(A review of his autobiography, “Just As I Am”)
Today saw the death of Billy Graham, America’s most famous or infamous preacher, aged 99. Before his death, he endorsed Donald Trump for the presidency. Before this, he endorsed the Mormon, Mitt Romney.
“We were given a red-carpet welcome at the airport by our two official hosts, Ambassador Zhang Wenjin [Chinese official] and Bishop K. H. Ting, President of the China Christian Council. American Ambassador Winston Lord was on hand too (pgs. 602, 603). He [Premier Li Peng, China’s head of state] had invited us to visit him. I knew Premier Li was somewhat familiar with us, since our visit was preceded by personal notes of introduction from Nixon, Kissinger, and Bush” (p. 604).
This intriguing account is taken from a trip to China in 1988, just over ten years earlier, under Chairman Mae Tse-Tungs brutal and communistic reign, this would have been unheard of.
There can be no doubt that, whenever Graham went overseas, the world and his wife were always on hand to meet him, or as one preacher would say: “Graham gets the mayor, the red carpet, and the keys to every city he visits.”
When in England, he would visit Prime Ministers, Churchill and Thatcher, with Churchill apparently believing that the Bible was inspired (p. 236).
Whilst in Russia, a trip to the Kremlin was arranged for him to meet Mikhail Gorbachev, and once again, like Red China, something unheard of only a few years earlier.
And even North Korea’s president, Kim II Sung, would welcome Graham with open arms (p. 625).
Graham’s crusade trip to North Korea was something that not even pope John Paul II was able to manage, and thus Graham was quite content to personally deliver a long message from the pontiff to this communist dictator, after of course, he had given him George Bush’s personal message as well (p. 626).
What other preachers, past or present, ever enjoyed such privileges? Certainly, John Wesley didn’t, (John Wesley, by Basil Miller, 1943, p. 94), or the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 11:23-29).
Graham’s crusades hadn’t always gone without incident, for there had been numerous attempts on his life (p. 669-670).
But why did Graham always receive the red carpet treatment? Why did doors open to him, while other people were unable to even distribute Bible tracts in certain countries? And if people were/are caught doing this, they will nearly always receive 10 years hard labour!
It would appear to me that Graham when travelling abroad, took two messages with him:
1) An ecumenical and Roman Catholic ‘friendly’ gospel.
2) A message from governments and possibly media and business tycoons. And this is why, I believe, hostile governments treated him like a long-lost son. (Please see how happy Nixon was when learning of Graham’s success in China; second to last paragraph on p. 613).
When I first sat down to read a used copy of Billy Graham’s 1997 autobiography Just as I am, I really had no idea, what if any, my thoughts might be; for I had never heard any of his broadcasts or read any of his books prior to his memoirs, but I had of course long been curious about Graham and his very successful ministry!
Graham would say of himself: “My goal was not to get people to leave their church; rather commit their lives to Christ” (p. 163).
One well-known fundamentalist made the error when he said that Graham went from being a fundamentalist to ecumenical, but that’s just not true. Graham was always broad and ecumenical, and this he made crystal clear: “One thing that thrilled me was the diversity of viewpoints we were exposed to in the classroom, a wondrous blend of ecumenical and evangelical thought that was really ahead of its time” (p. 46).
I remember watching him on the news when he gave the eulogy at Washington’s Cathedral in the wake of 9/11 and how he said they [the victims] “are all in a better place now.”
At the time of hearing this, for I was not yet a Christian, I thought even then, this guy is very liberal. How could he say this, for my Bible would later tell me that only those who are born again will enter Heaven?
Graham the man and the evangelist
So off I went, only 735 pages to read. I would have to confess, that right from the outset, this book was very interesting, easy to read and flowed quite naturally. Graham came across as sincere, very hard working and also rather old-fashioned, for he would always call his father-in-law, Dr. Bell.
He also shared humorous stories, like for example when he had been invited by President Ford to appear at an official banquet at the White House, which had Grace Kelly and her husband, the King of Monaco present: “I sat beside Grace Kelly, Princess Grace of Monaco. We were chatting, but at the same time I was stalling. I was looking in despair at the elaborate place setting of knives, folks, and spoons. Dr. Graham, are you watching me? she asked. Yes, I said, caught in the act. But I am watching you, she said back. I’m waiting for you to start” (p. 471).
While this story is interesting to read, I would also come to believe that Graham was rather ignorant at times and even naive. For example, while on a trip to Auschwitz concentration camp, he said: “I call upon Christians everywhere to work and pray for peace” (p. 485).
