Graham's Beliefs: Still Intact

Contra claims to universalism, evangelist says, "I do believe that non-Christians are lost."

If anyone reading the January issue of McCall's magazine decides that Billy Graham has embraced the doctrine of universal salvation, another reading is in order. In a rare response to media reporting about him, Graham said shortly after the article hit the newsstands last month that he holds "without reservation the belief that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation."

Entitled "I Can't Play God Any More," the long essay by James Michael Beam quotes the world-famous evangelist as saying that he no longer believes that "pagans in far-off countries were lost—were going to hell—if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them." Beam also quoted Graham as saying: "I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God—through nature, for instance—and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying 'yes' to God."

Beam interviewed Graham in New York last September just after the evangelist returned from Hungary. Their session followed a news conference in which Graham had been asked about a variety of topics, including his venture into Eastern Europe.

The evangelist seldom responds to criticism of his actions or to media reports that misquote him. The McCall's article was quoted at length, however, in Religious News Service and was expected to be picked up by many religious journals. An aide said the response was intended to counter the impression that Graham had shifted his position on a key theological issue, and the release was targeted at the religious press.

"On the whole," Graham's statement said, "I am pleased with the accuracy of the interview. However, a few of the statements ...

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