Insight on the News
● In reviewing two recent biographies of evangelist Billy Graham, the “New York Review of Books” makes some observations about his “once saved, always saved” style of evangelism: “Current evangelism is as far as one can go in the pursuit of faith without works. Graham has brought to perfection the notion of a global parish, that is, no parish at all. He is relieved of the need to make private visits, to gather boxes of old clothes in the church basement, to perform weddings, bury the dead . . . Not only is he relieved, but the saved are also, if they like, outside the demands of works in community with others. With their salvation kits, they are like patients making a single visit to a clinic and who are thereby recorded in the cure statistics. The commitment does not require one to attend Mass or to go about ringing doorbells, selling the ‘Watch Tower,’ refusing blood transfusions and military service.”—August 16, 1979, page 4.
The evidence is that Graham’s superficial approach to salvation has little lasting effect in the lives of most of the people he “saves.” No doubt this is because they are looking for the quick cure that Graham “sells” so well, rather than heeding the Bible’s clear declaration: “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”—Jas. 2:17, 26, “Authorized Version.”
“Saint” or Spy?
● Dr. Tom Dooley, a man highly acclaimed for his hospital work in the jungles of Southeast Asia in the late 1950’s, is being investigated for canonization as a Roman Catholic “saint.” But documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act reveal that Dooley was working for the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during this period. “He’d give information about troops being moved, ammunition coming in, attitudes of people,” explains Maynard Kegler, a priest who is promoting Dooley as a “saint,” adding: “This is not going to hurt his cause for sainthood at all.”
However, “Notre Dame Magazine” writer Jim Winters, who wrote of the CIA findings, says that Dooley “practiced a highly political form of medicine,” extolling “the joys of capitalism” to thousands. “He was not just handing out pills, he was ‘doing a little public relations for America,’” observes Winters. “If he had stayed out of politics . . . he might still be a hero today. But he chose to politicize his books, his speeches, his medicine.”
Do such actions reflect the conduct of a person rightly called a “saint” in the Biblical sense? Not likely, in view of what Jesus said about his apostles and disciples who were saints or “holy ones” in the true sense: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Can you imagine any of them “doing a little public relations” for the Roman Empire?—John 17:16, “Catholic Confraternity” Version.
● The recently published “Encyclopedia of American Religions” lists a staggering 1,187 “primary” religious denominations in the United States. Methodist minister J. Gordon Melton spent 15 years researching his compendium of American religions, conducting hundreds of interviews to establish the facts. Prior to his “Encyclopedia,” the largest listing may have been “Profiles in Belief,” with 735 North American religions included.
Such a proliferation of religious sects based on the ideas of different men is to be expected, as the apostle Paul predicted concerning those who profess Christianity: “The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes.”—2 Tim. 4:3, “The Jerusalem Bible.”
Already in the first century, there were those who said: “‘I belong to Paul,’ ‘But I to Apollos,’ ‘But I to Cephas,’ ‘But I to Christ.’” Yet Paul declared that “there should not be divisions among you,” and explained that such were a trait of “fleshly men,” who were only feeding on the “milk” of God’s Word and not the strong spiritual food necessary to make them a united body of “spiritual men.”—1 Cor. 1:10-12; 3:1-4.