Bob Jones Sr.: "Billy, if you leave ...all you can amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks"

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M. Osborne's picture

I'm reminded of a passage in one of Chesterton's Father Brown stories:

"We can direct our moral wills; but we can't generally change our instinctive tastes and ways of doing things. Boulnois might commit a murder, but not this murder."--“The Strange Crime of John Boulnois”—G.K. Chesterton

By this I mean that while I wouldn't be surprised that Dr. Bob Sr. was capable of saying something unkind to Billy Graham, I am a little surprised that he would actually denigrate the backwoods as such. That just doesn't fit with the ethos of BJU, which has always held faithful pastors in high esteem. Isn't there a chapel saying about the honor of being like the back hall light?

By addressing this one point, I am addressing this one point and no other.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Shaynus's picture


Maybe he knew Billy didn't belong in the backwoods. I've been to Brannon Stand Alabama where Sr. is from. It's still backwoods. He served a lot in the backwoods, but then he knew it well.

Ken Woodard's picture

Do you know if the warning from BJ came before or after Grahm sent him the letter thanking him for teaching him how to "shoot the gospel gun"? They were friends at the time of the communication. Now after decades of of disagreement over eccumenical evangelism people read the comment as harsh criticism.

Did BG ever say what was the reason for leaving BJU and going to a little school in Florida? The school doesn't seem like it got much of a bump from having had such a high profile person as a student. Did he promote Trinity much? I saw a him describe his background once and he never named the school but just said it was in Tampa. Did he promote anything that he wasn't the head of?

What gain is there to the over all cause of Christ in having a debate about the opinions that were expressed over 65 years ago? I think the whole thread reveals more about human hero worship or hatred than anything. Is it not a covert way of pridefully saying "my guy was right or your guy was wrong so my guy is better than your guy and all of his followers too"?

"Only by pride comes contention" Lord save us from ourselves!

Don Johnson's picture

As far as Billy's leaving BJ, my impression is that he was unhappy at BJU because of the strict rules (especially dating rules) and he wanted to play baseball and BJU had no inter-collegiate sports. This impression comes from conversations with people who knew Billy personally at the time he left BJU and after, as well as from Billy's autobiography and another biography I read at one point.

As far as the quote from Dr. Bob Sr, I would think that the sense of it is probably accurate, although the exact wording might be questioned. Billy was a teenager, having an exit interview with the College president, who wasn't exactly happy about the decision Billy was making. And, as I relate above, I don't think Billy was making his decision for highly spiritual reasons. However, in fairness, he was a relatively new believer. He had been converted only a few months before coming to BJU if I remember correctly.

As Billy went on at the college in Florida and then on to Wheaton, he matured a good deal and the relationship with Bob Jones was restored, only to be finally broken when Billy made his decision to compromise with liberals in his New York campaign (1957?).


Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Matt Walker's picture

Only by pride....

I can certainly see your point. But for myself and a few others here, I'm not sure this is an attempt to defend my guy or take shots at someone else's guy. I think it goes much deeper than that. I think it's more about defending what my guy represented.

I read and reread Dan's post earlier and can't get past his man on the street argument. While for him, that cements in his mind who has had a stronger impact for the cause of Christ. For me, it represents the incredible disconnect in the average pagan's mind between Biblical Christianity and what has become a Christianized subculture.

If you go way back in the thread, my earliest post was just to raise the question as to the accuracy of the famous quote. if you read through the thread, few express their doubts to its authenticity and some (Alex) are ready to shoot down any who doubt it at all.

I would just like to know if it actually happened. If there is no corroboration other than BG's own recollection, and that being decades old, I might just give it less credence. So the initial posts were not meant to inflame BJ vs. BG rhetoric. It was meant to determine if something that so many believe happened actually did occur.


David R. Brumbelow's picture

I have a profound respect for both Billy Graham and Bob Jones Sr.
I would not agree with either on every point.
Both have been greatly used of God.
Independent Baptists and fundamentalists have had a positive influence on Southern Baptists and evangelicals.
A man can easily remember something that happened decades before. We all remember some things distinctly, while forgetting or getting fuzzy on other matters.
I assume this advice Bob Jones gave to Billy Graham was sincere.
Knowing what we know now, the encounter is humorous, yet it does not affect my admiration for either man.
Good Christian men can disagree and yet God still use both men.
David R. Brumbelow

Matt Walker's picture

But both were not the same were they? And that's the point. Dr. Jones had many flaws though less than mine I expect. Yet he didn't preach an aberrant gospel. There's a huge difference between having cultural views that are later, rightly seen as being less than gracious and preaching a false gospel. And if I'm not clear about it the let me be clearer. That's exactly what Graham did. That God used some of what he did is no indication of His divine favor and that he is better known is not proof of Gods's pleasure lest we submit the Sovereign Will of God to a man made poll.