It's nice to see a little bit of "freethinking" from orthodox Christians these days.
After more than six decades spent preaching the Gospel – the truth that we can only be saved by God's grace through faith alone in Christ – Billy Graham now says non-Christians in other faiths (false religions) and secular humanists may be going to heaven.
In a profile of Graham in the current issue of Newsweek, managing editor Jon Meacham asks the 87-year-old evangelist whether those who belong to religions that reject Christ as savior (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.) and secularists will be saved.
"Those are decisions only the Lord will make," Graham replied. "It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there [in heaven] and who won't. ... I don't want to speculate about that."
The article to which I linked, on the other hand, was written by a fundamentalist, critical of Graham's remarks:
Meacham hails Graham's conversion (so to speak) on the primary issue of salvation as an enlightened ecumenism, when it's really nothing more than age-old universalism – the erroneous idea that all roads lead to God and we're all going to get to heaven one way or another. This is the "I'm all right, you're all right" philosophy of the world.
And that "age old" universalism, I might add, has a rich tradition in this country. Indeed, most of our key Founders (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin) were, or probably were universalists. And that thought was so powerful, it even encouraged orthodox Christians like Benjamin Rush to eventually accede to the notion that salvation was for all.
A quotation of Rush's that I found in James H. Hutson's fine book of quotations:
At Dr. Finley's School, I was more fully instructed in these principles by means of the Westminster Catechism. I retained them but without any affection for them 'till abut the year of 1780. I then read for the first time Fletcher's controversy with the Calvinists in favor of the Universality of the atonement. This prepared my mind to admit the doctrine of Universal salvation, which was then preached in our city by the Revd. Mr. Winchester. It embraced and reconciled my ancient calvinistical, and newly adopted Armenian principles. From that time I have never doubted upon the subject of the salvation of all men. My conviction of the truth of this doctrine was derived from reading the works of Stonehouse, Seigvolk, White,Chauncey, and Winchester, and afterwards from an attentive perusal of the Scriptures. I always admitted with each of these authors future punishment, and of long, long duration.