Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Billy Graham and Woody Allen

From another time on another world


  1. I Cor 15:19 comes to mind. “If only for his life we have hope in a Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied”.

    Not sure how to reconcile that with what Graham asserted to Woody Allen.

    Perhaps the disparity lies in Graham’s mistaken theology that offered salvation and eternal life without the necessity of selling everything, taking up one’s cross, and dying with Christ to the world.

    If the “salvation prayer”, once stated, results in “once saved always saved”, then I can see why he might say that. But that is not a Christian belief.

    1. It's an outgrowth of the old Calvinist strains that impacted much of 19th and especially 20th century Evangelical theology. Though I hope salvation isn't depended on selling everything and then taking up one's cross. Still possessing things, that puts me at odds with the hereafter.

    2. I agree. I do think, however, that taking up one’s cross and metaphorically, or actually, selling all that you have and are for the sake of our Beloved is mandatory evidence of the fruit of saving (not intellectual) “belief”.

      I am well familiar with Graham’s message. I attended one of his crusades in 1976. He may as well have been Pope while I was growing up. His salvation message doesn’t cost a “Christian” anything. That is why he can frame the subject as he does to Woddy Allen, and atheist Allen can find himself agreeing. See how Allen’s response changes, though, if he is told that eternity depends upon him leaving his sinful life, his wife”, and making amends to those he has wronged in his remaining days.

      Belief demands such things; demands metaphoric or actual martyrdom to the world. And if we are wrong about God, then how pitiful is that?

    3. I don't know that his message was meant to 'cost' anything. He was, as I saw him, the doorman saying 'enter.' It was enough that he said despite our sins, God loves us, now go and sin no more. He never made it seem as though that was the end, even if he had his own notions of perseverance of the saints. He always made it clear that this was step one in a long journey. As a non-believer at the time, that made a big impression.

      The sad fact is, I had to become Protestant to become Catholic, because there just was no real outreach directly from the Church. When I became Catholic, I was grateful for a full degree at a theological seminary in which I studied, among other things, Church history and the development of Western Christian doctrine. Only then did I find myself not completely confused as we tried to enter the Church.

      But it was Graham who opened the door and first said to me 'peek in and see what you're missing.' I never came forward during one of his crusades (though more than once I thought of calling). But it was a crucial link, as it was for so many back in the day. I always considered Graham under the 'all things to all men' category.

    4. That is a very good point. Catholics possess and guard the Truth, but have minimal desire to evangelize. Protestants evangelize, but do not possess timeless Christian Truth.

      It is as if Christians have been bifurcated. Combine the best of both and we will, as in St. Paul’s day, have Christendom in full once again.

      I share your fondness for Billy Graham. He is, in his unique way, an essential element of my Catholic Faith as a convert from a lifetime as a “Bible Believing Evangelical Christian”. His evangelistic passion and love for the person of Jesus Christ is a uniquely evangelistic thing and I do value that. May God, just and merciful Judge, have mercy on his soul.

  2. Would that Protestants would come back to unity in the Faith, while bringing the best of what they've learned about living it.


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