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Hitchens On Billy Graham


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A while back there was a discussion about evangelists and whether they really believe their message or they knowingly con people, and I said I had heard that Billy Graham had admitted that it was just business to him.  At the time I couldn't remember where I had heard that, but I have since stumbled across it again:

 

 

 

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My family worships at the altar of Billy Graham.  My grandparents, aunt, parents, and sister have all made pilgrimages to the multi-million dollar Billy Graham visitors center in North Carolina.  In their mind he can do no wrong and embodies all that is wonderful about christianity.

 

When Billy Graham decided that Mormons were not a cult, but just another version of christianity, IN ORDER TO GET CHRISTIANS TO VOTE FOR MITT ROMNEY, it was apparent to me he was totally full of shit.  NO evangelical theologian would ever claim mormon theology is in line with christian orthodoxy.  This was just throwing away belief integrity for the sake of political benefit.

 

While old Billy was a huge kiss-ass to people in power, his son is scary.

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I heard of Templeton's recantation of his beliefs, but never heard of Graham doing so. I tend to trust Hitchens to be a man of integrity (RIP), but do you know of any documentation/quotes from Graham on this?

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I heard of Templeton's recantation of his beliefs, but never heard if Graham doing so. I tend to trust Hitchen's to be a man of integrity (RIP), but do you know if any documentation/quotes from Graham on this?

I don't know of any, but I know Hitchens was always aware of the possibility of being sued, so I'd be extremely surprised if he didn't have his ducks in a row before saying this.

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Very slightly of topic, Graham was quoted years ago saying that only Christians could get into heaven, the current Pope has said that non christians are allowed in.

 

They read the same Bible stories, yet cannot agree on what the texts are saying

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A while back there was a discussion about evangelists and whether they really believe their message or they knowingly con people, and I said I had heard that Billy Graham had admitted that it was just business to him.  At the time I couldn't remember where I had heard that, but I have since stumbled across it again:

 

I like Hitchens, but his quotes here(from Templetons books "Farewell to God) are simply wrong. Temple recounts the encounter thus:

 

"We had often discussed our beliefs, meeting from time to time to talk and share experiences. Once, we spent two days closeted in a hotel room in New York City, exchange experiences, discussing the Bible and theology, and praying together.

Our backgrounds were radically different. Billy was a country boy, raised on a farm in the American South in a deeply religious household. He had been converted and called to the ministry in his teens and had studied in fundamentalist schools; at Bob Jones College and at Wheaton, where he had earned a B. A. in anthropology. All our differences came to a head in a discussion which, better than anything I know, "explains" Billy Graham.

I had said. "But Billy, it's not possible any longer to believe the biblical account of creation. The world wasn't created; it has evolved over millions of years. It's not a matter of speculation, it's demonstrable fact." 

"I don't accept that," he said, "And there are reputable scholars who don't." 

"Who are they?" I said. "Men in conservative Christian colleges?" 

"Most of them, yes. But that's not the point. I believe in the Genesis account of creation simply because it's in the Bible. I've discovered something in my ministry: when I take the Bible   literally, when I proclaim it as God's Word, I have power. When I stand before the people and say, 'God says,' or 'The Bible says, 'the Holy Spirit uses me. There are results. People respond. Wiser men than you or I have been arguing questions like this for centuries. I don't have the time or the intellect to examine all sides of each theological dispute, so I've decided, once and for all, to stop questioning and to accept the Bible as God's Word." 

"But Billy," I protested, "you can't do that. You don't dare stop thinking. Do it and you begin to die. It's intellectual suicide."

"I don't know about anybody else, "he said, "but I've decided that that's the path for me." 

We talked about my going to Princeton and I pressed him to go with me. "Bill," I said, "face it: we've been successful in large part because of our abilities on the platform. Part of that stems from our energy, from our conviction, from our youth. But we won't always be young. Come with me to Princeton.

"I can't go to a university here in the States," he said. "I'm president of a Bible college, for goodness sake!" He was-North- western Bible College, a small fundamentalist school in Minneapolis. 

"Resign", I said. "That's not what you're best fitted for. Come with me to Princeton."

There was an extended silence. Then, suddenly, he said,  "Chuck, I can't go to a college here in the states, but I can and I will do this: if we can get accepted at a university outside the country, maybe in England-Oxford, for instance - I'II go with you."

He stood in front of me, his face serious, his hand outstretched. I know Billy enough to know that, had I taken his hand, he would have kept his work. But I couldn't do it. I had been accepted at Princeton. The fall term was not three weeks away. It was too late. 

