"Some Of Us Are Born Christians" Says Billy Graham

In President George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points, released November 9, 2010, the former president describes an encounter with evangelist Billy Graham in which Graham told the Bush family that some people are simply “born Christians” while others need a “born-again experience.” During the summer of 1985, George H. W. Bush invited the renowned evangelist to the family retreat home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Following dinner one evening, about 30 members of the Bush family gathered to ask Graham questions. George H. W. Bush asked Graham, “Billy, some people say you have to have a born-again experience to go to heaven. Mother here is the most religious, kind person I know, yet she has had no born-again experience. Will she go to heaven?” Graham’s response: “George, some of us require a born-again experience to understand God, and some of us are born Christians. It sounds as if your mom was just born a Christian” (Decision Points, p. 31).

Although Graham’s kindness and sincerity cannot be called into question, once again his theology is completely unbiblical. For Graham to give the false hope that one can become a Christian without personally believing in the person and work of Jesus Christ is error in the worst sense. In fact, the apostle Peter describes such a false gospel as “damnable [heresy]” (2 Pet. 2:1), and the apostle Paul says that those who espouse and propagate such false doctrine are to be avoided (Rom. 16:17) and are “accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). Nobody is “born a Christian.” On the contrary, all individuals are born sinners who are separated from God, alienated from God and abiding under the wrath of God due to sin. Only faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ can result in the new birth. Jesus declared this truth to Nicodemus, and His Word declares this truth time and again.

Sadly, Graham has embraced this error and propagated it before. In Graham’s infamous 1997 interview with Robert Schuller, Graham said God is: “…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. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts 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.… 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” (Foundation, May-June 1997).

It is clear now from the Bush memoir that even before his 1997 interview with Robert Schuller, Graham believed that a person does not need to have a “born-again experience” (that is, to hear and believe the gospel) in order to be saved. Nevertheless, the person of Jesus Christ and the Word of God declare differently, and our source of truth and foundation of all theology must center around the person and Word of God. Beware of Billy Graham and all others who embrace and propagate a false gospel that gives a false hope. — Matt Costella