“We are having by far the largest evangelistic campaign of our entire ministry,” wrote Billy Graham of the Los Angeles meetings that began late in September, 1949. Scheduled for three weeks, they were extended to eight, and on the final day 9,000 people crowded into the big tent. Fourteen years later the same city’s Coliseum, filled with more than 134,000 persons, could not hold the additional 20,000 who wanted to hear the evangelist.

That earlier occasion might be considered the beginning of a ministry that has since spanned the world. On this twenty-fifth anniversary CHRISTIANITY TODAY with great thankfulness to God joins in saluting not only an evangelist whose place in history is assured but a much-loved friend.

God uses men and women. Scripture and later history both attest to this. To the dramatic record of the faithful in Hebrews 11 can be added a vast array of successors of those who in their own generation “obtained a good report.”

Billy Graham has preached to more people than any other man in Christian history, in part because of the rise of the mass media and an ever-increasing world population. It is impossible to know how many people have been reached and converted by his “Hour of Decision” radio broadcasts, his telecasts, his syndicated newspaper column, his films, his books, and his crusades in every continent. From being a socially indecorous subject evangelism became front-page news. His initiatory and creative genius led to the founding of two major magazines (including this one) and World Wide Pictures, and he has been the moving spirit behind international and regional congresses on evangelism. Time magazine has described him as “the best-known, most talked about Christian leader in the world today, barring the Pope,” and he has figured second in Gallup poll surveys to find “the most admired man in the world.”

He found this rise to fame bewildering. “Why did God choose you?” asked a reporter once. “When I get to heaven,” replied the evangelist, “that’s the first question I’m going to ask Him.” That winsome personality and patent sincerity have opened doors into the presence of kings and presidents, and allowed him to say with a holy boldness what others dared not say. He has made evangelistic tools out of humor, folksy illustration, and comment on current affairs. His appeal to youth has a timeless quality.

Graham has never been afraid to admit mistakes, and has always learned from them. His openness and graciousness have sometimes been exploited by opportunistic men to serve their own ends, and he found reason feelingly to echo Woodrow Wilson’s words, “The devil is a busy man.” Graham has not lacked critics in the church and in the world, but has approached them in such an irenic spirit that many have become his friends. This has been true not least in his own evangelical constituency, where a minority, resenting Graham’s unifying tendencies, has criticized the company he keeps. His philosophy, like Moody’s, has always been clearcut here: if no restriction is placed upon his message he is willing to preach the doctrines of historic Christianity anywhere.

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As a young evangelist he soon learned circumspection. “I was afraid,” he would confess, “that I was going to say something that would bring disrepute on the name of Christ.” He shares that vulnerability of all public figures, the knowledge that every word is going to be analyzed, every gesture noted.

Billy Graham’s humility is seen at once by all who encounter him. He firmly disowns credit for his success. “It is the Lord’s doing,” he quotes, “and it is marvelous in our eyes.” His ministry is a living testimony of what the Holy Spirit does through a totally yielded life. He never feels free to criticize fellow laborers, and his many schools of evangelism have met a real need by encouraging and ministering to ministers. For those who have blazed the trail before him he shows marked deference. During an African itinerary in 1960 he said: “I am not worthy to polish the shoes of missionary heroes like Livingstone and Mary Slessor of Calabar. I am deeply moved and grateful for the privilege of reaping where they sowed.”

Even before the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling on desegregation Graham had publicly attacked Jim Crow laws, advocated integrated meetings (the first of these were held as early as 1952), and insisted that at the invitation blacks and whites should come forward together. He does not minimize the problems that stem from man’s inhumanity to man. “The only real solution,” he declares, “will be found at the foot of the cross where we come together in brotherly love.” His message stresses personal redemption and a rightly motivated, biblically based social concern.

That basic message has never changed, whether spoken at a banquet for Japanese businessmen, a chat with African witchdoctors, an open-air meeting in Communist Yugoslavia, or a Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

No appraisal of Billy’s Graham’s ministry would be complete without note of the part played by Ruth, the missionary’s daughter who has been his wife since 1943. His long and frequent absences from home demand from his family a special kind of dedication and understanding, and his wife’s sacrificial spirit and warm support and assistance have played no small part in enabling Graham to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

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We call attention to the contribution made by his team members and their families, especially, perhaps, by those who have in some sense subordinated their own independent aims and have seen it as their ministry to assist the evangelist. One foreign journalist who traveled widely with the team was deeply impressed because never once even in the most informal conversation among team members did he hear the slightest criticism of Graham.

During these twenty-five years great things have been done through the ministry of Billy Graham. We honor him, we pray God’s blessing on his continuing endeavors, and we join him in directing the praise where it belongs: To God be the glory.

