Franklin Graham and Heaven's Extreme Vetting

There is very little on which I agree with Franklin Graham and his view of heaven's extreme vetting is one of those things. In a Facebook post on February 8th, Mr. Graham announced plans for a trip to Puerto Rico to help the poor souls living there. He is not concerned with the standard of living of people he is only concerned with their "salvation." There was never a time in all of the teachings of Jesus when he was not concerned with their physical welfare as well and their spiritual welfare, Mr. Graham might wish to take a cue from Jesus on evangelizing people, rather than just blowing into town with a few Christian platitudes and then leaving, he might want to spend some time with the people he is trying to convert.

With that said I would draw attention to the post itself and his idea of what it takes to "get into heaven:"

I'm on my way to Puerto Rico—to warn people that God uses extreme vetting. What do I mean by that? I want the people of Puerto Rico to know that God loves them and that there is only one way to enter the gates of heaven—and that is through faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone. Good works can't get you into heaven. Religion can't either—being a Baptist, a Catholic, or a Methodist, can't save you. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Thousands of Christians have been praying across the island for this weekend. I'll be preaching the Good News that God loves sinners and sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for their sins. My purpose for going is to help Puerto Ricans "immigrate" from earth to heaven one day. I want Puerto Ricans by the thousands—and people everywhere—to have their immigration status in Heaven stamped and sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ for all eternity.

Mr. Graham is correct is saying that "Good works can't get you into heaven" except that being a follower of Jesus Christ does has some requirements and that our salvation is an ongoing process and that the "extreme vetting" he is so fond of quoting is the following taken from Jesus own words in the Gospel of Matthew:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick, and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave me no food, I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Mr. Graham in God's "extreme vetting" there are no walls, and there are care and concern for all of God's creation, not just the ones that we like and the ones that look like us. We have to feed the hungry with physical food as well as spiritual, we have to clothe the naked, and we also have to care for the stranger, and that care does not mean sending in ICE to round them up and deposit them on the other side of the wall.

Mr. Graham if Jesus were to come today you would advocate that he not be let into the United States, a country you claim was founded on the principles of Christianity but that I find no resemblance to Christianity in the type of politics that you advocate. Jesus came to bring salvation to all without conditions and he also commended us that is we are to be his followers there are certain requirements and that demand is extreme, radical love that not only includes those who love us back but also our enemies, I do not hear much love for enemies coming from you these days.

Mr. Graham, I wish to remind you of the final passage from Matthew as I quoted:

"'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

The "least of these" is the refugee, the hungry, the poor, the sick, and the homeless. We are called to see Jesus in all of these and nowhere in the Gospel does Jesus tell us that we have to be concerned about ourselves before we help others, in fact, the very opposite is true. The radical love of Jesus teaches us that we are to give our very lives for others.

So Mr. Graham that "extreme vetting" you will be espousing on your trip to Puerto Rico is not really what you are preaching it is.


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