In Memory of Billy Graham - The Christian Impact on Society
This is an extract of an interview with Dr Billy Graham in 1978.
Have you formed any impressions of the spiritual climate of Singapore since your arrival here on 30th November?
GRAHAM: I have only been in Singapore a little over a week and certainly do not consider myself an authority on life in Singapore. My immediate and superficial observations are that it is a clean country with a great civic pride. There seems to be a sense of purpose. There is an industriousness among the people that you do not see everywhere.
I also sense that it is a cultural melting pot. It seems that people from various ethnic and religious backgrounds have a high regard for each other and a great tolerance toward each other.
"It seems that people from various ethnic and religious backgrounds have a high regard for each other and a great tolerance toward each other."
I have also sensed that Christians have not only great freedom but great influence in every phase of Singapore life. I have also felt that the majority of the churches are now evangelical, which is a great change from a few years ago. I have been impressed with the zeal of the Christians I have met here.
To what extent should Christians be involved in social projects such as giving financial aid to the Vietnamese refugees in Malaysia without making the preaching of the gospel to them a condition for assistance?
GRAHAM: I most certainly believe that Christians have a responsibility to help with the social needs everywhere, particularly to fellow Christians. Certainly our Lord set us an example in this area, as did the disciples. While priorities should be fellow Christians, yet we have the responsibility to all of humanity. Every Christian should be a humanitarian, helping needy and oppressed people wherever he finds them. The social problems of our world are now so complex and so interlaced with political problems that many Christians find themselves confused. They want to help but they don’t know how to go about it. I have had a number of people here in Singapore asking me how they could help the refugees that are now in the South China Sea and in camps in Malaysia and Vietnam. Apparently there are no easy answers. First, we should pray, and then do our best to out the best and most practical approach in giving them immediate help — but stay away from the political problems involved!
Do you have plans to hold more crusades in Asia within the next few years?
GRAHAM: Yes, the Lord willing we are going to hold a major crusade in Osaka, Japan, and possibly other Japanese cities in 1980. In addition, we have been discussing the possibility of three crusades in Indonesia in the near future, and we have several other invitations from other parts of Asia. We have a number of invitations from cities in India.
It has been observed that a fair number of your staff have been with you since the early days of your ministry. What are some of the reasons for this kindred spirit?
GRAHAM: I am sure it has been the work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord has sent to us through the years some extraordinary men and women who are totally dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the concept of world evangelisation. There has also been an unusual unity and love in our organisation for many years that I can only attribute to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Do you think the Bible is totally without error or whether its inerrancy is limited to matters of faith and practice?
GRAHAM: My view is that the Bible is without error in its totality. I can’t prove it. I base it on faith. I know some people will object to that. I would also like to say that this does not affect my Christian fellowship with people who hold differing views, providing they hold to the deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, and the Resurrection — the cardinal doctrines of Christianity. As a matter of fact, some of my closest friends do not hold this high a view of Scripture. But in my judgement, the issue of biblical authority is a growing concern throughout the world-wide Church. It’s a very important issue.
"I would also like to say that this does not affect my Christian fellowship with people who hold differing views, providing they hold to the deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, and the Resurrection — the cardinal doctrines of Christianity."
I have always believed and preached — since 1949 — the infallibility of Scripture, including the first 11 chapters of Genesis, which are very crucial. I took this position by faith in the summer of 1949 when I was having some doubts. But it changed my ministry. I had a cutting edge to my ministry that I never had before, because I felt that when I was quoting the Scripture I was quoting the very Word of God.
Now there are questions I don’t have answers to. There are certain figures and statistics that don’t presently know what to do with, but I believe in the truthfulness and integrity of the Bible. In the original autographs, I mean. Obviously, I can’t defend every translation. But I believe that the only logical conclusion that I can come to is that we either have to accept all of it, or each one of us decides what the Bible is for himself. And that approach brings chaos.
Does it bother you to know that there are a handful of Christians who appear to sincerely feel that Christians should not sponsor your preaching the gospel to our nation?
GRAHAM: No, this doesn’t bother me at all. It has not occupied any of my thoughts or attention since I have been here. I have had to face this since the beginning of my ministry. There has always been a small group to the extreme left who do not believe in evangelism at all, and a group to the extreme right who do not believe that we should have cooperative evangelism, or do not agree with my social concern.
What role does your wife play in your ministry as an evangelist and writer?
GRAHAM: She plays a massive role. Without her, it would have been impossible for me to do the things the Lord has allowed me to do. Her loyalty, her faithfulness, her advice, her counsel, her willingness to take the major share of the responsibility in raising the family so I could travel. Much of my work in world evangelism has been done at her urging. She is indispensable in my writing, because she is my number one critic.
Which is the book that has given you most satisfaction?
GRAHAM: I am assuming that you mean my own books. I would probably have to say my first book Peace with God which is now in many languages. We have heard thousands of stories and received letters about people throughout the world who have been converted to Christ through reading this book.
If you need to retire (Dr Graham was 60 on 7th November), what do you intend to do?
GRAHAM: I do not intend to retire from preaching the gospel until physical incapacity or death. I have had many opportunities to do other things. I am sure there are those who hope I will retire soon. But I have no such plans. I intend to preach the gospel as long as I physically can, and as long as the doors are open. This is in God’s hands.
(This is an extract of an interview with Dr Billy Graham featured in February/March 1979 issue of IMPACT Magazine)