Billy Graham’s Ecumenical Strategy: Did Billy Graham Open The Door to a Religious Trojan Horse?
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Dr. Graham preached a clear and accurate gospel for many years and for that I praise the Lord. I spent several months studying his history and must admit that Billy Graham is a rather complicated man. Dr. Graham’s fall into ecumenicalism should be a warning to all Christians and Christian authors and speakers to guard their steps lest we become a victim of pragmatism and compromise.
I admit, I still love watching those old 1960s and 1970 crusade sermons by Dr. Graham. Yet, while I so appreciated his proclamation of the gospel, I also must report on his part in opening the door to a religious trojan horse.
Hosting a national radio program five days a week for many years allows me to hear from lots of people who call in to the program as well as from those who email me. For many years I wrongfully ignored the warnings that many people would send concerning Billy Graham’s history. To be honest, I just did not want to believe that the man whom I had watched on television since the age of three had chinks in his armor.
On a table sitting to the right of me as I write this book is a little, black, leather-bound copy of the New Testament. I received this New Testament as a Christmas gift on 12/25/72. I was 3 years and eight months old when this Bible was given to me by my parents. By the age of four, I was standing on a black, wooden picnic table in our back yard “preaching” to the neighborhood kids I had assembled. I had learned this from not only attending church, but from watching Billy Graham on television.
Many years later, a friend invited me to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters in downtown Minneapolis. I was taken into the private office of Billy Graham. This was the office that Dr. Graham would use when he was in town. I was encouraged to sit at this desk, to which I did not hesitate. A few years later I had the opportunity to attend a Billy Graham crusade in the Minneapolis Metro Dome.
Perhaps it was because I grew up with such respect for Dr. Graham that I refused to hear criticism of him or his ministry. Perhaps even now as you read this chapter you are feeling the same way I once did. If so, I completely understand. However, I finally came to a point where I knew that the importance of the gospel and the protection of the gospel must outweigh my personal feelings. In other words, I must be committed to Biblical principles above personalities. This change in my thinking about Dr. Graham began in 2007 when I saw a recording of his appearance on the television program of Robert Schuller. Graham’s appearance on Schuller’s “Hour of Power,” was extremely disappointing to me. I had written about the heresy of Schuller for many years and was always pained when I would see evangelicals giving him credibility by appearing on his television broadcast.
Graham’s Ecumenical Strategy
In 1961, Graham attended the New Delhi Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches. Graham was “directly invited by the World Council.” [Foonote #11] At this conference Graham met Michael Ramsey, a well-known promoter of the ecumenical movement and an Anglo-Catholic priest.
In his book Just As I Am, Graham writes that he said to Ramsey, “Do we have to part company because we disagree in the methods and theology? Isn’t that the purpose of the ecumenical movement, to bring together people of opposing views?” [footnote #12]
As Iain Murray points out in his book Evangelicalism Divided, Ramsey, “did not hold all Scripture to be the authoritative Word of God, nor did he believe such doctrines as the penal, substitutionary atonement.” [Footnote #13]
John Lawrence in his book, Hard Facts of Unity: a layman looks at the ecumenical movement, that:
[Quote] In retrospect it looks as if the Conservative Evangelical movement in Britain crossed the ecumenical watershed at Dr. Billy Graham’s Crusade at Harringay in 1954. [End Quote, footnote #14]
Iain Murray writes that his friend, Pastor Martin Lloyd-Jones “was of the same opinion”. [Footnote #15]
Lloyd-Jones warned, “Here is the great divide. The ecumenical people put fellowship before doctrine. We are evangelicals; we put doctrine before fellowship (Acts 2:42).” [footnote #16]
Why would Graham not heed the Biblical advice given to him by Lloyd-Jones? Murray believes:
[Quote] …to have followed the counsel he had given would have meant a very major reversal of policy. One can only assume from the outcome that he concluded that his work would lose more than it could gain if he cut off the liberal and the developing Catholic support… [End Quote, footnote #17]
In 1982, Graham received the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion. [footnote #18] Make no mistake; the Templeton Foundation is an organization that has been committed largely to ecumenicalism and spirituality. Others who have received this award include Mother Teresa (1973), Chuck Colson, (1993), Bill Bright (1996) and numerous Catholics and spiritualists. Interesting that Colson and Bright were both involved in the promotion of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document, and both were signers of this ecumenical document that was released in 1994.
Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists have been on the panel of judges and have been recipients of the prize. [footnote #19]
Why would Colson, Graham, or Bright accept the award and financial prize and thus tie their name to the ecumenical goals of the Templeton Prize unless they had no problem with ecumenicalism?
In his book, Occult Invasion, Dave Hunt writes:
[Quote] We have already noted that one of the most anti-Christian men ever to be accepted as a Christian leader is wealthy money manager John Marks Templeton. He is so obviously an occultist that it is astounding that he could have 'crept in unawares,' yet he has. Templeton offers an annual religion prize larger than the Nobel Prize. [End Quote, footnote #20]
Templeton laid out the goals and objectives of his foundation and Templeton Prize in his writings, which is nothing less than the spiritual evolution taught by New Ager and Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin:
[Quote] Microbes slowly evolved into worms, fishes, reptiles, and mammals. Humans did not appear until forty thousand years ago....According to the Jesuit paleontologist and mystic Teilhard de Chardin [known as "the father of the New Age"]...there came first the sphere of mineral evolution, the geosphere; then the sphere of living things, the biosphere; and lastly the sphere of the human mind, the noosphere....[T]he human mind is so potent...that no one knows what may happen next. Evolution is accelerating...Teilhard called for a new theology...a new, unprecedented religion....Is there evidence that minds are developing into even more miraculous spirits and souls...? As the religious forms of traditional Judaism and Christianity are losing their powers to inform the contemporary mind, the West desperately needs religious geniuses who can create new imaginal forms....Theologians...must begin to explore the vast unseen dimensions of our evolving universe....
The next stage of human divine progress on the evolutionary scale needs...geniuses of the spirit, blazing trails for the rest of us to follow. To encourage progress of this kind, we have established the Templeton Foundation Prizes for Progress in Religion. [End Quote, footnote #21]
In his book, The Humble Approach Templeton wrote:
[Quote] [N]ew research presently has as its focus the development of...spiritual truth [to be] accepted worldwide regardless of the culture or...religions of any geographical or ethnic area…I am hoping we can develop a body of knowledge about God that doesn't rely on ancient revelations or scripture…that is scientific...and is not disputed because of divisions between religions or churches or ancient scripture or liturgy.... The main purpose of the Templeton Foundation is to encourage enthusiasm for accelerating discovery and progress in spiritual matters… [End Quote, footnote #22]
In the same book Templeton went on to lay out his New Age and Hindu belief in pantheism—all is god, and his belief in panentheism—god is in all.
[Quote] God is billions of stars in the Milky Way and He is much more....Time and space and energy are all part of God....God is five billion people on Earth....God is untold billions of beings on planets of millions of other stars....God is the only reality....
God is beginning to create His universe and allows each of His children to participate in some small ways in this creative evolution....God is all of you and you are a little part of Him. [End Quote, footnote #23]
As Dave Hunt accurately explains, for Graham, Colson or Bright to accept the Templeton Price is a major compromise of Biblical truth and, I believe, openly embracing the religious Trojan horse.
[Quote] Colson’s office rationalized his acceptance of this prize by stating that he would use the opportunity to present the gospel. Sadly, he did not do so, and for obvious reason. Simple logic and honesty dictates that it would be a double-cross of gigantic proportions and the worst kind of hypocrisy for Graham, Colson or Bright to accept a huge monetary prize from a man who is thereby hoping to promote all religions, and then to use that occasion to declare that Jesus Christ is the only Savior!
