Billy Graham closed out a quarter of a century of big-time evangelistic campaigning last month with an eight-day crusade amid Arizona’s booming desert cities.
A sermon on exorcism highlighted the milestone meetings, Graham’s last before a special commemorative series in September in Los Angeles. It was during a Los Angeles tent crusade in the fall of 1949 that he first attracted national attention.
Graham warned a youthful audience at Sun Devil Stadium that there is a great intensification of evil in the world today. “The devil knows his time is short,” he said. Graham told of personal experiences in which people were freed of demon possession.
The 55-year-old evangelist, whose ministry has appealed increasingly to young people over the years, is especially concerned over the inroads occultism is making among youth—at a time when there is also a Christian revival among them.
One reason why young people get interested in demonic activity, Graham said, is that “it does get them involved. It’s a return to nature in a sense, a worship of the natural gods, a broadening of their minds and a finding of powers within themselves.”
Graham spoke from a platform on the fifty-yard line of the home field of Arizona State University’s Sun Devils. The stadium is nestled between two cactus-studded but otherwise arid hills in the city of Tempe, just outside Phoenix. People from nearby Scottsdale and other sections of the rapidly growing metropolitan area helped to swell the crowds to an average of more than 30,000 for each meeting.
The devil, said Graham, “is a deceiver, and he’s trying to deceive thousands of you young people tonight by promising you that if you only follow him and serve him and bow down to him and live for him, he will give you freedom, liberty, and life. But actually, he gives you sorrow, slavery, and ultimately eternal death and hell.”
Exorcism is scriptural, Graham said, but it is widely misunderstood, and some things that are called demon possession are not that at all. “Some of the modern interpretations originated in pagan practices,” he said. He declared that true exorcism is done “in the name of Jesus Christ.… Jesus was the greatest of all exorcists.”
He cautioned, however, “Don’t go around using some sort of hocus-pocus and say, ‘Be gone in the name of Jesus.’ It won’t work.” A right standing with God is a prerequisite to successful exorcism, he said.
Graham drew applause when, referring to The Exorcist and other movies on the same theme, he commented, “I myself have not seen any of these films. I do not intend to expose myself to this type of thing.”Also applaued was Graham’s reiteration of his proposal that the Ten Commandments be read each day in every public school in America.
Demons have power in the life of a Christian only when the person is consciously and continually committing some sin, the evangelist added. He believes a Christian can be vexed and harassed by a demon but not possessed.
Graham said that exorcism is brought about by prayer rather than by ritual, and that every Christian “has the right to pray with a person who is in trouble.” He called attention to Acts 16, wherein Paul commands a “spirit of divination” to come out of a woman at Philippi. “Now I personally have had that experience a few times, but very few,” he said. Graham stated that it has happened to him once in the United States, twice in India, twice in the Far East, and once in Africa, “and on each occasion … the person involved used the same three words, ‘I am free.’ ”
Graham had campaigned in the Phoenix area once before, in a three-day series ten years ago in the same stadium. This time there was an extended legal hassle over whether the government could rent the stadium for religious purposes. The Arizona Supreme Court finally ruled in Graham’s favor. The stadium is the site of college football’s annual Fiesta Bowl.
Graham avoided political controversy by turning down invitations to participate in Democratic and Republican rallies held in Phoenix just prior to the start of the crusade. He related that the Republicans invited him to pray and the Democrats asked him to bring an address.
Perfect weather enhanced the appeal of the crusade, part of which is scheduled to be telecast both in North America and abroad beginning this month. The only obvious technical problem was a balky public-address system.
An average of 1,200 inquirers per night walked the aisles. Among them at the close of one service was an avowed homosexual group from the Metropolitan Community Church of South Phoenix. They quietly held up a large banner reading, “God loves gay people. Do you?” The group, numbering about a dozen, talked with counselors and joined in reciting the prayer of repentance that Graham invites all inquirers to say.
Graham will begin his “second generation” of major crusades in the Hollywood Bowl, September 19–21. These twenty-fifth-anniversary meetings will be sponsored jointly by ministers in the Los Angeles area and CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
One In The Spirit, Divided On The Vote
“This church resembles a boil that needs lancing so the healing process can begin,” said United Methodist district superintendent Thoburn Anderson at a Monday-night meeting of 500 persons last month at First United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois. He had called the meeting in response to petitions signed by 344 members of the strife-torn church.
After two hours of debate the congregation voted 282–212 to urge the ouster of Pastor Dow Kirkpatrick. Regional bishop Paul Washburn is not bound by the decision to transfer Kirkpatrick elsewhere, and Kirkpatrick has told his parishioners he won’t leave until “you discover I’m not your problem.” But Washburn may feel compelled to remove Kirkpatrick to prevent further tarnish of the once prestigious and fashionable showpiece of liberal Methodism.
