Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Christopher Hitchens on Billy Graham


Whisky Prajer said...

Charles Templeton, actually. You've read him, no? I've always thought his story was very powerful -- evokes not just his own experience, but a very deep sense of life in the late-50s. He came in to the bookstore occasionally. Very sweet guy to deal with.

Joel Swagman said...

Sorry for the late response on this. I had a few very busy days at work where I felt like I didn't have much leisure to think.

I had actually never heard of Charles Templeton before.
...I actually had seen the Hitchens video before, so maybe that counts. But it had never excited my curiosity, and so I never looked him up.
I've just been researching him now, and indeed he does sound like an interesting guy.

It does also appear, based on the transcript found in this website, that Hitchens had somewhat exaggerated the scope of their conversation.

All our differences came to a head in a discussion which, better than anything I know, “explains” Billy Graham and his phenomenal success as an evangelist.

In the course of our conversation I said, “But, Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world was not created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s a demonstrable fact.”

“I don’t accept that,” Billy said. “And there are reputable scholars who don’t.”

“Who are these scholars?’ I said. “Men in conservative Christian colleges?”

“Most of them, yes,” he said. “But that is not the point. I believe the Genesis account of creation because it’s in the Bible. I’ve discovered something in my ministry: When I take the Bible literally, when I proclaim it as the word of God, my preaching has power. When I stand on the platform and say, ‘God says,’ or ‘The Bible says,’ the Holy Spirit uses me. There are results. Wiser men than you or I have been arguing questions like this for centuries. I don’t have the time or the intellect to examine all sides of the theological dispute, so I’ve decided once for all to stop questioning and accept the Bible as God’s word.”

“But Billy,” I protested, “You cannot do that. You don’t dare stop thinking about the most important question in life. Do it and you begin to die. It’s intellectual suicide.”

“I don’t know about anybody else,” he said, “but I’ve decided that that’s the path for me.”

What books of his would you recommend?

Whisky Prajer said...

I've only read Farewell To God so that's the only book I can recommend. I'm curious about his fiction, though.