This article originally appeared in the July 17, 1981, issue of Christianity Today.
Evangelist Billy Graham's inspiration and leadership gave birth to Christianity Today 25 years ago. For this silver anniversary issue, the editors asked him to recount the story of the magazine's founding. Current readers and those who have used the magazine since its inception will find this interview full of interesting historical anecdotes. Graham also makes clear his own vision for the magazine's purpose and place in the theological and ecclesiastical climate of the day.
Why did you think a magazine like Christianity Today was needed?
During 1953, I was beginning to be attacked from both the left and the right. The crusades, however, were showing that a great number of clergy in the so-called mainline denominations throughout the country were evangelical in their convictions. To the amazement of most fundamentalists, they were cooperating with us. Also, there was a tremendous vacuum in religious publishing. The Christian Century was about the only Protestant magazine being quoted in the secular press. It had the field to itself, and it was considered quite liberal in those days.
How did you first get the idea of the magazine? Did you just see the need and decide what had to be done?
Well, it was something like that. Late in that year of 1953, I was awakened one night at about 2 a.m. I went to my desk and wrote out ideas about a magazine similar to the Christian Century, one that would give theological respectability to evangelicals. I even named it Christianity Today and drew up various departments. I thought the articles should appeal especially to men who were open to the biblical faith in the mainline denominations, but the magazine had ...