I have heard that Billy Graham has stated something to the effect that a person did not have to believe or even know the name of Jesus Christ to be saved, for if all they had available to them was the Muslim religion or Hinduism, or Buddhism and believed with all their heart that it was true, then God would save them without their knowing anything about Christ--not even His name.  Is this true?


Sadly, this appears to be very true.  I believe what you heard has been the result of a TV interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller.  Here is an article with the transcript of the interview.  By the way, in a recent tape by John MacArthur, of Grace Community Church, he contacted the Billy Graham Association and they confirmed that Billy Graham has "always believed what he revealed in the interview."

Billy Graham Believes Catholic Doctrine of Salvation Without Bible, Gospel, or Name of Christ

by Robert E. Kofahl, Ph.D

Television interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller. Part 1, an approximately 7-minute-long broadcast in Southern California on Saturday, May 31, 1997. The following is an exact transcript* of an excerpt close to the end of this broadcast.

Schuller: Tell me, what do you think is the future of Christianity?

Graham: Well, Christianity and being a true believer--you know, I think there's the Body of Christ. This comes from all the Christian groups around the world, outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the Body of Christ. And I don't think that we're going to see a great sweeping revival, that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. I think James answered that, the Apostle James in the first council in Jerusalem, when he said that God's purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that's what God is doing today, He's calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they're going to be with us in heaven.

Schuller: What, what I hear you saying that it's possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they've been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you're saying?

Graham: Yes, it is, because I believe that. I've met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they've believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they've tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.

Schuller: [R. S. trips over his tongue for a moment, his face beaming, then says] I'm so thrilled to hear you say this. There's a wideness in God's mercy.

Graham: There is. There definitely is.

Television interview of Dr. Graham by Dr. Schuller continued: Part II was broadcast on Sunday, June 8. The following is an accurate transcription of a segment.*

Schuller: You knew ... Fulton Sheen. You knew these men. Your comments on both of these men [Fulton Sheen and Norman V. Peale].

Graham: The primary way of communicating is to live the life, let people see that you're living what you proclaim.... [comments on his friendship and conversations with Fulton Sheen] I lost a very dear friend, and since that time, the whole relationship between me and my work, and you and your work, and the Roman Catholic Church has changed. They open their arms to welcome us and we have the support of the Catholic Church almost everywhere we go. And I think that we must come to the place where we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, not on what denomination or what church or what group we belong to.

Some historical background for understanding Billy Graham's shocking profession of Roman Catholic Style Universalism in 1997:

Billy Graham's first great city-wide evangelistic campaign was held in Los Angeles in 1949. At that time he made a public promise that he would never have any theological modernists (theological liberals) on his platform. Dr. Graham's first evangelistic campaign in England was held in the summer of 1954. On that tour he was accompanied by Dr. John Sutherland Bonnell, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City. Dr. Bonnell was also the president of the Ministerial Association of New York City, which was dominated by modernist ministers and churches. On Dr. Graham's British tour Bonnell was working to persuade him to hold a campaign in New York in 1956 under the auspices of the liberal Ministerial Association. During that time a group of Bible-believing pastors and laymen sent Dr. Graham in England a telegram asking him to hold an evangelistic series in New York City sponsored by "a committee of twice-born men."

On his return to the States Dr. Graham announced that he would come to New York in 1956 sponsored by the Ministerial Association of New York City. The committee of Bible-believing men sent a delegation to Dr. Graham begging him not to confuse the line between the gospel of grace and the false gospel of the modernist churches represented in the Ministerial Association. Graham turned a deaf ear to them, and came to New York with the requirement that all churches should be invited to participate in the campaign. In that campaign, the Billy Graham Association trained counselors sent from all sorts of churches, including the Roman Catholic Church. The policy was established of directing each inquirer during the campaign to his or her home church. Some Protestants were sent to modernist churches. Roman Catholics were directed back to the priest of the Roman church nearest to their home address. This policy of cooperation with the Roman Church continues to this day.

Dr. Graham has received honors from Roman Catholic circles, including an honorary degree from a Catholic college. In his last campaign in the British Isles, two leading prelates in the Roman Catholic Church in England sent out pastoral letters encouraging Catholics to attend the Graham meetings. One of these prelates explained to his parishioners that "Billy Graham knows our limits." That is, the Roman Church can count on him not to touch on any theological doctrines that contradict official Romanist teachings. Thus Dr. Graham will not explain that a sinner trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal life must give up any trust he might have in any other object of faith; that he or she must trust in the Person, Jesus Christ, and Him alone, not trusting in Mary or saints, rejecting any trust in the sinner's good works or religious observances, relying totally on His perfect work of redemption, a substitutionary atonement on the cross, taking the sinner's place under the judgment of God and receiving in His body the total punishment for sin that the sinner deserves, and through repentance and faith receive the perfect righteousness of Christ, imputed by God to the believer, that makes the sinner forever acceptable to a holy God, and immediately a possessor of the gift of eternal life that cannot be forfeited or lost, kept by the power of God throughout all eternity. If Billy Graham were to preach this biblical and complete doctrine of salvation, he would at once lose the support of the Roman Catholic leaders. Multitudes of Roman Catholics would be warned and frightened from attending Billy Graham meetings.

