I was thinking after my post on who is truly influencing modern-day American Evangelicals, perhaps I should post on who I believe SHOULD be the most influential. All the men listed here (sorry ladies, there were a few I thought of, but I had only twenty-five spots and felt these twenty-five were essential—they just happened to all be men) lived since the founding of our country because I felt they best informed American Christianity. Not all are Americans, but all should be influences on us, no matter the countries of origin.
A.W. Tozer—Tozer is “my C.S. Lewis,” the one I go to whenever I need to be uplifted, provoked, or stirred in any way. I believe him to be the greatest of 20th century preachers and teachers, but always with a pastor’s heart. He loved the Church like few others and his habit of spending the first five hours of his day in prayer is an example few can match. Everything he wrote is a gem—each prophetic, challenging, and Spirit-filled.
Andrew Murray—Few writers of the 19th century had the beautiful loving heart that Murray did. His ability to gently lay out truth is unmatched. Every book of his is a classic.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones—The bastion of England during the WWII years and beyond, Lloyd-Jones’s words cut to the soul with their wisdom and insight. His bridges the Reformed tradition and charismatic, penning one of the only good books on the discerning of spirits that exists today.
Jonathan Edwards—Still a powerhouse force and a voice to complacent Evangelicalism. We need s serious dose of Edwards in the American Church today.
Jack Hayford—I have a lot of respect for Hayford and it is sad that he does not get more credit for his no-nonsense approach to Christian living. He may be the only sane voice for the charismatic branch of Evangelicalism that exists today (with the possible exception of Wayne Grudem.)
Leonard Ravenhill—I think that no man in the 20th century did more to stir up Christians to deeper faith and more compelling service than did Ravenhill. “When are we going to get serious about getting serious?” and “One of these days someone’s going open the Bible, believe it, and then we are all going to be ashamed.” Ravenhill’s fiery wisdom is essential reading and listening for today’s complacent Evangelicals.
C.H. Spurgeon—The “Prince of Preachers,” Spurgeon wrote extensively on revival and oversaw some great ones. His no-nonsense approach to fanning the flames in the hearts of sleepy believers is desperately needed in the American Church
George Whitefield—I believe it was Jonathan Edwards that said of Whitefield, “They go not to see a preacher, but a man aflame.” Whitefield’s preaching almost singlehandedly undergirded faith in early America, even though the great revivalist himself was not from here.
Francis Schaeffer—Francis Schaeffer was not only a man of great wisdom, but his prophetic words about postmodern man are startling as we see the fruit of that worldview come to ripen. Schaeffer addressed the whole man, body, soul, spirit and mind. In an age when Evangelicals are eschewing things of the mind, Schaeffer is needed more than ever.
Alistair McGrath—An apologist and Bible teacher of the highest order, McGrath is sadly overlooked by most Evangelicals, though he certainly will carry the mantle of J.I. Packer some day.
J.I. Packer—The grand old man of modern Evangelical thought. He was on Time’s list and belongs here, too.
Ravi Zacharias—An apologist supreme and with a Third World perspective, too, Zacharias is a powerful speaker every Evangelical should know and follow.
C.S. Lewis—No list would be complete without Lewis. His writings inform more Evangelicals in America than possibly any other figure.
E.M. Bounds—Prayer, prayer, and more prayer. Evangelicals would be wise to follow his admonitions that it all starts with prayer.
John Hyde—”Praying Hyde” of India. If a case is made for modern apostleship, Hyde would be at the top of the list. A life wholly surrendered—and powerful as a result.
George Mueller—Another great man of prayer who lived only by what God gave him through prayer. Also saw great needs and met them—again through prayer.
Hudson Taylor—The great missionary to China. Tragedy never overcame triumph in Taylor’s life and the modern Chinese church owes everything to this man who heard the call of Jesus and surrendered all.
Jim Elliot—Cut down before thirty, but his journals should be required reading for all young Evangelicals. The fruit of his work in South America continues to prosper and grow. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
David Brainerd—Again, cut down young, but what a life! Wholly given to the Lord; every thought taken captive. Saw the need to preach to the native peoples of America and met that need, pouring his life out so that they might know Christ.
Richard Wurmbrand—A modern day martyr who spent years locked away in Communist prisons. No one this century did more (with possibly the exception of Alexander Solzhenitsyn) to promote the plight of the persecuted church worldwide. He has much to teach Evangelicals today about the plight of our brethren worldwide.
Watchman Nee—Brings a uniquely Asian worldview to the Church. His mysticism is needed in an Evangelicalism too rooted in the practical and mundane.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer—Hard-hitting and uncompromising. His book The Cost of Discipleship is the antidote to the crossless preaching of modern Evangelical megachurchianity.
Keith Green—Who has taken up the gantlet that this fiery young prophet threw down to Christians via songs that convict and yet bring joy? It’s been almost twenty-five years since his death, and still we wait for a successor to Green. One song by Green carries more punch than an entire day’s listening on most Christian radio stations today.
George Barna—He holds the mirror up to the face of modern Christianity better than anyone. We truly need to see how we are and Barna is the only one doing it religiously.
Folks, these people are the ones we should be listening to and modeling. I encourage you to find out more about all of them. Seek out their books and teachings. Some links are to the right. Please think about what these men say and let them be influential your life, too.