“The day Billy Graham did the unthinkable”

Billy Graham
Image: Billy Graham preaching in the 1950s.

In “The Sons of Noah,” A. Edwin Wilson wrote, “In a recent issue of LIFE magazine, contemporary fundamentalists and conservative religious leaders cast doubt upon the Word of God by the statement that the prophecy Noah uttered in regard to Ham, Shem, and Japheth was not of God but was the mere utterings of a man trying to recover from his drunken stupor.”

This is a misreading of two articles published by Life Oct. 1, 1956, one of which was written by Billy Graham. The evangelist did not attack the authority of the Bible, but rather the historicity of the “Hamitic curse.” Arguing that no such curse (or “prophecy”) existed, he called upon Christians to fight segregation. He especially called upon Southern preachers to act.

Earlier, in 1952, Graham had begun to act on these ideas himself. Read about it in “The Day Billy Graham Did the Unthinkable.”

© 2009, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

20 thoughts on ““The day Billy Graham did the unthinkable””

  1. I think we all agree on this: We thank God for Billy Graham who took a risk to lead the Church out of racism. He saw the sloppy Bible Study wrapped around the words of Noah to Canaan for what it was.

    Poor Bible Study leads to poor doctrine. And this, with their Bible in hand, every reader here can see for themselves in the words Mark Adams has quoted and the test of time. John Herbert is the only KE proponent who has voiced that he understands this.

    Poor doctrine comes from poor Bible Study. What poor Bible Study did Wilson do that lead him to this poor doctrine? Does anyone understand that?

  2. John,

    We are in agreement that a curse was pronounced upon an individual in Genesis Chapter nine, right? If so, does that mean that we hate said individual? Perhaps, one may determine (though their study be sloppy or otherwise) that the curse lasted one generation, another may determine (though their study be sloppy or otherwise) that the curse lasted two or three or more. No one here attests to one individuals right to enslave another individual.

    After the the curse (the oath that was written in the law of Moses) was poured upon Israel; when all that evil came upon them, through Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon (God’s servant) and his land, when God brought them against Israel; God, then, punished the king of Babylon and his land for breaking the bones of Israel — a scattered sheep. Again, no one here attests to one individuals right to enslave another individual.

  3. Kevin,

    Setting aside our disagreement over the interpretation of Genesis 9 for a moment, when one uses the Hamitic curse as a justification for segregation, that is race hatred.

    While Graham was integrating his crusades, Wilson was complaining that such things were the work of Satan. “What God has separated, let no man integrate!” was his mantra. Now, he might have said (or you might believe he said) that he didn’t hate blacks, but he was not acting lovingly toward them.

    “We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” — 1 John 3:12

    James likewise rebukes those who make distinctions among the brethren. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” — James 2:8-9

    One cannot simply call hate, “not-hate.”

    As John sates, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” — 1 John 2:9

    Frankly, I don’t understand why individuals go to such depths to defend Wilson. It’s obvious to nearly everyone else that his segregationist views constituted race hatred.

    It’s time we remove this vestige of race hatred from the church entirely.

    “And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.” — Isaiah 57:14

    Mark

  4. Maybe, we should all pay attention to what the Admin (Mark Adams) is saying here in these quotes of scripture, from his last comment.

    “We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” — 1 John 3:12″

    “James likewise rebukes those who make distinctions among the brethren. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” — James 2:8-9″

    “One cannot simply call hate, “not-hate.” ”

    “As John sates, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” — 1 John 2:9″

    “James likewise rebukes those who make distinctions among the brethren.”

    VERY ENTERESTING!

  5. Kevin –

    “A for your question, I believe that the descendants of Canaan are presently under a curse (whatever their skin color is) and that the Jew’s are presently under a curse.”

    I don’t agree with either of those statements.

    I get where the first comes from (Gen. 9), but what do you mean that the Jews are presently under a curse?

    John –

    Yes, there is no doubting Wilson’s sincerity. His argument against desegregation was born from his understanding of the Bible. Graham no doubt crafted his appeal with Southern preachers in mind, hoping to stir in them what the Lord had stirred in his heart in the early 1950s.

