Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Billy Graham

Many dispensationalists claim to be Calvinists, but they just don’t get it right. Some come very close, but pull back at the last moment. At the end, they are almost universal in their rejection of the Calvinistic Principle that regeneration precedes faith. Chafer and Walvood, in Major Bible Themes, write
It [new birth] is entirely a supernatural act of God, in response to the faith of man.
There can be no doubt whatsoever when it comes to the most famous dispensationalist of all, if not the most famous Christian of the 20th century, Billy Graham, schooled by Moody, within whom there is a nary a gram of Calvinism to be found. Graham writes in How to be Born Again:
New birth is something God does for man when man is willing to yield to God.
Any person who is willing to trust Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord can receive the new birth now.
Notice, this is the opposite of the Calvinist position:
Man is willing to yield to God if God gives him a new birth.
Any person who receives the new birth can and will trust Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord.
Graham can, within a single sentence, start with a Calvinist supposition and end in pure Armianism. He wrote:
A dead man can do nothing; therefore we need God’s help even in our repenting.
Gerstner correctly points out that Graham's dead man is capable of a great deal. He is not dead, just weak. Finally, to remove any lingering doubt, Graham writes:
The Holy Spirit will do everything possible to disturb you, draw you, love you—but finally it is your personal decision.

Is Arminianism creeping into dispensationalism or is it inherent? That is a tough question. Gerstner writes, in Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth of an encounter he had with Dwight Pentecost:
When I once asked Dwight Pentecost how theologians who profess to be Calvinists could teach that faith preceded regeneration, he answered that they did not. Then, I cited Article VII of the Dallas Seminary catalogue which states "We believe that the new birth of the believer comes only through faith in Christ". I will never forget his expostulation: "Is that in the catalogue?" Pentecost went on to say the L. S. Chafer, the founder of the Dallas Seminary, when he was alive was constantly saying, "The baby does not cry before it is born."

Chafer is indeed more Calvinistic that his students. And their students.

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