Remarks from Billy Graham asserting that Muslims and those of other religions who “turn to the only light they have” without consciously trusting Christ are saved—despite clear warning in Scripture—have come back to light after his son Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), expressed disagreement with a Wheaton professor who contends that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
As previously reported, associate professor Larycia Hawkins posted to Facebook two photos of herself wearing a hijab earlier this month, and stated in a lengthy explanation that she plans to wear it everywhere she goes during the Advent—including at the professedly Christian college and to church.
“I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind—a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014,” Hawkins wrote.
She said that not only does she have a common ancestry with Muslims, but that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” Hawkins asserted. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
In light of controversy over the matter, the professor was suspended by university officials and placed under review. Some Wheaton students protested her suspension, calling for Hawkins to be reinstated.
Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, who graduated from Wheaton in 1943, expressed dismay over Hawkins’ actions and statements in a social media post on Wednesday.
“Can you believe this Wheaton College professor who says she’s going to wear a hijab for the holidays this year to show solidarity with Islam? Shame on her!” he wrote.
“She said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Well she is absolutely wrong—she obviously doesn’t know her Bible and she doesn’t know Islam,” Graham continued. “The God of the Bible has a Son named Jesus Christ. The god of Islam doesn’t have a son, and even the thought of that would be sacrilegious to Muslims. The God of the Bible sent His Son to earth to die in our place and save us from our sins.”
Graham’s remarks come in contrast to those made by his father in 1997 while being interviewed on Robert Schuller’s “Hour of Power.” During the segment, Graham stated that Muslims and those of other religions may be saved without hearing of Christ or reading the Scriptures in realizing that they “need something,” although not pinpointing what it is.
“I think that everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ—whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ,” Billy Graham said. “And that’s what God is doing today. He’s calling people out of the world for His name.”
“Whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God,” Graham continued. “They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their heart that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have.”
“And I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in Heaven,” he declared.
Schuller then sought clarification on Graham’s remarks.
“What I hear you saying that it’s possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they’ve been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you’re saying?” he asked.
“Yes, it is, because I believe that,” Graham replied. “I’ve met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they’ve believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they’ve tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.”
In 2005, when asked by talk show host Larry King if Muslims and others will go to Heaven even though they don’t believe in Christ, Graham replied, “That’s in God’s hands. I can’t be the judge.”
“How do you feel when you see a lot of these strong Christian leaders go on television and say, ‘You are condemned. You will live in Hell if you do not accept Jesus Christ,’ and they are forceful and judgmental?” King asked.
“Well, they have a right to say that, and they are true to a certain extent, but I don’t — that’s not my calling,” Graham replied. “My calling is to preach the love of God and the forgiveness of God and the fact that He does forgive us. … [Y]ou can get off on all kinds of different side trends, and in my earlier ministry, I did the same, but as I got older, I guess I became more mellow and more forgiving and more loving.”
Efforts to obtain comment from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as to whether Graham still holds to the belief have been unsuccessful, and Franklin Graham has likewise not addressed concerns over the matter. However, in the past, representatives have reportedly pointed to an article published in Decision Magazine in the 1960s, which outlined Graham’s viewpoint on the issue.
Franklin Graham raised concern in 2012 for removing language from the association’s website referring to Mormonism as a cult.