Billy Graham on Vinyl, Part 3: “Why I Believe the Bible to Be the Word of God”

May 1, 2014

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In honor of Billy Graham, a hero of mine, I’m digitizing some of his sermons from long out-of-print records and making them available as MP3s. This sermon is found in a 4-record box set called A Billy Graham Crusade from 1962 (RCA Victor Custom Record Dept. BG4314).

Billy Graham delivered this sermon, “Why I Believe the Bible to Be the Word of God,” at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center in 1962. It’s an energetic defense of the authority of scripture—which has been a recent emphasis of mine on this blog. [Right-click here to download as a separate .mp3 file.]

In a blog post earlier this week, I said the following: “Just as there’s no God other than the one revealed in Jesus, there’s no Jesus other than the one revealed in scripture.” I said this in response to some Christians who speak as if Jesus is someone other than the one we find in the Gospels—where Jesus is loving, gracious and forgiving, to be sure, but who also speaks at length about sin, judgment, and hell. Obviously, if we believe Jesus was wrong about sin, judgment, and hell, why should we trust him when it comes to love, grace, and forgiveness?

As Graham says below, we only learn who Jesus is through God’s Word. While we may experience the presence of Christ in a deeply emotional, heart-warming sort of way, we don’t trust those feelings over and above what we learn about him in the Bible.

Now when you talk about the Bible, somebody says “bibliolatry.” In other words, you’re worshiping the Bible and not the Christ of the Bible. No! This is not bibliolatry because the only—the only—knowledge we have of Jesus Christ is in the Bible. Our whole faith is based on the trustworthiness of the Bible. If we can’t trust the Bible, we might as well throw the whole thing overboard because this is where we get our knowledge of Jesus Christ our Savior. How do we know that our experience of Christ is not self-hypnotism or to be explained under some rule of psychology? Only because we have the Bible to judge our spiritual experiences by.

We United Methodists, especially, need to remind ourselves that, as useful as our Wesleyan Quadrilateral may be, experience doesn’t have veto power over the Bible. As Graham says, we only have the Bible to judge our spiritual experiences by.

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Click here to listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

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