Evangelist Billy Graham - one of the most influential preachers of the 20th Century - has died aged 99

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WallyMorris's picture

Perhaps now a balanced book will be written about Graham's ministry, acknowledging the commendable aspects of his ministry (i.e., no personal scandal, no offerings) yet also evaluating the compromise with unbelief whose results we live with today. I suspect we would be living in a different country if Graham had not blurred the theological lines between Bible-believers and Catholic/liberal theology.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

GregH's picture

I wondered how long it would be on this thread before people started taking shots at a not-buried-yet Graham for his lack of "separation." Now I know...

Darrell Post's picture

Billy Graham's theological problems went well beyond lack of separation. Like this quote from 1997:

“I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ... [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.”

Larry Nelson's picture

 

Wally, Wally, Wally...................

Ron Bean's picture

Billy Graham, the one man who's actions made separation from disobedient brethren an essential of fundamentalism. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

WallyMorris's picture

I wondered how long it would take for someone to misunderstand my brief comments. Not taking "potshots", just stating that the time for an honest evaluation of his total ministry, beliefs, and practices may now be possible. Additionally: Anyone who is aware of Graham's history and practices should know how his actions affected modern Evangelicalism and American religious thinking. In his later years, Graham himself had second thoughts about some of his work with "non-Evangelical" groups and churches. Once again: Perhaps in the future, maybe someone will write an honest evaluation of his ministry practices.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

GregH's picture

Go ahead and write the book. But it seems to me that a pastor should know that there are times and seasons for things. The time to start attacking a man is not a few hours after he dies, especially a man like Graham. That seems obvious to the rest of the world but I guess in fundamentalism where the zeal to separate reigns supreme, there is never not a good time to attack someone you think is more liberal than you.

JSwaim's picture

I think some pretty good critiques of his ministry have already been written by people who are not fundamentalists.  For instance, the recent book The Evangelicals by Frances Fitzgerald.  However, the day of his death is NOT the time to evaluate his life.  He knows his faults to perfection now, yet, by the grace of God he is with Jesus.  We should rejoice in that fact today.  Can you wait a week? 

 

"If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, LORD, who could stand?"

WallyMorris's picture

My comments are not an "attack" - you are reading that into my comments. You guys are experts at doing that. Just saying that the time for an honest evaluation of his ministry is due. Never said that today is that time. Quit being so self-righteous and judgmental. Seems you are the ones so focused on separation.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Kevin Miller's picture

Praying for his family today.

My father attended Northwestern College in the mid 50's. I looked at the college website and see Graham had already resigned as president in the early 50's. There was a good section of historical info regarding Grahams time at Northwestern, so if anyone is interested in that, here is the link - https://unwsp.edu/about/a-reluctant-leader-leaves-a-legacy

Jim's picture

WallyMorris wrote:
the time for an honest evaluation of his total ministry, beliefs, and practices may now be possible. Additionally: Anyone who is aware of Graham's history and practices should know how his actions affected modern Evangelicalism and American religious thinking. In his later years, Graham himself had second thoughts about some of his work with "non-Evangelical" groups and churches. Once again: Perhaps in the future, maybe someone will write an honest evaluation of his ministry practices.

Agreed but let's not do it today

Mod note: A week from today OK on this thread

Personal comment: For those with Netflix, the series "The Crown" is very good. Season 2, Episode 6 deals with when the Queen met Billy Graham in 1958: " Elizabeth seeks spiritual counsel from Reverend Graham before exiling Edward for betraying his country". It's very good. 

http://people.com/royals/queen-elizabeth-real-life-friendship-evangelist...

During episode six, the Queen is enthralled while watching Graham’s sermon on television with the Queen Mother. She’s so captivated by the young preacher that she later tells Prince Philip, “I think he’s rather handsome.”

The Queen invites Graham to give a sermon in Windsor Chapel and then hosts him for lunch at the palace. They later share a few poignant chats about the Queen’s desire to be a “simple Christian” and her struggles with forgiveness. 

In real life, the unlikely pair had a special friendship. Whenever Graham came to the U.K., the Queen would invite him to preach, and when she traveled to the U.S., she would often visit him. 

... 

“No one in Britain has been more cordial toward us than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Graham, who is now 99 years old and living in Charlotte, North Carolina, wrote in his autobiography, Just As I Am. “Almost every occasion I have been with her has been in a warm, informal setting, such as a luncheon or dinner, either alone or with a few family members or other close friends.

“I believe one reason for the Queen’s spiritual interest was the warm faith of her mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother,” he wrote. “The first time we were with her was at Clarence House, her residence in London. She had invited [Graham’s wife] Ruth and me for coffee, and when we arrived she greeted us warmly and introduced us to Princess Margaret. We were there about an hour, and within five minutes we felt relaxed because they both were so gracious.”

