Many people, Christian and other, acknowledge the impact of Billy Graham’s life and ministry on the world. But few people would point to him as one of the world’s great apologists. I would like to argue that he is.
It is true that Billy Graham does not have a PhD in the philosophy of religion, nor is he known for debating atheist professors. But that is a narrow definition of apologetics, one that most of us cannot attain to. I would suggest that Billy Graham is an apologist in the way that many of us could and should emulate.
Let me turn the clock back twenty-five years. I was a former atheist, a recent theist and very much still the skeptic. I had grown up in the church, watched the fall of televangelists and was not sure what to make of Christianity. I happened to be flipping through the channels (without a remote in those days) and came across the Billy Graham Crusade. The only reason I gave him a moment was that even our liberal Anglican priest seemed to respect him. I kept waiting for Graham to do the big push for money but it never happened. There was something about his preaching that kept me coming back. It was not that he was really funny or that he was flashy. It was pretty plain. But there was a confidence in his message. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness and Graham came down on the right side. As I listened to Billy Graham, Christianity seemed to make sense, he had a way of making the faith sound reasonable without going over my head. He dealt with the questions I was asking, not the questions people decided I should be asking. Each time I watched this program, I became more and more convinced that Christianity was true. I ended up contacting the BGEA and received the information to become a Christian. Billy Graham may not have set out to be an apologist, but that is exactly the role he played in my life.
Billy Graham is an apologist in a way that we all can be. His apologetic is not based on his level of education but in his confidence in the Gospel. If we really believe this stuff is true, it will come across in the way we talk to people. Wrestle with your own questions, as Graham did as a young man, decide one way or another what you are going to believe. If it is Jesus, then go all in.