After I heard Al Mohler interview Grant Wacker about his new book, I added it to my reading queue:
Grant Wacker. America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014.
I’m glad I read it. This history is so fascinating to me, especially since it intertwines with my personal background (similar to how it intertwines with John Piper’s background, which Justin Taylor recently explained so well).
Issues connected with Billy Graham’s 1957 New York meetings led me to co-edit a debate-book on evangelicalism. I disagree with some of Graham’s strategies, such as sharing his Christian platform with Roman Catholic and theologically liberal leaders and then directing converts from his meetings to those churches. (Cf. my review of Iain Murray’s Evangelicalism Divided.) But I commend him for courageously standing in other areas, such as opposing segregation.
I write this in the conclusion to Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism:
What exactly is evangelicalism? Defining it depends largely on one’s approach, and there are at least two basic approaches: (1) sociology—a descriptive approach that most historians adopt, and (2) theology—a prescriptive approach that some theologians adopt. (p. 209)
Wacker’s book on Billy Graham takes the sociological approach. And I’m not convinced Wacker accurately portrays Billy Graham’s view on inerrancy. (I talked about these issues with John Woodbridge at ETS in Atlanta last week, and he shares the same concerns. He said that he expressed this at a conference with Wacker earlier this year in Montreat, North Carolina. I couldn’t find video or audio of that conference online.)
Whether or not you love Billy Graham, it’s hard not to enjoy learning about him.