Franklin Graham recently appeared on highly popular conservative US talk show, The O'Reilly Factor hosted by Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly wanted to take the opportunity to call on Graham to respond to Rob Bell's latest book (Love Wins) which denies the plain Scriptural teaching of a place of literal conscious eternal punishment widely referred to as hell. Not only is the subject of hell unpopular in the secular world, there are also legions of professing Christian leaders who would also love to do away with this nasty doctrine. Franklin was refreshingly candid in his assessment of Bell but what took my interest was his apologetic defense of the historic Christian doctrine of damnation. Here it is, and while you watch this imagine that it is you in the hot seat, and consider what response you would make in a widely circulated interview like this.
I love Franklin Graham and I don't think he did a bad job of dealing with these loaded questions from left field in a limited time frame. Some of his comments were excellent and I loved his determination to proclaim the Gospel. I don't think Reverend Graham said anything wrong but I do think we, as Bible believing Christians, can provide a more thorough, Gospel centered response to these questions. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, based on O'Reilly's summation of what Graham said, I believe we actually need to do better at this and drive to the real issue lying at the heart of why unconverted sinners spend eternity in hell. How can we better bring glory to God in a conversation of this nature and help the sinner see why he needs the righteousness of Christ.
False teaching always demands a response from historic Christian orthodoxy and this current hot topic is no different. If you are a Christian, or more particularly a pastor or leader, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is only a short matter of time before a church member or unbeliever accosts you with these questions. So my challenge to you, the reader, is how would you respond to these questions when you find yourself in the hot seat. Have a go at responding to O'Reilly's seven questions/assertions as I have numbered them below. I would love to hear and publish your responses before I give mine next Wednesday. So please, put yourself to the test before you face these in a real one on one encounter!
1. There cannot be a hell because God is not a monster and He could never assign any human being to a place of eternal damnation.
2. Isn't it a cruel action for God to throw people into hell?
3. What about people who've never even heard of Jesus Christ?
4. Are you saying that if someone believes in the goodness of the Creator then they can be saved?
5. But what about the Jews who suffered and died during the holocaust. They didn't believe in Jesus but they were good people. How could they possibly be sentenced to eternal damnation?
6. If innocent people were killed without any revelation of Jesus Christ or were never taught this by their parents - how could they possibly be damned?
7. I believe it's all about free will. We are free to make choices in this life but we will be held accountable for all of them.
I'll make my personal response to all seven of these in next Wednesday's post.
Go On To Part 2