The acceptance of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion undeniably constitutes a compromise of that very faith once for all delivered to the saints, which true Christians are commanded to proclaim unflinchingly and to defend at all cost. Rather than to accept that prize and thereby to encourage Templeton in his error, Graham, Colson and Bright ought to have presented the truth of the gospel to this deluded man in an attempt to rescue him from a Christless eternity. And what of the multitudes who have been led astray by their acceptance of this prize? We can only pray that even at this late date all three will renounce this pagan honor and return the money to Templeton with interest!
We have devoted much space to this subject in order that there be no doubt what Templeton's prize stands for and the implications of accepting it. Here we have a most astonishing example of a compromising denial of the faith at the highest evangelical levels. Such a betrayal would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. [End Quote, footnote #24]
Truly a sign of the times is that many “Christians” today are not disturbed by the compromise of Biblical truth by evangelical leaders, but are instead disturbed that you and I would point out such compromise that they don’t view as compromise but as being “salt and light” or as “dialoguing” for group consensus.
Graham and the Church of Rome
Far from heeding the advice of Lloyd-Jones, Graham seemed to only accelerate his “ecumenical strategy.” In 1974, Graham held a crusade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Graham invited his friend and Anglo-Catholic Priest, Michael Ramsey, to speak at the crusade. An interpreter, who was a Presbyterian pastor, was briefed on what Ramsey was going to say and what he would be required to interpret. The Presbyterian pastor, and interpreter, was alarmed and did not want to interpret the message Ramsey planned to deliver. However, Graham was informed of the situation and declared that Ramsey was his guest and the translator would interpret every word. [foonote #25]
Ramsey’s biographer writes that Ramsey’s message to the Billy Graham Crusade attendees was:
[Quote] You cannot come to Christ unless you bring your Roman Catholic brother with you…If you are asked to come forward to testify to Christ, don’t come unless you bring with you a resolve to be more charitable to your Roman Catholic brothers. Don’t come unless you resolve from now on to be doing something about poverty. [End Quote, footnote #26]
Clearly Ramsey, like many of today’s Emergent Church leaders, is tying works and social justice to salvation.
Ramsey’s appearance at Graham’s 1974 crusade is not just one example where Graham was entering into spiritual enterprises with unbelievers, or elevating the Church of Rome. Iain Murray writes:
[Quote] When Graham had the ear of Richard Nixon, during Nixon’s years as president, he could recommend the Roman Catholic Archbishop H.E. Cardinale to speak at a White House service…Graham himself shared a White House service with Rabbi Edgar Magnin and John Cardinal Krol. [End Quote, footnote #27]
Is it possible that Graham’s ecumenicalism dates all the way back to 1944? In his book, Just As I Am, Graham writes of meeting Sheen for the first time in 1944 when they were traveling on the same train. Despite the fact that Sheen was a huge promoter of Mariology, which is the worship of Mary and the belief in salvation through Mary, Graham wrote that he and Sheen had a “common commitment to evangelism.”
[Quote] We talked about our ministries and our common commitment to evangelism, and I told him how grateful I was for his ministry and his focus on Christ. … We talked further and we prayed; and by the time he left, I felt as if I had known him all my life. [End Quote, footnote #28]
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen described the importance of Mary in his doctrine when he said:
[Quote] When I was ordained, I took a resolution to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist every Saturday to the Blessed Mother…All this makes me very certain that when I go before the Judgment seat of Christ, He will say to me in His Mercy: “I heard My Mother speak of you.” During my life I have made about thirty pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and about then to her shrine in Fatima. [End Quote, footnote #29]
How sad that this man did not place his faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone, but believed in a different Jesus—the Catholic Jesus—who must be sacrificed each week in the form of the communion wafer and juice. How sad that he prayed to Mary, who herself needed a savior, and believed that she could help to secure his salvation. Understanding the deadly consequences of these pagan beliefs and works-based religion should cause each of us to have a great burden for sharing the Biblical gospel with family and friends who are deceived by the Church of Rome’s false religion.
