Book Review: Living in God’s Love

A Fair Trade Book (hurrah!)

Title: Living in God’s Love

Author: Billy Graham

Illustrations: black and white photos

Publisher: Putnam / Penguin

Date: 2005

Length: 125 pages

Quote: “You have been born into a human family, but when you are born again, you are born into God’s family. I’m asking you tonight to come and be born into God’s family.”

This is a souvenir book, containing the text of sermons preached during the Billy Graham Crusade in New York City, June 2005. Graham had been evangelizing New York City since 1957 and had been persuaded to admit that the 2005 Crusade would probably be his last one. I’m not really surprised, but delighted, to see that as of this morning Billy Graham is still alive (and Twittering @BillyGraham ), at age 96.

Apart from that…Living in God’s Love contains the basic evangelical Christian message. God is perfect. Sinful humanity is separated from God by our moral imperfection. God so loved the world that God became incarnate as Jesus, the only sinless man who ever lived, and died as a sacrifice for our sins. If we repent and ask God’s forgiveness, our sins can be forgiven.

This is not all that Billy Graham has said to the world for fifty years, nor is Graham the only one who’s said it, but it is the message for which Graham has been best known.

The 2005 Crusade was indeed a memorable event. Not only did Billy Graham preach “probably the last” of forty-eight years of sermons; George Beverly Shea sang “probably the last” of forty-eight years of gospel songs (at least in New York City). Anyone who was impressed by the sheer longevity of these gentlemen would have wanted to be there—if only “by way of radio, television, or the Internet,” as a local minister said while introducing Graham’s Friday night sermon. For those who weren’t there, this book would be an excellent gift.

Is there anyone to whom I would not recommend this book, aside of course from the people who already own copies? Yes. Please don’t use this book to needle Christian-phobics. It’s too good a book to be used that way. I recommend a different strategy to Christians who are concerned about the souls of Christian-phobics. Christian-phobics tend to be people who have known more hypocrites than real Christians. Give them the experience of knowing a real Christian. It just might “blow their minds,” and then as their minds slowly reassembled themselves they just might lose their phobias and ask for copies of memorable Christian books.

Now, because of past confusion, a little note about Fair Trade Books. (I don’t plan to repeat this for each one.) A Fair Trade Book means that we have acquired (by buying it at the price the seller asked, or receiving it as a gift from someone else who did) a book that is widely available secondhand, while the author is still alive. Some Amazon Associates trade books online for pennies and make their money with high shipping fees. The Fair Trade Books are my modest attempt to start giving writers, generally, better deals.

Each review was written while I had an actual physical copy of the book in hand. I have reviewed new books–new purchases, new library acquisitions, review copies or advance copies of “galleys”–as well as older books, but usually, except in one case where I intended to diss the writer of an annoying but useful book, I recommend buying new books from the author, publisher, or big-chain bookstore to show respect. (Libraries are tossing so many good, recent books these days that it makes no sense to exclude copies formerly owned by libraries from Amazon or from Fair Trade Books; there are ways to make sure a book has been properly discarded by a library.) The physical copy is available to local readers at a lower price, sometimes free of charge; that’s their reward for shopping locally.

The way Fair Trade Books work is that, as an Amazon Associate, I find more copies of the book, usually in better condition, on Amazon and redistribute them at a price that makes it worthwhile to send 10% to the authors or the charities of their choice. $5 per package for shipping is a necessary Fair Trade because it takes more than $5 worth of my time to walk to the post office and pack and ship books. $5 per book brings the total minimum price to $10, of which the authors get $1 per book. So, if you want this one, you send $10 for one book or $35 for six books, via Paypal to salolianigodagewi or U.S. postal money order to P.O. Box 322, and we send $1 for one book or $6 for six books to Billy Graham or his charity.

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