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One of our community members asked this question after looking for answers from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. During his life, Graham wrote,
“In that moment (the moment of the crucifixion) He was banished from the presence of God, for sin cannot exist in God’s presence. His cry speaks of this truth; He endured the separation from God that you and I deserve.”
The answer rightly confounded the person who asked me to explain what Graham wrote. Graham’s answer didn’t make much sense to her, nor does it make sense to me. So, I answered simply:
Billy Graham was an evangelist, but not a great theologian–charismatic but not very knowledgable. He held that God was omnipresent (present everywhere) yet could not be in sin’s presence. An impossible balance, don’t you think? Never do we see in Scripture that God cannot be in sin’s presence. In fact, even those in Hell will kneel before Christ, insinuating some divine omnipresence in a place filled with sin to every degree imaginable and beyond current imagination.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11
What Jesus spoke from the cross was in quotation of a messianic psalm, which declared God’s deliverance of God’s people because God is the only able one (Psalm 22). Mr. Graham’s answer shows what happens when we read Scripture out of context and use our own presuppositions, experiences, or traditions to answer questions rather than using Scripture to interpret Scripture. The end result is an incoherent interpretation of Scripture and contradictory view of God’s attributes, namely His omnipresence in this case.
This question was asked last year around the Easter holiday. To see our answer, click below.
For now, I simply want to encourage you to test every doctrine or claim against Scripture. I believe Billy Graham to have been a brother in Christ on this earth and now as he is in Heaven with Christ. Presuppositions and confirmation biases get the best of the best of us. Let us think reasonably, trying as best we can to throw off the incoherent worldviews of human dogma. Let us turn to Scripture alone.