By 1967, Graham was receiving an honorary degree from Belmont Abbey, a Jesuit college. The Gastonia Gazette reported Graham’s comments that night included:
[Quote] The gospel that built this school and the gospel that brings me here tonight is still the way of salvation. [End Quote, footnote #30]
Graham, in his book Just As I Am, writes of such meetings as his “ecumenical strategy.” [footnote #31]
Graham himself is documented as having said, “I have no quarrel with the Catholic Church,” [footnote #33] and that was not only backed up by words but by deeds.
In 1977, Graham held one of his crusades on the campus of Notre Dame. In the June 3, 1977 Issue of Christianity Today they reported that:
[Quote] In Graham’s sermons were of the type that audiences around the world have heard, with only a few more references to such Catholics as Bishop Fulton Sheen and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. [End Quote, footnote #33]
Later that year Graham held a crusade in Manila, the Philippines and once again Christianity Today reported on that crusade and published:
[Quote] We didn’t know what to expect when we came here because the Protestant population in the Philippines is very small. But during the crusade we have seen some of the greatest unity among churches that we’ve ever experienced, and we have received marvelous support from the Catholic Church. [End Quote, footnote #34]
In his book Just As I Am, Graham wrote of accepting an invitation to participate in a service with Pope Paul II, but that an unexpected invitation to China kept him from being able to participate in the service. [Footnote #35]
There is a reason that the Church of Rome has worked so closely with Graham’s crusades, and I believe it is because, like the World Council of Churches, they wanted to use Graham for their ecumenical goals. As long as Graham did not call out the heresies of the Church of Rome or of the protestant modernists, both heretical groups were happy to use Graham, and I believe Graham was happy to use them if it meant filling stadiums. But was it perhaps more than Graham using the Church of Rome to fill his stadiums or was it that Graham actually saw no major difference between his beliefs and those of the Church of Rome? In a 1978 issue of McCall’s magazine, Graham was quoted as saying:
[Quote] I’ve found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics. [End Quote, footnote #36]
Iain Murray sums it up this way when he writes:
[Quote] From all this it is clear that, while Graham has professed no change in his doctrinal beliefs, he had come to accept the primary ecumenism that there is a shared experience of salvation in Christ which makes all differences of belief a secondary matter. [End Quote, footnote #37]
The problem is that while Graham was professing one thing with his mouth, his actions were professing something different altogether. The question Graham seemed to not ask himself was, “do the Church of Rome and the protestant modernists follow the Jesus Christ of the Bible?”
The Church of Rome, the liberal neo-evangelicals, and the cults do not follow the Jesus of the Bible despite what they profess. All of these religious groups have redefined Jesus, and if you re-define Jesus you also re-define the gospel. However, Graham did not seem to believe this, and therefore saw no need to contradict Catholicism, but to embrace it.
[Quote] My goal, I always made clear, was not to preach against Catholic beliefs or to proselytize people who were already committed to Christ within the Catholic Church. Rather, it was to proclaim the gospel to all those who had never truly committed their lives to Christ. [End Quote]
It is for this very reason that the Apostle Paul warns:
2 Corinthians 11:3-4: But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
Indeed many have put up with “another Jesus” and “a different gospel” of today’s false religions in order to gain a bigger following. However some did not just “put up with it” but have come to the conclusion that many of today’s false religions are in fact following the Jesus of the Bible. Writing of Billy Graham, Iain Murray declares:
[Quote] Whereas the co-operation had first begun out of a desire to gain an entrance for the gospel in other religious circles, it was now discovered that the saving gospel had been with the non-evangelicals all the time. [End Quote, footnote #38]
Graham himself admitted that “The ecumenical movement has broadened my viewpoint.” [footnote #39]
William Abraham, a church history professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was quoted in the St. Louis Dispatch on October 10, 1999 as saying:
[Quote] “The bravest thing" that Graham did was follow his father-in-law's lead and work ecumenically with main-line Protestant leaders, Abraham said. That widened his appeal. Graham's father-in-law, The Rev. Nelson Bell, was a Presbyterian missionary to China and became the first editor of "The Christian Century." "Initially, Graham was a blue-chip fundamentalist, but after his (1949) crusade in L.A. he decided he would break with the fundamentalists," said Abraham. "Founding 'The Christian Century' magazine made him pivotal in encouraging The New Evangelism Movement. [End Quote, footnote #40]
On April 5, 2005, Graham appeared on Larry King to talk about the death of Pope John Paul II. In this interview Graham assured the audience that the Pope was in heaven.
