Friday, November 7, 2008
William Paul McKay and Ken Abraham/BILLY
Billy is a biography of famous evangelist Billy Graham told in novelized form. The story of Graham's early years in ministry is told from the point of view of an ailing Charles Templeton, a former partner in Graham's work who recalls how he turned from his faith and criticized Graham for committing intellectual suicide by believing in the infallibility of the Bible.
Although biographies of Billy Graham are not in short supply (and Graham published his own memoir Just As I Am in 1997), this book centers specifically around Templeton's influence on the evangelist, and the crisis of faith it brought on just before Graham's career-boosting evangelism campaign in Los Angeles in 1949.
The prose is rather meticulous and heavy-handed, but the story is absorbing. Graham is presented as saint-like, yet humble and ordinary; Templeton, a powerful and in-demand speaker even before Graham started his ministry, is made out to be an arrogant villain who considers Graham beneath him. Oddly, the climax of the story switches to the point of view of Lucifer, and describes demonic and angelic activity surrounding Graham as he struggles with (and ultimately overcomes) doubts about the authority of the Bible. However, I found the story to be quite interesting and the contrast between Graham and Templeton to be enlightening, even if a bit extreme.