On October 28, Dr. Rick Patrick, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, Alabama posted a piece entitled "25 Traditional SBC Heroes" at SBC Today. Patrick named as the top contender for the number one hero amongst traditional Southern Baptists the Rev. Billy Graham. While one might quibble whether Graham deserves the no.1 hero seed, few would question whether Graham should make the hero lineup for traditional Southern Baptists.
Of course, not a single one of them offered a slither of evidence to indicate why they raised the question as to whether Graham might fit on their side of the soteriological ledger. No. They just insisted we needed to produce the evidence as to why Graham should be on the other side. Pretty convenient, I'd say. They make assertions with neither argument nor evidence but insist on others making both argument and presentation of evidence. That's the kind of petulant wrangling I referenced above from some of these cantankerous extreme Calvinists. They come across as just wanting to pick a verbal fight.
Even so, several in the thread offered some tangible proof Graham hardly fit the profile of a "Reformed" evangelist (here's a video linked in the thread). What's interesting is, it's hardly possible to find a pattern of thought that Billy Graham is anything other than an "Arminian," especially from Calvinists themselves.
- John Gerstner: "Significantly, he [i.e. Billy Graham] also says that a “person cannot turn to God to repent or even to believe without God’s help. God must do the turning.” One can see from this that Graham is Arminian and not Pelagian...Graham goes on to make his Arminian thinking quite clear." (R.C. Sproul, Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997), 201.
- R.C. Sproul:
(R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1986), 16.
Those are just two well known Reformed believers who consider Graham an Arminian. We could also name Reformed organizations like Chalcedon or popular Reformed bloggers like Tim Challies and Michael Horton (also a popular Reformed theologian) who view Graham as Arminian. Hence, why these extreme Calvinists would even doubt it makes it appear even more evident they apparently wanted to bicker.
More indicative of Graham's non-Reformed views are his own words in his books. Below are a few quotes which seem to strongly suggest Graham would find no theological home among the extreme Calvinists who raise the question as to whether Graham is Reformed (all embolden added).
"You can go on being miserable, discontented, frightened, unhappy, and disgusted with yourself, or you can decide right now that you want to be born again. You can have your sinful past wiped out and make a new start, a fresh start, a right start. You can decide now to become the person that Jesus promised you could be." The Key to Personal Peace loc 453
"Here are some guidelines from the Bible that will help you be born again by accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior:" Ibid, loc 459
"You may say, “I really want to be born again, but how do I begin?” I would suggest that you make a list of all your sins." Ibid, loc 477