KING: There is no question in your mind that he is with God now?
GRAHAM: Oh, no. There may be a question about my own, but I don't think Cardinal Wojtyla, or the Pope -- I think he's with the Lord, because he believed. He believed in the Cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the Cross, no matter if you were talking to him from personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer. [footnote #41]
I believe that comments like this from Billy Graham have confused millions of people. My heart breaks for those trapped in the Church of Rome that hear such words and are left to believe that their soul is secure because they, too, have embraced the Jesus of the Church of Rome. How many millions have been led to hell by preachers and “Christian” leaders who have compromised Biblical truth in order to not appear intolerant in today’s pluralistic world?
The is a portion of a just released 24 page report by Brannon Howse. To read the entire report please go to worldviewpedia.com
worldviewpedia.com is our powerful Biblical worldview software that is included in your membership of the Situation Room. You can join for as little as $9.99 per month, $99 per year, $149 for two years or $199 for a three year membership.
11. A.T. Houghton, What of New Delhi? (London: Bible Churchmen’s Missionary Society, 1962), p. 47.
12. Billy Graham, Just As I Am (London: Harper Collins, 1997), p. 695.
13. Iain H. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000, p. 41.
14. John Lawrence, Hard Facts of Unity: a layman looks at the ecumenical movement, (London: SCM, 1961), p. 68.
15. Iain H. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000, p. 43. (footnote)
17. Ibid; p. 76.
18. Source: http://www.billygraham.org/biographies_show.asp?p=1&d=1
19. Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion
20. John Templeton, as quoted by Dave Hunt in the article, Progress in Religion, posted here: https://www.thebereancall.org/node/5830
21. John Templeton, as quoted by Dave Hunt in the article, Progress in Religion, posted here: https://www.thebereancall.org/node/5830
22. The Humble Approach (1981, revised in 1995), p. 135-139.
23. Ibid; 37-38.
24. Dave Hunt in the article, Progress in Religion, posted here: https://www.thebereancall.org/node/5830
25. Ibid; p. 60. As detailed by Ramsey’s own biographer and documented by Iain Murray
26. Quoted in Evangelicalism Divided by Iain Murray and sourced as coming from the book by Ramsey’s biographer, Owen Chadwick, Michael Ramsey: A Life (Oxford/New York: OUP, 1991), p. 335.
27. Iain H. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000, p. 68.
28. Billy Graham, Just As I Am (London: Harper Collins, 1997), p. 692.
29. Fullton j. Sheen, Treasure in Clay, p. 317.
30. The Gastonia Gazette, November 22, 1967
31. Billy Graham, Just As I Am (London: Harper Collins, 1997), p. 450.
32. William Martin, Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story, p. 223
33. Christianity Today, June 3, 1977.
34. Christianity Today, December 30, 1977.
35. Billy Graham, Just As I Am (London: Harper Collins, 1997), p. 599.
36. McCall’s, January 1978,
37. Iain H. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000, p. 69.
38. Ibid; p.69.
39. Curtis Mitchell, Billy Graham: Saint or Sinner,(F. H. Revell Company, 1979) p. 220.
40. FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, HOW GRAHAM PREACHES IS AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT HE'S PREACHING. By Patricia Rice, October 10, 1999, BG4
41. Billy Graham: Pope John Paul II Was "Most Influential Voice" in 100 Years posted at: https://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/BibleStudyAndTheology/Perspectives/ANS_PopeGrahamCaviezel.aspx
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