The life of Billy Graham has impacted an entire era. No public figure has more often touched my own life. From my earliest remembrance my mom and dad listened to "The Hour of Decision" and watched Billy Graham TV specials in our home in the 1950s. When he stood against racism in Tennessee, where I lived, I admired him and loved him even more deeply. (I never dreamed I would someday have the joy of teaching evangelism and apologetics at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in the Wheaton College Graduate School.)
It is widely known that Dr. Graham is not well now. He makes no public appearances and has several terminal illnesses. From what we know he is dying just as well as he lived, with both dignity and hope. Much like John Paul II, this man has taught us how to live faithfully and how to die. I believe no two Christians left a greater impact on the last fifty years on the planet than Billy Graham and John Paul II. Others will be remembered for different contributions but for spiritual impact these two clearly stand out.
Billy Graham represents some of the very things that frustrate some of us about evangelicalism’s weaknesses. But he also represents our very best side and has thus made a profound contribution to the larger Christian world, through proclamation evangelism. I believe this contribution will be noted by Christians, with appreciation, until Christ returns. This is also one reason that he is so highly regarded by Christians of all types and by church leaders of almost every tradition, East and West. The lone exception to this is that some very sectarian fundamentalist Protestants, and a few far-left anti-gospel liberals, have never liked him. (It is odd how close these two groups get to one another at times isn’t it? Hatred and militancy has a way of making for strange bedfellows, even in the Christian Church.)
Someone recently sent me two You Tube links to an old television broadcast where Billy Graham was interviewed by the famous comedian Woody Allen. When I saw these two clips I again realized that Billy Graham was never a great intellect but he sure was a gracious and faithful Christian man, the mark of true greatness in the kingdom. At his best he could answer good questions and came across as a sincere and personable human being, something that seems so often to be lacking in modern Christian media ministers. Graham was not an apologist, at least in the formal sense, but he did apologetics in a simple way that will help you to understand how to actually communicate the love of Christ in a public setting. His warm Christ-like response to Woody Allen, as you will see on these clips, is both charming and endearing. I think you’ll enjoy these as much as I did. Check them out for yourself at these two links:
Woody Allen Interview, Part One
Woody Allen Interview, Part Two