That question has been answered by many: Billy Graham. He has been called the best, most influential figure of the 20th century. His influence includes millions of people and many presidents. Recognition of his name is even great among unbelievers.
But what of his doctrine and beliefs?
It is unquestionable that he preached the death of Christ, the love of God and the demands for a changed life. Yet that is merely a formal similarity with those in disagreement with the man’s doctrine and methods.
The belief of the man on other less public issues recently came to my attention. While browsing the bargain books at a local bookstore, I stumbled upon Kaski’s book: Quotable Billy Graham, [Testament Books, 2002]. What I found was disheartening: _________________________________________ "Asked about the eternal destiny of Pagans who never heard the Gospel, Graham admitted that there were “other ways” of saying “ ‘Yes’ to God.” [McCall’s, Jan. 1978]." _____________________________________
Asked a similar question about the fate of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc., (latter in his life) he cautions: “I think that’s in the hands of God. I can’t make that judgment.” [Good Morning America, April 30, 1997]
As for the polygamy practices of Muslims, Graham notes that the OT patriarchs observed this, concluding on the modern practice: “there must be reasons for that [polygamy], and I think that some of them are valid reasons.” [Fox News Sunday, Jan. 2, 2000]
When queried about how to demolish racism, the solution espoused by him distilled to the basics of his message over the years: “ ‘I’m going to preach on the love of God and how we are to love each other.’ That is the key to solving the race problem in the world” [Calgary Sun, Oct. 15, 1999]
His own confession about doctrinal importance is stunningly answered: “World travel and getting to know clergy of all denominations has helped mold me into an ecumenical being. We’re separated by theology, and, in some instances, culture and race, but all of that means nothing to me anymore.” [US News & World Report, Dec. 19, 1988]
The sincerity and energy of the man are not in question. Nor is the proper question of the greatness of his influence. What are in question are his methods and doctrines—do they match up with the Word of God?
That is the question. And the answer is discouraging.