In recent days, many of the same celebrity Christian voices, have begun to suggest to their followers that taking a vaccine for Covid-19 is not only good, but biblical. One of these Christian superstars is Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and head of Samaritans Purse. In a recent Facebook Post Franklin Graham cited the parable of the Good Samaritan to posit that our Lord Jesus Christ would advocate for the covid vaccine; a vaccine that is still unproven to protect a person from a second infection and is not able to protect from the new variants of the virus (At the conclusion of this post, I have left a link to the original article I have cited).
Before fact checking Mr. Graham’s belief, let me proclaim that I am not advocating for or against taking a vaccine. What any discerning person ought to do, when considering taking anything into their body is be properly informed first. Secondly, even if it appears to be trending in a more positive direction, that person, if they are truly a follower of Jesus Christ, MUST follow the command of those who are the children of God, who are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14), which is clearly laid out for us in Proverbs 3:5-6.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil”.
When the word of God gives no clear direction on something specific, like a vaccine, we do not assume we have justification to dive in, but we wait on the Lord for clear direction; when the word says “in all your ways” it means “in all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will direct.” We certainly do not search the scripture for a twistable passage to use for our own agenda. The point being, Franklin Graham should have left the vaccine as a matter of prayer between the individual and God, but he did not, and his conclusion is unbiblical.
Here is what he said…
“I have even been asked, if Jesus were physically walking on earth now, would He be an advocate for vaccines?
“My answer was that based on the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, I would have to say – yes. I think Jesus Christ would advocate for people using vaccines and medicines to treat suffering and save lives,” Graham said.
Graham said. “I think if there were vaccines available in the time of Christ, Jesus would have made reference to them and used them.”
In the first place, let us look to see if his use of the parable of the Good Samaritan is an appropriate basis to advocate for vaccines and the use of medicine. Simply put, it is not.
We find the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. In this parable we find a Jewish man, who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, is robbed and beaten so badly, he is left for dead on the side of the road. We can clearly see this man is not afflicted with a virus but has been harmed because of violent and wicked behavior from men. Secondly, we see that two of this man’s own countrymen and fellow Jews do nothing but leave him to die. It is the third passerby, a Samaritan, who displays compassion and love, by giving him some first aid, taking him to shelter and paying for his lodging expenses, until the good Samaritan would return. The important question, is why did Jesus tell the parable in the first place?
Jesus gives us this wonderful parable to silence a self-righteous Jewish man…
Luke 10:25-29 (NKJV) And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
We see Jesus’ motive in the parable towards the end of His encounter with the self-righteous lawyer, after Jesus tells the story.
Luke 10:36-37 (NKJV) So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus’ point was not to justify the use of first aid, or medicine. Let us consider that physicians were plentiful in Israel, through the cult of Asclepius; the pool of Bethesda was in fact an Asklepion, which was a Greek place of healing. Let us remember the plight of the woman with the issue of blood, who had spent all she had on physicians and was not any better but worse.
Let us also acknowledge that Jesus never advocated for the medical profession or even sent anybody to a doctor. Even when sent out the 12 and then the 70, He did not instruct them to take people to doctors or give them medicine, but lay hands on the sick that thy would recover in His marvelous name. Graham said “I think if there were vaccines available in the time of Christ, Jesus would have made reference to them and used them.”. So Jesus would have used vaccines rather than healing a person in God’s power, when healing was a biblical fulfillment of prophecy, which defined Him as Messiah (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:18)?
Let us not forget that there is not one passage of the O.T. where the word of God advocates for vaccines or medicines, being a consistent means of healing, but we are told “I Am the LORD that heals you” so long as He is obeyed (Exodus 15:16), we are also promised that we ought to bless the LORD “Who forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases” (Psalm 103:1-5). We are reminded that in Christ’s atonement for our sin, His wounds provide for the healing of our bodies (Isaiah 53:3); which is repeated in I Peter 2:21-24.
In the Acts of the Apostles and the New Testament letters we see healing in Christ’s name advocated for, but not medicine or vaccines. As a matter of fact, someone usually brings up Luke, as being a doctor, therefore the bible advocates for vaccines and medicine. That idea is patently false, for there is no scriptural record of Luke continuing his physician-ship in the Gospel of Luke or Acts of the Apostles. Despite that fact, Luke’s medical knowledge enables us to see the supernatural power and present ministry of Christ our Healer.
Let us consider, finally, that in James 5:13-18, that if any are sick they can call the elders of the church to anoint with oil in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, pray the prayer of faith and expect that the Lord will raise them up (heal them). Note not one word is said about medicine and remember physicians were plentiful in the Roman Empire.
For those who would scream, “no, no medicine is different today”, I encourage you to do some independent historical search. Medicine calls us to trust man’s concoctions, accept the undesirable side-effects and the fact that the means do not heal you of the condition. Medicine is largely the same. Please understand, I am not saying all medicine is bad, but speaking the truth about its limitations. When God heals there is no limitation or side effect. And we must reconsider our claim that God has given all these wonderful researchers and medical advancements.
The Bible does say that in the last days knowledge will be greatly increased, but that is not seen as a good thing (Daniel 12:4). in fact, have all these wonderful advancements cured anything fully? The answer is no. Have we worked towards medicine making a better world? No! There are more diseases to worry about now, more than ever and with all the “wonderful” medicines America has become a junkie state of pharmakia.
Therefore, Franklin Graham’s use of the parable of the Good Samaritan and his philosophy concerning God and medicine are at best a dangerous and error prone understanding of the scriptures. At worst his direction is an utter abuse of the power of his ministry platform for personal gain.
As I have contemplated why such a man as Franklin Graham would so publicly advocate for something most followers of Jesus are at least a little uncomfortable with, I have come up with one potential answer. For Samaritan’s Purse to be able to minister in certain places, their workers may be required to be vaccinated; especially if flying to those locations. To hold to any governmental stipends as a tax-exempt ministry, they may be required at some point to mandate vaccines.
Franklin Graham is also the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For BGEA to hold crusades, without the controversy of being a “super-spreader” event, or getting bad press for being anti vaccine, they must appear to support the culturally accepted narrative.
My point, once again, is not to advocate against vaccines or medicine, but to point out that the Lord Jesus Christ would not advocate for anything that is not specifically His will. Graham’s use of Jesus Christ, unintentionally or intentionally, adds to the word of God; and ought to be rightly corrected. We do not make doctrine concerning anything based on a passage taken out of context, nor based on what “I think Jesus Christ” would advocate. To do so is to put words in the mouth of our Savior and add to the word of God. May our brother Franklin Graham repent of this error and very soon.
Deuteronomy 4:2 (NKJV) You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Proverbs 30:5-6 (NKJV) Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
Revelation 22:18-19 (NKJV) For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.