Yet if one takes the time to read the book of Revelation, death is the main subject and millions if not billions of people will perish during this time of Great Tribulation. Sadly Graham never told his readers this or his entourage at Auschwitz.
The main theme of the book is, of course, his unique ‘evangelistic work’ and his personal ‘presidential pasturing,’ for he has served all presidents from Truman to Bush Jr.
Some of the figures that surround Graham’s crusades are as follows:
- Preached to over 210 million people, in 185 countries.
- Stated that 2,874,082 people personally received Jesus Christ as their own Saviour (Time Magazine, 15/11/1994).
- In nearly every country that he and his team preached in, the host government provided anything from hotel accommodation to aircraft, and all at the cost of their nations taxpayers. Even the Red Army helped wire up a generator for a Church in Russia, something previously unimaginable (p. 549).
- He continually refused to warn his Catholic and other apostate church members to leave such churches. And only recently (Nov. 2004) Cardinal Mahoney, released a statement notifying Catholic churches in the Los Angeles diocese, ahead of Graham’s Nov. 21-22 weekend crusade, that Dr. Graham would not be proselytising Catholics. If any Catholics ‘made decisions for Christ,’ they were to be quickly pointed towards a Catholic steward, to be reintegrated ‘back into their churches.’
Would credit some rather infamous people for supporting him and his crusades throughout the years:
- Nelson Rockefeller [the Rockefeller foundation is very powerful and owns the UN building and the land it stands on] (p. 457).
- Lord Hugh Fraser [House of Fraser departmental stores in the UK] (p. 249).
- Rupert Murdock [Media tycoon with generous donations to the Catholic church. His company Zondervan own the publishing rights to the NIV Bible, and he would also commission and publish Graham’s autobiography] (p. 334).
- William Randolph Hearst [a Roman Catholic press baron. Orson Wells would base his film Character Citizen Kane upon Hearst but Graham would never meet him] (p. 149-50).
We also discover some other interesting bits of information:
- He gave a signed copy of the Bible to North Korea’s leader, Kim Sung.
- Would preach and pastor in a Masonic lodge hall (p. 66).
In 1982, he would receive the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, from Prince Philip in Buckingham Palace (p. 510).
While there, Prince Philip handed Mrs Graham a cheque for $200,000.
This openly and bold masonic prize was given to him, sadly demonstrates that Graham saw nothing wrong with being yoked to such men (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
- Henry Kissinger attended his New York crusades in 1957 and the text seems to suggest he went ‘forward himself to receive Christ’? (p. 311).
- While in Northern Ireland in 1972, he prayed with dying victims of a bomb attack; was called ‘father,’ and met secretly with the head of the IRA’s official political wing (p. 430).
- Informs his reader that he stayed in the private and expensive hospital, the Mayo Clinic (p. 495).
And then Graham endorses some rather controversial characters:
- The heretic and freemason, Norman Vincent Peale (p. 315).
- Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, freemason (p. 237).
- Oral Roberts, freemason (p. 563).
- Also worked vigorously with the apostate and super-ecumenical movement, the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches (p. 560).
Please note that this false movement, the W.C.C and the N.C.C. embraces over 159 groups and religions, ranging from Hindus to Buddhists.
The W.C.C teaches one to ‘listen to the god within.’ This movement also goes on to say that ‘Hindus, Muslims and others achieve salvation in the same way as Christians’ and warns against ‘narrow thinking.’
It would appear that John 14:6; Acts 4:12 and 1 Tim. 2:5 are possibly ‘narrow thinking,’ but the only time the world narrow appears in Holy Scripture is found in Matt. 7:13!
In 1988, a W.C.C publication encourages readers to adopt heathen practices from Buddhism and Taoism meditation and claims that words are a hindrance to prayer.
Does one need to ask the all-important question: Did Graham know about this type of apostasy? If not, shouldn’t he have? And if he did, why on earth did his organisation B.G.E.A not cut their links with them?
America’s ‘Presidential Pastor’
Most presidents couldn’t speak highly enough of him, like George Bush Snr. who dubbed him ‘America’s Pastor. However, Harry Truman called him ‘a counterfeit and publicity seeker.’ Two contrasting views, from two very different men.
There can be no doubt that Graham always had the ear of his presidents (and he seems to have had his favourites), and they have always been on hand to help him and his family in return.
For example, trips to difficult countries were given top priority from the White House and then overnight, visas were sent to the Graham entourage. Yet beforehand such crusades had appeared almost impossible.