Labor And The ‘Grace To Use It’

John Milton carried the burden of time. God, he believed, had called him to be a “poet-priest,” to create great verse for his Creator’s glory. And he worked with dedication and discipline toward that goal. Yet despite his vision, at twenty-three he said, “My hasting days fly on with full career,/But my late spring no bud or blossom show’th.” Time for him was “the subtle thief of youth.”

As we move past Labor Day—the day on which we honor labor by ceasing from it—perhaps we may also find in ourselves no bud or blossom from spring’s showers and summer’s sun. We may have frustrated God’s gardening in us and failed to yield the fruit he wanted. Now that the vacation season has ended, perhaps we should pledge, in Milton’s words, to do with perseverance whatever tasks God gives:

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still in strictest measure even

To that same lot, however mean or high,

Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven;

All is, if I have grace to use it so,

As ever in my great Taskmaster’s eye.

Hearkening To Harkness

Georgia Elma Harkness, eminent theologian, author, educator, and ordained Methodist minister, died last month at the age of eighty-three at her home in Claremont, California. Among her many achievements was a successful campaign to give female ministers in the United Methodist Church equal status with their male counterparts. Her struggle began at the 1948 General Convention and ended in 1956, though at that convention she did not argue the case but allowed her male colleagues to finish what she had begun eight years earlier. Before women’s liberation became a popular bandwagon, Dr. Harkness was quietly and single-mindedly following the path that she knew God wanted her to travel.

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Other women, however, do not have this calm spirit of self-assurance. The evangelical camp has no prominent women theologians, perhaps because conservative seminaries and colleges traditionally have discouraged women from studying for the theology degree, while encouraging them to study Christian education. Such schools also have had very few women on their governing boards.

A random survey of college and seminary catalogues of both nondenominational and denominational schools show a dismaying paucity of female board members. Wheaton College, the most prominent evangelical liberal arts college, has no women on its board, nor do Barrington and Calvin. Westmont and Gordon sport one each. Columbia Bible College has two, as does St. Olaf, an American Lutheran college. Garrett Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion, two schools at which Georgia Harkness taught, have, respectively, three and six women on their boards. CHRISTIANITY TODAY does not have a female board member but intends to change that situation.

Evangelicals need to encourage women to enter the field of theology. If they do not, they may expect to lose some promising women to less than evangelical schools and circles. Also, we urge Christian institutions to appoint women to administrative and decision-making positions. Women have long accomplished much on mission fields around the world. It is high time for schools here at home to make use of that same creative energy.

Amnesty, Reconciliation, And Healing

One of Gerald R. Ford’s first acts as President of the United States was to call for “leniency” for war resisters, both draft evaders and deserters. Although the details of his proposal have yet to be worked out, two major aspects are already evident: first, it will not involve “unconditional blanket amnesty,” and second, it will deliberately seek to temper justice with mercy.

As we stated previously, we think that the first war resisters to benefit from a policy of leniency should be those who fairly and honestly stood by their convictions and who chose to go to jail rather than fight in violation of conscience. These persons should unquestionably have all civil liabilities—i.e., a criminal record—removed. This should be done before consideration is given to the fate of those who went into exile or hiding rather than expose themselves to the action of the law.

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There can be no doubt that refusal of many to serve during the Viet Nam war was due to the constitutionally, morally, and militarily doubtful justification of that war. However, if the right of a state to maintain armed forces and to use them in an attempt to secure its own defense and other national interests is accepted—in other words, if we do not adopt the principle of pacifism—and if the government has the legal right to compel its citizens to perform military service, then refusing to serve does constitute a violation of law and must necessarily carry a penalty. Merely to forget about such evasion or desertion, now that America is no longer involved in the direct military conflict, would be to break faith with those in the past who did serve, suffer, and die. It might also limit future defense options.

We believe that the American government should recognize that refusal to serve was often motivated by high moral considerations, especially in the light of the ambiguous nature of the recent war. To the extent that the resisters accept the responsibility (we do not use the word guilt) for their actions and show a willingness to meet reasonable conditions of alternate service that may be required as a condition of repatriation, they should be invited home and guaranteed immunity from further consequences. Amnesty in the sense of unconditionally “forgetting” all that has happened would not be just, for no individual’s conscience can set the standard for society as a whole. But amnesty in the sense of putting the past behind us, with recognition of responsibility and constructive gestures on both sides, can lead to reconciliation and healing.

Korea: Hastening the Day

Despite political uncertainties, the tides of the Gospel are running high in South Korea. Last year in Seoul Billy Graham addressed the largest evangelistic gathering in the history of the Church (see June 22, 1973, issue, page 33). In August, Korea Campus Crusade for Christ hosted Explo ’74 in Seoul (see News, page 75), and again there were record crowds (see photo). The some 300,000 Explo registrants who were trained to share their faith represent a potentially potent force for national—and possibly world—evangelization. Equally significant is a by-product of the months of preparation for the Graham and Explo events: a new spirit of unity among the churches, which had been badly divided over the past few decades. With some of the largest and most dynamic churches in the world already in Korea, where all-night and daily dawn prayer meetings are the rule, the more fully committed membership and the broader united front cannot but hasten the day when all Koreans will know of the saving power and lordship of Christ. Let the churches of other lands take note.

