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How An Evangelist Almost Turned Billy Graham Away From His Faith

Most of us struggle with our understanding of God and the Bible at some point in our lives. We see things that seem like inconsistencies or contradictions, and we don’t know what to make of it.

Another big issue is that our flesh doesn’t understand why God allows evil to exist. We can look forward and recognize that the current age is only a blip on the scale of eternity, and that God will one day end all evil and suffering.

That’s been His plan all along, and He wants as many of us as possible to be there with Him.

But we still struggle. Why doesn’t the Bible read more like a science book? Why doesn’t God give us proof that will satisfy our flesh? When these thoughts begin to dominate our hearts and minds, we have a choice to make.

In the summer of 1949, there was a man who was struggling with his calling. He had been called to preach the Gospel, and he worked very hard to do just that. The results were mixed, but still he labored on in the faith for several years, certain of his calling. There was just one problem for the young evangelist—his Christian faith was under assault.

A second man, also a rising Christian evangelist, chided the first man for accepting the Bible as being the inspired Word of God. The second man accused the first of having a faith that was “too simple.” This friend and fellow evangelist tried to convince the first young man that the Bible was flawed. The second man had recently been attending Princeton Theological Seminary, where he had learned to question the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible.

So he tried to sell the first man on his new way of thinking: the Bible was a good spiritual and moral book that generally guides us toward our Savior, but the details of this book could not be trusted. Believing that the entire Bible was inspired by God was an old-fashioned way of thinking. If this first man didn’t succumb to the world’s way of thinking, he would surely be viewed as a laughingstock. A fool.

One night, as all of this weighed on the first young man, he decided to go for a walk out through some fields and wooded areas. He spent time talking to the Lord, and there in the moonlight, he made a decision. He laid his Bible up on a tree stump, and prayed, “O God! There are many things in this Book I do not understand … There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science.”

In spite of his struggle with doubt, he made a decision. That night in front of the tree stump, he continued his prayer, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.”[i]

The first man’s name was Billy Graham, and from that moment on, his life and ministry were never the same. Once he made the decision to accept God’s Word on faith, his ministry exploded. Millions around the world were saved over the course of the next 69 years of his life. Many are still being touched by this man’s legacy today. He is one of the greatest evangelists of all time.

Contrast the fruit of his life to that of the second man. His name was Charles Templeton. I bet you’ve never heard of him before, and the only reason you’re hearing of him now is that he almost turned Billy Graham away from his “simple faith” in the Bible.

Charles Templeton went on to renounce the Christian faith completely, and he seems to have devoted himself to turning others away from the faith as well. One of the final acts of his professional life was to write a book called Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith.

Both of these men had been gifted and talented evangelists, making a significant impact for Christ. But one decided to accept the Bible at face value—as the true, accurate, inspired Word of God. The other thought he could pick and choose which parts were accurate and which parts were not. He did not realize that in so doing, he stepped out onto a slippery slope—one that would eventually put him on the broad road that leads to destruction.

What you’ve just read was an excerpt from the book, Cancel the Culture: Securing Our Identity as Christians, written by Bishop Eric Lambert Jr. with Chris McKinney. Click here to view the book on Amazon: $2.99 for eBook and $8.99 for paperback.


Chris McKinney