Throwback Thursday: Billy Graham – Part 2

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 21, 2016 and has been revised.

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Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000
By Iain H. Murray
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2000, 342 pp.

5 Stars

For part one of this post, please see here.

German higher biblical criticism came to the U.S. in the later-19th-century and was a swift-spreading cancer in seminaries and mainline Protestant churches. Believing churchmen drew a line in the sand with a series of 90 essays on the basics of the Christian faith, published between 1910 and 1915, and known as “The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth.” Bible Christians rallied around the cherished doctrinal truths, but as mainline liberalism gained wider support, the fundamentalist movement increasingly adopted a circle-the-wagons, bunker mentality.

Billy Graham began his ministry in 1947 as a fundamentalist, but he and others recognized that fundamentalism took the opposite approach to Jesus’ exhortation to be in the world, but not of the world. Graham and like-minded friends (Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, Edward Carnell, et al.) reasoned they could more effectively reach souls for Christ by cooperating with mainline liberals and religious unbelievers rather than by separating from them. But just as fundamentalism had its unhealthy sectarian extremism, Graham’s “New Evangelicalism” had its own pitfalls. Cooperation works both ways and Graham’s cooperation with unorthodoxy and unbelief led to accommodation, compromise, and eventually, betrayal of the Gospel. Graham sacrificed right doctrine on the altar of numbers, popularity, and ecclesiastical “respectability” and set a precedent for generations of pastors and para-church leaders to come.

In “Evangelicalism Divided,” Iain Murray, a former close assistant to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, documents the rise and fall of Graham and New Evangelicalism. The larger portion of the book is devoted to circumstances in Britain, which closely mirrored those in the United States. Swimming against the rising tide, Lloyd-Jones called upon evangelicals to break ties with mainline liberalism and religious unbelief. When Graham began organizing crusades in Britain, he asked Lloyd-Jones, the nation’s most notable evangelical, to lend his support. Lloyd-Jones refused due to the many liberal churchmen aka religious unbelievers involved in Graham’s crusades. In opposition to Lloyd-Jones, Britain’s New Evangelicals, led by John Stott and J. I. Packer, rationalized that believers would be far more effective if they worked within the Anglican church. Not surprisingly, Packer would go on to be one of the charter signers of the ECT – Evangelicals and Catholics Together – ecumenical accords. Stott also fully embraced Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. As for the current state of Anglicanism, is there even one Bible-believing minister within the entire denomination?

Murray may wander a bit, but overall this is an excellent book. There were so many passages I wanted to quote, but where to stop? I would have ended up quoting half the book. For everyone who wonders HOW and WHY Graham and company ended up eventually betraying the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, this book is a sad but necessary eye-opener.

“The reason why the BGEA (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) decided to co-operate with liberals and other non-evangelicals (such as Roman Catholics – Tom) was never set out in terms of principle. The fact is that the policy was seen as a neccessary expedient designed sincerely for the best end, namely to gain a wider hearing for the gospel. Crusades depended on crowds and in the Graham story there is an almost ever-present concern for maintaining and increasing numbers. ‘Keeping an eye for maximum public impact’ and ‘trying always for the largest possible crowds’ was a settled part of the Billy Graham Association’s strategy.” pp- 58-59.

“We may be small in numbers but since when has the doctrine of the remnant become unpopular among evangelicals? It is one of the most glorious doctrines in the whole Bible. We are not interested in numbers. We are interested in truth and in the living God. ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ …If we stand for God’s truth we can be sure that God will honour us and bless us.” – a quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p.293.

“Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000” is available at Amazon here.

17 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Billy Graham – Part 2

  1. I really appreciate this book review, somewhat revealing the underpinnings of Graham’s spiritual apostasy.
    It is our flesh that longs for validation, affirmation, and accolades. Through compromise, Billy Graham got it all.
    “We may be small in numbers but since when has the doctrine of the remnant become unpopular among evangelicals?” The “doctrine of the remnant” may soon be our reality, I pray we stand strong to the end.
    Thanks Tom, good reading, might get this book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lisa Beth! It’s a trite phrase, but I can’t recommend this book highly enough. My humble review doesn’t do it justice. My respect and admiration for Martyn Lloyd-Jones grew and grew while reading in this book his defense of the Gospel and his swimming against the ecumenical tide.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, David! Yes, that’s a great and inspiring quote from an excellent book. It “should” be obvious to believers that “chasing after numbers” will necessarily lead to disaster.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for sharing, Tom. I learned quite a bit here. I knew of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ unwillingness to agree to help with the Crusades, an interesting term seeing there were so many who didn’t believe in the true gospel who were associated with them. I have heard of Murray as well. This book sounds like one that all Christians, particularly those were so involved and interested in the BGEA crusades, should read. Many became real Christians because of those crusades but, it was mostly that generation that also allowed abortion to be passed into law.
    This information should not shake the faith of any who began to follow the gospel message because of a BGEA crusade. In fact, it should strengthen their faith knowing that our God who art in heaven can use many things to bring people to Him. There are so many things that show this throughout scripture. I can’t help but think of how God used unbelieving kings of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia to correct the wayward Hebrews and bring them back into the promised land.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the good comments, Chris. I can say without reservation that “Evangelicalism Divided” is one of the best books I’ve ever read as a Christian. Most evangelicals would be reluctant to read it because it would shake up their St. Graham paradigm. As we discussed before, Billy Graham is such an enigma, having done so much good, but also having blazed some very bad trails that continue to have a deleterious impact on the Gospel and evangelicalism. I’m currently reading an interesting tome on Graham regarding his close associations with a multitude of religious unbelievers.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome, Tom. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. I can understand your particular interest in it as we are dealing with the same issues to a great extent in our day and they never seem to get the attention they need. For years I had no idea about the MLJ decision. Every Christian should know about that alone and should think about the reasons (pretty basic really) he had to make the decision he did. Most still know nothing of this important historic event.

        I will be looking forward to a review of the book you are reading.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks Tom, for this informative post, and that excellent quote by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (p.293.).

    I’ve wondered about the Anglicans. I was recently reading a Bible commentary note by John Wesley. I saw that he referenced a Roman Catholic favorably, so I did a little research on him. I read that he was an Anglican at heart until he died even though he was the founder of the Methodists. Protestants of his day accused him of being used by the Catholic Church. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I’ve always had strong reservations about Wesley as well. I’ve read Catholic writers who noted that Anglicanism/Episcopalianism and Methodism are the Protestant denominations closest to RC-ism.

      Liked by 1 person

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