Darrell Post's picture

I thought Wally's comment was completely appropriate. I understand the principle of showing respect for the dead. I would also point out there are all kinds of ways death unfolds. There is the sudden unexpected death of someone in their prime who leaves behind a shocked and grieving family. Then there is someone who lives to 99, whose body and mind have been diseased and failing for years. The family has been prepared for the moment of passing for a long time now and in truth are probably sad today, but joyful the suffering with the physical body is over. But given the person in this 99 year old situation was Billy Graham, a very public figure, no personal friend of anyone who posts here, but someone who left behind a large legacy, one that directly impacted the very background against which sharper iron exists, I felt what Wally said against this background was completely appropriate.

Bert Perry's picture

Cal Thomas on Graham.

Let's give him credit where credit is deserved.  First of all, Graham ended segregation at his rallies and in his office--no small feat for a Southerner from the Jim Crow era!  Second, Graham reminded the church by his own example of the need for accountability, eschewing meeting privately with women and even having the televisions removed from his hotel rooms to avoid temptation, in a world where nobody yet thought there was a need.  Third, he reminds the church of their need to get out there and do something to make disciples--I have my differences with his methods, but I suspect that if I were to discuss it with him, he'd simply smile and say "get out there and show me how to do it right, son."  Finally, he saw, even prior to Solzhenitsyn, the evils of Communism.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Richard Brunt's picture

I agree completely with Wally, Darrell, and Bert (at least on this)! 

Richard E Brunt

Steve Davis's picture

One of my neighbors came to borrow something today and offered condolences to me for Billy Graham. She thought that maybe I was somehow connected with him. She is a public university professor and pretty much to the left of everything. The Lord used that opportunity to open a crack in the door for the gospel. I talked to her about the quote attributed to Billy Graham about when he dies that he's really just changing addresses. The book about Billy Graham can wait. There is much more urgency that people hear the gospel that he preached. My prayer is that God use his death to point others to life in Christ.

WallyMorris's picture

In response to Steve and perhaps others: Of course people need to hear the gospel, and certainly his death will create opportunities for the gospel and to explain why certain aspects of his ministry were incorrect. I have already had a gospel opportunity today because of his death. But that has nothing to do with the need for a better evaluation of his ministry than is available today. Such a book is needed because many conservative Evangelicals refuse to openly critique his methodology. They will do so privately, but not openly. (It will be interesting to see what conservative Evangelicals such as Mohler, MacArthur, and Piper say.) As far as "the gospel that he preached": Graham changed the gospel he preached, openly denying a literal hell and stating that sincere followers of other religions could be in heaven. Which is why an honest and balanced evaluation is necessary. Did he have positive qualities? Of course. I stated two in my first post. But those pale in light of his theological changes. All I stated is the hope that now someone may write a balanced analysis of his ministry. For some, there will never be a good time for that because to do is to be that mean Fundamentalist that so many despise. If the moderators wish to limit this discussion, that is their prerogative, since this is their platform.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

Church is still doing well.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

"The eyes of a North Carolina farm boy sparkled as never before this morning when Billy Graham entered heaven. After nearly 100 years spent largely in an effort to 'rescue the perishing and care for the dying,' the world's evangelist was called home to a prophet's reward.

"Never accused of the hoarding of wealth or of sexual misconduct, his careful practices of conduct place him in a category of a man whose life was a proclamation of Christ as well as His message. His faithfulness to the proclamation of God's plan of redemption -- undergirded by his initiatives on racial justice and his concern for the lost -- set the standard for all who would attempt to preach the riches of the Gospel. His allegiance to sacred Scripture was legendary. Never did he allow doubt to shake his confidence in God's Word."

-Paige Patterson, SWBTS

http://www.bpnews.net/50405/billy-grahams-impact-praised-by-baptist-leaders

David R. Brumbelow

AndyE's picture

Yesterday my kids were wrapping up their school and my wife was in the kitchen and I asked, "So, did you all hear the big news today?"  Nobody knew what I was thinking about so I said, "Billy Graham passed away."  My 15-year old daughter goes, "Oh yeah I heard about that on the blog*....who is Billy Graham again?"

*the blog is the associated with her homeschool curriculum.

Jim's picture

https://billygrahamlibrary.org/this-date-in-history-july-14-1950-billy-g...

When we arrived at the side gate of the White House, we passed through the security guards and checkpoints easily enough. The President’s secretary then took us in hand, informing us that our visit would last exactly twenty minutes.

