Billy Graham Library

What is it with Christian buildings costing $27,000,000? First, the Creation Museum. Now, the Billy Graham Library.

Anyway, there was an interesting quotation in the AP article from Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son:

Asked for his thoughts on the state of evangelism, Franklin Graham warned about a creeping “liberalism” that is leading people to question the authority of Scripture.

“Every generation, liberalism comes into the church. Men and women take their eyes off the cross,” he said. “My father didn’t offer multiple roads to God. He offered one road.”

It’s still hard for me to understand how certain Christians can condemn anyone who dares to question the authority of Scripture. I understand that the Bible is “God’s Word” and all that… but when we don’t have the original scriptures (I’m currently reading Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus and it is excellent) and many (though not enough) Christians understand that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally, shouldn’t questioning the authority of the Scripture be welcome by pastors who want people to take an interest in the faith? Questions are only asked by people interested in the subject. Believing in the divinity of Jesus and questioning scripture don’t have to be opposing ideas for Christians, do they?

(Thank to Logos for the link)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, Creation Museum, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Scripture, Bible, God, Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus[/tags]

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    Strangely, Franklin Graham is actually far more conservative and exclusivistic in his views than his father is. Billy, in several recent interviews, expressed a healthy agnosticism about who goes to heaven or hell, a respect for other religions, and a more flexible view of the Bible. Franklin, on the other hand, sometimes seems to be angling to be the next Falwell – though I still do appreciate support his work with Samaritan’s Purse.

    I actually used to work for people that were family friends of the Graham’s and served on Billy’s board of directors and, in their words, “Franky’s a nice boy and he means well, but he just doesn’t have his father’s gift.” Nor his father’s approach to faith apparently.

  • Clarence E. Causey III

    What you call the original scriptures, most Christian apologists call the “original autographs”. I believe, if you look into it, the bible has quite an extensive collection of ancient manuscripts to back its claim of authenticity. Some manuscripts I believe date to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. If someone is misquoting Jesus, as you apparently suppose, wouldn’t it be fairly easy to just check our present translations, word for word, against the earliest manuscripts? Although it would not be definitive, it would certainly reduce the problem to some extent.
    -Clarence

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    Hemant, you said:

    …many (though not enough) Christians understand that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally …

    I think you’ve bought into the apologia offered by semi-enlightened religionists who can’t stomach much of the nonsense in their holy book. But where in the bible does it say that the bible is not meant to be taken literally?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com FriendlyAtheist

    Exterminator– I agree that holy books are “supposed” to be taken literally, but at least some people (the “semi-enlightened religionists,” as you put it) can see past that and use the Bible as a general guidebook instead of something inerrant.

    I’m not saying that their view is the right one either, but I do think it’s a small step up from the Fundamentalists. I don’t see the liberal religionists’ views as being much different from learning a lesson from any other book you read. You don’t have to believe the stories, but you can still learn from it.

  • http://globalizati.wordpress.com globalizati

    Having something from the 2nd or 3rd century is like having a copy that was written last month of an oral account of a certain prophet during the American Revolution that was passed down for at least one generation, maybe more, before being written down, and was written by people who either were assuredly not eyewitness (as some of the authors admit), or who claimed to be eyewitnesses in an era when writing pseudonymously was quite common. There are a flood of other books claiming to be written by one apostle or another from later (all rejected from the canon eventually) that indicates (if nothing else) that claiming authorship to gain authority was a common practice in early Christian communities.

    The copying since the 2nd/3rd century has been fairly good, but that does not necessarily mean the copying (or the original source of the material in the books) was accurate beforehand.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    $27,000,000

    Clearly someone has not sold all they had, given the money to the poor and taken up their cross. And this is certainly not in keeping with Jesus instructions to take no purse or even sandals with you when you go to spread the gospel. I’d advise people who want to follow the teachings of Jesus not take their instruction from someone who clearly doesn’t follow them himself.

    To blame Billy Graham on “Christians” as a whole is inaccurate and risks bigotry.

  • http://www.agnosticatheism.wordpress.com HeIsSailing

    Clarence sez:
    “I believe, if you look into it, the bible has quite an extensive collection of ancient manuscripts to back its claim of authenticity. Some manuscripts I believe date to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.”