Even in later years long after Richard Nixon had left office this old friend of the Grahams would pull political strings to allow Ruth Graham to visit China, even though foreigners weren’t allowed to visit this area (p. 596).
In return for such favours as this, Graham was asked to meet with one leader, India’s new Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi and while meeting her, Graham was to inquire about what type of US ambassador she wanted (p. 275).
Graham, it appeared, was an unofficial ambassador for his country (Kitty Kelly, The Family, p. 244-245) and in return for all the many years of ‘service’ he put in, he would be awarded the highest award the US government can bestow on its citizen, the Congressional Medal of Honour; he was the 114th person to receive it (p. 654-655).
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower used Graham as a middleman to help make amends with Nixon just before Nixon took office in 1968. This Graham did and both presidents became friends again. We also have a personal account of a dying president Eisenhower asking Billy: “You’ve told me how to be sure my sins are forgiven and that I’m going to Heaven. Would you tell me again? I took out my New Testament and read to him again the familiar Gospel verses, the precious promises of God about eternal life. Then, my hand still in his, I prayed briefly. Thank you, he said. I’m ready” (p. 205).
John F. Kennedy
When the reader gets to Jack Kennedy, very little insight is given to America’s first Catholic president. And with such little information about him, one would have to read other books to better understand the nature of this man. The only time Kennedy asked Graham about Christian issues was concerning Jesus and His Second Coming, but as Graham answered him, Kennedy had already lost interest and was looking elsewhere (p. 395.)
Richard M. Nixon
When Nixon lost to Jack Kennedy in the 1960 election, Nixon told Graham: “Every time he [Kennedy] asks [for] you, you have to go” (p 393.) This he did and for many spectators, the question was why? Why did Graham act like a bellboy or as one of Nixon’s advisers crudely put it, “He [Graham] is his [Nixon’s] sidekick,” when he was helping Nixon to choose a vice president (p. 446.)
Incredibly Nixon phoned Graham to ask him to call Mark Hatfield (the other possible VP candidate) but would later ring him to tell him that Spiro Agnew would be the new VP (p. 447.) This Graham does and thinks nothing of it?
When Nixon was inaugurated, Graham insisted on making it an ‘inter-faith’ event, even though Nixon only wanted one ‘Christian leader’ present, Billy Graham (p. 450-451).
Nixon, during the Vietnam crisis, once phoned Graham at 1 am, and requested that his wife pick up the extension phone.
Graham was no doubt invaluable to his presidents, for they all would lean on him and have him pray for them throughout their periods in office.
During his time in office, Nixon would have private church services in the East Room of the White House (p. 535).
In 2002, transcripts of secret recordings that only Nixon knew about were forcibly made public, much to the anger and fear of the Nixon family, and I suspect the immediate Graham family.
In these damning tapes, Graham can be heard agreeing with Nixon about their mutual loathing of the Jewish media. Yet in his book he says the following: “I cannot possibly believe that a true Christian would ever be involved in anything anti-Semitic” (p. 564).
Graham would also say how he felt and reacted to hearing the Watergate tapes (not the Jewish jibes) when they became public: “I was deeply distressed. I felt physically sick, inwardly, I felt torn apart” (p. 457).
While Nixon was sick in hospital with thrombophlebitis, after being forced to resign from the White House due to his impeachment, Ruth Graham asked a friend to hire a private plane and got the pilot to fly around his hospital with a huge banner which read: “Nixon – God loves you and so do we” (p. 467).
One can only wonder with amazement what the cost of this was? Also during this time, Graham was able to convince Gerald Ford to pardon the sick president. This he did, but H.R Halderman and John Ehrlichman, who were both practising members of the Christian Science cult, were sent to prison. Both have since died. Only the late Chuck Colson left prison as a reformed person, but sadly he too became very ecumenical, with his Roman Catholic wife, ‘conducting Bible studies’ in his Protestant church, whereas he would not have been allowed to do likewise in her church!
Next, we read some interesting stories of his association with LBJ, Lyndon Johnston.
A man who would often ‘pray alone in his pyjamas’; attend church regularly, rain or shine; and would always apologise if he ‘swore around Graham.’
According to Graham, he was the first presidential incumbent to attend one of his crusades (p. 406). Only vice-president Nixon had done so while serving Eisenhower in the late 50s.
LBJ (a Democrat) would privately support Nixon (a Republican) as the next US president.
He would leave the White House voluntary and prematurely due to the strain of Vietnam in 1968.
On his funeral day, two former anti-war activists held up a banner, which read, ‘Forgive us, Mr. President’ (p. 418).
