Reinhold Niebuhr, professor of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was a vocal critic of the late Reverend Billy Graham. Graham had many critics of course, but Niebuhr's criticisms were interesting in light of the fact that many churches and seminaries still quote Niebuhr's writings. According to conservative theologian Dr, Michael Brown, in an interview with Life Magazine, Niebuhr sharply derided Graham for "presenting Jesus as the all-sufficient answer for man's ills." "Perhaps because these solutions are rather too simple in any age, but particularly so in a nuclear one with its great moral perplexities, such a message is not very convincing to anyone--Christian or not--who is aware of the continuing possibilities of good and evil in every civilization, every discipline of culture and every religious convention."
On March 2, the Reverend Billy Graham was laid to rest. In commemoration of Easter, which was April 1, I have titled this post after a message that Dr. Graham gave close to thirty years ago, "The Offense of the Cross."
What Niebuhr said in Life Magazine so many decades ago sums up how many people feel about Christianity in 2018. Jesus may be AN answer for Some--but He can never be The Answer for All. All religions have some sort of relative equality--all people have inner moral goodness and the ability to make great choices. Christianity is One path among many that lead to God.
Standing starkly against all of this relativism is the Cross. The cross offends the world because it gives mute testimony that all religions are not equal and all paths are not correct. There is no more passionate or powerful statement than the cross that we can never be enough--good enough, smart enough, moral enough, educated enough, rich enough, connected enough--to save ourselves. In an age where we are told daily that just being ourselves is enough, the cross reminds us that when it matters most being ourselves in NOT enough. Salvation belongs only to God and it is His free gift to us.
Evangelist Greg Laurie says that all roads lead to God. Everyone of us will meet God when we die--rich, poor, young, old, atheist or believer. Only one road leads to Heaven--only the cross. If we had the power to save ourselves--to be good enough or moral enough or wise enough or spiritual enough or educated enough--the God of the Universe would not have needed to send His only son to die a torturous death in our place. If all religions are equal, the cross was completely unnecessary. If the Cross were necessary, then Jesus is the all-sufficient answer for man's ills and the ONLY way to be saved.
"As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in all the attractive things of the world was killed long ago, and the world's interest in me is also long dead." Galatians 6:14 TLB