What follows is an excerpt from Frank Viola’s new book – ReGrace: What the Shocking Beliefs of the Great Christians Can Teach Us Today. The endnotes which contain first-hand sources are not included in the excerpt.
WARNING: BEFORE GOING FURTHER, READ THIS FIRST
1) Some of the so-called shocking beliefs that I cover in ReGrace are beliefs that I myself agree with. Others I find abhorrent.
Consequently, just because a shocking belief is listed doesn’t reveal how I personally feel about it.
It simply means that many evangelical Christians will find the belief to be shocking (at worst) or peculiar (at best).
Therefore, to those of you who are inclined to finish this book and proudly throw your chest out saying, “Good grief, I wasn’t shocked by any of those beliefs!” remember three things:
You missed the point of the book; each person I feature had people who believed they were heretics during their day; and every one of them still have people raking them over the coals because of their viewpoints.
2) While I disagree with a number of beliefs that each person I feature held, I have respect for each of them. In fact, I cannot tie the laces of their shoes.
Each individual was remarkable in his own right. I realize this means that people who don’t like Calvin, Lewis, Wesley, Augustine, and so forth will be turned off by that statement.
And some may misuse this book as a frontal attack on each person it covers, completely missing the boat on those chapters and the intent of this volume.
Finally, remember, the point of this book is NOT to highlight what our spiritual forefathers believed. It’s simply that they all had imperfect views. For that reason, let’s have more grace and civility whenever we disagree with each other over theology and politics.
The book explains practically how to disagree – even strongly – in a Christlike manner without getting down in the mud and engaging in fleshly, carnal behavior over a diverging viewpoint held by a fellow Christian.
For if the “heroes” of the faith didn’t possess immaculate perception, than the same is true for every child of God today – including you.
Read Excerpt Now
Seven Shocking Statements by Billy Graham
True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person or circumstance.
~ Oswald Chambers
Billy Graham is an icon.
Few people in history have impacted the Christian faith like Graham. While he has his critics—like every other servant of God—countless positive things can be said about him, all remarkable. Throughout his lifetime, Graham preached to an estimated 215 million people in more than 417 crusades.
In the summer of 2005, during his final evangelistic crusade, he preached to a quarter of a million people over a three-day span.
In addition to his remarkable preaching ministry, Graham prayed with or counseled twelve American presidents.1
In my humble (but accurate) opinion, Graham was one of the “greats.” That said, here are seven little-known shocking quotes from Billy Graham. Graham isn’t noted for being an “out-of-the-box” nontraditionalist, but these quotes show a side of him that runs against traditional evangelical thinking.
Whether you agree with the sentiment of these quotes or not, they will surprise many evangelicals.
Quote 1—Are Muslims and Buddhists Saved? (an Interview with Robert Schuller)
Schuller: Tell me, what do you think is the future of Christianity?
Graham: Well, Christianity and being a true believer, you know, I think there’s the body of Christ, which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the body of Christ. And I don’t think that we’re going to see a great sweeping revival that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. I think James answered that, the apostle James in the first council in Jerusalem, when he said that God’s purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that’s what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the nonbelieving world, they are members of the body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.
Schuller: What I hear you saying is that it’s possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life even if they’ve been born in darkness and never had an exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you are saying?
Graham: Yes, it is because I believe that. I’ve met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they’ve believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they’ve tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.
Schuller: That’s fantastic, I’m so thrilled to hear you say that, there’s a wideness in God’s mercy.
Graham: There is. There definitely is.2
Quote 2—Salvation without Christ? (an Interview with McCall’s Magazine)
I used to play God, but I can’t do that anymore. I used to believe pagans in far-off countries were lost—were going to hell—if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. . . . I believe there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God—through nature, for instance—and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying “yes” to God. (Graham later clarified what he meant here.)3
Quote 3—Should We Link America with the Kingdom of God?
Speaking as an American himself, Graham said: I came close to identifying the American way of life with the kingdom of God. Then I realized that God had called me to a higher kingdom than America. I have tried to be faithful to my calling as a minister of the gospel.4
The above is a short excerpt from ReGrace with the endnotes removed. The rest of the quotes by Graham — including clarifying remarks he made about some of them — are included in the book.
To order the book, go to ReGrace: What the Shocking Beliefs of the Great Christians Can Teach Us Today.
Here is the Back Cover Description:
The church is tired of seeing Christians act ungraciously toward one another when they disagree. Social media has added to the carnage. Christians routinely block each other on Facebook because of doctrinal disagreements. The world watches the blood-letting, and the Christian witness is tarnished.
But what if every Christian discovered that their favorite teacher in church history had blind spots and held to some false–and even shocking–views?
Bestselling author Frank Viola argues that this simple awareness will soften Christians when they interact with each other in the face of theological disagreements.
In ReGrace, he uncovers some of the shocking beliefs held by faith giants like C.S. Lewis, Luther, Calvin, Moody, Spurgeon, Wesley, Graham, and Augustine–not to downgrade or dismiss them, but to show that even “the greats” in church history didn’t get everything right.
Knowing that the heroes of our faith sometimes got it wrong will empower us to treat our fellow Christians with grace rather than disdain whenever we disagree over theology.