IF THERE WERE SUCH A JOB AS THE NATION'S PASTOR, IT WOULD GO TO BILLY GRAHAM Graham wasn't born with a mandate to become the face of modern evangelism. Growing up, he wasn't much different from other boys in his town. Billy was more interested in going to the movies than the moving of the Holy Spirit, and he spent more time chasing girls than God ...Read MoreIF THERE WERE SUCH A JOB AS THE NATION'S PASTOR, IT WOULD GO TO BILLY GRAHAM Graham wasn't born with a mandate to become the face of modern evangelism. Growing up, he wasn't much different from other boys in his town. Billy was more interested in going to the movies than the moving of the Holy Spirit, and he spent more time chasing girls than God. But at a revival meeting the day before his sixteenth birthday, Graham committed himself to Christ and never looked back. That day, he started on the path that would make him the most influential Christian leader in American history. In "Billy Graham: His Life and Influence," acclaimed author David Aikman probes critical episodes of Graham's life that help explain his profound impact, both on the public life of America and other nations and the private lives of their cultural and political leaders. From the racial upheaval of the civil rights movement to the social turmoil of the cold war, Aikman traces Graham's profound influence on a nation as it went through wrenching changes over the span of more than a half century. Through vivid anecdotes and fascinating details, "Billy Graham: His Life and Influence "tells the story of how a country boy from Charlotte with a heart for God grew up to help shape the world.Read Less
Billy Graham: His Life and Influence by David Aikman
In this shorter biography of Billy Graham, Aikman focuses on the effects of Graham?s ministry on the American public, US presidents, and the world?s perception of evangelicalism. Beginning with Graham?s childhood, Aikman emphasizes the influence of a more theologically conservative strain of Christianity, fundamentalism broadly, on Graham?s foundational principles and attitudes. He then topically examines the results of Graham?s work on the international image of American evangelicalism (around 100 pages) and Graham?s relationships with US presidents from Truman to Bush Jr. (around 100 pages).
Aikman does not intend this work to be a definitive or exhaustive biography, which is immediately evident given the work?s length, under 400 pages. He highlights certain overseas trips, such as Graham?s visits to Romania, England, and North Korea, to show the growth of Graham?s statesmanlike qualities as well as the theologically influence of Graham?s messages on the next generation of pastors and priests in those nations (North Korea being the exception). Aikman generally sees Graham as intentionally naïve about the realities of international geopolitics.
Graham?s foremost qualities in this work are his desire to be liked and his humility. The author does an admirable job of selecting vignettes that highlight these attributes. He sees Graham first and foremost as an evangelist with the goal of conversion rather than a prophet whose job would focus more on identifying and preaching against injustice and evil. This juxtaposition is used throughout the work to explain Graham?s thoughts and actions on a variety of issues ranging from communism to race relations. This contrast is a useful tool for analyzing Graham?s life, but is less accurate than is immediately apparent. In the Bible, a prophet is primarily one who proclaims truth, specifically truth received from God. In this sense, Graham was very much a prophet due to his focus on explaining and preaching the truth of the gospel.
On the whole, I found this book to be an interesting and engaging work. Aikman?s career in journalism results in very readable chapters. I recommend it to anyone seeking a short biography of ?America?s Pastor?, Billy Graham.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission?s 16 CFR, Part 255: ?Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.?
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