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Billy Graham: His Life and Influence

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  • Posted July 10, 2010

    A Cynical Biography

    Reading this book has really challenged me again to think about the books we read and whether they are edifying or whether certain information should be in a book. I want to explain, but it's a little complicated.

    The introduction of the book made it clear to me that this book is indeed well written. The first five chapters explain the history of Graham's life up to the crusades in England in the 50s. In this section, it is as if Aikman is putting Graham up on a pedestal. But, from that point on he begins to throw stones at him as he begins to examine Graham's interaction with communist leaders, racism, and with the presidents of our country, the US. He doesn't throw them directly, but he implies conclusions and chooses certain details to include that can feed a feeling of cynicism towards Billy Graham and how he lived his life. Our culture is one that thrives on cynicism right now--the belief that one can see through others to what the truth really is--and this book feeds that feeling by how it is written and the information that is presented.

    I personally do not know David Aikman so I don't know if he realizes and is aware of how deeply cynicism has pervaded this book. Dick Keyes' points this out in his book Seeing Through Cynicism-- "One reason that cynicism receives little attention is that many people do not even realize that it exists in their own thinking and conversation. Cynical insights, perspectives and critiques are so much a part of modern vocabulary that we get used to them" p. 13.

    Biographies are supposed to present both the good and bad, the strengths and weaknesses of a person. I agreed with her. If this book were published directly by a secular publisher (and not a Christian publisher owned by a secular publisher), I would understand how and why this book was written this way. But, it has been published by Thomas Nelson. I do hope and expect Christian publishers to publish books that will edify the body of Christ and not tear it down.

    Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

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  • Posted July 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Billy Graham needs no introduction, even non believers and anti-theist know who he is

    Billy Graham needs no introduction, even non believers and anti-theist know who he is. He has been the close friend and spiritual advisor with every American President since President Eisenhower. Aikman provides us with a great summary of this significant life, his travels, and his influence.

    What I liked most about Aikman's work is that this is more than just a simple biography. It is a biography with added commentary on who has influenced him, trends he has fallen into, critics, how he has changed, and what role he has played in catastrophic and world changing events.
    In particular, he includes a chapter on how Billy Graham has frequently assumed the role of the national consoler. Aikman traces Graham's words and actions surrounding events such as the Oklahoma City bombing, September 11, and many other great catastrophes.
    Since Graham has been in almost every country in the world, it can be argued that the gospel, in at least a minor way, has reached the four corners of the world. Graham is an evangelist who has been sent to preach the gospel, and he has done that his entire life. It is fallacy to assume that whenever he puts his feet in a country that the people have never hear of Christ.Overall, this is a great read. Aikman manages to cover the life of Graham, many of his great influences, how God has used him, what he is doing now, how he has influenced the nation, the culture, and the world. Aikman dives into almost every aspect of his life, his theology, his family, and his personal life. Anyone that reads "Billy Graham" will be diving into a book that is well researched and well done. I highly recommend it.

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  • Posted June 20, 2010

    All throughout the book, Aikman points out Graham's humility and desire to simply preach of God's love.

    "Oh God, I don't understand all of this. I don't know what's happening to me. But as best as I can figure out, I've given myself to you." These are the words Billy Graham prayed the night he gave his life to God. He accepted Christ at a crusade by Mordecai Ham on November 6, 1934. He has spent the past six decades preaching the message of the gospel. He once said, "Sincerity is the biggest part of selling anything, including the Christian plan of salvation." He's seen countless people give their lives to God at his numerous crusades, the last one being in 2005. Graham has had the opportunity to speak into the lives of our presidents, beginning with Eisenhower up through George W. Bush. He's visited countless countries and won over many people with his charm. Aikman mentions Graham's method for handling tough situations: ".Billy Graham's lifelong traits: to agonize over important decisions, to storm heaven seeking directions, and then to be quite firm in any decision arrived at in the course of this process of prayer." All throughout the book, Aikman points out Graham's humility and desire to simply preach of God's love. Early in his evangelical career, Graham worked with Charles Templeton. "A few, however, were touched by the sheer innocent, gospel-sharing confidence of the young men [Graham and Templeton]. It was "like a breath from heaven in a suffocated time," said British lay evangelist Tom Rees, "men who brought brightness in the midst of all our darkness."

    The Right Reverend Peter Jensen asked of Graham once, "Has there been a voice like his? There was the utter sincerity of it. He was transparently sincere, personally attentive. He was a prince among God's people." This would definitely be a book for history buffs. All of the dates and names were lost on me but it was interesting to read about Graham's start to his career and all he's accomplished in his lifetime, ".a seven-decades long servant of the call to preach the gospel."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2007

    greatest life of billy graham

    'billy graham' is a wonderful bio that just came out and I really enjoyed the book and I really got to know about how he became a minister and what his influences were in life. the arthur david aikman has done a remarkable job documenting dr grahams life and I found it was most intresting to learn about his life and what made him great and how this preacher was able to make a difference in the world. this book is very hard to put down espically if you have seen billy graham on tv or have been to one of his crusades. great gift idea for a friend or family member or soldier serving over seas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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