Billy Graham says don’t be afraid to talk about the devil
Billy Graham, the 97-year-old Christian evangelist who claims to have preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone else in the history of Christianity, has a question and answer column on his official website. Recently, a reader asked, “I don't know if I'm right, but it seems to me that we used to hear a lot more about the devil than we do today. Was talking about the devil just kind of a passing fad?”
The devil has been a staple in popular culture, spanning different ages and different cultures. For instance, in the 1920s, jazz was declared to be the devil’s music. The 1960s were the highlight of this trend, with songs such as The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” dominating the airwaves. The devil has also been featured extensively in film and television. Iconic movies featuring the devil include Bedazzled (1967), Oh God! You Devil (1984) and The Devil’s Advocate (1997).
However, there has been a general feeling amongst Christians that they simply do not talk about the devil as much as they used to in the past. This is the sentiment that the reader of Billy Graham’s question and answer column was raising. Graham replied by quoting scripture while expressing his hope that “talking about the devil wasn't just a passing fad” seeing that "Satan is real, and he is just as much at work today as he was a few decades ago." The quote from scripture was from 1 Peter 5:8: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Graham went on to remark, "While we should never make the devil the sole focus of our attention (for only Christ is worthy of that honor), we do need to be alert to his schemes and on guard against his attacks…Satan's primary goal is to block God's plans in every way he possibly can. Sometimes his attacks are very open and obvious, but often he works in hidden and subtle ways, seeking to deceive people and turn them away from Christ."
Graham also placed his weight behind the popular phrase "one of the devil's most successful schemes is to convince people he doesn't even exist", saying, “After all, if you don't think he exists, you won't be on guard against him. But he does exist, and he'll do everything he can to keep you from Christ and His will for your life.”
Graham finished his answer by exhorting the reader to remain committed to Jesus Christ, to keep praying and reading the Bible and learning from fellow believers.
Billy Graham, born in 1918, became a renowned preacher in 1949 and was well known for the annual Billy Graham Crusades, which ran from 1947 to 2005 when he retired. He was close to several American presidents and advised them on important issues, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Grant Wacker wrote in America’s Pastor that by the 1960s, Billy Graham had become ‘The Great Legitimator’, noting that, “By then his presence conferred status on presidents, acceptability on wars, shame on racial prejudice, desirability on decency, dishonor on indecency, and prestige on civic events.”