Days after some 50 evangelical leaders gathered at Wheaton College in Illinois to discuss the state of evangelicalism in the Trump era, prominent evangelist Franklin Graham decided to weigh in on "what is evangelical?"
As the meeting, which took place Monday and Tuesday, did not include Graham or several other conservative evangelical leaders who have engaged with the Trump administration, Graham took to his Facebook page to say:
"Recently some people have had discussions about the state of evangelicalism today, almost referring to it as a politically-related term. I can't speak for others, and I'm certainly not a spokesperson for any kind of evangelical movement, but I can tell you what I believe.
"I believe in God. I believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. And I believe in the Holy Spirit," Graham said. "I believe my God is three-in-one. I believe that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to take our sins. That He died on a cross and shed His blood for all the sins of mankind. I believe He took our sins to the grave, and I believe in the resurrection. God raised Him to life on the third day, and I believe He is coming again. This is God's Gospel."
Graham, who is president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, explained that Jesus commanded His followers to "go into all the world and proclaim the gospel."
"I believe without Christ, a soul will be lost, condemned to hell for all eternity. This should motivate all of us to share the Good News of God's love to a sick, dying, and compromising world," he stressed. "I am called and committed to preaching this message as long as I have breath or until the Lord returns."
While many today who don't know the true definition of evangelical increasingly view the term in a political context, Graham reminded Facebook users that the word's connotation is completely based on a theological meaning.
"Evangelism is simply reaching the lost with this message," he argued.
"We should be concerned about how we can reach more, and not get sidetracked. A number of years ago Nike had an ad that said, 'Just Do It!' That's our job — that's what we are to do today."
As has been reported, dozens of evangelicals gathered at Wheaton College earlier this week for an invite-only meeting to discuss the future of evangelicalism. While participants included some well-known evangelical leaders such as Tim Keller and A. R. Bernard, evangelicals who informally advise the Trump administration were not invited, leading some to conclude that it was an anti-Trump event.
North Carolina African-American Bishop Claude Alexander was quoted as saying during the meeting: "How could white Christians mourn the deaths of the Charleston Nine but politically support a presidential candidate who appeals to the ideology held by the Charleston murderer?"
Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary and an organizer of the Wheaton College meeting clarified to The Christian Post that it was not "anti-anything."
"That was the idea that this had a political agenda to it and that kind of thing or that it was about being anti-one particular group, which it wasn't. It was about discovering with one another where we are and where we see things and how that relates to the ministries that we participate in," Bock emphasized.
"The core topic that was addressed was thinking through the consistency of our Christian walk."
Nevertheless, CBN News reported that there was a lot of "Trump bashing" at the meeting. A few participants felt so uncomfortable with the "one-sided venting" against Trump and the evangelicals who voted for him that they decided to leave after the first day of the two-day meeting.
Bock noted that there were a variety of viewpoints included at the meeting including those who, he said, voted for Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton and third party candidates.
Moving forward from the Wheaton meeting, Bock said that he expects there to be future discussions held between evangelical leaders that will "fan out in all kinds of directions."
In his Facebook post, Graham asserted that he is "not interested in fanning out in all kinds of directions."
"I'm interested in focusing on one direction — reaching lost souls with the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Graham stated. "It is calling people to cross the line from death to life, in Him. That's evangelism. And that's what evangelicalism should be about."
Graham assured that he is committed to bringing the Gospel "to as many as possible" through the BGEA and the evangelical humanitarian organization he leads, Samaritan's Purse.
"I'm going to continue to do what I have been doing for some 40 years — feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide medical care for the sick, bring comfort to those ravaged by wars and storms — so that I can reach them with the truth of God's love, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to take our sins to the cross."