The passing of another iconic televangelist has led to a flurry of media coverage.  How important was Oral Roberts?  Here’s what some leading historians and sociologists told the press:

Duke University historian Grant Wacker said that “in conservative Protestant culture, he’s second only to Billy Graham.” Elsewhere Wacker ranked him among the most influential figures in post-war American religion, arguing that “other than Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr., and maybe Jerry Falwell, it would be hard to name a different religious leader of more importance.”

Roberts biographer David Edwin Harrell had a similar take, arguing that he was “one of the most important Protestant figures of the 20th century because he did so much to move the Pentecostal message into the mainstream Protestant churches and around the world.”

Regent University’s Vinson Synan assessed Roberts’ influence relative to other Pentecostals, calling him “one of the three or four most important leaders in the history of the Pentecostal movement.”

Reflecting a different generational perspective, sociologist Michael Lindsay said that Roberts was influential “for a season,” adding that “the evangelical community grew increasingly uncomfortable with his predictions and pronouncements.” Along the same lines, historian Edith Blumhofer said that “a lot of people looked at him skeptically, particularly as his fundraising goals increased.” Finally, sociologist Michele Dillon called him “a pioneer in seeing the religious and cultural influence that can be wielded through television broadcasting.”