'The Bible Says'
In the new biography 'The Evangelist,' the Reverend Billy Graham is a man of the book.
BY: Lewis A. Drummond
Every Christian, to some degree, is faced with the same question with which Luther wrestled: Can the Bible be trusted as the foundation for all faith and knowledge? It is certainly a question Billy Graham has had to grapple with. Indeed, his particular approach to understanding the nature and authority of the Bible did not come easily.
Although he had been reared in a Christian home where the Bible was regularly read, Graham encountered several struggles in his Christian walk, none greater than the questions as to whether the Bible could be trusted in its entirety. The evangelist's struggle was brought to head in an encounter, mentioned earlier in the book, with Charles Templeton concerning higher critical methods of Bible interpretation. The question became whether by faith to take the Bible at face value as the Word of God, or whether to probe deeper into theology looking for rational answers and definitive proofs.
The encounter took place in 1949, and Billy Graham recalls it was "a crucial moment in my ministry." Graham's old friend Steven Olford states that it was in this experience that was born Billy's most famous phrase, "the Bible says..." But several steps led to this critical moment.
Graham's first major step came when he realized that aspects of the Scriptures would never be reconciled on a purely rational level. He says, "As a Christian, I am under no obligation to attempt to reconcile the Bible teachings with modern philosophy. Biblical truth does not parallel human opinion of any generation; it usually opposes it." Those who declare the Bible to be riddled with contradictions and myths project the implication that the gospel of Jesus Christ is anti-intellectual.
Billy Graham rejects this position. In this regard he says, "It's a strange thing about this book (the Bible). There are many things in it I don't understand and can't explain. Some of the questions I have asked about it I am sure will never be answered this side of Heaven." His argument sets forth the idea that Scripture transcends mere human intellectualism. As a result, one must rest in faith in a God that exists above finite human reason.