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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Top Ten (10) Most Important Men of Christianity

In the spirit of the “top lists” at Faith and Theology, I wanted to provide my “top list” of the ten most important and influential men in Christian history. My criteria for this list included:

A) What they wrote (or what was written about them) changed the hearts and mind of those who read them

B) What they did/wrote altered the Church’s thinking and history itself

C) Their theological/philosophical writings developed a trend in the thoughts and writings of those who followed them.

D) They still have a strong influence today in the lives of people and history

Here is my top ten (10) list of the most important men of Christianity (in historical chronological order):

1. Jesus of Nazareth
2. The Apostle Paul
3. Athanasius
4. Augustine of Hippo
5. Thomas Aquinas
6. Martin Luther
7. John Calvin
8. Thomas Cranmer
9. Karl Barth
10. C.S. Lewis

Any thoughts on these, or do have any you think, perhaps, should have made the list?


Blogger Jim said...

Color me shocked!

You forgot Zwingli, who should be at least number 3 on the list- possibly number 2.

Augustine is OK, but what about Martin Bucer and Hans Tausen? Where's Oecolampadius? Melancthon?

10:42 AM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

LOL . . . I figured you would see this and say Zwingli. In fact, Jim, when I put this list together, as soon as I got to the reformers, I knew you would comment with a firm "Zwingli" on the list reply.

Keep in mind, the list is chronological in terms of their time frame (the time in which they lived) not in terms of their degree of greatness or favorability.

11:36 AM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Jim said...

Ah you know me well. You should place Zwingli after Aquinas and before Luther then.

12:56 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

In an ecumenical spirit, and not simply trying to make your list more Catholic-friendly (although it is quite that already), I'd probably supplant Cranmer with St. Ignatius Loyola. His religious order of the Society of Jesus (the "Jesuits") founded right before the time of the Council of Trent, has had such profound and wide-reaching influence over the whole world, really. Not just Catholicism, and not just Christendom. Consider all the Jesuit institutions of higher learning there are and all the prominent theologians in history (on through today) who have been Jesuits. I would definitely think his importance in Christianity generally has surpassed that of Cranmer. Those are my two cents, or one cent.

2:45 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Well, Jeremiah, St. Ignatius was shortlisted and almost made the list where Cramner is . . . the reason I chose Cranmer instead of Ignatius was for two reasons . . . first, the impact Cranmer had on the entire Anglican denomination, and I know him and his work much better than Ignatius.

So partly due to ignorance on my part, and psrtly due in part to Cranmer's overall impact on a particular denomination. But you suggestion is well noted, believe me.

4:05 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Doug E. said...

What made you keep Jonathan Edwards out of the picture? Just wondering.

I like the list though,


5:14 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Well, good question Doug, especially since my blog is named after one of his journals . . . however, his overall impact in Church history has been limited, to a larger degree, to America. Also, his impact on other theologians who also made an impact on Church history via his thought is very limited (John Gerstner is probably one of the more popular Edwardian theologians of the 20th century, but there are not too many others)

I would put him in the top American Theologians, or the top theologians of his day/century etc. but for the criteria, Edwards did not change the course of theological or Church history nor did his writings outside of America. Perhaps that will change in the future, but that is why I did not list him.

If I were to do a list of the top theologians he would certainly make that list.

5:50 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Chris Tilling said...

In chess there is the saying that a really great player needed a great opponent. Alekhine had Capablanca, Tal had Botvinnik, Kasparov had Karpov etc.

And this makes me think about your list.

In like manner, surely Arius made the early church creeds and the first great theologicans what they were - and has thus helped, even if negatively, shape almost all subsequent Christian theology. So should not such a list include those (in)famous opponents - especially given your criteria? If so, Arius especially deserves a place ...

And what about Smith Wigglesworth?
OK, I'll shut up.

7:48 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Puritan Belief said...

C.S Lewis?

8:03 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Chris, great minds think alike :-)

I had actually thought of making a list counter to this one of those who had a "negative" impact but also had a serious influence through that impact - names such as Arius, Pelagius, Finney, Molina, Arminius, etc.

Hmmmm . . . so it is interesting you brough that up.

Puritan Belief:

You don't think C.S. Lewis had a huge impact in the last 50 years? Wait another 50 and you will see an even greater impact.

9:24 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Puritan Belief said...

I disagree with a lot of his doctrines.

But yes you are right with his books becoming movies and his massive following he will become very popular.

11:04 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger marc said...


Great list... maybe I'd add Scotus. And maybe not.

11:33 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

I was afraid that you'd pick people I never heard of, but with the exception of Ackinathius I know them all. Then again I'm short so I'm sure Akitiberius must be at the top of the shelf where I can't reach.

8:05 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Ben Myers said...

I would definitely lose C. S. Lewis, and perhaps I'd replace him with Schleiermacher. Then again, it's hard to imagine any modern theology without Kant. So perhaps I'd add Kant as well.

5:56 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Brian Russell said...

Tough to narrow things down to Ten persons. I think that I would attempt to make room for John Wesley.

6:30 AM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous kim fabricius said...

Benedict, whose influence on the medieval church was second only to Augustine.

And I am no Methodist apologist, but according to your criteria, Brian is right - John Wesley for sure.

In fifty years, people will
say "C. S. Who?"

12:19 PM, January 21, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Brian and Kim,

I would agree that John Wesley certainly has had a greater impact on Christianity than C.S. Lewis. Therefore, in that I would have no grief over omitting Lewis and adding Wesley to the list.

Kim, I'm no Methodist either (albiet I love Thomas Oden's work and he is Methodist), but the inclusion of Wesley to the list is certainly warranted.

To be honest I should have made the list longer - twenty instead of merely ten. Apparently, Lewis is the one addition most seem to have trouble with - poor guy! :-)

1:35 PM, January 21, 2006  
Blogger Ben Myers said...

Yes, certainly Wesley! For good and for ill, modern Protestantism is inconceivable without him.

C. S. Lewis was a splendid writer and a very decent person -- but he's not really one of the towering figures of Christian history.

5:19 AM, January 23, 2006  
Blogger Brandon said...

Cyril of Alexandria, the opponent of Nestorius whose theology was the foundation for the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, would be a good candidate.

9:05 AM, January 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

William Marrion Branham

3:34 AM, February 10, 2012  

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