Billy Graham’s Legacy

Eventually, Billy Graham,
a long-lived, decent but misguided man,
did broaden his
evangelistic message to topics
(and they were topics,
not the core)
of racism and poverty (on occasion)
but not much more.
His core message always remained
the same:
to proclaim
“individual salvation in Jesus Christ”
and this became
his ticket to fame.
Such a simplistic message, not biblical at all,
wed to American
exceptionalism and patriotism
became the evangelist’s clarion call —
“getting to heaven and avoiding hell”
is declared right (blessed with American might)
and seen in light
of the color white.
Unfortunately,
for so many,
Billy Graham’s message
constitutes
Christianity’s essence
but somehow what’s missing
is Jesus’ prophetic and priestly presence
in the Beatitudes
and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount —
nothing there akin to platitudes
just what the gospel is about
— blessings galore for those who
are poor, who mourn, who endure with hope,
who seek justice, who are merciful,
who strive to be peacemakers,
whose hearts rest in God’s love which
gives unconditionally to all of creation
more and more and more…
for that is the essence of God’s
and creation’s grace-filled core
— the whole of God and the
whole of creation included —
to love and be loved forever more.

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