Like Nixon, who succeeded LBJ, when articles about this president surfaced many years after his death, Graham was saddened to discover some of his moral failures.
Second to Gerald Ford, both presidents made little impact on US policy and perhaps Carter is still seen by many as a presidential failure. However, Graham informs his reader that this man was and still is a ‘devout Christian’ who led many Bible classes before his time in office, and would even take on the role as ‘honorary chair’ for Graham’s organisation in Georgia, in 1972 and 1994 (p. 492; 498).
Carter would also be credited for bringing the Biblical term born again (John 3:3) into the political and secular spectrum. Interestingly though, Graham states that this term wasn’t well known beforehand in the media, so one wonders why not?
Graham was able to persuade Jimmy Carter to make a diplomatic trip to North Korea in 1994 (p. 628).
Graham states that Carter was monumental in assisting a sister of one of his sons-in-law in receiving a passport, even though she was a US citizen.
Apparently, Carter personally saw to it that she be issued with her own passport and would phone her himself to tell her that her new passport was on route to her (p. 494-495).
In his teens, this movie star turned president, would preach in his small church in Dixon, Illinois (p. 534).
Interestingly, this Protestant president, not Catholic Jack Kennedy, would be the first chief executive to appoint a US ambassador to the Vatican, due to Graham’s advice and encouragement (p. 535).
Nancy Regan would send for Mr and Mrs Graham, while they were tucked up in bed, to get dressed and be driven, by two men in their pyjamas, who had also been in bed to the White House, where they would find the Regan’s in bed. The reason for this late night dash from Graham’s Madison’s Hotel room was to reminisce for two hours about their families and other things (p. 533-534).
When Reagan was seriously shot in 1981 in Washington, Graham was ushered by private jet from his home and then a White House car took him straight to the aid of Nancy, at the hospital (who paid for this, one wonders?)
Interestingly are the other people present: Frank and Barbara Sinatra (p. 536).
Graham would also ring the parents of the attempted assassin, for the Hinckleys were Christians, and told them that they were in his prayers; for he knew their hearts must have been breaking (p. 537).
After other prominent people arrived, Donn Moomaw and his wife and Regan’s pastor and his wife, they all held hands as Graham led this unusual group in prayer, with Sinatra saying, amen twice (p. 537).
Graham would rebuke Nancy for her involvement with Astrology.
However, wanting to look on ‘the positive side of this,’ he thought she had only turned to it in the crisis of the moment, yet, not knowing that both she and her husband had long dabbled in this dangerous and sinful act, going back some forty years or so.
George H. Bush
Graham would applaud Bush for his masonic gulf war speech of 1991 (p. 585).
In this speech, Bush would say, ‘A thousand points of light.’
The late New Zealand preacher, Barry Smith, tells us it, “means that there are about 1,000 illuminated satanic groups who are bringing this New World government about.”
George Bush’s New World Order was initially introduced by Jimmy Carter’s plan, entitled ‘Global 2000’ (Barry R. Smith, PS, p. 16).
As always, Graham was on hand to support the Bush family throughout, and after their time in office.
No information is forthcoming about Bush Snr’s religious views, apart from the fact that they attend the liberal Episcopalian church, which would not have any problems with Freemasonry. Bush Snr. and his sons, who are members of the Skull and Bones sect (it has been claimed that all the Bushmen, going back to Senator Prescott Bush, have been actively involved with the Skull and Bones) would be welcome in their congregation.
Graham and the future president would both ‘get on their knees’ and pray in the presence of Clinton’s dying pastor Dr. W.O Vaught (a 32-degree freemason), who was tucked up in bed reading to his guests’ verses from his Scofield reference Bible, concerning the Second Coming.
Would also speak fondly of Mrs Clinton; she in her autobiography gave him only a brief mention.
As this autobiography was written in 1997, the worst of the president’s immorality was still to hit the news-stands.
We know from other sources that when Chelsea Clinton was told by her father that he did indeed have an affair with Monica Lewinsky, for he had previously tried to blame right-wingers, i.e, in a plot to destroy his presidency, but now when he confessed the truth to Chelsea, she bolted out of the White House hysterically, only to return and beg for the freemason, Jesse Jackson, not Billy Graham, to come to the family quarters in the White House.
Upon arrival, Jackson got all three members of the Clinton family ‘on their knees’ and made them pray and repent together. Soon after this event, Jackson too made the news, but this time for all the wrong reasons: his love child with his mistress was headline news.
