I have climbed out on a limb in stating that Dr. Billy Graham made many major mistakes in his ministry that did great harm to the Christian cause. Moreover, he should be held up as an example lest others follow his compromise that always leads to corruption. He was never corrupt in his personal life for he was exemplary in his finances and his family; however, when one is careless with obeying the Scripture, it always leads to corruption in doctrine. While most people denigrate doctrine, which really is only truth, the Word must be preached, defended, and lived.
Graham swapped his commitment to truth for the bowl of porridge known as compromise that gave him an international bully pulpit. I think he failed and preached pabulum most of his illustrious life as the following facts clearly document.
I know many pastors and laymen who trusted Christ under Graham’s ministry; but that is not the criterion. Was he faithful in the work of the ministry? The answer is “no.” Graham showed some courage, especially in his younger days, when he removed the ropes that were to separate Blacks from Whites at his Chattanooga Crusade in 1953. But he believed that courage, convictions, and commitment to the Word were not as important as reaching the masses. He thought he had to give a little to get a lot. Surrendering Bible doctrine brought him much more than he expected.
He told the Lutheran Standard in a 1961 interview that water baptism can save a person! Dr. Graham said of infant baptism: “I do believe that something happens at the baptism of an infant …. I believe that a miracle can happen in these children so that they are regenerated, that is, made Christian through infant baptism.” That statement is not surprising since his own wife and three of his children were sprinkled, not baptized. However, surrendering on the subject of baptism brought him many new friends and supporters.
In an interview with McCall’s magazine, January 1978, entitled “I Can’t Play God Any More,” Graham said, “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.” Graham’s defenders cannot plead his age or Parkinson’s disease. His statement is perversion of the Gospel and cannot be excused, defended, or ameliorated. His defenders need to ask themselves how they can still support him with that statement hanging around his neck. And would they support their local pastor if he said the same thing? I will ask all my critics to these columns those questions.
Christianity Today magazine came to Graham’s defense saying that he was misquoted; however later interviews substantiated the early remark and his staff was kept busy doing damage control and readjusting his halo so his followers would not be disenchanted, discouraged, and dissuaded from supporting his work.
I heard Graham say the following, “He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ, because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.” (May 31, 1997 interview with Graham by Robert Schuller with emphasis added.)
But it gets worser and worser! Graham continued, “I’ve met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they’ve believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they’ve tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.” He could not have made it any clearer: He believed in universalism and spouted it on television for the world to hear!
That statement is classic universalism that has been condemned by orthodox Christians for over 2,000 years. So, why does almost everyone dismiss Graham’s belief of it with the wave of the hand? That question must be answered by Graham’s supporters.
Graham’s major error was in changing his mind about whom he would work with in his city-wide crusades. He said, “I have promised God I will never have on my committee working in an active way in any of my campaigns men who do not believe in the virgin birth of Christ, who do not believe in the blood atonement of Jesus Christ, who do not believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible–these men will never be on my committee. I have promised God.” But he reneged.
I could take pages and prove that he had the most radical unbelievers on his committees as well as many Roman Catholic priests, sending convert cards to all of his supporting churches. Graham was sending new professing Christians to the wolves contrary to his earlier commitment. On Nov. 11, 1957, Graham told the San Francisco News, “Anyone who makes a decision at our meeting is seen later and referred to a local clergyman–Protestant, Catholic or Jewish.” Gasp!
Graham is known as “Mr. Facing Two Ways” reminiscent of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. One day he had glowing praise for Bob Jones University, John Rice of the Sword of the Lord, etc., and the next he was climbing into bed with the most radical modernists in America. This supports the fact that compromise will usually take one farther than he wanted to go.
We are commanded to “earnestly contend for the faith” which I have tried to do. I have just climbed out on a limb and handed my critics a saw. They can do their worst.
Boys’ new ebook The Rise and Decline of Billy Graham: He Tried to do Right the Wrong Way! is available here.
Fact, Fraud or Faith?
by Don Boys, Ph.D.
Only an uninformed fanatic says that evolution or creation can be proved scientifically. Christians believe in creationism because we believe in the veracity of the Bible but we also have scientific evidence to support our position. In every debate I’ve had with evolutionary scientists, the arrogant, asinine accusation is made, “Well, evolution is scientific while creationism is religion.” Evolution is about as scientific as a voodoo rooster plucking ceremony in Haiti. Almost.