Two weeks ago, the Rev. Franklin Graham told a large gathering of pastors in Washington, D.C. that they should address controversial issues from the pulpit, even going so far to say that “God hates cowards.” He was referring to Revelation 21:8 which lists a group of people who will be sentenced to the lake of burning sulfur, “the second death.”
According to christianpost.com, Rev. Graham said that the definition of a coward is someone who will not confront an issue that needs to be confronted due to fear. He continued, “God hates cowards. And the cowards that the Lord is referring to are the men and women who know the truth but refuse to speak it.”
I can’t stop thinking about this. That Billy Graham’s son somehow believes that God hates certain people. I understand that God hates sin, but he loves sinners, doesn’t he? In effect, it sounds like Rev. Graham is saying to this roomful of pastors, “Don’t be a coward, because then God will hate you.” If I knew someone who was being cowardly, or controlled by fear, I don’t believe my best approach would be to tell them God hates them.
I am a person of faith. But I am also a person of fear. I desire to be more of a person of faith, than I am of fear, but I haven’t mastered that yet. So, I guess you could say I waffle. But to say that since I’m imperfect in my faith, cowardly and fearful at times, that I will be sentenced to the lake of fire, separated from God for all eternity (according to John’s vision in Revelation) seems to negate what Christ did on the cross. Fortunately, the Gospel I believe doesn’t define or judge me based on what I do or don’t do. My eternity is in the hands of Jesus.
I believe Rev. Graham does a lot of good for the gospel, but this seems like a significant mis-step on his part. Perhaps instead of resorting to shaming tactics, Graham may be more effective in reaching people who are hungry for hope by telling them how much God loves them, and because of that love, He doesn’t want any of us to be fearful or afraid. Kind of like Jesus, who said over and over again, “Fear not.”