Graham In Moscow: What Did He Really Say?

Billy Graham presented the claims of Christ to many who had never heard before and might never hear again.

What many hoped would be the climax to the life of an evangelist devoted to preaching the gospel has threatened instead to end in tragic rejection by friend and foe alike. Scarcely had Billy Graham arrived in Moscow last month when the quiet warnings of some people rapidly crescendoed to a roar of disapproval. Never before in all his career has the evangelist faced such condemnation from the American press and from evangelical leaders.

Of course, the jury is not yet in with the final word. But in the continuing furor, two quite different questions must be examined: (1) Should Graham have gone to Moscow; and (2) Did he betray his own cause by things he said or omitted saying while there?

These two questions are intertwined. If making this trip of necessity required such a betrayal, then the answer to the first question is: No, Graham should not have gone.

The evidence, however, does not warrant linking betrayal with his going. Many religious leaders—members of the National Council of Churches, extreme theological liberals, mainline liberals, Southern Baptists (President Bailey Smith, for example), independents, and parachurch leaders (such as Bill Bright)—have all at one time or another visited the Soviet Union. Many church leaders attended the same conference on nuclear war.

In the past, no one has objected to others undertaking such trips. We must conclude, therefore, that there was nothing inherently wrong or unwise about Billy Graham’s visit to Moscow. Given Graham’s goals, his priorities, and the promises made to him, we are convinced he chose rightly. Any evangelical with similar ...

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