A Review Article -- By: John H. Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 07:2 (Spring 1998)
Article: A Review Article
Author: John H. Armstrong


A Review Article

John H. Armstrong

Just As I Am: The Autobiography Of Billy Graham, Billy Graham. San Francisco: Harper Collins/Zondervan (1997). 760 pages, cloth, $28.50.

William Martin, author of the finest biography on Billy Graham yet written,1 has said, “I think it’s hard to overestimate the impact Billy Graham has had on world Christianity,” No student of the history of Christianity over the last half century can doubt the accuracy of Martin’s observation. To borrow a turn of phrase from the brokerage firm of E. F. Hutton, made popular by the now famous television commercial of several years ago: “When Billy Graham speaks, people listen!”

I owe much to Billy Graham. During my childhood he was my role model. Indeed, he was a hero. Here, in an unvarnished manner, was an earnest, clear, simple, biblical preacher of the gospel who never apologized for faith. I still recall sitting enthralled before my family’s first television set as Billy spoke with such power and pathos. Repeatedly he uttered his now famous line, as he quoted the Bible with supreme confidence, “The Bible says!” I was further moved by the simple appeals that he gave for multitudes to express personal faith in Christ. (The way he stood reverently and quietly, praying from behind his pulpit, for the Holy Spirit to do His work, while hundreds streamed forward to the singing of Charlotte Elliott’s hymn “Just As I

Am,” always stood in stark contrast to my Southern cultural experience of a more high-pressured altar call.) I sometimes felt as if I knew the man personally. There was something about his manner, his sincere warmth, his honest, straight-forward trust in the Word of God. He profoundly touched my life. Anecdotes about his life further moved me during my teen years. While thousands in our day want to “Be like Mike” (i.e., Michael Jordan, the basketball role model of the 90s) I often prayed that I would “Be like Billy!” Simply put— Billy urged me to be faithful to Christ and to preach His gospel with true confidence in God’s authority.

Not surprisingly, Just As I Am is most
certainly not a literary masterpiece. It reads
well at some points, more slowly at others,
and in general gives some candid glimpses
into a very interesting and full life
.

Finally, when it came time to choose a Christian liberal arts college in order to prepare for ministry, it was the influence of Dr. Graham and the martyred missionaries to the Auca Indians (three of the five were Wheaton alumni) that led me to apply for entrance to Wheaton College. Sight unseen I trans...

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