George W. Bush
Credits Graham for his ‘conversion’ to Christianity, back in the mid-1980s. However, Arthur Blessitt was also ‘credited for Bush’s faith’ in Christ.
The following account is from Kitty Kelly’s controversial book, The [Bush] Family: “When The Jewish Herald-Voice of November 2, 1994, ran the headline: “Can a Texas Jew go to Heaven”? George W. Bush Says No. George had previously debated the issue of who gets to heaven with his mother. He pointed to a passage in his daily Bible readings that said only Christians had a place in heaven. Barbara disagreed. ‘Surely God with accept others, she said. Mom, here’s what the New Testament says, insisted George, who read the passage aloud. Barbara picked up the phone and called Billy Graham. Graham sided with George. From a personal perspective, I agree with what George is saying, he said. The New Testament has been my guide. But I want to caution you both. Don’t play God. Who are you two to be God” (p. 547.)
In 2005, I watched Graham being interviewed on the Larry King show. (He has appeared twenty times on this show, and like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, has never fully or correctly preached the full Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.)
Viewing this man, at the rip old age of 87, I found it interesting just how diplomatic he was when asked controversial questions such as whether he agreed with homosexual marriage, abortion, other faiths, natural disasters and so on. To each of these fundamental questions, Graham not only sat on the fence, but sidestepped the question on whether or not homosexuality was a choice, that a person made or whether or not a person was ‘born that way.’ Graham, looking a little awkward, simply replied, ‘that’s the debate.’
How remarkable that after six years of theological studies, which earned him his doctorate, he was unable or unwilling to frame a more direct and Biblical answer, sticking much more closely to his politically correct script.
Throughout the fifty-minute live interview, he told his host how God loves everybody, including the victims of 9/11. But unfortunately, never mentioned that total faith in Christ, prior to one’s death, is totally essential to salvation. Love was all that Graham had for his unsaved television audience.
Never once did he cite John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 to Larry King. From my point of view, I felt this interview and the potential opportunity to reach a global audience for Jesus was totally wasted. Mankind doesn’t need any more ‘love’ but the fear and real holiness of God preached left, right and centre.
But what really interested me was his frank admission that he had had doubts about the existence of God, up until only five years ago. He told King that after a visit to the private Mayo clinic (where mother Teresa was treated), and after a failed operation to insert a shunt in his head, he had an experience: he said that in a flash of a moment, all his sins that he had long forgotten, came to his attention.
At that moment, he prayed to God to forgive him and cleanse him of these sins. Then he felt great peace upon him. My question would be this: was this the first time in 50 years that he believed himself to have been saved? Or had he never had the assurance of salvation before?
Either way, how intriguing that this giant in the world of ‘Christian celebrities,’ could conduct a religious and very successful financial enterprise for so long, and yet, it would appear, lack the assurance and perhaps even the forgiveness of sins, until he was in his mid 80s.
Either way, I struggle to compare Graham, with his smoothness and charisma, to that of the apostles and even the Lord Himself.
The Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul were treated terribly for what they said to ungodly and sinful mankind. Yet men like Graham have loved the world over. And this cannot be something for them to be proud of!
The truth of the matter is Billy Graham managed to reach great highs as few others have ever been able to. He rubbed shoulders with presidents, kings, prime ministers and communist dictators. He managed all of this because he was never a threat to any of them.
The popes of Rome happily worked with him, because he had long signed up to the vibrant and lucrative ecumenical movement. In fact, his son, Franklin, even commended his father for ’embracing the ecumenical movement.’
He snuggled up to every American president (all of them have been freemasons) and due to his ‘powerful friends’ global doors flung open to him, and with the Vatican also behind him, the Billy Graham ecumenical bandwagon was simply unstoppable.
All the fame and success he achieved in his lifetime cannot be duplicated in eternity.
Whether or not Billy Graham was ever genuine, let alone saved, is simply impossible to ascertain, so speculation is worthless.
The only thing that can be said is that he has probably done more harm to Biblical Christianity than anyone else has.
His failure to preach against Romanism and his inter-faith tendencies have marred him and tragically have gone some way in undermining those that are genuinely seeking to reach the lost for Christ.
One would be foolish indeed to suggest there have been no actual conversions due to his preaching, for the message of the gospel is what saves, not the messenger. But any real lasting conversions are more likely to be the exception and not the rule.
But the tragedy remains: once compromise sets in it spread like cancer and before one knows it, it’s incurable.
A deadly warning to all of us!
Updated, September 2018
(All Rights Reserved)