Sunday, August 27, 2006

Billy Graham - Still the Man??

In its Aug. 14 issue, Newsweek ran as its cover story a profile of the Rev. Billy Graham, now 87 and in poor health. I've been ruminating on it since.

When I was a Southern Baptist boy, Graham wasn't just a hero to the pastors and lay members of the conservative, rural and small-town congregations I attended. He was an icon, the nearest thing to a pope we low-church evangelicals had.

Newsweek's article, written by Jon Meacham, left me in a quandary. I was struck by how moderate -- or even, dare I say it, liberal -- Graham sounds today in comparison with other prominent evangelicals such as, for instance, the current Southern Baptist leadership.

After mulling it over, I'm still not sure whether he's drifted that far left or whether the evangelical subculture has wandered way to the right of where it once lay.

Graham's evangelical and conservative vita is impeccable. No one in history has preached to as many people. His massive crusades were famous for his impassioned pleas that sinners accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. People flooded down the aisles to repent and be saved.

Here is a sad excerpt from the article:
This Graham says Christians don't need to take every word of the Bible literally, and that equally sincere believers can find very different meanings in the Scriptures. "I'm not a literalist in the sense that every single jot and tittle is from the Lord," he says. "This is a little difference in my thinking through the years." He still loves the Bible and recites favorite passages to himself, but doesn't read it as if it's a scientific textbook for understanding the earth's origins or a blueprint for predicting Armageddon.

Instead of embracing biblical inerrancy, he prefers to ponder the mysteries inherent in our limited knowledge of God. He thinks there are a lot more truths we humans don't understand than truths we do.

Asked whether he thinks God will accept Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and secularists into heaven, he responds: "Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won't. ... I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have."

For full article click here.

1 comment:

Pastor Ryan said...

This is indeed sad news! I was talking to a man that saw Billy Graham at a stadium years ago, he said that some kids in front of him talked the entire preaching time and then stormed to the front when the invitation was offered. Go figure!