    Clarence,
    The oldest *complete* handwritten copies of the entire Bible are the Codeces Siniaticus and Vaticanus, both 4th century. Everything before that is papyrus fragments. They are helpful, but only in bits and pieces. Here is a great site that catalogs them.

    http://www.kchanson.com/ANCDOCS/greek/papyri.html

    Ehrman’s “Orthodox Corruption of Scripture” shows how many of these ancient documents disagree with each other on key doctrinal issues. Ehrman does a great job of mapping each of these corruptions as a response to some ‘heresy’ (as opposed to what eventually became orthodox) in the very early Christian Church. Even the most reliable documents out there have strikeouts and corrections and re-corrections in the margins of the text!

    So checking our Bible word for word against the earliest documents just would not be that simple. Which document would you use, and why?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    I think it was James Mills who estimated that the manuscripts of the Bible had at least 40,000 variant readings, and that was a long, long time ago. Arguing the Bible from the assumption of a literalist reading (rejected as long ago as Augustine) or fundmentalism introduces an enormous distortion into the discussion. Fundamentalists lie about the history and contents of what they call The Bible (King James, just about always) and they go on to pick, choose and interpret it to suit their purposes. Yes, interpret. No one reads anything without doing that, they lie about the very act of reading and studying the thing too. That might make them a convenient tool for materialists who want to slam all religion but pretending that fundamentlists are entitled to speak for all religion or even all of the Book based religions is just as dishonest.

  • Lee

    I grew up watching and listening to Billy Graham in my home. My dad thought a lot of Billy Graham, though he didn’t agree with Graham’s baptist belief of ‘once saved, always saved’. My dad thought that Billy Graham was the one baptist minister whom he could listen to without cringing. Dad is an old-fashioned, faith walking, bible thumping, tongue talking, pew hopping holy roller – very much of the Pentecostal persuasion. We attended the Assemblies of God for many years (1979 and on), and we were of the Nazarene denomination prior to that (From my birth in 1964 to 1979).
    I love my dad a lot, but, as an atheist (since 1998), I always find his views of those of other Christian denominations amusing.
    My dad likely thinks the $27,000,000 is a great investment in the Christian faith both in terms of the museum and the library. I humbly disagree – I think of that $54,000,000 as wasted money that would have been better spent on charitable causes or on actual education.
    Even Christians should eye such spending with disdain if they read their bibles closely enough – after all, the ‘word of god’ commands that the full tithe be brought into the storehouse so that there is food in the temple. I don’t see too many people receiving much needed food out of tithe money. I see lots of architecturally stunning churches, schools for christians, and now museums and libraries. Of course, it could be argued that the food in the temple is the food of the word of god – openess to interpretation is one of the problems with the bible – which leads me to conclude that money is not the only thing being wasted in religion, words are also wasted.

  • Logos

    Any thoughts on the animatronic evangelizing cow?

  • Richard Wade

    Any thoughts on the animatronic evangelizing cow?

    The twenty-first century version of the golden calf?

  • Logos

    I was thinking more along the lines of “Holy Cheese” and I don’t mean swiss !

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Any thoughts on the animatronic evangelizing cow?

    Aren’t they afraid someone will think it’s bull?

  • FromUpNorth

    What you call the original scriptures, most Christian apologists call the “original autographs”. I believe, if you look into it, the bible has quite an extensive collection of ancient manuscripts to back its claim of authenticity. Some manuscripts I believe date to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. If someone is misquoting Jesus, as you apparently suppose, wouldn’t it be fairly easy to just check our present translations, word for word, against the earliest manuscripts? Although it would not be definitive, it would certainly reduce the problem to some extent.

    The problem of possible misquoting of Jesus might be lessened still further if Jesus himself had left behind any manuscripts. However, he did not (most likely because he was illiterate). We have been entirely at the mercy of his early (literate) followers for our knowledge of what Jesus actually said.

    The “Jesus Seminar” folks contend that Jesus never claimed to be the son of God. Perhaps (does it not in fact seem entirely plausible?) Jesus would have regarded such a claim to be not merely false, but utterly blasphemous. Being dead, however, he was certainly in no position to set the record straight.