  6. John,

    I’m not sure why the question was asked and I would prefer not to speak on behalf of the man, but since an answer has been sought, I will offer my opinion.

    You’ll recall, that (relative to the heavens and the earth, which are now) following the Noachian deluge (not to be confused with the Pre-Adamic deluge — whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished), the whole earth dwelt in a plain in the land of Shinar (them being of one language, and of one speech) because they did not want to be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. When God Beheld that the people were one, and that they had all one language He chose to confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. Therefore, the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth (the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth). Now, God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Therefore, segregation and partiality are not mutually inclusive, conversely, segregation and impartiality are not mutually exclusive!

    “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

    Now, Wilson was not a political man, in the sense that he understood that his politeuma is in heaven, he therefore (unlike Lot) had no ambition to sit in the gate of Sodom. He understood that now is our time to be hungry, now is our time to be poor, we are not to reign as kings without the apostles, for they will not reign, until the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory — they, just as all those having obtained a good report through faith prior to them, received not the promise, that they without us should not be made perfect. Wilson had no political agenda, he simply sought to feed the church of God (which God hath purchased with his own blood) commending them to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build us up, and to give us an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. There is absolutely no room for a Christin to entangle himself in present day (“man’s day”: 1 Corinthians 4:3a YLT, “the evil day”: Ephesians 6:13a KJV) governmental affairs, for no man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. Again, Wilson had no political agenda, he simply sought to present how that:

    “We are living in a day in which every effort is being put forth to unify mankind; and these efforts are forerunners of such as will be inaugurated by the Antichrist and will prove as disastrous and futile as those did at the time of the building of the tower of Babel on the plains of Shinar.” — Wilson, A. E., THE SONS OF NOAH, Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, 11.

    “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

    The whole earth is seeking to dwell together. That is plain to see and that is what Wilson pointed out (the wheels are in motion).

    Now, I ask you again:

    We are in agreement that a curse was pronounced upon an individual in Genesis Chapter nine, right? If so, does that mean that we hate said individual? Perhaps, one may determine (though their study be sloppy or otherwise) that the curse lasted one generation, another may determine (though their study be sloppy or otherwise) that the curse lasted two or three or more. No one here attests to one individuals right to enslave another individual.

    “A system of slavery, imposed without consent and for no crime, is a dire evil. Besides the direct injustice of robbing a fellowman of his personal liberty, it dissolves wedlock, breaks the family tie, and disregards the conscience. It trades, therefore, in the souls as well as the bodies of men.” — Wilson, A. E., THE SONS OF NOAH, Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, 3.

  7. Mark,

    They are still scattered “among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deuteronomy 28). Presently, things still remain just as Leviticus 26 puts it:

    “ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.”

    From the Babylonian captivity to the present day (an approximate 2600 year period) this has remained the case. There are more Jews living in America today than in Israel and just as the remnant which returned under Zerubbabel was later driven out during The Siege of Jerusalem in seventy Anno Domini, the remnant in the land today will yet be driven out “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21). Israel will be brought to such a point of desperation during this period that they will have no other choice but, to, in their affliction, seek Him early and they will sigh by reason of the bondage, and they will cry, and their cry will come up unto God by reason of the bondage and God will send Christ and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn, And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends, And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.


    7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.

    8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:

    9 But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.

    10 Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.

    11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.

    It is then that Israel will say “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6) and that stated within Deuteronomy 30 will be fulfilled:


    1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,

    2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;

    3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.

    4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:

    5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.

    6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

    Israel will be gathered from all the nations, whither the LORD their God hath scattered them, and He will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. Then, finally, “the times of the Gentiles” will “be fulfilled”, the 2600 year period beginning with the head of Gold (the Babylonian kingdom under Nebuchadnezzar) in which the Jews are to be scattered throughout the Gentile nations will come to an end and then shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

    “Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35)

    I realize that I’ve attempted this many times before, but, again I’m going to try and stop posting here (in my opinion, misunderstandings abound on his blog). My e-mail is “khobby@gmail.com”.

