Three American Illusions
This was excerpted from an address by Billy Graham to the National Press Club in Washington, D. C., November 19, 1969. It was originally published in the December 19, 1969 issue of Christianity Today.
Norman Cousins said recently in an editorial in The Saturday Review that there are no insoluble problems on earth. Dr. Henry Pitney Van Dusen, president emeritus of Union Theological seminary in New York, took issue with him. "I know no one," he said, "who faces the facts and has taken accurate measure of the manifold symptoms of profound, perhaps mortal, sicknesses in American society and still clings to such illusions."
The American people have been sold a number of illusions that have no biblical foundation. I want to mention three of them. You might not agree with me; and that's your privilege. I once heard Walter Reuther speak in Toronto just after he had called a strike of the United Auto Workers throughout Canada. He was addressing the Empire Club, and the leaders of the industry were there. What a cold reception he got! But he laid it on the line, even going so far as to name the salaries of some of the men who were sitting in front of him. I don't think a man in the room agreed with him, but when he was finished, they gave him a standing ovation-because he had the guts and the courage to tell it like it was.
The first illusion I find prevalent in America today is that permanent peace is a reality apart from the intervention of God.
A few weeks ago it was my privilege to see Mrs. Golda Meier during her trip to the United States. While I was waiting to be taken to her room, one of her aides told me that a man in New York had said to her: "Madam Prime Minister, why don't you Jews and Arabs sit down and settle your problems like Christians?" And I said: "Like in northern Ireland."
Jesus predicted many centuries ago that we would have wars and rumors of wars to the end of time. Now why did he say that? Not because he approved of war. He said it because he knew human nature, knew its lust and its greed and its hate. Without God's help man is not capable of solving the war problem.
Where does war come from? James the apostle tells us. "From whence come wars and fightings among you?" he asks. "Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" In other words, we have something down inside us that is at war. As long as that spiritual war goes on in individual hearts all over the world, all other kinds of war remain possible. I read in a magazine the other day that forty-six wars are now going on. Right now. This includes such conflicts as the guerrilla activity in Venezuela, the fighting in the mountains of Colombia, and the many tribal wars in Africa. Forty-six wars-in a time of relative peace.
Does this mean that there is never going to be real peace? No. The Bible says there is going to be peace. The human race is not headed for destruction: we're not going to destroy ourselves. The Bible teaches that God is going to intervene in the affairs of men and that we are going to know permanent world peace. The human race is headed toward utopia. Micah the prophet said, "He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
There is indeed a day of peace coming, but God is going to bring it, and it is going to be on his terms. The Jew looks for the Messiah, and the Christian looks for the Messiah also. The difference is that the Christian says that Jesus is the Messiah. But there is going to be a Messiah. There is going to be a person who can bring about peace in our world.