Promptly at noon, we were ushered into the Oval Office. From the look on President Truman’s face, the chief executive of our nation must have thought that he was receiving a traveling vaudeville team. He welcomed us cordially enough, though, with handshakes all around. Then he said he had heard some good things about our meetings.

Our allotted time was quickly running out, and what I really wanted to talk to him about was faith. I did not know how to begin.

“Mr. President,” I blurted out, “tell me about your religious background and leanings.”

“Well,” he replied in his Missouri accent, “I try to live by the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule.”

“It takes more than that, Mr. President. It’s faith in Christ and His death on the Cross that you need.”

The President stood up. Apparently, our twenty minutes were up. We stood up too.

“Mr. President, could we have prayer?”

I put my arm around the shoulders of the President of the United States of America and prayed.

When we stepped outside the White House, reporters and photographers from the press corps pounced on us. I told them everything I can remember……an enterprising photographer asked us to kneel on the lawn and reenact the prayer. The press corps roared its approval.

It began to dawn on me a few days later how we had abused the privilege of seeing the President. National coverage of our visit was definitely not to our advantage.

More here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/may-web-only/precarious-task-of...

https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/confessor-in-chief

Jim's picture

Some one PM'd me with this:

I am a little bothered that you put a one-week stay on posting anything negative about Billy Graham. Had SI been around at the death of Jack Hyles or Charles Finney, would you have also ordered such a delay?

There was more ...  but above an excerpt

Reconsideration: OK to post critiques

Aaron could possibly overrule me but for now - OK 

Thanks

Jim Welch's picture

I did not know that Billy broke down racial barriers for his meetings.  Back in "the day", that took a great deal of courage.  

 

 

ejohansen's picture

Jim Welch wrote:

I did not know that Billy broke down racial barriers for his meetings.  Back in "the day", that took a great deal of courage.  

 

In my own opinion, this is why the leaders of certain institutions did not like Billy Graham.  

Darrell Post's picture

The death of Billy Graham aroused a wide variety of emotions across the world of Christendom and the world of unbelievers. Some do not quite remember Graham, while others know somehow that they need to feel an inner warmness--a nostalgic feeling from a bygone era. The overwhelming response from the evangelical Christian world, particularly the Southern Baptist Convention stripe, was an overflow of gushing praise for the man who preached to millions and saw tens of thousands make decisions for Christ.

I understand many trace their testimony of salvation back to one of his sermons. I know one person whose testimony is just that--and today he teaches at a Christian university. I know even in the secular media many poured out the accolades. From what I understand, it is true he went through his life with no hint of a moral failing. He never was in it for the money either. Considering other well-known evangelists of the same era, those facts alone were a remarkable achievement.

However, Graham was like some of the kings in the Old Testament who started out strong for God but theologically shipwrecked by the end of life. Graham is on record for flat out denying John 14:6. He has affirmed unambiguously his belief that all religions, including Buddhism and Islam can lead people to heaven--people who do not even know the name of Jesus. He is on record for calling into question eternal punishment as well. Graham also developed deep ties to the Roman Catholic Church—both in terms of personal friendships and in affirming Catholic teaching on salvation.

The problem here is there is a difference between 'Billy Graham' the idea and the 'Billy Graham' who actually lived. We all love Billy Graham the idea. The idea being a humble preacher who is faithful to his wife, not out for money, one who faithfully proclaims the gospel to millions of people and tens of thousands are saved through his ministry, and he remains faithful to Christ and truth until his final breath.

The problem is Billy Graham the person is not quite the same as Billy Graham the idea. Al Mohler and many others are willfully blind on this and merge the idea with the person.

I dearly wish Billy Graham the idea was the same as Billy Graham the person. It brings me no joy to disillusion anyone about his extreme ecumenism and false teaching on the gospel. I wish Graham had stuck with John 14:6 instead of denying it. I wish he had stuck with believing a literal eternal hell. What he has done is give false assurances to countless people who want to find their own way to heaven apart from Christ, while at the same time left defenders of a pure gospel message exposed to the ridicule of the world for being mean-spirited and close-minded instead of being like Billy Graham who accepts people as they are.

I myself must grieve for the gospel and the damage done to the gospel rather than grieve for the one who did that damage. To do otherwise would run the risk of offending my Savior and Lord.

I am glad for the many who came to Christ because they heard Graham preach. This is a credit to the gospel, and a working of the Spirit, not a credit to Graham. Some may say, ‘well nobody is perfect.’ Very true. Every gospel preacher is flawed. Every one of us. We all struggle with besetting sins. We are all incomplete in the inward growth of the Spirit’s fruit. However, the erroneous view of the gospel Graham affirmed with his own lips clearly is like the kind Paul warned against, in the strongest possible words, when he spoke of those preaching another gospel.

