I tune the instrument here at the door...

Since I am coming to that holy room,
    Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
    I tune the instrument here at the door,
    And what I must do then, think here before.

          - J. Donne, "Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness"

In 2011, George Beverly Shea was 103 and still singing. Randy Alcorn was speaking about Heaven at the Cove and posted several videos on FB. (Thanks, Kamilla.)

If you go over to YouTube, you'll find this comment: "I worked at this guy's (Shea's) house in the Chicago suburbs in 1984 fixing his fireplace. He was 75. He wheeled a wheel barow full of broken brick and mortar up a plank ramp into the back of my truck. I told him I didn't like Billy Graham and I smoked in his house. I was lost and trying to provoke him. He was very kind to me. Two weeks later I got saved. I helped him get ready for the BG crusade in Bristol and they were still talking about it 13 years later when I lived in Bristol in 1997."

Beautiful.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

I thought Billy Graham was a heretic.

>>I thought Billy Graham was a heretic.

Dr. Graham has certainly said some heretical things, but he's largely silent, now, and his witness to the Gospel through many decades is worthy of high honor. This is George Beverly Shea, though—not Billy.

Love,

How is it not inconsistent to say he has been a good witness to the gospel while following in Moody's steps to have little or no theology, ignoring all differences between denominations and partnering with liberals and neo-conservatives alike to hand-over those emotionally charged and manipulated at giant rallies to believe to those liberals and neo-conservatives, and just generally countering the proposition of Jesus Christ who spoke of the way being hard and gate narrow, while Graham has been as broad and smarmy about making it easy as possible for most of his career?

>>How is it not inconsistent to say he has been a good witness to the gospel while following in Moody's steps to have little or no theology, ignoring all differences between denominations and partnering with liberals and neo-conservatives alike to hand-over those emotionally charged and manipulated at giant rallies to believe to those liberals and neo-conservatives, and just generally countering the proposition of Jesus Christ who spoke of the way being hard and gate narrow, while Graham has been as broad and smarmy about making it easy as possible for most of his career?

You got me there. Run rings around me logically. Yet he has been a wonderful witness to the Cross. I'll never forget hearing him interviewed at Harvard when Mary Lee and I were living on Boston's North Shore. It was wonderful hearing Billy speak of the Cross with such boldness and clarity. Plus he did not make shipwreck of his ministry from fame, sex, or money—and I honor him for that. So what am I going to say? I agree with you and I still honor him. 

Love,

Thank you for the gracious reply and spirit of appreciation. It is harder here, I had to grow-up among evangelicals, and get burned very badly when I began learning how to read-for-real, and found that, frankly speaking, almost nothing taught by popular evangelicalism, at either end of the conservative-liberal spectrum, is biblical: if not directly unbiblical, then often by re-definition through changing context and connotations.<BR><BR>
I wish I could be less "critical" sometimes but then remember that ours really is a doctrinal faith. Like on the subject of witnessing to the cross: that is fine and dandy for explicating the mechanism chosen by God to justify sinners, but then to ignore Jesus' own word on false prophets and doing 'mighty powers' in his name seems to be a mighty rejection of that witness: it was Jesus' own witness, it is right there connected with the text of the beatitudes, and it is part of a larger polemical-didactive set to explicate true from false Christianity, Christians, belief, living, and acting in God's name.<BR><BR>
That failure will means millions more "Lord, Lord[ing]" in the end, from the standpoint of human responsibility--though we know none given to Jesus by the Father will be lost, but it is a realization that turned my entire childhood faith upside-down and cast me into tears for about seven years; alienation from those I had counted brethren who go on merrily a apathetic to such things which Jesus so forcefully warned about, following after the popular and fads and whatever other ideas are made marketable to the church-world syncretism that is the Christianity around us, attractive to the would-be saviors and those they 'feel' need saved, and generally from bodies that engage in like behavior: I am still too weak to engage and fight it, as I realized then, but never really got, basic milk myself.<BR><BR>
On that note, however: it gets me thinking about the milk-meat distinction, and I think I was forced to chew the meat before having the stomach for it, and I got quite sick. Then again, it is the sick who need a healer, and without it I don't think I would have realized, really, the true nature of fallen man, his need, the faith, or the one whom we "faith towards".<BR><BR>
Thanks again for the edifying reply though. I am off to remind myself of that command not to let our hearts be troubled at these things, as our Lord said would come to pass. Though I am curious: the righteous men we read of are troubled by the wickedness and un (or false) belief around them, so how do we reconcile joy with such turbulence of Spirit over the state our neighbors?

Dear John, I can't disagree with anything you've written, brother. I'd say it's largely an accurate summary of what David and I both went through growing up in Wheaton and then getting M.Divs at Gordon-Conwell. I've posted on Billy Graham's heretical statements before, here, but I don't consider him himself to be a heretic. If so, an incidental--not a systematic--one.

As for joy, the joy of the Lord is our strength. And I find it greatly helpful to that joy that Scripture is filled to the brim with statements that God is sovereign over repentance and faith—both those who do and those who don't. This gives me joy to see His work softening my hard heart and giving me faith. Me! Wicked me! What a miracle!

So don't focus on all the eyes He's closed but all the eyes He's opened. And then rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, dear brother.

Love,

Thank you.

Billy Graham may not be theologically accurate in everything he has said or written. But he has brought millions of people to the Lord, something that very few others can say. Personally, I will always be grateful that my late mother's faith was renewed by watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. Her renewal was for real. She started attending church again joyfully, becoming involved in the church, reading the Bible, and discovering the beauty of the liturgy of her Lutheran faith.

>> How is it not inconsistent to say he has been a good witness to the gospel while...

Isn't it the kind of thing we see in the records of the kings of Israel?

In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

Others did evil in the eyes of the Lord---but there's a place for a tarnished good record.

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