Will there ever be another Billy Graham?

Published 8:57 am Friday, February 23, 2018


This week Billy Graham went home to be with the Lord. Billy Graham’s faithful ministry spanned nearly seven decades. He was a friend to Dr. Martin Luther King, evangelist to the world, and pastor to a dozen U.S. presidents. He was and remains a personal hero of mine. Southern Baptist owes a debt to Dr. Graham as they sought a return to gospel fidelity in the 1970s through the ’90s. Dr. Moher asked to use Graham’s name to aid the restoration of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. I could go on about how God used him, and while that may be a worthier task is not the focus of this blog.
I have often heard the question from church members, “Will there ever be another Billy Graham?” The short answer is No, absolutely not! There are several reasons for this. Let me see if I can help unpack why I say no. Here are the reasons:
1. The American culture has shifted significantly since Dr. Graham’s crusades. He was ordained in 1939. Dr. Graham was part of the greatest generation. His contemporaries were John Stott, J.I. Packer, and Francis Schaeffer. When he came onto the scene, the prevailing worldview was modernism, which was predominately Christian saturated and influenced. The move then shifted to post-modernism, which began to critique the evangelical movement. But today we have experienced another two cultural turns from postmodernism to pluralism and finally to tribalism.
2. Evangelicals were once a tribe; now evangelicals are tribal. Seth Godin, who to my knowledge is not a Christian, has made a remarkable observation about what technology has done to our culture. It has created tribes. He defines tribes as “a group of people linked together by an idea, a leader, and a way of communicating with each other.” Evangelicals have leaders within their tribes with their leaders, publications, blogs, conferences, even Bible translations. The sad result is that many tribes talk about each other but don’t talk to each other. As Mark Driscol points out, “We make a point, but not a difference.” Billy Graham was the Big Chief of evangelical movement, but now that evangelicals are tribal, no one will be the big chief. The closest we have today would most likely be Rick Warren, but he is different still than Dr. Graham.
3. Nothing Ever Repeats itself twice in the same way. C.S. Lewis once stated in his book about grief observed that “nothing ever repeats itself twice in the same way.” We should not go looking to make someone a clone of Dr. Graham. Perhaps Acts 13:36, Dr. Billy Graham “served God in his own generation, he fell asleep” this morning. We have his legacy to build on. Though he is dead, he will continue to speak to us through books and recordings of his sermons.
Dr. Graham completed his race, but what about you? God will raise up His people and His leaders, God always remains faithful to all generations! But have you trusted Jesus as your only hope of salvation? Do you have confidence of your eternal destiny?
(Travis Tyler is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Elizabethton)

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