.
The Name is above all names.
The Name will cause all knees to bow ... Ted’s, Jesse’s, yours, mine ... for all time.
Do you know the Name?
Are you allied with the Name?
Your life or death depends upon your answers.