The Bible On a Tree Stump: Billy Graham’s Moment of Decision

By   •   September 1, 2017

Tent for Billy Graham's 1949 Los Angeles Crusade

Billy Graham’s faith came under siege in the summer of 1949, just before the Los Angeles Crusade that propelled him onto the national scene.

As president of Northwestern Schools, Mr. Graham was invited to speak at the College Briefing Conference, which was held at Forest Home, a retreat center east of Los Angeles. Also speaking was his good friend and fellow evangelist Chuck Templeton, whose views on the authority of Scripture were quickly changing. Not for the first time, Templeton challenged Mr. Graham:

“Billy, you’re 50 years out of date. People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do. Your faith is too simple.”

Alone in his room that night, Mr. Graham studied the Scriptures profusely.

“I had no doubt concerning the deity of Jesus Christ or the validity of the Gospel,” he later wrote in his biography Just As I Am, “but was the Bible completely true? With the Los Angeles Campaign galloping toward me, I had to have an answer. If I could not trust the Bible, I could not go on. I would have to quit the school presidency. I would have to leave pulpit evangelism.”

His heart heavy, he went for a walk.

The moon was out and the shadows were long in the San Bernardino Mountains surrounding the retreat center. Dropping to his knees there in the woods, he opened the Bible at random on a tree stump in front of him.

“O God!” he prayed “There are many things in this Book I do not understand … There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science.”

He paused, then continued: “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.”

When he stood up from his knees that August night, his eyes stung with tears. “I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months. Not all my questions were answered, but … I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.”

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  1. Terry Martin says:

    I have had the exact struggle I just read. I needed a tree stump. Now I feel more ready than I have for 40 years. I receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be in faith that God’s Word is all that it is. Thank you Reverend Billy Graham for this.

  2. Janet Opaleye says:

    The Word of God has open the eyes of people. When I read this revelation, I marveled. I pray for the grace to seek God more be released upon us. Amen.

  3. William Neville says:

    Yes. The one thing I believe the most is the Bible. At 15, I was also questioning, even mocking, the Bible, but persevering. I read it every night. Then God showed up dramatically and saved me.

  4. Anne Rhodes says:

    I remember seeing this at his Library and it has always stuck with me. What an amazing message!

  5. Sheryl Fulkerson says:

    It’s so amazing how that it was after Billy Graham’s own prayer to God stating his faith in God’s Word, even in the midst of his own unanswered questions, that God expanded and richly blessed his ministry.

  6. Paula says:

    God is always there. We simply fail to hush and listen for His message!

  7. Alice Rush says:

    Wonderful moment, wonderful truth!

  8. Mayruth Guenter says:

    This is an encouagement to hear. I also have come to a similar stand. God bless you Mr. Graham for being faithful to your simple conviction.

  9. Louise corner says:

    My husband, Keith, sang in Portland’s Crusade choir in 1949. We have followed ever since! God bless! Thank you for your ministry!

  10. Mabel Mennivar says:

    My parents came to the Lord around that year. Glory to God and thanks to Dr. Graham for preaching the Gospel.