Sunday, October 19, 2008

Theological Heroes

I participate in a closed pastor's forum where we are able to really invest in each other's lives and development as servants of God. The question arose today from my Lutheran pastor friend Troy Neujahr "who are your theological heroes." He was primarily asking for heroes within each person's denominational or faith tradition. The question really made me think.

As a Southern Baptist, we are a product of multiple "streams" within the greater Non-Catholic side of Christendom. We have no Calvin, Wesley, Luther and the like. To be sure, there are SBC figures who have made an impact outside the denominational boundaries. The question though, was who has contributed to the development of your personal theological outlook. So here we go, in no order of prominence and spread across several denominations.

People who have affected my preaching:
Vance Havner - he had humor, wit, and a love of God and the people God called him to preach to
Chuck Swindoll - Great sense of humor, and a love for the Scriptures. Great ability to apply the text
Charles Stanley - "listen", and application rich preaching
Joel Gregory - his latter work, born out of pain is really affecting
John Claypool - he tells the story from again the point of view of someone who has lived life in all it's fullness
Fred Craddock - great, great storyteller
Calvin Miller - thinker, writer, storyteller
Billy Graham - ask for a decision, don't shy away from that
Erwin Lutzer - gravity, seriousness when the text demands it
William Willimon - scholar, culturally aware

People who affected the way I look at the text:
Eugene Peterson - a pastor-theologian of the first magnitude who loves God's Word
Ray Steadman - great expositor
John Ortberg - modern but faithful
Lloyd Ogilvie - presses hard to stay close to the text's meaning as it is
Stuart Briscoe - likewise
Kent Hughes - modern, accessible, application oriented
Warren Weirsbe - maybe the first that made me understand what the Bible was saying
Rob Bell - makes me have to consult the sources and not just the NIV footnotes emoticon

People who made me think more theologically:
Lee Strobel - well, duh
Ravi Zacharias - if I only had his brain
Tim Keller - as good a modern theologian pastor as I know
J. Packer - "Knowing God" nuff said
A.W. Tozer - Knowledge of the Holy

People who caused me to question my assumptions:
Francis Schaeffer - culture v Scripture
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity alone is worth knowing his work
Clarence Jordan - great scholar, pacifist, who lived his faith without concern for the cost
Philip Yancey - yeah he's liberal, but he's passionate and writes well
Ed Stetzer - about as good now as an SBC guy gets on culture
Reggie McNeal - likewise
Rick Warren - I used to be happy with church until RW came along

People who made me care:
Bill Hybels - the man loves lost people
Donald Miller - speaks the language of God in a way lost people can access
Oscar Thompson - Concentric Circles of Concern is a must read about community
Shane Claiborne - ok, radical +, but uncomfortably right at times about what Jesus would have us do


  1. I can tell you're a Southern Baptist - there are no women on this list :o)

  2. I actually did think about that when I made the list. Out of all the books I have either here at home or at the office, I think I have maybe five of a theological nature - preaching, christian life, about Jesus, etc. that are written by women.

    Beth Moore, Anne Graham Lutz, Elaine Marshall, Jill Briscoe... (spellings are probable not absolute) are some that come to mind.

    And yes, that is probably due far more to my denominational banners than anything else. Which means I almost certainly have missed some great blessings.