Rev. Billy Graham, the famous evangelist who died on Wednesday, was a charismatic preacher, a counselor to presidents, and a leading figure in American evangelicalism.
As news of his death spread, many Christians took time to reflect on the 99-year-old pastor’s long life and legacy.
During his more than six decades as an evangelist, Graham invited millions of people to make a personal commitment to Christ during revival meetings around the world, which he called crusades. Thousands responded to his altar call, often to the tune of one of his favorite old hymns, “Just As I Am.”
But the gospel of salvation that Graham preached never invited queer Americans to come the altar just as they were. The pastor also held conservative views about women. And while he opposed racial segregation, he was not as active as other Christian leaders during the 1960s civil rights era.
Still, with his crusades and fiery preaching, he inspired a spiritual revival in the lives of generations of Christians. He’s praised for being nonpartisan about politics, at least later on in his life ― meeting with every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
On Wednesday, many reposted on Twitter a quote attributed to Graham, in which the pastor reveals his beliefs about death.
Others quoted a well-known Bible verse to honor Graham. In the parable, an employer congratulates his servant for wisely using the gifts given to him, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The tributes poured in from prominent evangelical leaders …
… and from other strains of American Christianity.
Some pointed out that his legacy was mixed, especially for LGBTQ Americans and others who are harmed by conservative interpretations of Christianity.
But many gave him his due as a towering figure in America’s religious history.