Posts Tagged Graham

Forces Outside North America Will Impact Our Worship in the Future Dockery Says in Charleston

Dr. David Dockery traced the major changes in worship over the last two thousand years starting with synagogue and temple worship and then anticipated future changes as great shifts in the Christian community are unfolding. He was speaking at the 20th Annual John A. Hamrick Lectureship held at First Baptist Church of Charleston on January 18 and 19.

He said that very few Baptist churches maintain the formal worship style practiced at First Baptist Church of Charleston and that guitars, drums and pianos have replaced organs in most more contemporary churches. The Pentecostals have had major sway in recent years, but that the future will be shaped by religious forces outside North America, especially Latin America, Asia and Africa. Secularism is outpacing Christianity three to one in North America.

He encouraged his listeners not to lose heart and suggested that the church needs to refocus on worship of God as its major function and that there needs to be an emphasis on the reading of scripture and enlightened preaching.  “The head is neglected in much of contemporize worship where emotion is the major component and that needs to change in favor of a more balanced approach.  Worshipers need to prepare for worship. Denominationalism as we know it is giving way to other types of structure and is becoming less and less important. The type of revivalism demonstrated by Billy Graham will no longer be effective even though Dr. Graham is my personal hero, “he said.

David Dockery is president of Trinity International University in Chicago and former president of Union University in Tennessee.

Dr. Dockery was introduced by Dr. Don Gardner and Dr. Doug Hunter, Executive Director of the Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership at Charleston Southern University. David Templeton, Minister of Music and Worship at First Baptist Church, provided special music.

The lectures honor the memory of long time pastor and the founding president of what is now Charleston Southern University, Dr. John A. Hamrick.

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Religion and Politics Are Poor Teammates –

Mitch Carnell

Posted: Monday, November 5, 2012 5:25 am

Religion and Politics Are Poor Teammates | Mitch Carnell, Billy Graham, Elections, Endorsements

Billy Graham has sacrificed a spiritual leadership position on the altar of partisan politics, Carnell observes. (PhotoBucket)

The tragedy of Billy Graham’s endorsement of Mitt Romney is not Graham’s choice for president of the United States. It would be the same had he endorsed President Obama.

The tragedy is that he made an endorsement at all. His removal of Mormonism from his list of cults and his endorsement are simply the results of human frailties.

Billy Graham, like so many of us, is unable to resist the warmth generated by the perception of power.

We thought that he had learned his lesson from being burned by getting too close to Richard Nixon. Apparently we were wrong.

Many of us have placed Graham on a pedestal and assumed he could do no wrong.

He has all of the fame and adoration that one person could possibly enjoy; however, the lure of political influence is too strong for mere mortals to resist.

Of course, Billy Graham has the same right as any other American citizen to endorse whomever he wishes – except that Graham is not any other citizen.

He occupies the position of spiritual counselor to the world. He is a role model for millions of people.

He has sacrificed a spiritual leadership position on the altar of partisan politics. He has become one more role model tarnished by the allure of political influence.

I have marveled at his ability to resist the temptations that money can bring, and he has not been touched by the sins of the flesh that have engulfed so many other televangelists.

He is a truly gifted communicator who can deliver a message to millions of people. He has neared the finish line of a remarkable career with very few blemishes on his record.

Why would he sacrifice all of this for a fleeting moment of political influence?

Most of us can manage the really big moments in our lives, but it is all those pesky little problems that arise in the meantime that cause us so much heartburn and heartache.

Power is a powerful magnet, and no matter how much of it we have, it is never enough. Politics seems to be Graham’s Achilles heel. He is unable to stay away from its lure.

The problem may lie with us in that we expected too much from another mere mortal. When the election is over and the results are known, Graham will get much of the credit and the far right will be strengthened if Romney wins. Religious leaders will be encouraged to enter the political wars.

If the president wins, Graham will have sacrificed his influence to politics. Either way he will be the loser, and so will we.

I am glad that God did not trust me with the responsibility of judging who on the national stage is more Christian.

Because I believe that there are no levels of Christians, I am automatically disqualified as a judge.