Kirkpatrick has been a center of controversy since his appointment in 1962. He early invited Martin Luther King, Jr., to preach in his pulpit, and he became involved in many of the activist causes of the sixties. Meanwhile, the church’s membership dropped from 3,500 to 1,600, Sunday worship attendance from 1,000 to 350, and the budget from $235,000 to $175,000. Kirkpatrick’s critics blamed him for these losses, and they accused him of being arrogant toward those who disagreed with him. His supporters countered that he was compassionately upholding the church’s tradition of a “free and prophetic pulpit,” evoking the rejoinder that the prophet’s mantle was being used to cover up administrative and pastoral failings.
Kirkpatrick himself implies that the lean look at First shows that the fat has fallen away, allowing it to reflect a more honest life-style as a “believers’ church.” He believes the conflict is a split between the liberals of the 1940s who find themselves conservatives in the presence of the liberals produced in the 1960s.
After the vote, Superintendent Anderson led the congregation in singing, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.”
The U. S. Supreme Court last month ruled against Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, and in favor of the Internal Revenue Service in a case that involves BJU’s tax-exempt status. The court held that the IRS, prior to the assessment and collection of taxes, cannot be prohibited by a court from lifting BJU’s tax-exempt status and from withdrawing advance assurances to donors that their contributions to BJU are tax deductible. The technical decision is not the final chapter in BJU’s struggle to retain its tax-exempt position, but it is a setback for the fundamentalist school, which has nearly 5,000 students on its $50 million campus.
The case goes back to 1970, when the IRS announced it would no longer allow private schools that practiced racial discrimination to be tax exempt, nor would it allow contributors to deduct gifts to such schools on their income-tax returns. BJU officials told the IRS the school did not admit unmarried blacks on scriptural grounds and would not alter its policy. The IRS then began proceedings against BJU but was halted by a district court. A court of appeals reversed that ruling and the case next went to the Supreme Court, which upheld the court of appeals.
The next phase of the battle is uncertain. BJU could conceivably change its admission policy (but probably won’t). The IRS can proceed against BJU (and probably will), lifting its tax exemption, disallowing tax-deductible contributions, and billing the school for taxes due (well over $1 million since 1970). BJU could then either pay the taxes or resume the fight in the courts, in which case the ultimate question to be decided might be: Can the IRS revoke the privileged position of a private school on the basis of racial discrimination in its admissions policy, especially if that policy is based on religious conviction?
Tax exemption is a privilege guaranteed by an act of Congress to every charitable and educational institution, commented BJU president Bob Jones III. “The law has not been changed by Congress; it has been overridden by an arrogant administration,” he asserted.
In a similar case, the Supreme Court in effect confirmed the IRS’s cancellation of privileged tax status for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The IRS revoked the organization’s status in 1969 alleging that it was involved in excessive lobbying activities. A spokesman says Americans United will probably not fight the case any longer because of the costs. Much of its funding is channeled through a tax-exempt sister foundation it set up in 1970.
New Man In Charge
Dr. Ralph A. Bohlmann, executive secretary of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Commission on Theology and Church Relations, was named acting president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. The amiable, soft-spoken theologian helped LCMS President J. A. O. Preus to draft the famous doctrinal statement that is at the heart of the controversy in the LCMS.
Bohlmann said his major short-term concern would be to help find a way for the 110 graduates of Seminex, the school operated by breakaway Concordia students and faculty, to be properly placed in pastoral appointments. The dissidents, wanting recognition for Seminex, have rejected all plans put forward by LCMS authorities thus far. More than sixty Seminex grads say they will go to the churches with which they have been matched in preliminary selection; they will seek acceptance without certification by Concordia.
Preus meanwhile has written a letter urging churches and district officials not to violate the LCMS constitution (by accepting uncertified men).
Religion In Transit
Last year represented another rainy day for the United Presbyterian Church; it had to dip into capital reserves for $6 million of the $35.7 million spent by its national agencies. Part of the reason: congregations gave $2.6 million less than anticipated by the budget. UPC officials said the reserve-balance figure was unavailable because it was still being processed. Budget administrator G. Daniel Little warned that the church faces “serious choices for the future.”
The Gideons had intended to distribute New Testaments in the twenty elementary schools of the Bloomington, Minnesota, school district on May 24. The school board had given permission, but a hassle involving protests by some parents, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Minnesota commissioner of education spilled into the headlines, and the Gideons scrapped their plans. (They have been quietly distributing New Testaments in schools for years.)
EVA HASELL, 87, founder and director of the Canadian Sunday School Caravan, a volunteer Anglican lay mission ministry that ranged over northern and western Canada with as many as thirty-two vans operated by women; in Dacre, England.
JOHN W. MEISTER, 57, well-known preacher and director of the United Presbyterian Council of Theological Seminaries; in Princeton, New Jersey, of cancer.
JAMES MUILENBURG, 77, United Church of Christ clergyman and widely respected Old Testament scholar who taught at Union Seminary, helped produce the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and did important work on the Dead Sea Scrolls; in Claremont, California.
SAMUEL J. WYLIE, 55, Episcopal bishop of Northern Michigan (his parents were devout Christian and Missionary Alliance members; he graduated from Wheaton College, was a Presbyterian clergyman until 1951, when he joined the Episcopal Church), former dean of New York’s General Seminary (Episcopal), and leading advocate for theological renewal; in New York, of a heart attack.
