(BP) -- Billy Graham still believes Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, contrary to the impression left by a PBS Frontline special.
The question was sparked by the PBS series April 29, 2004 installment on President Bushís evangelical faith, when the program recounted a disagreement between Bush and his mother, Barbara, on the question of faith in Jesus.
According to a statement released by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association April 30, Grahamís message and George W. Bushís belief are consistent ... that the essential Truth of the Gospel is that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone, "for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NIV).
The issue apparently involves two different accounts by a reporter with the former Houston Post, who, according to Frontline, interviewed Bush in 1994 on the day he announced his plans to run for governor of Texas.
The reporter, Ken Herman, told Frontline of Bush relaying a family anecdote. "Him [Bush] and his mother were having a difference of opinion about whether you have to accept Christ to go to heaven," Herman said. "Perfectly legitimate thing for a family to discuss. His motherís belief was, as Bush told me, sort of Ďmaybe you donít but more importantly maybe you shouldnít worry about it, just sort of take care of yourself and, you know, weíll see what happens when the time comes.í"
Bush and his mother decided to place a call to Graham, described on the program as a longtime family friend, to help settle the issue.
Herman continued, "And as it turns out, Rev. Graham sided with his mother, saying, ĎJust donít worry about it; live your life the way youíre supposed to, love everybody and move on.' Bush, however, said that despite what Billy Graham said, he held a personal belief that you have to accept Christ to get to heaven."
Grahamís evangelistic association, on April 30, 2004 however, produced a copy of an article Herman had written in 1994, dated Oct. 10, which stated:
... One doctrine of which Bush is certain is that heaven is open only to those who accept Jesus Christ.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in a 10-paragraph statement April 30, said in part:
He recalled discussing the topic with his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, who disagreed and called the Rev. Billy Graham, a family friend.
Billy came on the line and said, "Look, I happen to agree with what George says about the interpretation of the New Testament, but I want to remind both of you to never play God," said Bush.
Bush retains his belief that non-Christians cannot go to heaven, but it is merely a "personal opinion".
"It is one thing to have your personal opinion and to believe it and to act accordingly," he said. "Itís another thing to condemn your fellow man. That other thing is to play God ... The message I got (from Graham) was listen to the New Testament, but donít be harshly judgmental."
The Bible teaches, and for more than six decades Mr. Graham has faithfully preached in crusades around the world under the banner verse of John 14:6: "Jesus said, I am the Way the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father except through Me."
The full PBS program on President Bushís faith, titled The Jesus Factor, can be viewed online at www.pbs.org.
Mr. Graham has always believed that the Eternal God of the Bible welcomes all, disregarding their past. Their goodness does not help them nor does their badness deny them the privilege to come to God. But, they must come Godís way, not whatever way they choose.
No one comes to Him by "doing the very best that they know how" for none are capable to do good enough for the perfect standard of Godís righteousness. Instead, the Bible says that there is "none righteous, no not one" (Romans 3:10).
We all must come to God by His grace in faith, "not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us by the washing of regeneration and a renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
© 2004 Baptist Press
© 2004 Maranatha Christian News Service
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