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When asked to choose a modern society role model many people come to mind immediately; Sarah Palin, Barrack Obama, Larry King and Oprah Winfrey. But each stands for a certain worldview and having settled for a Christian Theism worldview, I settle for Billy Graham. Billy Graham is a man who has traversed America and the world for the last Century. A man of considerable influence Billy Graham helped shape the lives of many people and the history of America. His influence went beyond the borders of the United States. He has for a long time been referred to as "America's pastor". (Wacker, 2009)
On family, Billy Graham set an enduring example. His stand on marriage was "that honesty, modesty, sobriety, gentleness and, above all, fidelity were both Christian and manly virtues.
Yielding to desire was easy; resisting was hard." (Wacker, 2009) Graham was a typical family man married to Ruth Bell Graham for sixty years. He displayed patience with his rebellious son in the 1960s.
He believed in the traditional American family set-up where the father is the head of the family. However this was tempered with believe in equality in marriage and companionship.
Graham was also the moderating voice among the Christians. Prior to him, the Christian fraternity was clearly divided into liberals and fundamentalists. The two were always moving in different directions and always at loggerheads. Graham arguably "triangulated" American Protestantism (Strobel, 17).
This had the effect of bringing the two opposing sides closer together diffusing the tension that existed. In the 1970s he was instrumental in bringing the youths belonging to the Jesus People Movement back to the mainstream churches when many preachers did not want to be associated with the group that was seen as renegades. Until his retirement, Graham worked with the young people and immensely influenced many believing that they are the future of the nations and custodians of the faith in future.
Billy Graham's world view was heavily influenced by American Fundamentalism. He was influenced by revivalist Dwight L. Moody from whom he quoted many times borrowing his analogy of the wrecked vessel in the ocean to explain his view of the world. Moody from, whom Graham borrowed this analogy, pictured the world as a ship wrecked at the ocean that could not be saved but in which individual sailors could be saved by means of a boat. Graham throughout his life preached this salvation to millions of people and many were saved through his preaching ( Graham, 70).
Would I choose him as my role model? Yes. He has over the years been an icon of hope. His lifestyle, the way he handled people, finances and family problems is truly remarkable. He represented all that is good of America. His record is telling; between 1955 and 2006, Billy was on the Gallup Organization's roster of "Ten Most Admired Men" 50 times. The list of honors bestowed on him became so long that it appeared he lost track of it. On top of that, the U.S government gave him the two highest honors that can be bestowed on a civilian: the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983 and together with his wife, the Congressional Gold Medal in 1996.
Truly speaking this man is a modern role model of no comparison (Eskridge, 18).
At 92 Billy Graham remains an influential figure. He retired in 2005 and lives in his home at Montreal, North Carolina. His wife Ruth Bell Graham passed in 2007. In the same, poll data showed that a third of Americans less than 30 years did not recognize his name but that 21% of Protestants took him as a role model. This is a man who represents the best of America and who inspired hope to many.