Here is a list of quotations, Billy Graham in his own words, not in any way taken out of context, and all spoken long before he had any taint of mental disability:

May 24, 1966, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin 24:

"I find myself closer to Catholics than the radical Protestants. I think the Roman Catholic Church today is going through a second Reformation."

1968, San Antonio, TX:

"A great part of our support today comes from Catholics. We never hold a crusade without priests and nuns being much in evidence in the audience."

April 22, 1972:

Graham’s remarks upon receiving the Catholic International Franciscan Award for "his contribution to true ecumenism:"

"While I am not worthy to touch the shoe laces of St. Francis, yet this same Christ that called Francis in the 13th century also called me to be one of his servants in the 20th century."

October 21, 1973:

"This past week I preached in the great Catholic Cathedral a funeral sermon for a close friend of mine who was a Catholic, and they had several Bishops and Archbishops to participate. And as I sat there going through the funeral Mass, that was a very beautiful thing, and certainly straight and clear in the gospel. There was a wonderful little priest that would tell me when to stand and when to kneel and what to do."

October 1976, Southern Cross:

“I think that Protestants, in reaction to the Catholic position, have made far too little of Mary. Mary was the most remarkable and most blessed of all women.”

 May 1977 address at Notre Dame University:

“I have no quarrel with the Catholic Church” 

“Many of you want to come tonight and reconfirm your confirmation. You want to reconfirm the decision that you made when you joined the [Catholic] church”

The January 1978 issue of McCall’s magazine interview by James Michael Beam:

"I am far more tolerant of other kinds of Christians than I once was. My contact with Catholic, Lutheran and other leaders--people far removed from my own Southern Baptist tradition--has helped me, hopefully, to move in the right direction. I’ve found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics, for instance. They believe in the Virgin Birth, and so do I. They believe in the Resurrection of Jesus and the coming judgment of God, and so do I. We only differ on some matters of later church tradition."

"I used to play God, but I can’t do that anymore. I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost – were going to hell – if they did not have the gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God – through nature, for instance – and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ‘yes’ to God.”

October 11, 1979 on the Phil Donohue show, regarding Pope John Paul II:

“I think the American people are looking for a leader, a moral and spiritual leader that believes something. And the Pope does. He didn’t mince words on a single subject. As a matter of fact, his subject in Boston was really an evangelistic address in which he asked the people to come to Christ, to give their lives to Christ. I said, ‘Thank God, I’ve got somebody to quote now with some real authority.’”

1984, Foundation, Vol. V, Iss. 5, regarding the address by Pope John Paul II:

"I'll tell you, that was just about as straight an evangelical address as I've ever heard. It was tremendous. Of course, I'm a great admirer of his. He gives moral guidance in a world that seems to have lost its way."

1997 interview by Robert Schuller:

“I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ... [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.”

2005 interview by Larry King, upon the death of Pope John Paul II, who asked, “There is no question in your mind that he is with God now?”:

“Oh, no. There may be a question about my own, but I don't think Cardinal Wojtyla, or the Pope -- I think he's with the Lord, because he believed. He believed in the Cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the Cross, no matter if you were talking to him from personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer.”

 

That one from 1997 is perhaps the most troubling, as he is not saying they leave Islam or Buddhism to accept Christ, he is instead saying they are saved without knowing Christ while staying with their Muslim or Buddhist beliefs.

I sincerely wish he had not affirmed those truth-denying positions over those many decades. But he did. I am baffled at folks like Al Mohler who simply look the other way in regards to Graham, but otherwise are lions defending the gospel. I have heard from some who move within the Southern Baptist Convention that conservative leaders will privately admit the heresies of Graham, but will never speak of it in a public setting. This is because they so badly want the idea of Billy Graham to be true, even though they know the reality is far from it.

There was an old Western film where the legendary hero was exposed at the end of his life for being a fraud, but the local press wouldn't run the story, because, as the editor said, 'When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.' That is what we have with Billy Graham. There is such a strong collective desire for a powerful hero that many do not care that the hero himself undermined the gospel. I believe our young people desperately need clarity and consistency in what they are hearing in regards to the gospel, and that this is sort of a Numbers chapter 25 'Phinehas, grab your spear' moment. Speaking of heroes, we do have one hero, Jesus Christ, who we as broken sinners get to proclaim to a world full of broken sinners. We do not need to prop up human heroes, and we certainly should not heap praise on supposed heroes who have so maligned the gospel of Christ.

We are not about being mean-spirited, judgmental, unkind or any of those things. This is about taking seriously what Graham voluntarily affirmed as to his own beliefs throughout his long career, and coming to grips with how far removed his positions are from the truth of Scripture.

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