Monday, February 28

Most influential evangelicals

Ever since Time magazine came out with its list of the 25 most influential Evangelicals there has been in many venues considerable discussion about the nature of that influence and the accuracy of the list. Ted Olsen, the chief pontificator for the CT weblog, has asked the question "Who's driving this thing?" On the Abet list Rick Lindholtz has asked us to personalize the discussion and describe which American Evangelicals have been the most influential in our own thinking.

For myself, there is some resistance to limiting the discussion to Americans. That is part of the American problem; we tend to be too local in a world which is increasingly global in function. And we tend to be too parochial when we should be more catholic.

A lot of the people I find influential (people I would actually go listen to speak if given the opportunity) have come out of Europe -- Tom Wright, Lesslie Newbigin, John Stott, J.I. Packer -- increasingly Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen. There are some Americans that I would put on my list -- Howard Snyder, Rodney Clapp, Ken Myers, Andy Crouch, Dallas Willard, Carl Braaten, Robert Webber, Donald Bloesch, and John Weborg.

There are some contemporary non-Evangelical influences that are actually very evangelical in outlook -- most of them Eastern Orthodox -- Frederica Mathewes-Green, Thomas Hopko, and increasingly Jaroslav Pelikan.

As I analyze my thinking I realize that the influences are more sacramental than revivalistic, statesmen than entrepreneur, and classicist than innovator. I'm not suggesting that there isn't a role for innovative entrepreneurs (I love people who start new things -- especially new congregations) but fairly early on in my pastoral ministry I got burned out on the "fad of the week" and so I've tried to gravitate toward people who are more steady, thoughtful, low-key, sans-hype, even plodding -- the counter-culturals.

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