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Where Is Tomorrow’S Food?

Millions of the world’s people will die of starvation in the next few years. This is the chilling message that came from the United Nations World Population Conference at Bucharest a short while ago. Another estimate, one more open to question, is that in thirty-five years the earth’s population will double to eight billion. If millions starve to death, it may well be that the population growth rate will slow. But even if the population remains stable, there will be no substantial improvement in the situation unless food supplies increase.

The Western industrial nations are not increasing in population to any serious degree. But they too will face a complex problem when their older inhabitants far outnumber the younger people who must provide for them.

The underdeveloped nations, those least able to provide for more people, are the ones that are growing the most rapidly. However, many of these nations resist population control, viewing it as an imperialist attempt to dominate the have-not nations. There is little evidence that the nations of the world generally are thinking in terms of world unity and human solidarity.

The rigid stance of the Roman Catholic Church against birth control and abortion (we too are opposed to abortion on demand) complicates the problem. One commentator asserts that it is better to kill fetuses than to watch children and their elders starve to death. We think it is far better to prevent unwanted conception and then make every effort to provide food for people who need it. But it is difficult to convince nations that have surplus food to feed the starving if at the same time the receiving nations increase their numbers and further strain the supplies of food.

In a technocratic society in which billions of dollars are being spent on research, it may be that vast amounts of time, energy, and money should be invested in the effort to increase the production of known foods and find new forms of food. Are we forced to conclude that research on extending life should be decreased markedly, if extending life will only cause more suffering?

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We seem to be at an impasse; doubts are rising rapidly as to whether there is any solution. A world-wide economic debacle seems to be approaching fast. Given the indisputable fact that men have brought this into being, anyone who does not believe in original sin or who still expects a man-made utopia is called upon to do some fast talking.

Truly this is an apocalyptic era, and one that suggests to many that history may be coming to its climax. This will be marked by the return of Jesus Christ, who alone has a solution for the mess into which man has got himself.

Choose Able Men

When Moses led the children of Israel out of their Egyptian captivity, his father-in-law Jethro gave him some sage advice: “You shall teach them the statutes and the decisions, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do” (Exod. 18:20). This counsel is most appropriate for the new American president, who is faced with the challenge of leading a people bewildered by the complexity, secrecy, and sometimes actual deceitfulness of the “statutes and decisions” imposed on them by government.

Jethro continued, “Moreover, choose able men from all the people, such as fear God, men who are trustworthy and who hate a bribe; and place such men over the people … so it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you” (vv. 21, 22). President Ford, known as a man of strong spiritual convictions and deep personal integrity, must not pass up the opportunity to appoint as his colleagues and co-workers men and women who meet these essential criteria: they must be trustworthy (men of truth, as the King James version translates it), hate bribes, and above all fear God. Let the new president surround himself with men and women who are spiritually grounded, whose faith in God is a vital part of their lives, not just a cloak they don on opportune occasions.

‘Who Is My Enemy?’

The first five years of the World Council of Churches’ Programme to Combat Racism are assessed in A Small Beginning, published by the WCC. The author, Elisabeth Adler, who is head of the Evangelical Academy in East Berlin, bases her analysis not on the controversy aroused by the program but on such questions as, “Has it witnessed to Christ as Lord of all?” and “What did it mean for the racially oppressed?” These are legitimate points; we should all be concerned for the Church’s testimony and for our suffering fellow men. The WCC’s humanitarian agencies have done magnificent work, and many people have reason to thank God for aid selflessly given.

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The PCR, however, raises special problems, and criticism of it cannot be dismissed as support for apartheid. Many Christians have serious reservations about encouraging violence and strong convictions about what constitutes the Just War. Moreover, Christian stewardship demands that we know how our gifts are being spent; it simply will not do for Ms. Adler to say: “That the grants were given without control expressed the desire of the World Council not to take the usual paternalistic approach.”

When she lets fly at “the ugly face of neo-colonialist, imperialist and racist structures,” no reference is intended to the racist and enslaving policies of the Russian Empire. When she lists the fifty-five groups that have benefited to the extent of more than a million dollars from the PCR Special Fund, one looks in vain for any Iron Curtain recipient—or donor. However this is explained, for the WCC to concentrate 85 per cent of the budget on Southern Africa and the Americas shows at the very least a startling failure to realize that the race problem is worldwide, and should be treated as such.

