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Mike is the general manager of Q90 FM and co-host of Stand Up For The Truth. His new book, "Are You Really Saved?" Understanding Sin, Grace, Salvation, and Sanctification, published in 2014.

Guilt By Association: Is it Biblical?

English: Franklin and Billy Graham, in Clevela...

Franklin and Billy Graham

The recent concerns and controversies stirred up by many Christians over people like Franklin Graham, Kirk Cameron and Jonathon Cahn appearing on secular shows like Glenn Beck and networks like MSNBC are worthy of a lot of thoughtful discussion.  As with most disagreements there are two polar opinions from some Christians.  Some believe Christians should never appear on a show like Glenn Beck, since Beck is an avowed Mormon.  They feel to do so brings a sort of credibility to Mormonism, leading some to believe the guest is de facto endorsing Mormonism as mainstream Christianity.

Others feel Christians should appear wherever and whenever a door is opened to share the gospel, regardless of who the host is or what the show stands for.  They have no problem if a Christian author or teacher appears with Ellen Degeneress, Doctor Oz or Oprah Winfrey.  They point to the scriptures that show Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes.

Franklin Graham was blasted by some because even though he firmly criticized President Obama’s stances on abortion and homosexual marriage, he refused to say that Obama was not a true Christian.  Jonathon Cahn was criticized for not speaking out against Mormonism on the Glenn Beck Show while promoting his book “The Harbinger”.  Some felt he was de facto endorsing Mormonism as Christianity.  And some are now accusing Kirk Cameron of being a dominionist because he is calling for a return to the Christian values our nation was founded upon.

These situations create quite the dilemma for true believers in a world rapidly spinning into spiritual chaos and confusion.  And I find sometimes that by personalizing the issue at hand it helps me find clarity:  So here goes.  I have written a book, The Suicide of American Christianity.  One section takes a hard look at the Willow Creek Leadership Conferences that Bill Hybels hosts every year.  I am critical of the fact that leaders are being brought in who do not live or teach biblical standards.  But if I were invited by Bill Hybels to speak at the Leadership Conference, I think I would accept.  I would remain true to my Christian convictions and would tell those in attendance not to look to men for wisdom on leadership, but to look to Jesus to understand what real leadership should be.   But I don’t think I would take that opportunity to criticize Bill Hybels at the conference.  I would speak the truth, but not see this as an opportunity to pick a fight.

It’s always easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, criticizing the play calling after the fact.  And by all means we should hold one another accountable for what we do and say as Christians—and even for our associations.  But we also need to tread carefully that we do not destroy committed Christians who perhaps don’t do or say everything we think they should.  Perhaps God will bless some of us with an opportunity to appear in front of millions one day to proclaim His truth.  If that happens we might find that walking that walk is much more difficult than talking the talk.  By all means hold fellow Christians accountable for what they say, don’t say and do.  But let us tread very carefully with the “guilt by association” charges.  Jesus and Paul were accused of the same things when they walked the earth.


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12 Responses to “Guilt By Association: Is it Biblical?”

  1. Nancy Enns #

    scripture is clear if they come preaching another gospel HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM, THIS MEANS NOTHING FOLKS!

    September 22, 2014 at 11:08 PM
  2. How's things, great web page but there is a problem whereby sometimes I get sent back to the base page whenever I look at different topics within your website.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:37 PM
  3. Linda Fite #

    I listened to this program with interest and with a heavy heart. I am an ex-Mormon and don't think Christians are aware of how easily my Mormon family takes the involvement of Christian leaders on Glenn Beck's program to be giving him credibility. Mormons believe they are Christians. When I was young they didn't claim they were Christians but now the church pushes that they are Christians.
    Mitt Romney is going to further muddy the water. Association without clear stated differances is dangerous and aids in keeping people I love trapped in the lie of Mormonism.

    July 5, 2012 at 10:38 AM
  4. Mike LeMay #

    Cindy, you are absolutely correct–we should be slow and careful before we judge. We should look not simply for single incidents but for patterns of speech or behavior. Even when something is said that I wrong, a person should have the right to clarify or recant. But when there is a continuous pattern of bad statements or actions, we should start to question what is going on. Rick Warren falls into this area–his statements and actions over the past seven years show a consistent pattern of aligning with false teachers and false religions.

    July 5, 2012 at 9:34 AM
  5. Cindy #

    I think we have to be really careful here when judging other's motives etc. Here are some points to consider:

    Rom 14:4a Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls…..

    Hsa 1:2 When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: "Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry [By departing] from the LORD."

    How would we judge Hosea in this matter?

    Isaiah 55:9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    1Cr 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.

    I think we could all learn a lesson from James.

    James 3:8-10 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

    I am not saying that we should never judge anything, we just need to be careful how we judge lest we be judging God!

