Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Greatest Theologians

I recently read and enjoyed Gerald McDermott's book The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide where he survey's eleven of the most important theologians in Church History. Here is his list along with his description of them:
  1. Origen: The Greatest Teacher After the Apostles
  2. Athanasius: The Black Monk Who Saved the Faith
  3. Augustine: The Most Influential Theologian Ever
  4. Thomas Aquinas: The Teacher of the Catholic Church 
  5. Martin Luther: The Monk Who Rose Up Against Heaven and Earth 
  6. John Calvin: The Greatest Theologian of the Reformed Tradition
  7. Jonathan Edwards: America's Theologian 
  8. Friedrich Schleiermacher: Father of Liberal Theology 
  9. John Henry Newman: Anglican Theologian Who swam the Tiber
  10. Karl Barth: Most Influential Twentieth-Century Theologian 
  11. Hans Urs von Balthasar: Stellar Catholic Theologian of the Twentieth Century
Obviously any attempt to compile a list of "greatest theologians ever" is subjective and each of us have our own list. However, in light of McDermott's helpful book, I thought I would compile my own list of 11 of the greatest Christian theologians of all time. Such a list, as the above list reveals, does not mean I agree theologically with each of them, but that they are among the most important and influential theologians of history.

Instead of simply posting my list, I thought I would break it down into three categories: non-negotiables, negotiables, honorable mentions.

Non-Negotiables

  1. Augustine of Hippo
  2. Athanasius
  3. Thomas Aquinas
  4. Martin Luther
  5. John Calvin
  6. Jonathan Edwards
  7. Karl Barth

Negotiable
  1. Tertullian
  2. Irenaus
  3. Origen
  4. Jerome
  5. Anselm of Canteberry
  6. Cappadocian Fathers 
  7. John Wesley 
  8. Friedrich Schleiermacher
  9. Charles Hodge

Honorable Mentions
  1. Benjamin B. Warfield
  2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  3. CS Lewis

For more:
"The Great Theologians" by Gerald McDermott: A Review 
The Great Theologians: An Interview with Gerald McDermott

Some Things Never Change: Origen on the Frustration of Preaching
Theologians I Have Been Influenced By - The Dead
Theologians I Have Been Influenced By - The Living
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