This series is a study on hypocrisy. Number 1 is above. The series is based on the following verses.
it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. (Matthew 15:11).
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
Waffling is a secular term that means changing one’s mind frequently on a topic. “For breakfast” means to do it easily. That defines world-famous evangelist and itinerant crusade preacher Billy Graham, whose going back and forth on theological issues was so easy and so frequent it became second nature to him.
His slide from what he stated he believes, into doctrines so far outside orthodoxy, was so incremental and so little reported, that many people don’t know that he spent a lot of time retracting, clarifying, re-explaining and watering down any doctrine where he encountered push-back. Here is one example. In a sermon given on September 1993 in Columbus OH he remarked about AIDs
Is AIDs a judgment of God? I could not say for sure, but I think so.
Afterwards, Graham received many protest letters. He contacted the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper and retracted what he’d preached. His stated reason for saying it in the first place was that he was tired.
“I do believe God stands in judgment of all sins but AIDs is a disease that affects people and is not part of that judgment. To say God has judged people with AIDs would be very wrong and very cruel. I would like to say that I am very sorry for what I said.”
When Graham preached about sins, he said he wasn’t sure if AIDs was a judgment of God, but when experiencing criticism for saying it, suddenly he is sure that it is NOT a judgment for sins.
Here is a comparison to Graham’s waffle on AIDS of how a preacher of God’s word is clear on biblical doctrines. He is supposed to be able to succinctly give an answer, and then stand on the Rock when the waves of cultural anger resulting from his firm stand wash up upon him. Here is John MacArthur on the same subject 4 years before Graham dealt with it in his sermon.
People have asked me whether I believe that AIDS is the judgment of God. My response is that AIDS is the judgment of God in the same sense that cirrhosis of the liver is the judgment of God or that emphysema is the judgment of God. If you drink alcohol, you’re liable to get cirrhosis of the liver. If you smoke, you’re liable to get emphysema or heart disease. And if you choose to violate God’s standards for morality, you’re likely to contract venereal disease—even AIDS. It is a law that the Bible describes in terms of sowing and reaping. Article You can Trust the Bible, 1988
When a preacher is at the pulpit, it is assumed that he has been confirmed by elders as to his calling, been trained, and has studied/ prepared for the sermon. He should then declare the biblical truths with clarity and conviction. If there exists a pattern of waffling, retracting, and constantly clarifying, then it is perhaps either an issue of his qualifications for preaching (able to teach- 1 Timothy 3:2) or his heart, with hypocrisy leaking out.
Paul’s criterion “able to teach” in 1 Timothy 3:2 refers to the ability to communicate and apply the truth of Scripture with clarity, coherence, and fruitfulness. Source
Watch out for the constant clarifying, retracting etc. A preacher is supposed to be a declarer of truth, not a constant retractor of tired sermon mistakes. Such a pattern could betray either hypocrisy as stated in the two verses above, or the following:
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)
for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:43)
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)