Tim Funk of the Charlotte Observer asks this question and tries to answer it.
Here is a taste:
Ask Graham biographers and religion scholars today who will be the next Billy Graham, here’s their answer:
“I don’t think any single person will be ‘the next Billy Graham,’ ” says William Martin, author of “A Prophet with Honor,” long considered the definitive biography of Graham. “That’s in part because evangelical Christianity has become so large and multifaceted – in significant measure because of what Graham did – that no one person can dominate it, regardless of talent or dedication. It’s just not going to happen….”
America was a very different place when the young Billy Graham emerged.
He made his first national splash on the eve of the 1950s, a decade in which America – then fighting a Cold War against atheistic communism – added “under God” to its Pledge of Allegiance and started printing “In God We Trust” on its paper currency.
The preacher who came to be called “America’s pastor” thrived in this climate of religious revival: His image – wavy hair, burning eyes – showed up on magazine covers and in living rooms via the infant medium of television.
I agree. There will never be another Billy Graham. American culture is too fractured. The culture is too religiously diverse to sustain a Christian evangelist with a national reach like Graham had in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Graham and his predecessors–George Whitefield, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, and Billy Sunday–all functioned in a largely Protestant culture. No more. Graham was the product of a particular time and place that no longer exists in the United States.