Billy Graham and Nuclear Weapons

I cite a bit from this article in Sojourners which was published interview with Billy Graham when he came out in opposition to nuclear weapons. The edition of Sojourners was 8 August 1979…

Sojourners: How does your commitment to the lordship of Christ shape your response to the nuclear threat?

Graham: I am not sure I have thought through all the implications of Christ’s lordship for this issue — I have to be honest about that. But for the Christian there is — or at least should be — only one question: What is the will of God? What is his will both for this world and for me in regard to this issue? Let me suggest several things. First, the lordship of Christ reminds me that we live in a sinful world. The cross teaches me that. Like a drop of ink in a glass of water, sin has permeated everything — the individual, society, creation. That is one reason why the nuclear issue is not just a political issue — it is a moral and spiritual issue as well. And because we live in a sinful world it means we have to take something like nuclear armaments seriously. We know the terrible violence of which the human heart is capable.

Secondly, the lordship of Jesus Christ tells me that God is not interested in destruction, but in redemption. Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to reverse the effects of the Fall. Now I know there are mysteries to the workings of God. I know God is sovereign and sometimes he permits things to happen which are evil, and he even causes the wrath of man to praise him. But I cannot see any way in which nuclear war could be branded as being God’s will. Such warfare, if it ever happens, will come because of the greed and pride and covetousness of the human heart. But God’s will is to establish his kingdom, in which Christ is lord.

Third, of course, Christ calls us to love, and that is the critical test of discipleship. Love is not a vague feeling or an abstract idea. When I love someone, I seek what is best for them. If I begin to take the love of Christ seriously, then I will work toward what is best for my neighbor. I will seek to bind up the wounds and bring about healing, no matter what the cost may be.

Therefore, I believe that the Christian especially has a responsibility to work for peace in our world. Christians may well find themselves working and agreeing with non-believers on an issue like peace. But our motives will not be identical.

The issues are not simple, and we are always tempted to grasp any program which promises easy answers. Or, on the other side, we are tempted to say that the issues are too complex, and we cannot do anything of significance anyway. We must resist both temptations.

I find his response to the question about the Lordship of Christ fascinating – ‘I am not sure I have thought through all the implications of Christ’s lordship for this issue’ first in the honesty of his response and then how he develops it and where it takes him.

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