The Next Billy Graham
One week from now, we will have a new President. I have some opinions about all of that, but I will keep them to myself. President-elect Obama has asked Pastor Rick Warren to pray at his innauguration. Of course, Warren accepted. There have been a number of reactions to this. It has proven to be a little sticky for both Warren and Obama. Because of Mr. Obama’s positions on the issues of abortion and homosexual marriage, many conservative Christians have taken the opportunity to use this as ammo against Warren. Cultural liberals, especially the homosexual lobby, have accused Obama of teaming up with Hitler (or worse). Obviously, neither of this is true. Liberals lump Warren in with ultra-conservative, fundamentalist Christians, and they would never claim him as their own. The reverse is also true.
Because of the attention given to Warren, along with his hosting a couple of political forums, the media is making the case that Warren is the next Billy Graham. I have a great deal of respect for Billy Graham. His testimony has been above reproach in the areas of finances and marital fidelity. He typically did not get involved in partisan politics. This opened the door for him to preach in countries that have traditionally been closed to the Gospel. Between his large crusades and television specials, he has preached to more individuals than anyone in the history of the church. I respect that. I also know that he has primarily been an evangelist, partnering with local churches for follow-up. This gave him the luxury of not needing to (publicly) clearly define a number of doctrinal positions.
Rick Warren is a church planter and a local church pastor. He has been responsible not only for evangelism, but also for developing a plan for discipling converts and growing a church in the community.
I do not think Rick Warren is the next Billy Graham. I do not think there will be another Billy Graham. I think Rick Warren is the next Rick Warren. I think God works in seasons. Seasons come and go.