A well-known professional golfer was playing in a tournament with President Gerald
Ford, fellow pro Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. After the round was over, one of the
other pros on the tour asked, "Hey, what was it like playing with the President and
Billy Graham?" The pro said with disgust, "I don't need Billy Graham stuffing
religion down my throat!" With that he headed for the practice tee. His friend
followed, and after the golfer had pounded out his fury on a bucket of golf balls, he
asked, "Was Billy a little rough on you out there?" The pro sighed and said with
embarrassment, "No, he didn't even mention religion." Astonishingly, Billy Graham
had said nothing about God, Jesus, or religion, yet the pro stomped away after the game
accusing Billy of trying to ram religion down his throat.
R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God.
Sociology professor Anthony Campolo recalls a deeply moving incident that happened in a
Christian junior high camp where he served. One of the campers, a boy with spastic
paralysis, was the object of heartless ridicule. When he would ask a question, the boys
would deliberately answer in a halting, mimicking way. One night his cabin group chose him
to lead the devotions before the entire camp. It was one more effort to have some
"fun" at his expense. Unashamedly the spastic boy stood up, and in his strained,
slurred manner -- each word coming with enormous effort -- he said simple, "Jesus
loves me -- and I love Jesus!" That was all. Conviction fell upon those
junior-highers. Many began to cry. Revival gripped the camp. Years afterward, Campolo
still meets men in the ministry who came to Christ because of that testimony.
Our Daily Bread, April 1, 1993.
Tevye, the Jewish dairy farmer in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, lives with his wife
and five daughters in czarist Russia. Change is taking place all around him and the new
patterns are nowhere more obvious to Tevye than in the relationship between the sexes.
First, one of his daughters announces that she and a young tailor have pledged themselves
to each other, even though Tevye had already promised her to the village butcher, a
widower. Initially Tevye will not hear of his daughter's plans, but he finally has an
argument with himself and decides to give in to the young lovers' wishes. A second daughter
also chooses the man she wants to marry: An idealist revolutionary. Tevye is rather fond
of him, and, after another argument with himself, he again concedes to the changing times.
A while later, Tevye's third daughter wishes to marry. She has fallen in love with a
young Gentile. This violates Tevye's deepest religious convictions: It is unthinkable that
one of his daughters would marry outside the faith. Once again, he has an argument with
himself. He knows that his daughter is deeply in love, and he does not want her to be
unhappy. Still, he cannot deny his convictions. "How can I turn my back on my faith,
my people?" he asks himself. "If I try and bend that far, I'll break!"
Tevye pauses and begins a response: "On the other hand..." He pauses again, and
then he shouts: "No! There is no other hand!"
Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, pp. 123-124.
There is a tale told of that great English actor Macready. An eminent preacher once
said to him: "I wish you would explain to me something." "Well, what is it?
I don't know that I can explain anything to a preacher." "What is the reason for
the difference between you and me? You are appearing before crowds night after night with
fiction, and the crowds come wherever you go. I am preaching the essential and
unchangeable truth, and I am not getting any crowd at all." Macready's answer was
this: "This is quite simple. I can tell you the difference between us. I present my
fiction as though it were truth; you present your truth as though it were fiction."
G. Campbell Morgan, Preaching, p. 36.
Athanasius, early bishop of Alexandria, stoutly opposed the teachings of
declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. Hounded
through five exiles, he was finally summoned before emperor Theodosius, who demanded he
cease his opposition to Arius. The emperor reproved him and asked, "Do you not
realize that all the world is against you?" Athanasius quickly answered, "Then I
am against all the world."
That great American hero, editor, school teacher, and Presbyterian clergyman Elijah
Lovejoy left the pulpit and returned to the press in order to be sure his words reached
more people. The Civil War might have been averted and a peaceful emancipation of slaves
achieved had there been more like him. After observing one lynching, Lovejoy was committed
forever to fighting uncompromisingly the awful sin of slavery. Mob action was brought
against him time after time; neither this nor many threats and attempts on his life
deterred him. Repeated destruction of his presses did not stop him. "If by compromise
is meant that I should cease from my duty, I cannot make it. I fear God more that I fear
man. Crush me if you will, but I shall die at my post..." And he did, four days
later, at the hands of another mob. No one of the ruffians was prosecuted or indicted or
punished in any way for this murder. (Some of Lovejoy's defenders were prosecuted! One of
the mob assassins was later elected mayor of Alton!) However, note this: One young man was
around who was deeply moved by the Lovejoy martyrdom. He had just been elected to the
Illinois legislature. His name was Abraham Lincoln.
Paul Simon, "Elijah
Lovejoy," Presbyterian Life, 18:13 (November 1, 1965), quoted in K.
Whatever Became of Sin, p. 210.
David Hume, 18th century British philosopher who rejected historic Christianity, once
met a friend hurrying along a London street and asked where he was going. The friend said
he was off to hear George Whitfield preach. "But surely you don't believe what
Whitfield preaches do you?" "No, I don't, but he does."
Between Two Worlds, p. 270.
Statistics and Stuff
An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about
ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or Practical reason is idiocy. If a man's mind
is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut.
C.S. Lewis quoted in Credenda
Agenda, Vol. 4, No. 5, p. 16.
Difference between a conviction and a preference, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A preference is a very strong belief, held with great strength. You can give your entire
life in a full-time way to the service of the preference, and can also give your entire
material wealth in the name of the belief. You can also energetically proselityze others
to your preference. You can also want to teach this belief to your children, and the
Supreme court may still rule that it is a preference. A preference is a strong belief, but
a belief that you will change under the right circumstances. Circumstances such as: 1)
peer pressure; if your beliefs are such that other people stand with you before you will
stand, your beliefs are preferences, not convictions, 2) family pressure, 3) lawsuits, 4)
jail, 5) threat of death; would you die for your beliefs? A conviction is a belief that
you will not change. Why? A man believes that his God requires it of him. Preferences
aren't protected by the constitution. Convictions are. A conviction is not something that
you discover, it is something that you purpose in your heart (cf. Daniel 1, 2-3).
Convictions on the inside will always show up on the outside, in a person's lifestyle. To
violate a conviction would be a sin.
David C. Gibbs, Jr. Christian Law Association, P.O.
Box 30290, Cleveland, Ohio 44130.
I am tired of hearing about men with the "courage of their convictions." Nero
and Caligula and Attila and Hitler had the courage of their convictions--but not one had
the courage to examine his convictions, or to change them, which is the true test of
Sydney Harris in Bits & Pieces, October 1991.
Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening
the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.