Billy Graham

Billy and Ruth Bell Graham.

When I die, will the vast majority of people—even those who are not in agreement with me on serious issues—have found me to have used my life for the good of others?

No matter how you felt about Billy Graham for his Christian faith, it was mighty hard to find anything in how he lived to poke at him. Oh, that my reputation, that your reputation, give us as good a name as Billy Graham had because of how he lived.

Do this internet search: “Billy Graham scandal.” I just did. Nothing came up.


I expected nothing to come up.

The man lived the Golden Rule. If any stories come out about him, which show him to have been unkind, unfair, or even the slightest harmful in anything he did to or said about another human, I will be shocked, and will likely want the character of the accuser to be thoroughly examined.

Oh, but he was a fiery preacher in those days!

You know the basics about the man, the countless crusades he held, the millions who were positively impacted by the Gospel of Christ which he preached with vigor, and one US president after another who made good use of his counsel.

I admired the man. He modeled many things for me: How to live the law of Christian love, how to stand up for what I believe, how to be both a serious Christian and a good US citizen, and how to be a spouse and parent and friend and confidant.

The man transcended politics.

I admired the man because of these things, despite issues I had with his doctrine. I was sad the day I heard him say, on a morning television program, that he “hoped” he was going to heaven, because he hoped he had done enough. Sure, he was being humble, as he always was. Yet, I longed for the sure and certain hope which, thankfully, can be found on his website under the question, “How can I know?”

The website’s concluding paragraph is on the mark: “Don’t trust yourself and your goodness for your salvation. Instead, trust Christ and His goodness—for He alone is God’s way of salvation. When our faith and trust is in Him, we know we’ll be with Him in heaven forever.” Read the entire Q & A for yourself:

I don’t like talking about others unless I have direct information. Years ago, I read his autobiography. I was surprised to learn that he had been baptized three times. A tenet of the Christian faith is that one baptism is complete and sufficient. Even so, as he grew up and found his way in the Christian faith, his journey found him in this denomination and that, and to be baptized where he then found himself was what he determined to be necessary. Praise the Lord for His gracious understanding, that He is not a nitpicker with how we are not always able to precisely follow a straight path to a right practice of His Word.

If perfectly practicing everything in the Bible is the only way we can be children of the heavenly Father, we’re all doomed. Besides, what loving father would be that fussy? I sure wouldn’t believe in a God who only pokes and prods me to get it right, and condemns me when I make a mistake.

April 23, 1995, speaking to the mourners in Oklahoma City.

One doesn’t have to agree with everything about a person, to find that person agreeable.  Because I held doctrine as a Lutheran, I took exception with some of Billy Graham’s public proclamations. After the horrific Oklahoma City bombing, he preached at a general gathering. Sadly, in that bombing, nineteen children’s lives were taken. Billy Graham declared that they went to heaven simply because they were children. He said that because he held to believer’s baptism, and that God holds no one accountable until a person reaches an age when able to discern right from wrong. The theologian in me can never not hear teachings which are off the mark. Yet, even that day I beheld the spirit which he displayed, his compassion and concern, and because I knew these were genuine, I was pleased that he had been asked to speak for this event. Surely, many were greatly comforted.

Here’s the thing. Even a person such as Billy Graham was a regular human being. He was great in our eyes—he earned this distinction from his fellow man—even as he was no more loved by the Lord than every human on earth, and earned nothing so that he was God’s beloved child.

Even reaching age ninety-nine, Billy was a child to the Lord, His beloved son through faith in Jesus Christ.

Because of how Billy Graham lived what he believed, we found him to be great. Christians loved him. Atheists and agnostics and those who practice other religions could not help but admire him, appreciate him, and aspire to live as he lived.

There’s one thing on which we all can agree, that we leave the world better than we found it. That is my goal, for my life. I hope it is your goal, to help and improve and do good for the sake of your family and workplace and the various communities in which you are a member. That’s what Billy Graham did with his life, to the glory of his Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for Billy Graham. Please, raise up another. We sure could use one right now.



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