Who are the ten living, and still active, Christian speakers/writers that you admire/respect the most? Recently I began to think about that question, and now I am sharing my (tentative) list with you.
Please note that these are “professional” Christians who are currently active (or not completely retired). They are people who primarily speak to or write for a “popular” audience rather than to academia. Thus, none are full-time religion/theology professors.
(My list of the contemporary theologians/professors that I admire most would be quite different.)
One more brief caveat: my list is skewed a bit (but not much) by my desire to include some diversity. I didn’t want the list to be completely of white, male, Protestants like me.
So here is my list, presented in alphabetical order (by last name):
Rev. Barber is perhaps the person on this list I have known about for the shortest time. I probably heard about him for the first time when working on my 9/30/13 blog article about the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. I have since seen him on several YouTube videos and then was impressed anew when I heard him deliver a powerful sermon in Kansas City last year. Here is the link to the blog article I wrote about him last September.
AMY BUTLER (b. c. 1970)
Rev. Butler has been pastor of the highly influential Riverside Church in New York City since 2014. I first met her when I visited a Sunday morning worship service at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., in 2012 when she was pastor there, and I regularly see/read her perceptive op-ed articles.
SIMONE CAMPBELL (b. 1945)
Widely known as “the nun on the bus,” Sister Simone is the executive director of NETWORK, a nonprofit Catholic social justice lobby. She was the subject of my 9/20/14 blog article (see here).
TONY CAMPOLO (b. 1935)
Stimulating writer and extraordinarily good speaker, in my 2/18/15 blog article I called Campolo “one of my favorite people.” He is one I would have long had on a list such as this.
SHANE CLAIBORNE (b. 1975)
The youngest person on this list, Claiborne is the author of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical (2006, 2016). He is a young man worth reading and listening to.
POPE FRANCIS (b. 1936)
Perhaps this selection speaks for itself.
JAMES FORBES (b. 1935)
A marvelous preacher and gentleman, I have long admired Rev. Forbes, who was pastor of Riverside Church in New York from 1989 to 2007.
BRIAN McLAREN (b. 1956)
I have been an admirer of McLaren since I read his novel A New Kind of Christian (2001). Then in 2008 I marked that the best theology book I had read that year was his Everything Must Change (2007). As a primary leader of the emergent church movement, he is a very significant contemporary Christian leader.
JIM WALLIS (b. 1948)
Founder, president, and CEO of Sojourners and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, I have been an admirer of Wallis since the early 1970s—and have written about him and his early activities in this article on another blogsite.
PHILIP YANCEY (b. 1949)
I have personally met or seen/heard all of the above persons—except for Pope Francis, for obvious reasons. But I have never met Yancey; however, I have read, and been impressed by, several of his books. I especially recommend What’s So Amazing about Grace? (1997) and Soul Survivor (2001).
Since these are contemporary Christians that I most admire, I have also learned from them--and my faith has grown, I believe, because of them.
Who's on your list?