Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham

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9780060633882: Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham

It is not merely the absence of irony that can make evangelicals seem suspect. A flaunted humility that begins to look like its opposite; a tendency to find a convenient consonance between one's own will and God's purposes; an anti-intellectualism that parades as sublime faith--such qualities can manifest themselves with unsettling frequency in evangelical circles.

On the evidence of his autobiography, Billy Graham himself is not entirely unmarked by these characteristics. But they touch him so lightly, and he fights them so valiantly, that the occasional hints of them which arise in Just As I Am serve rather to humanize than to condemn this most prominent of all evangelical preachers.

Mainly Graham looks back in gratitude and wonder. From obscure rural roots in the American South, he has risen to become perhaps the single most respected world figure of the second half of the 20th century (a fact of which, in their invincible ignorance, most members of the intellectual elite are blissfully unaware). He has touched innumerable lives for the good, and in doing so he has remained--all necessary ambiguities acknowledged--good himself.

In Just As I Am, Graham practices the forgiveness and charity he preaches--somewhat, it must be said, to the book's detriment. A less irenic and forbearing work--and one less compelled to thank every person everywhere who has ever been of any assistance whatsoever to the author's work--would undoubtedly, for us sinners, make for more engrossing reading. But that is not Graham's way. A faithful and untiring preacher, he ends this book with still another invitation to readers who have not already done so to accept the message of the crucified and risen Christ. Even those who decline the invitation should be able to recognize the integrity and decency of the man who proffers it.

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Review:

From farm boy to world's best-known preacher, Billy Graham is second only to the pope in matters of spiritual influence. Just As I Am is Graham's chronological account of his rise from his father's North Carolina farm, to his student days at Florida Bible Institute, his first successes at evangelizing, his presidency at Northwestern Schools, the great Los Angeles crusade that launched him into national recognition, his decades of evangelizing around the world, and his encounters and relationships with political figures across the globe. Unlike his fiery sermons, Graham speaks here in a low-key, self-deprecating tone, relating humorous anecdotes, such as his early sermon practices in a swamp, and the moral and apolitical foundation that has set his ministry apart from other well-known evangelists. Although Graham offers few insights into personal relationships with those around him or into his own struggles with faith and career, readers interested in the details of his crusades and other ministerial activities will not be disappointed.

From the Publisher:

The number-one CBA, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today best-seller . . . finally in paperback. In Just As I Am, one of the world's most beloved and respected leaders tells his inspiring life story in a momentous work of faith and insight. Billy Graham is truly the world's pastor--the man who has preached to more people than any human being who has ever lived (TIME). His message of faith and fortitude has remained singular and strong. Even more notable is that, unlike many of his counterparts, Graham has maintained a noble reputation of integrity with no trace of scandal. Now, at 78, Graham looks back on an incredible lifetime of personal relationships (including every U.S. president since Eisenhower), whirlwind activity, and influence. In a warm, unassuming voice, he shares the stories of his beginnings in the church, the overwhelming success he has achieved as an evangelist, and the tolls this success took on his family. In Just As I Am, Billy Graham shares how he came from ordinary beginnings to have an extraordinary life of prestige and influence--all derived from his unshakable faith in Christ.

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Billy Graham
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Graham, Billy
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