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Franklin Graham praises Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley for 'standing firm' on the Bible in trying times

The people of Atlanta as well as many others lost a faith leader this week.

Dr. Charles Frazier Stanley, senior pastor at First Baptist Church Atlanta and the founder of In Touch Ministries, passed away at his home on April 18, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia, as Fox News Digital reported earlier. He was 90. 

For over five decades, the pastor, broadcaster and author served on the staff of First Baptist Atlanta, in 1971 becoming the 16th pastor at the historic church founded in 1848. 

But as Rev. Franklin Graham told Fox News Digital on Friday, “People didn’t go to hear what Dr. Stanley had to say. They wanted to hear what God had to say.”

CHARLES STANLEY, ATLANTA PASTOR, TELEVANGELIST AND IN TOUCH MINISTRIES FOUNDER, DEAD AT 90

Under Stanley’s leadership, his church experienced tremendous growth — enough so that in 1997, the ministry moved from its Midtown Atlanta location to a former Avon property in Dunwoody to accommodate a diverse membership of over 15,000 people from the metro area, Fox5 in Atlanta reported this week.

Charles Stanley Preaching

Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries died on Tuesday at his home. (FOX 5 WAGA)

Rev. Graham, who serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as well as of Samaritan’s Purse, told Fox News Digital on Friday that in 2009, he “had the privilege of preaching for Dr. Charles Stanley at First Baptist Church Atlanta, the church he pastored since the early 1970s.”

Graham noted, “When he asked me to speak for him — honestly, I was intimidated. Who could ever fill a pulpit like his?”

Graham also said the church had grown so large to the point where “thousands of people [were coming] to his church every Sunday to hear some of the greatest Bible teaching in the world.”

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He said that for years, people had to “stand in line just as you would at a movie theater or a sports event to get into his church.”

Rev. Graham stressed one important point, however, in remarks he shared with Fox News Digital via email: “People didn’t go to hear what Dr. Stanley had to say. They wanted to hear what God had to say. This is what I appreciated most about Dr. Stanley — he unashamedly preached the Word of God.”

Rev. Graham said that Dr. Stanley was known as a person “of prayer who was kind and gentle, but he was incredibly strong when it came to upholding the truth of scripture. Dr. Stanley never wavered or compromised on God’s Word. He preached from the Bible with power and authority.”

Charles Stanley and Franklin Graham

Dr. Charles Stanley, at left, in earlier years. Rev. Franklin Graham, on the right, told Fox News Digital about Stanley, “Perhaps one of his greatest legacies is helping the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. — the Southern Baptist Convention — stand firm on the authority of the Bible.” (Fox 5 WAGA/Getty Images)

He “shared the hope of Jesus Christ with the world. His messages were televised by In Touch Ministries — and when people couldn’t attend their own churches during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Dr. Stanley’s sermons inspired and strengthened millions of us spiritually.”

Said Rev. Graham, “I thank God for Dr. Stanley and I’m grateful to have known him — he will be deeply missed.”

Rev. Franklin Graham in Mississippi

Rev. Franklin Graham (right) — shown recently in Mississippi as Samaritan’s Purse volunteers help Americans badly impacted by recent storms — shared with Fox News Digital his insights into Dr. Charles Stanley, the influential Atlanta pastor who passed away this week. “His sermons inspired and strengthened millions,” said Rev. Graham.  (Samaritan’s Purse)

Rev. Graham said that his own father, evangelical leader Billy Graham, also had “great respect and appreciation” for the Atlanta faith leader.

He said they usually communicated through letters due to the busy schedules of both — “but they were together on several occasions. My father had a heart for pastors, and he respected Dr. Stanley’s dedication to his church in Atlanta.”

“My father thanked Dr. Stanley for preaching the gospel faithfully.”

Rev. Graham also shared this personal remembrance.

“When Dr. Stanley had the opportunity to visit my father at his home in North Carolina in 2007, my father thanked Dr. Stanley for preaching the gospel faithfully. He was an excellent nature photographer, and when he came to see my father, he brought a large picture of a rainbow that he had taken … My father was proud to hang the photo on the wall of his home.”

Rev. Graham said further of Stanley that “perhaps one of his greatest legacies is helping the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. — the Southern Baptist Convention — stand firm on the authority of the Bible.”

He said that amid a push in that denomination to “drift away” from the Bible in the 1970s and ’80s, “Dr. Stanley fought against these dangerous efforts to undermine God’s Word, and he was elected president of the convention in 1984 and 1985.”

“So many people today are compromising on scripture — Dr. Stanley never did.”

He went on, “When the theological battle reached a boiling point prior to his reelection bid for a second term in 1985, my father sent a telegram to Dr. Stanley, thanking him for staying the course and expressing his support.”

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However, said Rev. Graham, “the telegram was leaked to the press without my father’s awareness — and I’m grateful it was, because it helped build support for Dr. Stanley’s reelection.”

Stanley won a second term as president in that “tumultuous and decisive year.”

Franklin Graham Billy Graham

Franklin Graham, left, with his father Billy Graham. Said Rev. Franklin Graham about Dr. Charles Stanley, “When the theological battle reached a boiling point prior to his reelection bid for a second term in 1985, my father sent a telegram to Dr. Stanley, thanking him for staying the course.” (The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)

Said Rev. Graham, “We can best honor Dr. Stanley’s legacy by following his example. So many people today are compromising on scripture — but Dr. Stanley never did. He was a man who held the line.”

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Regarding the truth of the Bible, “he didn’t waver or water it down.”

Rather, “in a world where so many people are trying to be politically correct, Dr. Stanley stood firm on the gospel.”

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Said Rev. Graham, “I challenge another generation of pastors and followers of Jesus Christ around the world to do the same.”

Christian faith in America has ‘never’ been at a lower point: Rev. Franklin Graham Video

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