Demaree’s nonfiction debut offers an exposé of what he sees as the personality cult surrounding American preacher Billy Graham.
The crux of this book’s opening segment is a full-throated condemnation of the message and ministry of a revered figure in American religious circles: the hugely popular televangelist Graham. The author attacks Graham’s familiar exhortation to go to church in order to “get right with God” on multiple grounds, primarily contending that “Telling others to go to church and seek a group of people is the opposite of telling them to go to God and seek Him.” He scornfully refers to Graham’s congregants as “biligramites,” programmed to fill up “pretentious” megachurches and pay pastors handsomely for the privilege. He’s aware of the generational reach of Graham’s long tenure, pointing out that “biligramite children are nurtured and polished in hypocrisy.” Demaree himself is a proponent of a “God within” philosophy that dispenses with most public and communal aspects of Christian faith, in favor of private, inner contemplation: “When we are alone with God,” he writes, “we can easily pray deeply and sincerely,” whereas churchgoing Christians tend to “trust in their fortresses to save them.” The author lays out the keys to “spiritual joy” in the book’s middle section, telling his readers that it represents the “supreme value” in the Bible. Overall, Demaree’s book is as unexpected as it is fascinating. The narrative drive of its clearheaded spiritual advice, however, is muddled considerably by the book’s final segment, which purports to give “scientific certainties” for the existence of the Christian God. Instead, it falls back on old claims that God is the author of all morality and that all concepts of “right” and “wrong” ultimately derive from him. Such notions may have non-Christians, and particularly atheists, rolling their eyes, but it’s unlikely that they’re the book’s target audience.
A forthright call for Christians to pursue a more private and personal relationship with God.