Not many months later, Billy travelled to Los Angeles to begin the campaign that would catapult him overnight into international prominence. I have often pondered what might have happened if I had taken his hand that day and we had gone off to school together. I am certain of this: he would not be the Billy  Graham he has become, and the history of mass evangelism would be different than it is."

 

Marshall Frady in his book, Billy Graham, quotes Billy as saying:

"I love Chuck (Templeton) to this very day. He's one of the few men I've ever loved in my life. He and I had been so close. But then, all of a sudden, our paths were parting. He began to be a little cool to me then. I think - " and he pauses, and then offers with a faint little smile" - I think that Chuck was always sorry for me." 

 

Of course that wasn't and isn't true; we had simply become different men. I think Billy is what he has to be. I disagree with him profoundly on his view of Christianity and think that much of what he says in the pulpit is puerile nonsense. But there is no feigning in him: he believes what he believes what he believes with an invincible innocence. He is the only mass evangelist I would trust. And I miss him.

 

Templetons son, Brad on his dad:

 

While writing Farewell to God, he had one resolve in his mind. He felt that today there is a large body of people for whom faith is a burden rather than a blessing. They are people who were brought up in Christianity but have drifted. They say they are Christian but they are unsure. Perhaps they attend at Christmas and Easter. Their faith presents for them a set of moral rules they don't understand which they find at odds with their real lives.

 

 

He felt that these people were searching for something that might release them from the ingrained old memes they learned at their mothers' knees. That a rational demonstration of the problems with the church would free them from that burden. The truly faithful, he felt, would not have their faith shaken by this book or any other book advocating agnosticism (his preferred term) or atheism.

 

I know from letters he has received that this was indeed the case for several readers. He would be glad to know it. Alas, the disease was already striking him when he wrote the book and he was not healthy during its success.

 

Even after his death, the faithful have maintained a surprising interest in his preaching career and move to agnosticism. It inspired an alcove in the notorious "creation museum", and even a fictionalized role as the narrator of the movie and book "Billy: The Early Years." This film about Billy Graham's rise is told as a death-bed interview by a reporter trying to get dirt on Graham. Such an interview never took place, and while a few of his lines come from his writing, most are unauthorized fiction and uncharacteristic of him.

 

He spent his final years in a glorious penthouse apartment on the edge of the DonValley in Toronto, with his wife Madeleine, who, third time being the charm, stuck with him to the end. He was inventing to the end, even selling a game design while he had severe Alzheimer's, and trying to devise ways to fight the disease. He was particularly attracted to puzzles that would exercise his mind, and this has been shown to be a worthwhile tactic. That kept him able to talk until the very end, which is rare with that affliction. He left behind Madeleine, we 4 children, and currently 7 grandsons and a granddaughter, along with his brother (d. 2008,) 2 sisters and a recently discovered half-sister, all missing him.

 

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Thanks for that Castiel, very interesting.

 

Re this quote from Graham:

 

 

 I've discovered something in my ministry: when I take the Bible   literally, when I proclaim it as God's Word, I have power. When I stand before the people and say, 'God says,' or 'The Bible says, 'the Holy Spirit uses me. There are results. People respond. 

Isn't it amazing how much power to suck people in there is from cultural suggestion.  Most of the "converts" at those meetings had probably been indoctrinated as children, and those who hadn't would have soaked it up from the culture and also been swept up by the sales pitch and mass hysteria.

 

It was also interesting reading about his decisions to take xianity on faith and not question it.  

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Thanks for that Castiel, very interesting.

 

Re this quote from Graham:

 

 

 I've discovered something in my ministry: when I take the Bible   literally, when I proclaim it as God's Word, I have power. When I stand before the people and say, 'God says,' or 'The Bible says, 'the Holy Spirit uses me. There are results. People respond. 

Isn't it amazing how much power to suck people in there is from cultural suggestion.  Most of the "converts" at those meetings had probably been indoctrinated as children, and those who hadn't would have soaked it up from the culture and also been swept up by the sales pitch and mass hysteria.

 

It was also interesting reading about his decisions to take xianity on faith and not question it.  

You're welcome.

 

Despite Hitchens being wrong on the Templeton angle, he was spot on the money regarding Grahams public preaching versus his private views on the Jews.

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Hitchens calls him "James" Templeton in the interview, but it was Charles Templeton. The book was "Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith." Written in 1995, Templeton had actually publicly renounced his faith in 1957!

