Classic Billy Graham, at 95 years of age

The Rev. Billy Graham has been worried about the state of America's soul for a long, long time.So it wasn't surprising that -- when preaching what could be his final sermon -- the 95-year-old evangelist looked straight into the camera and talked about sin and tears, repentance and salvation. And the cross."Our country's in great need of a spiritual awakening. There have been times when I've wept as I've gone from city to city and I've seen how far people have wandered from God," said … [Read more...]

Into the depths of USA’s church-state Inferno

IRS Commissioner Steven Miller was already having a rough day at the House Ways and Means Committee when one particularly hot question shoved him into the lower depths of a church-state Inferno.The question concerned a letter sent by IRS officials in Cincinnati to the Coalition for Life of Iowa, linked to its application for tax-exempt status."Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational," said the … [Read more...]

Define ‘evangelical’ — 2013 edition

List America’s prominent evangelical Protestant voices and the Rev. Rick Warren remains near the top, up in the mix with the Rev. Brian McLaren, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Jim Wallis, the Rev. Tim Keller and others.Many evangelicals, of course, like to argue about who belongs on that list. In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious that the experts are finding it harder to decide who is and who is not an “evangelical” in the first place.“I know what the word ‘evangelical’ is supposed t … [Read more...]

Billy Graham & Co. push the values voters

The television talking heads all agreed that the election was over, which ignited celebrations among the staff and supporters of winner Richard Nixon -- including the world's most famous evangelist."We did it," proclaimed the Rev. Billy Graham, according to iconoclastic journalist Joe McGinniss in "The Selling of the President 1968." Graham, he added, went "directly into Nixon's room, without explaining whether 'we' meant Billy Graham and Richard Nixon or Billy Graham and God or perhaps all … [Read more...]

Sermons by Billy and Obama

Both men faced rows of loved ones still wrapped in grief after shocking tragedies.Both men quoted the Psalms. Both concluded with visions of eternal life and heavenly reunions. Both referred to familiar songs that offered comfort.Facing those gathered in Beckley, W.Va., to mourn the loss of 29 miners, President Barack Obama asked them to remember a rhythm and blues classic -- "Lean on Me" -- that had its roots in coal country life.Songwriter Bill Withers wrote: "Sometimes in our lives, we … [Read more...]

Ruth Graham, the X-factor

There was a time just after the Watergate scandal when Billy Graham, stung by his ties to the fallen President Richard Nixon, tried to let his hair down a bit.Graham began addressing a wide range of social issues, including nuclear arms control. He focused less attention to America and said that the church's future was in the Third World. Some long-time supporters began to grumble -- literally -- about his hair."People were worried that Billy was letting his hair get too long. We were getting … [Read more...]

Memory eternal, Robert E. Webber

During one of his early visits to London, Billy Graham was confronted by an Anglican leader who causally dismissed the entire crusade effort."Young man," said the priest, "I do not approve of your style of evangelism.""I'm sure that what I'm doing isn't perfect," replied Graham. "But I like the evangelism that I'm doing better than the evangelism that you're not doing."Robert E. Webber knew that collision of styles inside out.The theologian spent most of his career working with people on both … [Read more...]

Graham looking to London?

Billy Graham promised that he would avoid politics and stick to saving souls during his final New York crusade.The New York Times offered a sigh of relief, noting that the closest he came to danger in the first sermon was when he said: "There's a lot of discussion about the Ten Commandments being in a courtroom or in our country. We need to look at the Ten Commandments because they convict us of our sin."The key was that Graham remained silent on the "divisive issues of the day" such as -- the … [Read more...]