Question: A drunk staggered up to Mr. Moody [on the street] and gave him 25 cents. A friend said, “Mr. Moody, you are not going to accept this coin!” Mr. Moody replied, “Indeed I will, the devil has had it long enough.” In your May 1996 TBC you have fallen into one of Satan’s traps, character assassination, by besmirching the good names of Billy Graham, Bill Bright and Charles Colson. All these good men have accepted money from the world to put these gifts to use in their dedicated labor for God. You owe these men a public apology. If not, I count you as a prime example of a hypocrite.
Response: Neither Moody nor you nor I nor anyone else sets the standard of Christian behavior. Just because Moody did something does not mean it was right. Moody’s acceptance of 25 cents from a drunk is between him and God. I don’t think it was wise, for it could have caused the man to think that God needed his money or that a gift of money might help his standing before God. How much better to have refused the coin and to have explained why and used the opportunity to present the gospel! No doubt Moody did the latter, though that isn’t included in your telling of the story.
There is a huge difference, however, between accepting a casual gift of money from an unsaved person and accepting the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. The latter is not a gift but a prize; and it is awarded for a specific achievement defined in its terms. Templeton did not suddenly decide, out of his generosity, to give a huge sum to Graham, Colson and Bright. It was given as an award for their having contributed to what he calls “progress in religion.” He spells out precisely what he means by that, and in the May issue we documented what he means, so we need not repeat it.
I made no accusations against Graham, Colson or Bright. I simply explained what Templeton believes about “progress in religion” and that to accept such a prize is by all reasonable standards to express one’s agreement with his goals and to take credit for having furthered them. If one is not in agreement with the purpose behind the prize, then it should not be accepted.
Suppose you received an award check in the mail from the government for having rescued a family from a burning building, when in fact you hadn’t done so. Wouldn’t you return the check and explain that a mistake had been made? Should not Graham, Colson and Bright have also explained that a mistake had been made, that they did not agree with the very idea of “progress in religion” and had not contributed to the kind of “progress in religion” for which the prize was offered?
Far from besmirching the character of Graham, Colson and Bright, I never suggested that they were in agreement with Templeton’s heresies or the purpose of the prize or that they had contributed to the “progress in religion” which he promotes. I simply reported the facts. If their character has been besmirched, it has been by their own actions, not by my honest reporting thereof.