The doctrine that Dr. Graham expressed to Dr. Schuller is exactly what the Pope and the Ecumenical Institute in Rome have been teaching for years. This is the idea that any pagan, practicing idolatrous worship, having no slightest knowledge of the Bible, the gospel of grace, or the Person and name and redeeming work of Jesus Christ-if he is a "good person" and if he is sincere in whatever he may believe-is automatically "redeemed by the blood of Christ." This false doctrine of salvation was clearly and explicitly asserted and defended in debate about four years ago on radio stations KABC and KBRT by Father Vivian Benlima, then Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interdenominational Affairs of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who just returned from a year's study at the Ecumenical Institute. It is the official teaching of the Roman Church.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was the primary force for the founding of the Lausanne World Evangelism Conferences back in the 1980s. Especially in recent years these conferences have called on all churches, including the modernist ecumenical churches of the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church to cooperate with the evangelical churches in evangelizing the world for Christ. At Amsterdam '86, billed as a "school for evangelists" and sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham revealed his ecumenical, inclusivist approach to worldwide evangelism. In the final press conference, Dr. Graham was asked by Dennis Costella, a news correspondent for Foundation magazine, how he could justify this melding together of such a disparate crowd of theologically disunited religious groups. Dr. Graham responded, "Evangelism is about the only word we can unite on. ... Our methods would be different and there would be debates over even the message sometimes, but there is no debate over the fact that we need to evangelize. ... I think there is an ecumenicity here that cannot [be gotten] under any other umbrella." Therefore, he averred, all the churches must be willing to disagree even on the question of what the Christian message to the world is.

More recently, in the spring of 1994, a group of both evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders signed a document called "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" (ECT). This document asserts that there is one Church (including both Protestant and Roman churches), that, therefore, they must work together in evangelizing the world for Christ, and agree that there will be no sheep-stealing, that is, proselytizing of members of one church to depart and join another church. ECT dismayed multitudes of Christians and elicited vigorous criticism from many Christian circles.

There can be little question that Dr. Billy Graham during almost forty years laid the major foundation for ECT. Where will the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association go in the future? Will the leadership that succeeds the founder continue down the same perilous path of compromising and diluting biblical truth until we arrive at total syncretism and universalism? May God forbid and warn His people!

* Robert E. Kofahl, Ph.D., and the Rev. Harold L. Webb certify the accuracy of the transcripts from Parts I and II, respectively, of the televised interview of Dr. Billy Graham by Dr. Robert Schuller.


A "Wideness" in God's Mercy?

Shortly after Billy Graham denied that pagans are lost apart from the gospel in a 1978 McCall's Magazine interview, the world-renowned evangelist corrected his statement and reaffirmed his conviction that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. An account in a new
book by Iain Murray, however, seems to indicate that Graham may indeed allow for the possibility of salvation apart from the gospel. 

Do They Need The Gospel?

356 million Buddhists worldwide
800 million Hindus worldwide
1 billion Catholics worldwide
1.2 billion Muslims worldwide

In Evangelicalism Divided, Murray records a 1997 discussion between Graham and Robert Schuller that aired on the Hour of Power. In the interview, Graham told Schuller:

I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ. . . . [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.

Seeking clarification, Schuller responded, "What, what I hear you saying, that it's possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they have been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you are saying?" Graham answered, "Yes, it is." Schuller replied, "I'm so thrilled to hear you say this: 'There's a wideness in God's mercy'," and Graham added, "There is. There definitely is" (Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, 73-74).

Regardless of whether or not Billy Graham actually meant what he said to Robert Schuller, one thing is certain: the church must be absolutely clear about what it means to be saved. There is no room for compromise on the exclusivity of the gospel, for Jesus is indeed the only name under heaven by which a man can be saved (Acts 4:12). While our merciful God is eager to forgive any and all who repent and believe in Christ, those who either reject or have never heard of the Son of God remain in darkness and in need of a gospel that calls them to enter through a narrow gate. It is up to the church to bring them this message.

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:

Tony Capoccia
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