I was working on a serious article about miracles when I turned on the TV for background noise. On that TV came Franklin Graham and one of his commercials with him standing in my beloved Seattle. I had seen these ads before, and they rubbed me the wrong way. I wanted to share via a brief, un-proofread post of why I don’t like these commercials and their philosophical implications. (if the embedded video below does not display in your device follow the link here)
I have often spoken of the ills of the Christian church (thus western civilization) adoption of the Greek philosophical concept of dualism. This is where this material universe is just a mirage, even evil, while Heaven is the true reality, pure and true. Our eyes should only be on Heaven in that paradigm. I’ve tried to tie this to very practical issues. The Dark Ages is where Dualism went to seed in western civilization, although we still hold many tenets of it until this day within our churches.
What bothers me about Franklin Graham standing in the streets of Seattle and talking about these people are lost and need Christ, call this number and you can be saved, is that he is brushing aside profound social issues, issues of this material world. Like social injustice (the root of the Seattle’s protests that Fox News portrayed as just violent anarchy). He is also further advancing the Trump-conservative narrative that Seattle and Portland are the horrible, godless places of rot and despair. Fox News runs these false stories continuously. I believe Graham is catering to that conservative base and their false stereotypes. For example, why isn’t he standing in a cluster of conservative southern white upper class Barbie houses, where people are indulging in inside trading and other white collar crimes–powered by greed, where marriages are plastic imitations of real marriages, when adultery runs rampant, and alcohol flows like water?
If he is sincerely concerned about the people of Seattle why isn’t Graham taking a stand against racism of social injustice? Why isn’t he addressing the roots of homeless? Are people homeless simply because they are not Christian and don’t have their lives together like the good people in the Barbie houses?
Dualism plays out in Christian circles by imagining that the only thing of value in a person is their soul. That their struggle in this material world with social injustice, poverty, mental illness (often genetically based), is inconsequential. That their behavior (unless it is homosexuality or abortion) has no consequences, things like a president who lies all the time, full of greed, and who is a slut, sexually.
It reminds me when I was an evangelical and had personally adopted this same dualistic mindset. A friend and I went to a lecture by an elderly Presbyterian missionary who had spent 50 years in war-torn Lebanon. At least 200 people were there. I went to this lecture because I was in preparation for being a missionary to the Middle East. While this man was showing slides of the hospitals they had built, the clinics, the social programs to help those people my evangelical friend was becoming angry. Then he shouted out in a very rude way, “You call yourself a Christian. I’ve heard NOTHING about Christ’s gospel! Sir, you are a complete fraud.”
While I was uncomfortable with this friend’s outburst, I agreed at the time with his premise. If you were not saving souls but getting involved with people’s physical needs, then you not doing God’s work . . . or so I believed.
In closing, to be fair to Franklin, he is the president of Samaritan’s Purse. I will post Samaritan’s Purse mission statement below. It does appear to take the whole person in consideration. I hope that is true. I will add one caveat. Throughout their history, Christians have been known to use social services as bait to bring people in, to save their souls without really caring for their being. That is a dualistic approach. I hope that’s not what is happening there.
Samaritan’s Purse Mission Statement
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The God I know is in love with humanity, with all of creation, with the material, and the immaterial. I like that God.