Christian Books: Buyer, Meet Seller

In the past quarter-century the number and quality of Christian bookstores has increased dramatically, as has their level of professionalism and business management. Much of this progress is due to the efforts of the Christian Booksellers Association, and we congratulate the CBA on its twenty-fifth anniversary (see News, August 30 issue, page 39).

One commendable trend is the locating of stores in shopping centers with ample parking, rather than in hard-to-get-to commercial districts. The Logos chain of franchised stores adjacent to university campuses, under the auspices of InterVarsity, is an important step toward reaching college students, both Christian and non-Christian. In another venture into new territory, racks of best-selling religious paperbacks are being placed in motels, liquor stores, hospitals, restaurants, and other places where non-Christians and persons who usually do not read books are likely to encounter them.

The buying public needs to be more realistic about costs in the book business. Manufacture of the book is only a small part of the publisher’s cost. Booksellers receive large discounts off the list price when they purchase their stock, but they need that margin to maintain a good store with a competent staff. Mail-order houses can pass along some of the discount because their overhead is low. However, the mail-buyer often has to forgo fast delivery—sometimes he may experience no delivery—and can find himself in billing hassles.

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Pastors, youth leaders, Sunday-school teachers, and other Christian workers need to do more from the pulpit, in small groups, and in personal conversations to promote good reading. Bible colleges and seminaries could do more to prepare ministers for this function. Too often Christians read religious books that are urged on them by those with special causes or that are heavily promoted by the publisher, rather than the books that would be the most helpful to them as individual Christians and church members.

The increased professionalism among Christian booksellers should be continued and extended. The sellers would do well to be more imaginative and aggressive in promoting the buying and reading of books, and one way would be closer attention to local congregations. They might, for instance, offer assistance in starting or improving church libraries. Instead of complaining about nationally oriented discount mail-order houses, booksellers could make more use of the mails in their own market area and offer better service than a national operation can give.

We encourage publishers to consider even more not only the monetary but also the spiritual profitability of potential books. Some publishers do very well in offering a balanced fare of light-, middle-, and heavy-weight books. The “heavies” won’t be best-sellers, but they are greatly needed by those who must lead the Church in a world where it faces intellectual and religious challenges on every hand.

When a topic suddenly becomes popular, publishers tend to rush into the market with hastily produced new books or non-updated reprints from a different age. A national magazine recently counted more than thirty newly released titles on Satan and the occult, and its list was incomplete. Books on the second coming and on speaking in tongues are also in vogue. Many of these books are basically the same in content. Meanwhile, large areas of Christian doctrine and experience remain neglected (how many books are there on business ethics, or on facing the pressures of materialism?). We urge authors and publishers to ask, Does this projected book have something to say that isn’t being said just about as well in some already published book?

Christian bookselling has come a long way in the twenty-five years since its trade association was founded. May it continue to expand and improve its important role in the service of God.

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‘The Same Care For One Another’

Christians are, in the sight of God, as firmly united as the parts of a person’s body. “All the members of the body, though many, are one body.… By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:12, 13).

Of course a human body, except in case of certain illnesses or injuries, works in harmony with itself naturally, without exhortation. The body of Christ ought to manifest similar cooperation, but it needs constant exhortation to do so. It is important to recognize that believers are one body whether or not they admit it, or like it, and even if they act to the contrary. Paul says, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body” (v. 15).

For a Christian to speak of fellow believers as if they were detached or removed from him—a “we” versus “they” attitude—ought to seem as ludicrous as if one’s foot were to consider itself independent of the heart that pumps blood to it. When some Christians appropriate to themselves alone descriptions that are more or less true of all (such as “charismatic,” “confessional,” “holiness,” or “fundamental”), they reveal a “many bodies of Christ” attitude. Another symptom of this attitude is the use of derisive terms and tones of voice to describe one’s fellow believers (such as “holy roller,” “neo-evangelical,” “hyper-literalist”).

In First Corinthians 12 Paul is referring to differing spiritual gifts, such as those of prophets, teachers, miracle-workers, and administrators (v. 28). Nevertheless, the underlying principle can be extended to denominational, doctrinal, and ethnic distinctions within the body of Christ: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’ ” (v. 21). What cannot be done in a physical body ought not to be done in the body of Christ.

Paul clearly distinguishes (as in the latter half of chapter 1) between those who are in the body of Christ and those who are not. And even when speaking of his fellow believers he does not intend that his concern for the one body preclude loving rebuke of one another. He is concerned to correct misbehavior (as in chapter 6) and to refute wrong teaching (as in chapter 15).

When rebuke and correction are demanded, they are to be given within the framework of a conscious and continuous recognition of our interdependence, without giving any impressions contradictory to the truth that we are “all baptized into one body” (v. 13) and to God’s intention “That the members may have the same care for one another” (v. 25).

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