by Dr. Francis-David Scalzo
It was truly a blessing to graduate in December 2022 from Liberty University with my Ph.D. in Bible Exposition. Although the Ph.D. degree was officially conferred on December 13th, the actual graduation ceremonies were held this spring, and my family and I traveled in May to the Liberty campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, for the university’s Commencement 2023.
The commencement week was a memorable, exciting time of visiting the beautiful campus, meeting with faculty, and celebrating with other graduates the recognition of our academic accomplishments. In addition to the specific degree presentation ceremonies held throughout the week, there was the main commencement ceremony held for all the Liberty graduates on Friday
evening at the university’s football stadium. The stadium was a sight to see as thousands of graduating students, along with their families and friends, were gathered together for the special event, and the evening itself was filled with joyous times of worship and speeches from faculty and guest speakers, only to be concluded with a magnificent fireworks display in honor of the occasion.
Yet, what was most significant about the Friday ceremony was the speech given by the keynote speaker, Franklin Graham, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by the Liberty faculty. After congratulating the graduates on successfully completing their degrees,
Rev. Graham (the President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) stated how he prayed that the class of ‘23 would be the class that stood for truth “in a world overflowing with wickedness and deception and lies.” Franklin Graham proceeded to
note how our world is changing with the increase in violence and moral decline.
After referencing the Genesis Chapter Six passage of the LORD being grieved at the wickedness of man during the days of Noah, Rev. Graham commented, “I can’t help but think that the heart of God is grieved as He looks at our world today.”
Throughout the speech, Franklin Graham did not hold back from outlining the spiritual and moral decadence in which the nation is engulfed. He described how the country is in a downward spiral “morally, spiritually, economically, politically” because “we have turned our back on God and His truth.” Rev. Graham specifically listed the various errors which are permeating current society, including the belief that there is no absolute, that truth is relative, and that we can define our own truths. Correspondingly, Rev. Graham spoke out against the world’s liberal agenda, stating how many churches today have compromised on the authority and truth of God’s holy Word and that many politicians and leaders have bought into the lies of culture and the woke ideology. Rev. Graham denounced the transgender movement that says we can be more than just male and female and that people can choose whatever gender they want to identify as.
Graham stated, “It’s a lie—it’s just a lie from hell.” He as well called out the sins of homosexuality, illicit pre-marital intercourse, and abortion, calling each one a “lie” and stating that they come from hell, from Satan.
In contrast to society’s lies and deceptions, Franklin Graham stated how “the Gospel is the only hope for a dying world.” Rev. Graham noted how the Word of God is absolute truth, that truth is what God says it is, and that Jesus is the Way, the embodiment of all truth. For the students listening to his message, Rev. Graham beckoned the graduates to be that beacon of light, a city standing on a hill standing for the word of God and His truth “in a culture of confusion and lies,” and to keep their course set on Jesus Christ, not allowing Satan to distract them from God’s plan and purpose for their lives.
In conclusion, Rev. Graham exhorted the graduates to stand up, to shout out, to lift up their voice, to lift up the truth, and live their lives for Jesus Christ.
Certainly, Franklin Graham’s words of admonition and encouragement are ones which everyone of us should place into practice if we are to counteract the societal corruption in the United States and in the world.
Dr. Francis-David A. Scalzo earned his Ph.D. in Bible Exposition from Liberty University’s John W. Rawlings School of Divinity. Dr. Scalzo is the Associate Pastor of Shear-Jashub Christian Tabernacle in Madison, CT, and he is also a classical violinist.
Posts by Dr. Scalzo are unedited by the Tribune.