Skip to main content

The Profound Simplicity of One Evangelist

Recently, I have been reading about evangelist Billy Graham in Grant Wacker's new biography America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation.  Wacker masterfully weaves together a narrative of Billy's life, theology, preaching, and impact that is first-rate and well-rounded, not falling into hagiography or overt dismantling or criticism.  As a preacher, Billy Graham was not eloquent like a William Sangster or Aimee Semple McPherson, yet he was profound.  His preaching did not hinge on rhetorical flourishes designed to captivate the ears of his listeners, rather he repeated phrases often time and time again to make an impact upon his hearers.  His proclamation was not obtuse as to confuse his audience but centered upon one single aim, "...to draw men and women to make a decision for Christ (63)."  How did he do this?

Wacker writes, "Whatever the specific topic, the overarching pattern invariably took the same form.  First acknowledge sin's destructive power.  Second embrace God's redeeming power...(63)."  The mere power of his preaching rested upon the Spirit's work, the mighty work of grace, and the proclamation of what Christ has done not for someone out there, but for you.  Therefore, the message was not obstructed by many arcane rabbit trails down the lanes of theological and historical locutions, but rested squarely in the uncomfortable halls of the brokenness of man and the good news of God.

Finally, Wacker contends that, "If the number of inquirers who walked forward to commit their lives to Christ measured effectiveness, Graham was the best in the world at what he did.  For that matter, he may have been the best ever (67)."  How does the legacy of Graham's preaching effect the way we preach today?

1.  Preaching is not primarily designed to tickle the ears of our audience with our locution or learnedness, but designed to point everyone in the room to Jesus Christ.

2.  Often, the Holy Spirit uses our repeated words and phrases in the pulpit to remove the obstacles we face in preaching, so that the Word of God and the good news might be clearly heard, believed, and lived out.

3.  Preaching if it is anything is personal, directing the good news to individual hearers and to the body of Christ.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…