Billy Graham has made elaborate preparations for the New York Campaign. This is only natural, for New York City is the cultural and economic center of the world. It is the home of the Metropolitan Opera and the vast financial interests of Wall Street. Name anything essential to the human venture and it seems that New York City can boast of it in a superlative degree. This complex metropolis is a veritable Goliath. Billy Graham has his sling and his smooth pebbles from the stream, but what are these against the granite towers of Manhattan?
But more exciting for the Christian community, the New York Campaign brings Billy Graham to the very doorsteps of Reinhold Niebuhr. This leads to an interesting question. If Reinhold Niebuhr has not succeeded in stirring New York City for Christ, what chance has Billy Graham? The issue is not academic. It involves the very essence of Christianity.
Billy Graham defends Christian orthodoxy, while Reinhold Niebuhr defends Christian realism. Orthodoxy mediates problems of man and history from the perspective of Scripture, while realism mediates problems of Scripture from the perspective of man and history. This is the difference between these two positions, but how does this difference work itself out in practice?
Modern Man’S Need
Since Reinhold Niebuhr restricts himself to issues arising out of modern life, he enjoys a provisional advantage over Billy Graham. Realism subjects theology to very severe tests. Unless a doctrine answers to the religious and moral needs of twentieth-century man, it is cast into the fire and burned. This is one reason why young seminarians often find realism intellectually more stimulating than orthodoxy. Judged by the contemporaneity and dexterity of realism, ...1
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