My Thoughts on Billy Graham

I didn’t know who Billy Graham was until the summer of 1994. I was 19 years old. I grew up in a church movement that kept to themselves and didn’t associate with anyone outside of their belief system. So it was quite shocking for me to go to Municipal Stadium in Cleveland and see tens of thousands of people from all different denominations fill that stadium. No one was Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist. They were all followers of Jesus Christ, here to listen to the greatest evangelist of the 20th century.

There were other speakers who gave testimonies or stories of their relationship with Billy Graham. I was introduced to musical groups DC Talk and Michael W. Smith. Again, the church movement I grew up in shunned any type of Christian music that had instruments in it. So to hear quality modern Christian music was a pleasant violation of my comfort zone. I would later purchase their CD’s.

After the other speakers and musical performances, Billy Graham spoke. He opened up talking about the suicide of Kurt Cobian who had killed himself only weeks earlier. Graham talked about the hopeless that this life leaves us with when we don’t have Christ. He discussed sin, redemption, forgiveness, the cross, salvation through Jesus Christ. His message was simple and easy to understand. Once Billy Graham was done you understood where you stood with God and what Jesus did for you. There were people in the audience who weren’t Christians. they heard the gospel and for those who understood the need for repentance they went up during the altar call and accepted Christ as their savior.

I learned a lot about the body of Christ and biblical orthodoxy at the Billy Graham crusade. It would lead me down a path of re-evaluating my biblical hermaneutics.

Fast forward 24 years. Evangelists are still filling stadiums. Preachers now fill churches with tens of thousands in attendance. But the message is different. Instead of the message of Jesus Christ and him crucified, the message is how to live your best life now, fulfilling your dream destiny, God designed your for purpose and here is how to be purpose driven. Jesus has become a mascot or a life coach who cheers you on to fulfilling your dreams and hopes.

I miss Billy Graham. Most of all I miss his preaching. I miss the freedom and unity of the church based around the gospel of Jesus of Christ.