Time wonders if T.D. Jakes is "the next Billy Graham"
IS THIS MAN THE NEXT BILLY GRAHAM? That's the cover line of this week's Time magazine, which lists Dallas Pentecostal T.D. Jakes as "America's Best Preacher" in a series of "America's Best" cultural innovators. Is Time repeating itself? Maybe its editors thought no one read its December listing of Jakes in its "Time 100" as one of the country's spiritual innovators. In that piece, Time religion reporter David Van Biema emphasized the Jakes of books, music, theater, and television. Here Van Biema's emphasis is explicitly on his preaching:
He purrs like Isaac Hayes and screams like Jay Hawkins. He slips from quoting a standard hymn—"Just as I am, without one plea/ but that Thy blood was shed for me" almost straight into hip-hop: "Transform me/ Translate me/ I release you to rearrange me/ Are you willing to be changed?" He does this without warning or acknowledgement. (If you miss one riff, don't worry, there will be another one along in moments.) And however leisurely Jakes' presentation may seem, each sermon eventually reveals itself as perfectly calibrated and balanced, cohering into an often exquisite extended metaphor.
But saying he's an amazing preacher is very different from suggesting he's "the next Billy Graham." Both are able to fill stadiums, but the two are very different—even in preaching styles. Jakes is a weekly preacher, Graham is a crusade evangelist. That means that the topic ("You must be born again") and structure (e.g. sermon illustrations from the newspaper) don't vary much for Graham. And though Graham's approach was very innovative against the news in the 1950s, it's now relatively common among evangelistic preachers. And that's not to mention the ...1