There is a post by someone who should know –
Billy Graham and his many helpers, including my late father Francis Schaeffer and others broke our brains with the best of intentions and their Jesus-saves-you-from-a-retributive-God-who-will-otherwise-send-you-to-hell literalistic theology.
You have to first understand — to talk about Billy Graham as Frank S. has done is pretty much, for many people, talking about Jesus.
I have no delusions or otherwise about Billy Graham. I was excluded from his crusades because of my own fundamentalist upbringing. Billy, you see, was just as lost as the rest of you.
The Rev. Graham did a lot of good things, but he had his issues too. However, he grew. Earlier, he supported segregation but later understood it had no biblical basis. Earlier, his political views trumphed his religious obligations. He had come to regret that, speaking out about his wishes to have devoted more time to reading rather than speaking. There are some major issues in Graham’s previously held points of view and/or actions.
However… St. Paul was worse. He killed /an/Christians. He slaughtered men and women and he had fun while doing it. His political-religious views changed, of course. However, he never shied away from these. If his life was untouchable while he was a non-believer in Jesus, he never said anything. In fact, he often presented his life as a model of what Christ can do. He didn’t switch gods; neither was he converted. Instead, he came to see Jesus differently.
When we discuss both Billy and Paul, we must discuss the grace shaping their later lives. We should do this first. We can talk about what Billy and Paul did and what their actions led to. In fact, talking about these things testify to the grace of God more than ignoring them as if their sins were simply washed away.
They are, after all, only human.
- The Hope of Resurrection by Billy Graham (darylgstewart.net)
- Interview: Q&A: Billy Graham’s Warning Against an Epidemic of ‘Easy Believism’ (christianitytoday.com)