Billy Graham and the Mormon Issue

Billy Graham is an evangelical who is supporting Republican nominee Mitt Romney, a Mormon, for president. I know many evangelicals who are doing the same. This short article raises no issue with such a position.

Let it be known that nothing in this post is an attack on the influence or life of Billy Graham. Few would deny the significant impact of this great man and what he has done for Christianity in the last century. Also let it be known that this post is not meant to be political. There will be no Republican versus Democrat rhetoric found here. The only mention of political allegiance here will be the factual position that Billy Graham has publicly affirmed that he supports a Mormon for president.

Graham’s support of Romney is controversial. This is not centered on some mere political agreement. I myself do not vote for American politicians based on the candidate’s personal religion. I therefore find no problem with Graham and a slew of evangelicals supporting a Mormon candidate. My issue does, however, rise in the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s (henceforth BGEA) removal of Mormonism from its list of cults.

The BGEA’s removal of Mormonism from a list of cults is a clear and present example of how individuals allow American politics to shape one’s theology. This is fundamentally incorrect. Theology ought to shape one’s political ideology. In response to immediate backlash, the BGEA stated that it removed Mormonism from the cult list because “(BGEA) do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

But the issue is a theological debate. The fact that it has become politicized relates in no manner to the theological importance of false religions. The BGEA has compromised its stance on truth. In lieu of using Romney’s public image to promote Christianity’s truth over Mormonism, the BGEA has essentially turned a blind eye to a false religion. The removal of Mormonism makes not a political statement, but a theological one. By omission, the BGEA no longer considers Mormonism a cult and an enemy of truth.

So what, exactly, should the BGEA have done? Affirm theological doctrine while simultaneously endorsing a presidential candidate of another (false) religion. America is not a theocracy. It is therefore not a logical contradiction to support a candidate whose religious beliefs differ from the individual voters. A contradiction would only form in the case of supporting a candidate whose religion is the same as the voter, but whose political worldview is to the contrary of the voter.

In case you were wondering, evangelicals can, and do, support Romney while upholding Christian truths. For a thorough example, please see Denver Seminary philosopher, Douglas Groothuis, in his article Why this Conservative Evangelical Counter-Cult Expert will Vote for Romney. As Groothuis states, Americans do not elect a “Theologian-in-Chief” but a Commander-in-Chief.

Do not let your politics influence your theology. Let theological truth direct politics.

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