Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Resolve to ignore Billy Graham

Looking through my local newspaper, I came across another Q & A column by Billy Graham. It wasn't surprising to see it was long on judgement and short on sense. Here's the text from the article:

With Christ, you can keep your New Year's resolutions

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I made a whole list of New Year’s resolutions this year, and I’ve hardly kept any of them, although the year has barely started. I really want to be a better person, but something keeps holding me back. Why am I such a miserable failure? — N.K.

A: I suspect that if a poll were taken of all the people who made a list of New Year’s resolutions this year, the majority would probably say what you’ve said. Jesus’ words apply to us all: “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38).

Why can’t we keep our resolutions to become better people? Sometimes, of course, it’s because our resolutions haven’t really been resolutions but only vague wishes. Other resolutions may have been sincere, but they were unrealistic or the person who made them had no practical plan to reach their goal. I might resolve to lose 30 pounds, for example, but if I have no realistic plan to do so, I probably won’t get it done.

But the real problem is inside of us, within our own hearts and minds. Although we may hate to admit it, we are morally and spiritually crippled, unable to do everything that’s right and turn away from everything wrong. The reason, the Bible says, is because we all have a spiritual “disease,” the “disease” of sin.

This is why we need Christ, for only he can forgive our past and give us the strength we need to do what is right. Don’t despair, but repent of your sins and by faith ask Christ to come into your life. Then ask him to help you become the person he wants you to be — and he will, as his Spirit works within you. The Bible says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

So according to Mr. Graham, the reason people don't keep their resolutions is because they just need more Jesus. Seriously? This is a rather odd claim for him to make when you consider that the most recent survey of religiosity in America showed 78.4% of Americans to be Christians. Meanwhile, about 60% of Americans say that they make New Year's resolutions. Assuming resolution trends are equal by religious group, that would mean that 78.4% of resolutionaries are Christians, 4.7% belong to other religions, and 16.1% were 'unaffiliated/no religion' (0.8% didn't answer). Meanwhile, 72% of people who made resolutions end up breaking them.

As you can see, even if every non-Christian failed to keep their resolutions, the vast majority of those that failed at their resolutions were still Christians. But I'm sure we all know that it's expected that Christians and non-Christians alike would have similar success rates with their resolutions. This brings the failure rate of Christian resolutions even higher. So Mr. Graham, considering the fact that most who break their resolutions are Christian, how is it that they failed? After all, you were the one posting that one can keep resolutions once they've welcomed Christ into their lives. If these stats actually suggest anything, it's that Christianity actually has an adverse effect on one's ability to keep resolutions. Also, what about the non-Christians who do keep their resolutions? They don't have the Christ that you are deeming necessary for success. It should be fairly obvious now that your advice is no more than meaningless tripe.

But then there's the personal factor. The questioner asks why she is such a miserable failure, and Graham goes on to give Jesus credit for strength and success. It's rather sad that 'loving' Christian's like Graham have no problem with the concept that all humans are born terrible, defective and powerless. Such is a horrible picture to paint of humanity. NK, considers themselves a miserable failure. But are they? In Graham's eyes, anyone who doesn't worship his good 24/7 is. But in mine, I'm not going to consider someone a 'miserable failure' just for not keeping some silly resolutions.

I don't even make any, but I know that people tend to make them with good intentions. Sometimes admitting to yourself  that you need to eat better, lose a few pounds, or even spend less money is half the battle. Where I would tell you that there is no substitute for determination, Graham would tell you that you are powerless without his god. This is a terrible disservice to humanity and a slight to the personal capability of one and all. This attitude can leave those that believe this feeling defeated before they even begin. You are not powerless, you do not need some supernatural guide to accomplish even the simplest goals. The power is withing you, it's within me, it's in all of us. We are all capable of more than Graham would give us credit for. So when you want to accomplish something, work hard and stay mentally strong. And when you succeed, don't thank some invisible force. Rather give yourself a well deserved pat on the back, because you were doing all the work all along.


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