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Templeton

 

In 1948, Templeton attended Princeton Theological Seminary. Templeton hosted a weekly religious television show onCBSLook Up and Live, in the early 1950s. In 1957, after a long struggle with doubt, Templeton declared himself an agnostic. His public pronouncement of his loss of faith caused a backlash from the evangelical community.

 

 

And so we see a common trajectory: going into seminary as a young, bright-eyed Jesus robot, then being exposed to rigorous examination of all the irreconcilable problems with "the scriptures," and then coming out of school with their child-like faith seriously undermined, if not destroyed. 

 

Templeton was a Presbyterian; Billy Graham is a Southern Baptist. Huge difference. A Southern Baptist is literally the American equivalent of a Wahhabi Muslim. If they had their way, they would bomb places like the Princeton Theological Seminary for teaching Satanic anti-Bible courses. 

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Didn't realize Templeton had been a Presbyterian, loved his book. He rarely mentioned Heaven from the pulpit and never preached Hell.

 

I think I read somewhere (a long time ago) that prior to his retirement, Graham preached much more the love of God, rather than wrath of God, much to the chagrin of his fellow evangelicals 

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"I heard of Templeton's recantation of his beliefs, but never heard if Graham doing so. I tend to trust Hitchen's to be a man of integrity (RIP), but do you know if any documentation/quotes from Graham on this?"

Neverlandrut

 

"I don't know of any, but I know Hitchens was always aware of the possibility of being sued, so I'd be extremely surprised if he didn't have his ducks in a row before saying this." FreeThinkerNZ

 

 

I doubt that Hitchens was concerned about a suit by Graham for libel or slander. Graham is and was a

public figure and therefore the law requires "actual malice" by Hitchens for it to be a viable suit.

Also. Graham's popularity is and has been high for many years. Hithcens' material didn't make a dent in Graham's reputation. And Hitchens is a atheist. Christian hero v. atheist. Hmmm. The suit would

probably make Graham even more popular, whether or not he won. bill

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Hitchens calls him "James" Templeton in the interview, but it was Charles Templeton. The book was "Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith." Written in 1995, Templeton had actually publicly renounced his faith in 1957!

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Templeton

 

In 1948, Templeton attended Princeton Theological Seminary. Templeton hosted a weekly religious television show onCBSLook Up and Live, in the early 1950s. In 1957, after a long struggle with doubt, Templeton declared himself an agnostic. His public pronouncement of his loss of faith caused a backlash from the evangelical community.

 

 

And so we see a common trajectory: going into seminary as a young, bright-eyed Jesus robot, then being exposed to rigorous examination of all the irreconcilable problems with "the scriptures," and then coming out of school with their child-like faith seriously undermined, if not destroyed. 

 

Templeton was a Presbyterian; Billy Graham is a Southern Baptist. Huge difference. A Southern Baptist is literally the American equivalent of a Wahhabi Muslim. If they had their way, they would bomb places like the Princeton Theological Seminary for teaching Satanic anti-Bible courses. 

 

If a Southern Baptist is the American equivalent of a Wahhabi Muslim, then I wonder what an Independent Baptist is?  Good God the mind reels.  My mother thought the Southern Baptists were "in error".  That means they were too liberal.  I tell you most of the world does not know how crazy US Christian Fundamentalism is.

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Hitchens calls him "James" Templeton in the interview, but it was Charles Templeton. The book was "Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith." Written in 1995, Templeton had actually publicly renounced his faith in 1957!

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Templeton

 

In 1948, Templeton attended Princeton Theological Seminary. Templeton hosted a weekly religious television show onCBSLook Up and Live, in the early 1950s. In 1957, after a long struggle with doubt, Templeton declared himself an agnostic. His public pronouncement of his loss of faith caused a backlash from the evangelical community.

 

 

And so we see a common trajectory: going into seminary as a young, bright-eyed Jesus robot, then being exposed to rigorous examination of all the irreconcilable problems with "the scriptures," and then coming out of school with their child-like faith seriously undermined, if not destroyed. 

 

Templeton was a Presbyterian; Billy Graham is a Southern Baptist. Huge difference. A Southern Baptist is literally the American equivalent of a Wahhabi Muslim. If they had their way, they would bomb places like the Princeton Theological Seminary for teaching Satanic anti-Bible courses. 

 

If a Southern Baptist is the American equivalent of a Wahhabi Muslim, then I wonder what an Independent Baptist is?  Good God the mind reels.  My mother thought the Southern Baptists were "in error".  That means they were too liberal.  I tell you most of the world does not know how crazy US Christian Fundamentalism is.

