Addressing Abuse, Clergy Misconduct, Clergy Sex Abuse, Forgiveness, Franklin Graham, It's All About the Image, Misuse of Scripture, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Authority

Cissie Graham Lynch – Publicly Criticizing Pastors or Ministries Destroys the Gospel

Source: About Cissie Graham Lynch

-by Kathi

Cissie Graham Lynch, daughter of Franklin Graham, recently started podcasting. Her third podcast “Criticism in the Church” caught my attention, so I gave it a listen. Since she publicly critiqued those who publicly critique church leaders, I think it’s appropriate to publicly critique her public critique. That’s a tongue twister. It’s shy of 13 minutes, so please feel free to give it a listen and publicly give your thoughts.

Same message. Different deliverer.

Cissie cites Romans 16:17, “Watch for those who cause division,” and addresses those within the church who publicly criticize pastors or ministries. She warns that those who publicly criticize pastors and ministries divide the church and destroy the message of the gospel.

How many times have you heard these words? What does Cissie think of those who publicly talked about their abuse by members of the clergy in the Roman Catholic Church? Or abuse experienced at the hands of pastors and volunteers in the Southern Baptist churches? What about the men who publicly blogged about James MacDonald or the women who bravely told of their abuse by Bill Hybels? How many children have been abused by predators because parents were told that everything would be handled internally and they were cautioned not to go to the police?

The argument that talking about problem pastors, volunteers, or ministries having an affect on the gospel message is a myth. This is a controlling message which uses fear to rein people in from being truthful and honest about their experiences. This message needs to stop!

What is this really about?

Cissie talks about how people in ministry publicly attack her father and his ministry. In fact, there’s a lot of talk about Franklin Graham. There’s even a story of when Billy Graham visited Jim Bakker in prison, which was used as an example that we should not talk negatively or gossip about fallen pastors. Again, the warning is that we should not destroy the message of grace and the gospel.

This leads me to wonder what the real motive is behind the message. Is this Cissie’s personal message, or is she a mouthpiece for Franklin Graham? She works with Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, so lines are blurred between protecting her father and the work of his ministries. Cissie’s bio states that she advocates for “women, children, the weak, and the hurting.” Does this mean she will advocate for any of these people harmed by pastors? If so, how would she do that?

This is message is not in the Bible.

Cissie cites examples such as Paul and Barnabas, Saul and David, and Matthew 18 for why we need to address pastors privately. How well did addressing Mark Driscoll privately work out? Many who read here know that privately addressing church leadership about issues tends to backfire.

Cissie doesn’t address the times in the Bible where leaders were publicly called out for their sin. The prophets of the Old Testament. Jesus addressing the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Herodians. Paul addressed Peter in front of others for his mistreatment of Gentile believers. Paul told Timothy of Demas’ love for the world and his desertion.

There is a time and a place for public critique. Often it only takes one brave person to use their voice for others to feel safe enough to do the same.

Again, same message. Different deliverer.

Cissie ends her podcast with steps to take if you find yourself wanting to talk publicly about ministers. First, she says to evaluate your heart if you have ever been critical. I say, if a pastor sins, it is not your fault and it certainly is not your heart “issue.” I find no need to evaluate your heart when the problem resides in the one who offends. When you are able, find your voice and use it!

Second, she wants us to pray for offending pastors because this will change your heart. I say if you want to pray for the offender, that is your choice. Pray for the offender to recognize the harm inflicted. People do find ways to forgive their offender, but that is an individual process. No one should have the Bible used in a way to shame if they are unable to forgive.

Finally, Cissie encourages her listeners to only do the job that God has called you to do. I suppose the meaning in this is focus on your own work and not the work of others. Or, mind your own business.

Has Cissie learned any lessons from those who publicly called out church leaders or abusers? Recently, many church leaders have been removed from ministry due to their years of abuse or lack of addressing abuse. Some church leaders have been gone for a short time only to resurface in new ministries. Some are still in leadership even though people continue to publicly address their abuse. The important thing is to never stop talking.

While listening to this I recalled the women who bravely told their stories of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar. Imagine if these women remained silent. Nassar would still have access to sexually abuse little girls and organizations would still be hiding it. I recently re-watched the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2018 ESPYS. This award was presented to the sister survivors. Ally Raisman said, “Predators thrive in silence.” If we do not publicly call out abusive or neglectful church leaders or ministries then abuse thrives. Silence and privacy is not an option.

19 thoughts on “Cissie Graham Lynch – Publicly Criticizing Pastors or Ministries Destroys the Gospel”

  1. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

    Also, Matthew 18 is about keeping private sins private. Jesus confronted the Pharisees publicly about their public sins, and that is the example we should follow.