The Lamp, the 71-year-old Christian unity monthly published by the Catholic Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, will cease publication with its July issue. Father Charles Angell of the Graymoor (New York) Ecumenical Institute places much of the blame on new postal regulations and increases, which have contributed to the demise of a number of publications. Among other things, Lamp kept its light on ecumenical talk about the role of a renewed papacy as the focal point of a reunited church.
Increasingly, local councils of churches in America’s big cities are plagued by woefully inadequate support; some are barely surviving as loosely knit fellowships with few, if any, programs and paid staffers. Sometimes the crunch leads to squabbles. Reporter William MacKaye of the Washington Post points out that the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, D. C., last year got more than 25 per cent of its nearly $200,000 from the community’s united charities fund; this year it will get little. Critics blame the council’s executive director; his backers ousted the president. Some churches are withholding funds, and the council may be forced to borrow to stay afloat.
Public hospital facilities must be made available for abortion services, according to a ruling of a federal appeals court in St. Louis. Ruled unconstitutional was a 1973 resolution of a Virginia, Minnesota, community hospital prohibiting the use of hospital facilities for abortions unless the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother.
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, purchased $7 million worth of permanent life insurance on 200 of its 2,500 members ($35,000 coverage each) to help underwrite a bond issue which covered the building of a $5 million sanctuary and office center. The church will pay the premiums and is the beneficiary in the event of death. After ten years the church will withdraw the cash value of the policies (nearly $1 million) toward payment of the bonds. Members will then take over their policies.
Jesus 74 will bring together thousands of Christian young people and lots of talent: Andrae Crouch and the Disciples, Scott Ross, Phil Keaggy, Chico Holiday, Barry McGuire, Randy Matthews, and others. The three-day camp-out is set for August 1–3 in the northwestern Pennsylvania town of Mercer.
Dr. Philip A. Johnson, Lutheran Church in America clergyman and executive director of the London-based World Association for Christian Communication, was elected president of the Council on Religion and International Affairs (CRIA). The CRIA, located in New York, was founded in 1914 by Andrew Carnegie to relate the Judeo-Christian heritage to the conduct of U. S. foreign policy and international issues.
United Methodist educator Arthur S. Flemming, 68, a former president of the National Council of Churches, was sworn in as chairman of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights. He succeeds Notre Dame president Theodore M. Hesburgh, whose resignation was requested by President Nixon.
Following strong protests by Protestant leaders, the Italian government temporarily suspended a request for data on the membership, activities, and financial condition of Italy’s non-Catholic denominations. (Of the nation’s 55 million people, fewer than 400,000 are Protestants.) Government officials say it was only a routine canvas to update the archives, but a Federation of Evangelical Churches statement denounced it as “police interference.”
An international ecumenical consultation on “Minority Issues and Mission Strategy” held in Kyoto, Japan, called on the world’s churches to affirm that ethnic identity is a gift of God. The meeting was sponsored by the 6,000-member Korean Christian Church in Japan; the major case study reviewed by delegates (including NCC president W. Sterling Cary) concerned alleged discrimination against Koreans by the Japanese (there are 600,000 Koreans in Japan’s 108.9 million population).
Some Catholic parents in Northern Ireland are up in arms: their children have been denied confirmation because they attend public schools. The Catholic hierarchy has demanded that Catholic children attend Catholic schools. A government plan for integrated “shared schools” that would provide for separate religious education for Protestant and Catholic children has been coolly received by Catholic officials.
Protest rallies against Britain’s liberal abortion law of 1967 drew more than 50,000 to Hyde Park in London and 10,000 to a march in Glasgow. Among the speakers in London was Malcolm Muggeridge, the internationally known writer and broadcaster. He complained that a government committee set up to investigate abortion abuses had unanimously endorsed the law without taking into account moral issues, which were, in his opinion, the only ones that counted.
Two Church of Scotland missionaries, both women who taught at a school of the 250,000-communicant Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, were expelled from Malawi on three days’ notice. No reasons were given—as was the case with several Dutch Reformed missionaries expelled earlier.
One of the high-ranking members of the new coalition government in Laos is H. E. Touby Ly Foung, a leader of the Mèo minority tribespeople and a professing Christian. His chief wife is a member of the Lao Evangelical Church in Vientiane, the capital city, his older children are active in Christian youth groups, and his brother is general secretary of the Lao Evangelical Church.
Belated reports indicate there have been church casualties in the fighting between Muslim insurgents and government forces in the southern Philippines. The district capital city of Jolo was leveled. The Christian and Missionary Alliance church facility and parsonage were destroyed, and 300 members of the congregation reportedly fled, leaving everything behind. There were no reports as to the number of church members among the thousands killed.
The Crossroads, Campus Crusade’s singing group in Asia, has attracted 162,000 South Koreans to seventy concerts in fifteen major cities (nearly 5,000 filled in cards saying they had accepted Christ during the meetings). The group has also appeared on prime-time Korean television. Campus Crusade meanwhile is tooling up for Explo 74, an international student conference on evangelism to be held in Seoul in August; attendance may top 300,000.
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