I said I wasn’t going to write anymore posts about Billy Graham, but this is what happens when you walk through a bookstore…
This past Saturday, I stopped in at our local Barnes and Noble bookstore and checked out the (c)hristian section. I rarely buy any of the books on display there because I would guess that around 80% are written by either TBN prosperity gospel types or by Roman Catholics. Anyway, I happened to spot the newly published, updated version of “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story” by William Martin (Zondervan, February 20, 2018, 832 pages).
I have no desire to read this entire biography, but I did spend about fifteen minutes at the store reading about a pivotal situation in Graham’s ministry that’s described in the book.
Here’s a couple of thoughts I have on this book:
>It’s interesting to me that the title is, “A Prophet with Honor.” The genuine, God-ordained prophets of the Old Testament and apostles of the New Testament were despised by the general population and eventually murdered because they proclaimed God’s unwelcomed rebukes, admonitions, and Narrow Way of salvation.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” – Luke 13:34
In contrast, Billy Graham was one of the most widely respected and honored men in the entire world; the friend of American Presidents and religious and political leaders across the globe. Why wasn’t Graham despised and rejected like the genuine prophets of the Bible? While Graham did preach the Gospel at his crusades, the bottom-line message of his ministry was one of ecumenism, which even eventually devolved into Universalism. Graham’s foundational philosophy of tolerance and inclusiveness was well received and offended no one.
>Pages 223-227 of “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story” describe Graham’s split with Christian fundamentalism. Graham started his career as a separated believer and fundamentalist, but over time, he changed his philosophy. Graham’s organization began seeking and accepting support from liberal Protestant (i.e., affiliates of the National Council of Churches (NCC)) and Roman Catholic church leaders. Fundamentalist leaders, including such men as James Bennet, Bob Jones, Charles Woodbridge, Jack Wyrtzen, Robert Ketcham, and Carl McIntire, saw some of the warning signs of Graham’s compromise as early as 1954 and tried to dissuade him from his new course. Graham’s ministerial mentor, John R. Rice, met with him twice but was not able to change Graham’s mind. The last straw was Graham’s 1957 New York City crusade, which included 120 NCC clergymen on the organizing committee (Graham would enlist Roman Catholic clerics in organizing future crusades). All fundamentalist leaders subsequently withdrew their support from Graham. Graham’s compromise broke the heart of John R. Rice. Author Martin writes of Graham’s break with fundamentalism as a very positive development, but Graham’s compromise laid the groundwork for the full-scale ecumenism and betrayal of the Gospel that we see in the evangelical church today.