Seems like the discussion among the religious historians comparing Billy Graham and Rick Warren is continuing to heat up. Duke University Professor Grant Wacker just gave a presidential speech concluding the meetings of the American Society of Church History.
Wacker, who wrote the fabulous book Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture, is currently writing a highly anticipated biography of Graham (having obtained rare access to his archives), so his ideas are further fueling the fire. Image via Wikipedia
Overall? I think the jury's still out. Graham has had decades of public/political ministry, and Rick Warren's has just started.
Still, there's a lot of colorful commentary out there. Silk offers a quick summary of Graham's ministry, saying,
Graham got to where he got because, over his six decades in American public life, he became more adept at slipping punches than Muhammad Ali in his prime. Many were thrown, from left, right, and center, but Billy danced away from most to become the best known Protestant evangelist and the most iconic American religious leader of all time.How did he do it? In part by force of personality, in part by having perfect pitch for what appealed to his vast middle-class, moderately conservative white Protestant followers, in part by sticking to his message of getting people to decide for Christ, in part by a shrewd determination never to let himself get boxed into an ideological corner.
He quips that Billy Graham's socially progressive views are still decades ahead of today's evangelicals, saying,
One might say that the so-called new evangelical agenda is simply the latter-day Graham agenda.
My previous Warren-ology posts are here.