  8. Admin – Thanks for an answer.

    Kevin – Why don’t you answer my simple question? I did not ask you to speak for Wilson. Do you agree that Wilson came to his beliefs about race through his Bible study?

    I ask it because I think it is important in helping us understand each other’s point of view. It is okay if you are not interested in that but I thought some might be.

  9. I thought that I did answer your question:

    “he [Wilson] simply sought to feed the church of God (which God hath purchased with His own blood) commending them to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build us up, and to give us an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

    The church must be fed with the Word. Paul charged Timothy before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom (future); “Preach the word” (for a specified reason given in verse three and four)!

    I asked you two questions.

  10. Kevin –

    I’ll bring you up to speed. Today, segregation is regarded as a form of race hatred. It’s application in the United States is regretted. It’s application in the church is mourned. Billy Graham’s purpose in writing was to communicate to Southern preachers that segregation, however formerly justified, was a sin before God. Thus, he integrated his own crusades.

    There are many points we can argue, but the one under consideration here is whether or not segregation constituted a form a race hatred.

    Most of us are decided on this matter.

  11. First of all, segregation, on the part of the nations, was an act of God and was not evil, nor did it involve hatred (on the part of the segregator). Thus, anything that might be going on in that realm today would better be called resegregation, due to the fact that desegregation/integration had occurred following the initial God established segregation. In light of these indisputable facts, it might prove helpful to clarify, as to if one is addressing the issue of keeping the God established segregation in place, or that of resegregating that which had previously not been kept in the God established pattern. Both of these issues are governmental, consequently, neither of these issues involve the church (for reasons which I have already covered). Secondly and as previously stated, segregation and partiality are not mutually inclusive, conversely, segregation and impartiality are not mutually exclusive!

  12. Billy Graham did not offer a legal justification for the integration of his crusades; he offered a scriptural justification.

    In view of that detail, was he right (scripturally) to integrate his crusades?

  13. I am aware of no Scriptural dictate for integration of the races. If such were actually commanded in Scripture and the higher powers (which are ordained of God) commanded otherwise, then the correct course of action would be to obey God rather than men and willingly suffer the legal consequences, as did Peter and the other apostles; Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, along with Daniel, et cetera. On the other hand, if Scripture did not dictate integration of the races and and the higher powers (which are ordained of God) prohibited it, then every soul should be subject unto the higher powers.

  14. Earlier today, I wrote the following:

    “I realize that I’ve attempted this many times before, but, again I’m going to try and stop posting here (in my opinion, misunderstandings abound on his blog).”

    If John does choose to answer my questions, then I may reply, but I’m about to leave town in a few minutes and will not have Internet access for some days.

  15. Kevin –

    Someone asked elsewhere why I was “dragging” all this up from the past. Others have suggested that my intentions are evil or divisive. Your reply to my question amply answers their objections.

  16. Billy Graham studied Genesis 9 and decided to integrate his crusades and Mr. Wilson wrote against this. My original entry here had a question: “What poor Bible Study did Wilson do that lead him to this poor doctrine?”

    I did not see an answer offered so …

    My second question here asking about the source of Wilson’s belief that the Bible supported segregation: “Do you agree that Wilson came to his beliefs about race through his Bible study?” [I do admire the KE friends I have studied with and they all want to do good Bible study. Therefore I think this statement on Wilson is obviously "yes".]

    Kevin answered it with:

    “he [Wilson] simply sought to feed the church of God (which God hath purchased with His own blood) commending them to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build us up, and to give us an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

    The church must be fed with the Word. Paul charged Timothy before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom (future); “Preach the word” (for a specified reason given in verse three and four)!”

    Kevin … is this a ‘yes’ (basically)?

    Please confirm and then I would be glad to reply to your two questions.

    (Unless the Admin wants this to take a different format. My interest is in the Bible study methods that Wilson uses and I thought that siting Billy Graham at the start of this was the right place to contrast different Bible study approaches used.)

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