 

I remember the late  atheist author, Judith Haynes writing that  she was a Lutheran growing up, and naturally they believed they were the only ones without error and wow how lucky they were, to be the only ones with the one true faith.

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My family worships at the altar of Billy Graham.  My grandparents, aunt, parents, and sister have all made pilgrimages to the multi-million dollar Billy Graham visitors center in North Carolina.  

I helped wire that place up, back in my electrician days.  It was a weird jobsite; I can't imagine what it's like as an operational business.

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I spent most of my Christian life in Independent Baptist churches before switching to Southern.

Southern was definitely more liberal.

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I spent most of my Christian life in Independent Baptist churches before switching to Southern.

Southern was definitely more liberal.

 

Thanks Jds.  I don't think many people are aware of this fact.

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Hitchens calls him "James" Templeton in the interview, but it was Charles Templeton. The book was "Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith." Written in 1995, Templeton had actually publicly renounced his faith in 1957!

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Templeton

 

In 1948, Templeton attended Princeton Theological Seminary. Templeton hosted a weekly religious television show onCBSLook Up and Live, in the early 1950s. In 1957, after a long struggle with doubt, Templeton declared himself an agnostic. His public pronouncement of his loss of faith caused a backlash from the evangelical community.

 

 

And so we see a common trajectory: going into seminary as a young, bright-eyed Jesus robot, then being exposed to rigorous examination of all the irreconcilable problems with "the scriptures," and then coming out of school with their child-like faith seriously undermined, if not destroyed. 

 

Templeton was a Presbyterian; Billy Graham is a Southern Baptist. Huge difference. A Southern Baptist is literally the American equivalent of a Wahhabi Muslim. If they had their way, they would bomb places like the Princeton Theological Seminary for teaching Satanic anti-Bible courses. 

 

If a Southern Baptist is the American equivalent of a Wahhabi Muslim, then I wonder what an Independent Baptist is?  Good God the mind reels.  My mother thought the Southern Baptists were "in error".  That means they were too liberal.  I tell you most of the world does not know how crazy US Christian Fundamentalism is.

 

 

People who live outside the US don't understand how fundamentalism permeates and corrodes nearly level of society, especially in the South and Midwest. 

Yep, lots of "independent" Baptists and others out there. 

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I spent most of my Christian life in Independent Baptist churches before switching to Southern.

Southern was definitely more liberal.

 

Fascinating. Tell me more. 

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Link to an article that sums up Independent Baptist theology pretty well:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shore/the-fundamentally-toxic-christianity_b_1874264.html

 

The only thing I might add is that the Scofield Reference Bible KJV is pretty much the only "correct" version and by that I also mean the commentary in the footnotes on virtually every verse. However, this could vary from one congregation to another, as long as it was the KJV.

 

Sorry if this derails the thread somewhat.  I do think Billy Graham was in agreement with a lot of this, although I know the Independent Baptists could not support him wholeheartedly.  As I recall, he was too "liberal" in some ways although they would have acknowledged he was a Christian -

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Billy Graham too liberal? The mind reels.

The only specific thing I remember is that he would associate with people from more liberal denominations and that made him suspect.

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Thanks for that Castiel, very interesting.

 

Re this quote from Graham:

 

I've discovered something in my ministry: when I take the Bible literally, when I proclaim it as God's Word, I have power. When I stand before the people and say, 'God says,' or 'The Bible says, 'the Holy Spirit uses me. There are results. People respond.

Isn't it amazing how much power to suck people in there is from cultural suggestion. Most of the "converts" at those meetings had probably been indoctrinated as children, and those who hadn't would have soaked it up from the culture and also been swept up by the sales pitch and mass hysteria.

 

It was also interesting reading about his decisions to take xianity on faith and not question it.

So basically, just insist that something is true and right and people will believe it. Worked for Hitler too.

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I spent most of my Christian life in Independent Baptist churches before switching to Southern.

Southern was definitely more liberal.

Thanks Jds. I don't think many people are aware of this fact.

I never attended an Independant Baptist church. Can you describe the differences?

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I've never been baptists but my impression is that Southern Baptists are mainstream conservative/evangelicals with an organized church government and larger congregations, and independent Baptists are the crazy ass preachers you hear in AM radio saying all those terrible things. And since they're independent there is no accountability to a larger organization or governing body.

 

Bob Jones University is an independent Baptist college. They are just further down on the crazy scale and make Southern Baptists look like Episcopaleans by comparison.

 

Lots of these people don't like Bily Graham because BG has been known to work with Catholics on occasion, which is considered a huge betrayal.

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