    July 5, 2012 at 8:20 AM
  6. Mr. Davis #

    What if the actual condition of the body is worst than we have imagined? What if all followed after their own hearts and their own pernicious ways what then? Would we associate with no one then? Would we not seek in any way possible to warn those who are influencing others of the dire situation they themselves are in? The so called denominations said to be representing Christ have all but become extensions of the very culture we live in with absolutely no change in values, or thought and still pursue the vanity that surrounds them.

    Why did Paul confront Peter in Antioch as recorded in Galatians?

    July 2, 2012 at 2:51 PM
  7. Mike LeMay #

    Holly, your points are well taken. Where it hits home personally for me is I have been blessed that everyone who as read my book tells me every Christian should read it. So my struggle one day might be this: do I accept an invitation to share the book with a large audience if it means having to be temporarily muzzled on a particular subject–like Mormonism which I clearly spell out in the book-so others can earn about the book and read it? I admit I struggle with this. As you know I am bold about speaking truth and just wonder if there is ever a time for temporary discretion. I appreciate your comments and will take them to heart and to my knees. Thank you

    July 2, 2012 at 10:18 AM
  8. Holly G. #

    Mike – sigh… you use the same argument that many do that do not like when people speak the truth regarding error. You might not be trying to apply it the same way, but still, it disappoints. Jesus and Paul did not associate with heretics that I recall.

    Yes we should certainly tread carefully and we realize that we live in the world, and Jesus certainly did preach to the tax collectors, the sinners, the prostitutes, and as you know, was even accused of being a wine bibber.

    But let's stop making the mistake of comparing that to those who associate with those who profess to be Bible believing Christians. I certainly understand Glenn Beck is not in the mainstream of Christianity, so I consider him secular.

    But you lost me on associating with Bill Hybels. You say you would accept an invite in order to speak the truthto "tell those in attendance not to look to men for wisdom on leadership, but to look to Jesus to understand what real leadership should be."

    I do not want to offend you, but He doesn't need you to do that. You say you "would not see this as an opportunity to pick a fight."

    He says this is sharing in their evil deeds. I do not know how men get around this passage.

    Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. 2 John 1:9-11

    How is attending their conference avoiding them? How is not "picking a fight" consistent with marking/naming/noting them?

    Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18

    Every time I read this passage, my heart breaks for the complacency of the men who are leaders in our church, who compromise, and explain their compromise by making comparisons that are not valid. Jesus would NOT have associated with a wolf. He would not have warned us how to know them by their fruits. As we see here clearly, Paul did not also associate with wolves. I think that is a comparison I hope you will consider prayerfully not using again. In my humblest opinion, apples to oranges. Sinners can repent, wolves tear apart the flock.

    For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

    Acts 20:29-31

    July 2, 2012 at 9:58 AM
  9. Mr Davis #

    The world stage "the media" is intended to entertain or to distract us from the real issues, namely our own repentance. It does a pretty darn good job of that too. We think of these bearers of the faith as perfect men, really? Aren't we all comprimised in our thinking and haven't we all swam in the sewage of the western culture where a man makes himself for himself. What do we expect? Do we not have Paul's public rebuke of Peter in Galatian's recorded showing even the pillars of the faith, the very apostles walked sometimes in error?

    Galatians 5:15 KJV
    But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

    We have forgotten our fight is not with flesh and blood. We have forgotten those powers that be against us are still under God soverign authority. We have forgotten it is the Lord that gives us over to our own evil devises, It is the Lord that chooses the delusion and sends it. Now it may be He uses evil agents to deliver it.

    2 Thessalonians 2:11 KJV
    And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

    Isaiah 66:4 KJV
    I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called , none did answer ; when I spake , they did not hear : but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

    2 Chronicles 18:21 KJV
    And he said, I will go out , and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.

    Here is the christian delusion: somehow we are capable of battleing evil in our own strength and in our own wisdom and understanding and somehow by our own action.

    Here is the truth: we are all of us morally evil. Salvation doesn't change our flesh just our heart and we are given a new Spirit. Our flesh is always at war with the Spirit. Out of our flesh comes all evil, lusting after the things of this world, things which are vain or will burn and therefore have no true value. The Spirit desires the things of God and works in us both to know and do what God's perfect will is. That we no longer live for ourselves but rather for God's glory and Christ's name sake. So the battle field is set but it is fought in prayer and by holding fast ot God's word. If we give in to our feelings or desires we will fail. It's that simple.

    This battle is won by bringing our lives into the light of God's word, by God's Spirit, by prayer and with other believers to help us, for we will not see our own filth but only the filth of others. And so it is said when the Body gathers is it for the edification of all who are present, that all may be built up in the unity of the faith of Christ Jesus. If we are not gathering for this purpose why are we gathering?

    Will we be courageous enough to ask?:
    Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:22-23.

    Will we respond in repentance to no longer pursue a way that isn't right?
    Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright , and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:12-14

    Oh Lord God help us to foresake evil and to stop pursuing vanity and train us to keep our focus on Christ Jesus to keep in mind His curious work on the Cross, whereby He became the salvation of men.

    Praise God who is more than able, because He alone is the God of the Impossible!

    July 2, 2012 at 6:17 AM