Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Documentary 'The Cross' Is a Simple, Vintage Look at the Rev. Billy Graham

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Documentary 'The Cross' Is a Simple, Vintage Look at the Rev. Billy Graham

Article excerpt

The Rev. Billy Graham has been worried about the state of America's soul for a long, long time. So it isn't surprising that - when preaching what could be his final sermon - the 95-year-old evangelist looked straight into the camera and talked about sin and tears, repentance and salvation.

And the cross. "Our country's in great need of a spiritual awakening. There have been times when I've wept as I've gone from city to city and I've seen how far people have wandered from God," said Graham, in a message recorded in his North Carolina mountain home. "I want to tell people about the meaning of the cross. Not the cross that hangs on the wall or around someone's neck, but the real cross of Christ. It's scarred and bloodstained. His was a rugged cross. I know that many will react to this message, but it is the truth. And with all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth."

Simply called "The Cross," the 30-minute documentary premiered on Fox News, and in churches nationwide. It includes footage of Graham with leaders ranging from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to Pope John Paul II, from Johnny Carson to Johnny Cash. Graham has met with every U.S. president since Harry Truman and the video includes John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

The video was shown at a recent 95th birthday party for Graham in Asheville, N. C., that drew many prominent, and in some cases decidedly nonevangelical, conservatives - including

Donald Trump, Greta Van Susteren and Rupert Murdoch. In his introduction, the Rev. Franklin Graham told viewers his father's message could "change your life and change the direction of this nation."

It would be hard, however, for critics to find any national politics in this message from the elderly Graham, said sociologist William Martin, author of "A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story."

In particular, there are no echoes of the 2012 advertisements in which the elder Graham was quoted as saying: "As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last... I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. …

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