The Evangelical World Prospect
This article originally appeared in the January 4, 1974 issue of Christianity Today.
Christianity Today is indebted to Dr. Billy Graham for this significant interview in which the distinguished evangelist relays personal impressions of the status of the Christian impact upon our generation and of spiritual trends throughout the world. No evangelist in Christian history more than Dr. Graham has proclaimed the gospel of Christ to multitudes on a world scale by mass meeting, radio and television. He expressed the following views on the eve of his evangelistic crusade in Charlotte, North Carolina. Questioners included distinguished members of the Board of Directors of Christianity Today, Dr. Harold John Ockenga of Boston's Park Street Church and Dr. Robert J. Lamont of Pittsburgh's First Presbyterian Church, and Editor Carl F. H. Henry.
Dr. Henry: Do you sense any worldwide moving of the Holy Spirit today?
Dr. Graham: Yes, I do. Most everywhere, Christian leaders have told me that it is easier to win people to Christ than ever before.
Dr. Henry: Any particularly noteworthy areas?
Dr. Graham: I think that possibly in Latin America I have sensed the greatest spirit of manifestation of what I call genuine revival in the Protestant church. The Protestant church in Latin America has suffered a certain amount of persecution from various sources. This has brought about the emergence of a strong, virile, and dynamic leadership that I have not sensed in any other part of the world.
Dr. Lamont: What of the missionary witness?
Dr. Graham: I found practically no extreme liberalism in Latin America. There is no modernism. The Gospel is preached by most of the denominations in its purest form, compared with other mission fields I have visited.
Dr. Ockenga: Do you see Latin America as a promising field for a reformation in our century?
Dr. Graham: I couldn't answer that. I do know that Catholicism in Latin America takes a different thrust than it does in the United States. A Catholic theologian recently told me that unless there is a reform within the Catholic church, in many countries there will be a revolt against the Catholic church, and that only the Protestants and Communists would profit by it. In many countries one senses anti-clericalism. I think that there is something new in Latin American countries. Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, perhaps even Mexico might be Protestant within another generation.
Dr. Ockenga: Have you any particular anxiety about the course of foreign missions today?
Dr. Graham: I am alarmed over the thought prevailing in some denominational missions that they should not penetrate any further into Hinduism, Buddhism, or other religions. The idea is that we should peacefully co-exist—hold what we have, and evangelize as we can. Pioneer missions is something some denominational leaders are no longer interested in. To do pioneer missions work a man not only has to have a dedication but he has to have a message. Unfortunately, a lot of our seminary graduates today just don't have the message.
Dr. Lamont: As far as your appraisal of the new independent indigenous churches is concerned, is there any marked evangelical leadership in these younger foreign churches?
Dr. Graham: I would say that in the overwhelming. majority of the places I've visited, at least in many cases, nationals are more evangelical than the missionaries.