I also believe that there are no levels of sinners. We have all sinned and fallen short. I do know that it is un-Christian to leave people without health care, food or hope. I can judge those things.

Who am I as a layperson to criticize Billy Graham? I am just another flawed human being striving to find enough light to make it through life.

I am reminded of my conversation with the late Dr. John Hamrick, long-term pastor of Charleston’s First Baptist Church.

“Dr. John,” I asked, “does it ever make you anxious about preaching here where so many great pastors of the past have preached?”

“Yes,” he said. “At first it did until I realized that I didn’t have to please Richard Furman. I only had to please God.”

Billy Graham does not have to please Mitch Carnell. He only has to please God.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant specializing in interpersonal and organizational communication. He is the editor of “Christian Civility in an Uncivil World.” He and his wife are active lay members of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C. Mitch blogs at

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The Real Culprits for Society’s Harsh Rhetoric

The Real Culprits for Society’s Harsh RhetoricBy: Mitch Carnell
Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 6:33 am
Section:’s Latest Articles

The cashier and I were concluding our discussion about the “Say Something Nice” button I was wearing when I handed one to the man who had just walked up.”Fat chance,” he said looking at the button. “Those guys in Washington set a bad example.”

Back at home, I clicked on the national news in time to hear Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) say, “I like the president personally. He is a deliberate man and that is what we need at this time.” He then said he felt the president should act more boldly in Libya, but he expressed his differences with the president in very civil terms. 

Most of us would prefer to believe it’s those other guys – Congress, the far right, the far left, the lunatic fringe, the Tea Party – who are responsible for the angry rhetoric that fills the airwaves. The truth is that the professional merchants of hate and disrespect can only exist where there is a market for their product. Our silence in the face of outrageous disrespect gives permission for their rants. 

Over and over again, those of us who promote a more civil discourse are accused of trying to stifle debate or, worse, represent a particular political faction. The truth is that we are promoting the behavior represented by Graham’s example. Of course, Graham has paid a price for his bipartisan efforts. He has been censored by several Republican groups at home for trying to get along with the opposition. 

Our democracy depends on lively, informed, healthy political debate. No American wants a society where nothing is challenged and everything goes. Debate is the life’s blood of our way of life. If you have a better idea, put it on the table and let’s see if it can stand up to rigorous scrutiny. 

It is not the other group or the other person who is responsible for gutter language in our national debate, or for the shameless and often baseless attacks on individuals. It is any of us who engage in such tactics or fail to challenge them when and where we encounter them. 

Years ago my father told me a wonderful story. At a meeting, the featured male speaker looked over the crowd and said, “Since I see that there are no women present, I have a great story to tell you.” At this point a man seated near the back of the room rose to his feet and responded, “No, there are no ladies present, but there are lots of very fine gentlemen here.” The speaker got the message.

 Such a reaction requires courage on our part. When I was a relatively new member at First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C., years ago, the minister of education asked me to discuss censorship during an educational program. My remarks were later published in the church newsletter.’s Featured Resource

Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism (Individual Copy)


I said then and I believe today, “There is nothing that a Christian should not be allowed to read, but much that he or she should choose not to read.” Today I would add “or listen to.” Our abilities to hear and to speak are gifts from God. They are sacred trusts. We are to use them for the betterment of our fellow human beings, not to destroy them. As it says in Ephesians 4:12, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” 

Sally Dyck, Methodist bishop of Minnesota, has done much work on “holy conferencing.” One premise: Get the other person’s agreement that we have understood what he or she said before we add to the discussion. It may slow the discussion, but it will also ensure that our remarks stay on target. 

In “Balanced Living: Don’t Let Your Strengths Become Your Weaknesses,” author Monty Knight, a pastoral counselor, states, “We do not have to go to every fight to which we are invited.” My late wife stated it in her own fashion when she admonished me, “Don’t feed the tigers.” In other words, don’t take the bait. 

Our words have consequences. As followers of Christ, we have an added responsibility to make certain that our words or our communicative behaviors are consistent with building up the kingdom. 

Mitch Carnell is a communication consultant who works with all types of organizations, including churches. He is the editor of “Christian Civility in an Uncivil World.” He is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C., and blogs at

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