  • Darryl

    Strangely, Franklin Graham is actually far more conservative and exclusivistic in his views than his father is.

    Franklin reflects the cultural occasion in which he grew up and lacks the many groundbreaking cross-cultural experiences that his father had. Billy emerged at a time when there was more consensus about his faith, and more public support. Franklin is reacting somewhat to the benign neglect of moderate belief, the shrinking world, and the creeping secularism of a material culture like ours. Billy was doctrinally strict but never an asshole about it. Billy was battle tested and wise in ways his son just could not be. To take off from Loyd Benson, I knew Billy Graham; Billy Graham was a friend of mine: Rev. Franklin, you’re no Billy Graham.

    It’s still hard for me to understand how certain Christians can condemn anyone who dares to question the authority of Scripture. I understand that the Bible is “God’s Word” and all that… but when we don’t have the original scriptures (I’m currently reading Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus and it is excellent) and many (though not enough) Christians understand that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally, shouldn’t questioning the authority of the Scripture be welcome by pastors who want people to take an interest in the faith? Questions are only asked by people interested in the subject. Believing in the divinity of Jesus and questioning scripture don’t have to be opposing ideas for Christians, do they?

    What Christians do or don’t do has little to do with the shaping of their view of Scripture or their interpretations of it. Belief, once developed, reinforces practice, and practice follows the variously-originating initial belief. Not having the original manuscripts doesn’t mean a thing. If we had them (like the Mormons), would it make a difference to doubters or believers? The Bible does not prescribe the method of its interpretation. Believers do that; and believers come in all kinds. “Believing in the divinity of Jesus and questioning scripture don’t have to be opposing ideas for Christians,” because not all Christians believe they should derive their doctrines solely from the Bible, or at least not in variance with it, as do the fundamentalists and many evangelicals.

    If there are any followers of Jesus left in the world, I would like to know where they are. I have seen none among the popular preachers; I have seen none in our Congress; I know there are none that hang around the Oval Office, and set our nation’s policies. All I see is what Jesus saw: Pharisees and Hypocrits—the outside is painted to look clean, but the inside is full of rottenness.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    If there are any followers of Jesus left in the world, I would like to know where they are.

    It’s a good question. Reading the words of Jesus I often wonder the same thing – whether there is anyone left who is actually trying to do what he said.

    They’re not perfect, but I think my friend Shane Claiborne and his little community called the simple way are one of the best examples that I know of who are actually taking the teaching of Jesus seriously in their lifestyle of service and celebration with the poor and oppressed.

  • Mark Caplan

    The Bible itself says “Don’t take me literally!” Notice how the Bible starts off. On Page 1 is the notorious Six Days of Creation saga. On Page 3 is an entirely different creation tale. Don’t believe it? Just pick up the Bible and carefully read the first 3 pages. Jot down the order that things are created in each tale. The Bible contradicts itself every step of the way. One or both creation stories must be false. They can’t both be true. Anyone who says the Bible is inerrant and literally true obviously hasn’t read beyond the first page.

  • brian

    just as a pont of comparison … the bill clinton library cost $165 million. which was money well spent, i think. 8 years in the presidency deserves a big investment.

    but it does put into perspective the $ everyone keeps focusing on for the graham library. turns out, buildings cost money. and like him or not, billy graham has been one of the most influential people on planet earth in the last 100 years.

  • TD

    I came across this old post through search. Franklin Graham is not “condemning” people who question the authority of scripture. It’s entirely expected that non-Christians of course will question the authority of scripture, and entirely expected that Christians will do the same. Any confidence in the authority of scripture should come about through inquiry, examination and experience. I would say that Graham is warning against the dangers that arise (he believes) when a culture no longer trusts in the authority of scripture. And presumably he would say there are dangers that arise when an individual does not accept the authority of scripture.

    This does not imply a moral judgment against people who question scriptural authority. It’s simply a view that a thoughtful belief in the authority of scripture (in some sense of that term, not necessarily meaning that it’s taken to be literal in all parts and facets) leads to a more wisely guided life and society. There are therefore negative consequences that follow when we cast aside what the God who made us has said about the true, the good and the beautiful.


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