    She is probably upset because her father flip-flopped the second time on whether Christians should care what happens in the bedroom, and got publicly called out for his hypocrisy. For Clinton, we care, for Buttigieg, we care, but for Trump, his infidelity is none of our business.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. BTW, Kathi, this is the part that had me LOL last night. You are too funny:

    Since she publicly critiqued those who publicly critique church leaders, I think it’s appropriate to publicly critique her public critique.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, unless she is accusing Jesus of “destroying the gospel”, then she really doesn’t have a leg to stand on. We are called to follow the example of Christ and he definitely decried the religious leaders of his day for their abusive ways.

    And whether it was her intention it or not, telling those who have been harmed by ‘wolves’ to “examine their own heart” and “pray” for a predator is both manipulative and harmful. I hardly call that the work of an advocate!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a non-Christian family member who is very turned off by Frankllin Graham and how he has handled his ministry, particularly financially.
    It’s so silly that many of these pastors and Christian “celebrities” think that if Christians just don’t talk about it, then everybody won’t know what’s going on. This has never been the case, and it especially isn’t now with all the media available. You want to run or support a multi-million dollar ministry and earn way more than other even secular charities, but don’t want anybody to say anything? You’re the problem, and everybody already knows it.


  5. I still can’t get over how she “advocates” for women, children, and the hurting, yet if one of these people described to her how a pastor was abusing them she would advise to go directly to the pastor to deal with it. Or, better yet, use the Matthew 18 directive that never works out well for the victim.

    You either truly advocate for these people no matter their circumstances or you don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And, if she wants to “be a voice” then she better be that voice. There is a time to advocate privately. A doctor’s appointment, a moment of crisis, for a foster child in court, helping someone get benefits, etc. There is also a time to advocate publicly – calling out abusers and institutions that hide it, wrongful practices, etc.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Publicly Criticizing Pastors or Ministries Destroys the Gospel
    TRANSLATION: As a member of the lucky sperm club and heiress to an empire within the christian industrial complex, I find exposure threatening to my future financial security.

    P.S. NOTHING will ever destroy the gospel. It will be here and available to all until Christ returns. Regardless of how self important some within the church world have become, the gospel is still all about Jesus Christ not ministries or gospel related enterprises.

    If anything we need more exposure. Here in Virginia, clergy & churches are now required reporters thanks the Life Church / Jordan Baird case. That happened largely because of a blog: Nathans Voice. Imagine that. Bloggers effect ng real change !


  8. Franklin Graham has made public criticism of everyone he has political disagreements with a front-and-center part of his life. You can’t aggressively engage in that arena, constantly criticizing people, and then expect to be immune from criticism yourself.

    And the whole “But it’s hurting the ministry and the gospel of Christ” defense is a big misdirect. Franklin already set that in motion when he decided to step into the public role of partisan political critic and party advocate.


  9. Dave, “Franklin already set that in motion when he decided to step into the public role of partisan political critic and party advocate.”

    I think he narcissistically wants to be in a position where he can say whatever he wants and is never questioned. He must have assumed, being Christian royalty, that he was untouchable, and now is trying to do damage control by sending the sycophants out to beat down the masses. Classic narcissism.

    It bothers me that Lynch is using her personal platform (advocating for the weak and hurting) to send what is, without a doubt, something that comes from her role as ministry PR for Samaritan’s Purse.


  10. Romans 16:17, “Watch for those who cause division,” has been changed to mean, “Watch for those who call out those who are causing division.”

    Rule #1 of dysfunctional families is ‘don’t talk about it, keep up a normal facade.’

    And while we are on the subject of division, what about those who divide the body of Christ into clergy and laity? Giving clergy special privileges that the laity do not have? The privilege of doing whatever you please while no one is allowed to discuss it?

    Looking at her bio, how she wants to be “a voice” and then listening to these words urging us to keep secrets, well, it’s just a big load of gaslighting is what it is!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have grown weary of all the Graham offspring. Nothing more than pampered celebrity Christians obsessed with the spotlight. Christianity is merely the “family business”.


  12. Only white sheep of the family is Boz T.
    “Rags to Riches to Rags in three generations.”
    Or “Caesar Augustus, Caesar Tiberias, Caesar Caligula”.


  13. Good analysis. I agree pretty much. But it is a fine line at times to know when criticism goes too far, too long. Which I tend to do.
    Technical niggle: Don’t use the word “myth,” to mean “misconception” or other sort of small idea. Myths are big things and often are true. The famous story of how C.S. Lewis came to faith in Christ has to do largely with a late night talk/walk with Tolkien and another Inklings pal in which they convinced Lewis, finally, that Jesus was the big Myth of the world’s literature and religion come true at one point in history;
    And so myths are an important part of understanding not only the gospel but the world in general, especially humans, and history.
    So don’t waste such an important word on smaller ideas like “mistaken ideas,” which imply that myths always are false. Usually they are true, if understood rightly.


Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s