I joyfully mourn the loss of Billy Graham upon his death today. As I grew up in the Christian faith, I often heard, “Who is going to be the next Billy Graham?” Well, there will not be another Billy Graham. That does not mean Graham is set apart as better than the rest of us. Like Elijah, Graham “was a human being as we are (James 5:17).”
There will not be another Billy Graham because of the dramatic changes in our American culture (future blog to come). Graham was known as America’s pastor, but America does not want to be pastored anymore. I studied Graham’s life pretty extensively, and like me, he was not perfect. Still, Graham knew how to handle earthly power over multiple decades in a way that honored God and lifted the reputation of Christianity. (The above picture is of Graham and friends on White House lawn in 1950 – he was close to power at such a young age). We are all so grateful this prominent star maintained his morality.
He was committed to evangelism, and turned down lucrative offers in entertainment to stay focused on the ministry. I particularly admire Graham’s outspoken opposition to nuclear weapons. In 1979, he spoke against nuclear proliferation at a time when Christians in America almost blindly supported the build up of these weapons.
In Christianity, we are always looking for the next hero, and we are usually disappointed by them somewhere along the way. Thanks Billy Graham for not disappointing us.