The announcement on February 21, 2018, that Billy Graham had died was not entirely unexpected. Just shy of 100 years old, Billy Graham lived a long and eventful life. Traversing the globe, infiltrating cultures, and bringing the gospel message. Typical of someone slowing down, Billy Graham was seen less frequently in his later years. That does not mean that his death had little impact though, but instead, his legacy ensured that many would remember. Certainly, the loss is felt most by his immediate family who knew Billy Graham more intimately than anyone else. Franklin Graham reflects on his father’s life in Through My Father’s Eyes.
Through My Father’s Eyes is a pleasant read highlighting major aspects of who Billy Graham was. It is not a detailed biography in which one can expect to learn all of the elements of Billy Graham’s life and personality. Instead, Franklin Graham focuses on major phases, facets, or situations that defined Billy Graham. Aside from his commitment to the word and prayer, but also directs attention to the influence of technology on Graham’s ministry, his heart for all people but with a focus on seeing those in the United States reached, and finally his ongoing legacy.
As I begin this review, I have no hesitation in noting certain misgivings about the ministry of Billy Graham. There were aspects that I found either questionable or objectionable and so that perhaps caused me to come to this book more critically than I might others. Yet, I still had great respect for Billy Graham’s obedience and the way in which God worked through him. Furthermore, Billy Graham’s influence, character, and testimony are notable, worthy of our respect.
With that said, I was pleasantly surprised by the book. The book starts off captivating and pleasing. Franklin Graham presents his father in a way that dispels certain notions that people have about Billy Graham. I lament that the later chapters do not appear with the same level of care as the first chapters; it causes me to speculate that perhaps the author took great care in the initial chapters of the book, but was pressed for time in the later chapters and so they are not written with the same level of detail. However, the story and details are overall engaging and so readers are drawn in to focus upon who Billy Graham was, not merely as a man, but as one oriented towards God. I appreciate the fact that to that end, the book is filled with Scripture far more than readers may expect with typical biographies.
Perhaps the biggest issue of this book is that it is unnecessarily pretentious. There are many moments in which Franklin Graham inserts himself into the story more than he should. In this case, a son is writing about his father, and readers should expect to read about their relationship. Franklin Graham’s life was intimately linked to his father’s, as it should be. As the author, he reflects on his father’s influence on his own life. Readers should welcome this aspect and learn from the insights and examples that Franklin Graham shares. But there are times when he inserts stories of his own life or comments that appear unnecessary to the text. Frequently, he inserts phrases such as, “I’ve lost count as to how many times I have crossed the Jordan River” or he discusses the number of times he has visited certain places. These comments come at places when they seem to lack a connection to the discussion in the book or they add no value to the material. As a result, they appear as nothing more than being boastful. Does this mean that the author should not share stories or comments? No, but they must serve a direct purpose and add value to the text.
Overall the book is an enjoyable read. Readers should not expect to learn the most minute details as one would from a normal biography. However, Through My Father’s Eyes shows Billy Graham and how God used him to reach many people.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or any other person associated with this book and it is the result of my own reading of the book.