Thursday, May 17, 2018

No Figurehead Founder Part 2 of 4

Billy's idea that night was for a magazine that would "restore intellectual respectability and spiritual impact to evangelical Christianity."
His paper shows the intensity of his concern for Christian leaders in the 1950s. From his contacts with hundreds of clergymen, he concluded, “We seem to be confused, bewildered, divided, and almost defeated in the face of the greatest opportunity and responsibility possibly in the history of the church. … In a sense we are almost leaderless.”
However, he also observed that most of the denominational and academic leaders in positions of power were on a different page. "Thousands of young ministers are really in the evangelical camp in their theological thinking and evangelistic zeal," Graham wrote. "I am convinced we are in the majority among both clergy and church members. However, we have no rallying point. ... We need a new strong, vigorous voice to call us together that will have the respect of all evangelicals of all stripes within our major denominations."
Visions in the night of great enterprises are not unusual. But most of them end up in a file. Graham did not just talk about the concept or hand off his paper to others to implement. He took point, personally tackling many of the countless challenges.
An Irenic Anthropologist
So what did it take to actually found Christianity Today? And what did Graham personally bring to the challenge that made it possible for all the disparate players to come together and invest themselves in the dream?
Graham was intellectually prepared. He often said later in life that he regretted not getting more education, but what he learned at Wheaton College gave him essential insights and attitudes that would permeate his lifetime ministry. He was, against our intuitive expectations, an anthropology major. This gave him a spirit of inquiry rather than judgment about others, so he did not simply caricature liberals or critics but sought to understand and learn from them. Always downplaying his intellectual capacities, he was likely off the scale in emotional intelligence. Though Graham wasn't a scholar himself, his enormous respect for scholars and recognition of their influence in and outside the church was a crucial element in founding CT.
This is seen clearly in his relationship with the scholarly Ockenga, first president of Fuller Theological Seminary and pastor of Park Street Church in Boston. That Ockenga would become CT's chairman and until his death work in harmony with Graham in giving dua

Harold Myra was named publisher of Christianity Today by Graham in 1975. Myra retired as executive chairman in 2007 and is coauthor of The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham (Zondervan).

No comments: