7 Summits with Owen Strachan

7Summits CoverWith the recent release of Seven Summits in Church History, designed to give a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers, I have asked several friends, pastors, and scholars to answer:

Who are your “Seven Summits”? Or, what figures in church history would you enjoy sharing a meal with?

On Fridays over the last few weeks, I have shared their responses and would love your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation in the comments.

Today, it is my delight to share who Owen Strachan think are seven summits in church history worth knowing:

Owen Strachan’s Seven Summits:
  1. Jonathan Edwards. I want to talk with Jonathan Edwards about many things: what it was like to be a missionary in the Massachusetts wild near the end of his life; how he developed his aesthetics, which is to say his ontology, which is to say his understanding of virtue, which is to say his doctrine of God; why he worked so hard to craft his sermons, which—I want to tell him—are some of the most stirring collections of words in sentence form known to the English language; and much more.

I love Edwards because he takes all our categories and scrambles them. He is intoxicatingly brilliant but loves the simple practices of ministry; he is gentlemanly but rolls up his shirt-sleeves in his writing in order to deconstruct the Enlightenment (in its nascent stirrings), constructing a preposterously high-horsepower take on the reason why all things exist; he seems to live in the world where higher things dwell (he is attuned to sennsucht years before C. S. Lewis discovers it) but loves his wife and tenderly cares for his children.

Edwards was a man with feet of clay like me, a sinner, and his flaws are plain in historical perspective. But in a world that mocks God and belittles pastors, Edwards reveres God and shows us a model of the pastor-theologian. His conception of God is matched by his conception of the pastoral office. I would love to thank him for this, and for his impact on my life, for showing me just how big God is, and just how good His bigness is for me.

  1. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien—I do not mean by including both men that they are evangelicals, because I do not think the Catholic Tolkien would have claimed the label, but I do love how each of these men wrote beautiful works fired by what you could call a “Christian imagination.” Lewis, as mentioned above, understood that beauty was not a glancing thing in the world, but was in truth the reason the world was made. I regularly find myself struck by something beautiful that I cannot fully grasp, and that I would have difficulty explaining to someone else, but that nonetheless takes hold of me. Lewis gives me a vocabulary for this feeling.

Tolkien was deeply informed by mythology and fables, his mind continually roaming over plains drenched with the blood of heroes and demons. There is no one I am aware of who more understands the desire of men to live a life dedicated to thumos, glory-seeking, as the ancient Greeks had it.

I want to talk with Tolkien and also Lewis about this concept and how they help me understand it through a Christian lens. The call their work issues forth, it seems to me, is in part a call to manhood. This means a call to self-sacrifice, to nobility, to virtue, to the love of a woman, to the care of children and home, and to a life that may not be great in effect but is stubbornly grand in scope, in intention. Seek my kingdom, Jesus said; so, from their own vantage point, did these men.

  1. Francis Asbury—I want to talk with Asbury about his continual effort to proclaim the gospel to small groups in far-flung towns and hamlets. I am deeply impressed by he and his fellow Methodist circuit-riders, for I see in them a living demonstration of the theology of the cross. Nowadays, we are tempted to multiply congregations for reasons of fame and success; these humble preachers multiplied congregations because the gospel took root and there simply were not enough preachers. I find that nothing short of heroic. I need more of that spiritual grit in my life, and I certainly need to do my small part to pass it on to my students. Asbury would have much to teach me in this regard.
  1. Carl F. H. Henry—I want to talk with Henry. Actually, that’s not really true: I want Henry to talk to me. For days. I want him to download his super-computer of a theological brain for me so I can access it. Henry is truly a figure who forgot more theology than the rest of us will ever learn. His model is catalyzing for me, because in an era when many conservative evangelicals had trimmed the wicks of their intellectual ambitions, Henry was getting ready for a bonfire. He was trying, in other words, to almost singlehandedly vindicate evangelical theology by demonstrating that it could be learned, reasonable, biblical, Christ-captivated, and high-level. I see this spirit in him, George Eldon Ladd, E. J. Carnell, and many others of the group I call the “Cambridge scholars” of the neo-evangelical period.

I want this same instinct to take root in our movement in our time. Christians aren’t doing something bad if we think and reason and write. We are being exactly like God. Our faith is not anti-intellectual; it’s the most intellect-friendly faith there is, for God is very wisdom and truth itself. Jesus is the Logos, pure epiphany, pure light, pure enlightenment. His salvation of our souls is simultaneously a restarting of our minds.

Henry, I think, saw this. In fact, I’ve learned this perspective in part from him (when I worked at the Henry Center at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I got to see his “preaching Bible”; no book was more marked up than the Gospel of John). I would love to talk with him, but most importantly to learn from him. Here was a world-class theologian who, like Edwards, loved evangelism. He would stay out late at night to witness to poor souls in Pasadena, then show up the next morning to critique higher-criticism. That is my kind of dude.

  1. Winston Churchill—I need to clarify this choice. As best I can discern, Churchill was not a born-again Christian. It grieves me to think this is true, but it may be true. However, Churchill was a man of the fiercest courage. I do not think I would learn much doctrine from him in conversation, but I do think I could learn a tremendous deal about manhood and leadership from him. His life was unstoppingly full of controversy, attack, setbacks, challenges, trials, fires, headaches, and the ever-present possibility of death, and yet Churchill—in the language we use to describe bull-headed point guards–never stopped coming. He never stopped fighting for good and standing against evil.

When no one else would denounce the clear specter of evil emanating from Germany and Russia, Churchill did. When no one else dared to think that England could withstand the furious power of the Luftwaffe, Churchill did. When no one else showed the martial courage to rally the English people, Churchill did. His was, like ours, an age of high stakes and grave challenges. It was the kind of age that drives many to quiet their convictions and try to ride out the storm. Churchill saw that such a policy would not entail victory, or even survival, but rather guaranteed defeat. Only conviction would do. Only conviction, blended with a zest for life, a genial temperament, and a dash of savoir-faire, would rally the day.

Again, Churchill was his own man, and not one who had a great deal of time for deep spiritual searching. But his unparalleled example of principled courage seems to me to be a necessary part of a rich and textured Christian witness in the public square. He was not a man who thrived in peacetime; he was a man bred for death and glory, as Tolkien called it. I see serious flaws in Churchill, but I also see the image of God in him. How I wish I could talk with him, learn from him, and be like him.

  1. Spurgeon and the Anonymous General Baptist—Here we see that I have cheated and added an eighth person to the mix. I will accept all due penalties and just recriminations. Here’s why I have done so.

I do not wish to talk with Spurgeon the high-flown orator. I love that Spurgeon, to be clear. But I want to talk to the “Downgrade” Spurgeon. I want to witness him not at his peak, but at his ebb. I want to see him when he is going through fire, and yet persevering in and through Christ. It is this Spurgeon who exemplifies what most of us will experience, at least in some form. It is this Spurgeon who stands in history as a man of great doctrinal precision, and of a stunning willingness to put all his popularity, all his fame, all his reputation, all his fortune, all his name, on the line for the truth of God. It is so easy when one soars as high as Spurgeon to rub down the edges of biblical fidelity, and to sand away the particulars of the faith. But there is no whiff of the celebrity-cultivator in Spurgeon. He put it all on the line for the sake of the truth, and though he paid dearly for his stand in natural terms, he is honored—and will be honored in much greater measure very soon—for his witness.

In similar terms, I want to talk with the anonymous General Baptist who, in the Salters Hall debate of 1719, was the only Baptist in that assembly willing to put his name beside a Trinity-affirming statement. Everyone there sided with the pro-Caffyn group, arguing for “love” over Trinitarian orthodoxy. Everyone there except for one man. He cared about the Godhead. He cared about the honor of God. He cared about the glory of God. He was willing to be counted for Christ. He was willing to endure shame for the truth of God.

I don’t even know his name, but I believe I will in the age to come. I know Spurgeon’s name, and it is great. But the witness of church history is this: alongside the heroes whose books we read, there will be many who wrote nothing but their name beside a confession of faith. Some of them couldn’t write even a sentence, being denied education by virtue of their slave status; some of them could barely pick up a pen, their arms broken and bloody from persecution. But their names are known to God. And most importantly, their names are written in the lamb’s book of life.

Not long from now, none of them will be anonymous to us.

Owen Strachan is the Director of the Center for Public Theology and associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition to serving as the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, he is the author of The Grand Design, The Colson Way, and The Pastor as Public Theologian.

Who are your Seven Summits?

Join the conversation in the comments below and learn who are my Seven Summits and more about the book here.

Other posts in the Seven Summits series:

7 Summits with Ed Stetzer and David Prince

7Summits CoverWith the recent release of Seven Summits in Church History, designed to give a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers, I have asked several friends, pastors, and scholars to answer:

Who are your “Seven Summits”? Or, what figures in church history would you enjoy sharing a meal with?

On Fridays over the last few weeks, I have shared their responses and would love your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation in the comments.

Today, it is my delight to share who Ed Stetzer and David Prince think are seven summits in church history worth knowing:

Ed Stetzer’s Seven Summits:
  1. Clement of Rome: because I have some questions about how things changed so quickly in the post-apostolic era
  2. John Wycliff: because Lollards!
  3. Martin Luther: needs no explanation, though I really gotta’ hear about that lightening storm
  4. David Brainerd: basically, the person who created missions to America
  5. Charles Spurgeon: because he was a theologian, preacher, and planted churches out of his church
  6. William Seymour: Pentecostal forerunner for the fastest growing movement in the history of global Christianity
  7. Karl Barth: lots to argue, but his missio dei idea shapes conciliar, Catholic, and evangelical missiology today

Ed Stetzer is the Executive Director of LifeWay Research in Nashville, Tennessee and is the Senior Fellow at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois. In addition to serving as the Executive Editor of The Gospel Project, he is the author of Subversive Kingdom and Transformational Groups.

David Prince’s Seven Summits:

The seven summits in church history I have listed have had a profound impact on the way I think about life and ministry. I consider each of them companions as I attempt to walk in line with the gospel in my generation. I will list these seven people from church history in chronological order with whom I would most want to spend a day.

  1. Irenaeus: Second-century theologian, Irenaeus’ defense of the gospel in the face of the Gnostic heresy and his emphasis on the Christ-centered organic unity and eschatological-orientation of Scripture has impacted all of my pastoral ministry and academic scholarship. His book, On Apostolic Preaching, is one of the books I read every year. Irenaeus’ commitment to the unity of the Bible meant that the Son of God, the last Adam, would recover all that was lost in the first Adam. Jesus, the eschatological Adam, was the one in whom the entirety of redemptive history would be summed up. Thus, Jesus Christ was both the center and telos (end) of the biblical drama of redemption because Jesus is the only lens through which the Scriptural witness can be rightly understood. I would love to talk with him about the early church and the process of his theological formation.
  2.   Andrew Fuller: No historical author outside of the Bible has influenced my thinking as significantly as Andrew Fuller. What draws me to Fuller’s life and writings is that he addresses everything with the sober-minded clarity of a working pastor. His work as a theologian, apologist, and missionary never lost sight of Jesus, his church, and his gospel. No topic that Fuller addresses is treated in a merely abstract and hypothetical way, but rather, he treats every subject as having concrete implications for week-by-week gospel preaching, congregational worship, pastoral care, and church governance. I read a portion of Andrew Fuller’s Complete Works almost every day. Fuller’s life and ministry taught me that we must seek “the truth as it is in Jesus” (a phrase he used incessantly) in every aspect of his life and ministry.
  3. James M. Pendleton: Pendleton was born in 1811 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and was raised from the age of one in Christian County, Kentucky. He pastored churches in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He was a prominent Southern Baptist whose life coincided with the racial debates surrounding the founding of the SBC and the American Civil War. He had everything to gain by siding with his denominational brethren on the slavery issue, but he courageously chose to argue for the end of slavery. His son would die in battle as a Confederate soldier, but Pendleton believed the Bible when interpreted correctly, could not be co-opted into a pro-slavery agenda. I would love to hear his stories and ask him about his struggles when he stood virtually alone for racial justice.
  4. Lottie Moon: I think that Lottie Moon would probably be the individual on this list who would be the most fun person with whom to spend a day. She was feisty, passionate, convictional, and courageous. When I read the book of her letters, I would go from laughing to nearly weeping again and again. I am fascinated that a woman who introduced herself as Charlotte D. Moon, and said that the “D” stood for devil as a teen, became the most well-known missionary in Southern Baptist life. I would love to talk to her about almost being married to Crawford Toy, but deciding not to because of his move away from the Bible as the inerrant word of God. What a woman! As the father of five girls, that is a conversation I would love to have.
  5. Branch Rickey: Branch Rickey loved Jesus, and he was thankful for the game of baseball, which he cherished (as do I). Rickey said that he thought, “a man could play baseball as a call of God.” In 1945, Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the MLB color barrier. What I find so amazing about the story is that in 1903, he was a 21-year-old head baseball coach at Ohio Wesleyan and had a black catcher named Charles Thomas. OWU traveled to South Bend, Indiana for a game against Notre Dame. When they arrived, the hotel clerk refused to allow Thomas to stay because of a whites-only policy. Rickey persuaded the hotel to allow Thomas to go to his room. That evening Rickey found his catcher sobbing and rubbing his hands and arms convulsively while muttering, “It’s my skin. If only I could wipe off the color they could see, I am a man like everybody else!” Rickey told him to “Buck up!” and said, “We will beat this one day!” but later noted, he never felt so helpless and vowed at that time that he would do whatever he could to end such humiliation. I would love to ask him why he thought as a 21-year-old small college baseball coach, 61 years before the Civil Rights Act, that he had the audacity to believe he could do something about systemic racial injustice? What hopeful courage he had!
  6. George Eldon Ladd: It was through reading Ladd that my understanding of the Bible become more cohesive and holistic as I began to recognize the “already / not yet” tension of the Kingdom and the difference it makes for interpreting the entire Bible. Jesus did not simply bring a new teaching, but rather his presence was the inauguration of the eschatological kingdom. One of the reasons I am drawn to want to spend a day with Ladd is that his enormous theological influence was matched by a personal and family life that was deeply troubled. John A. D’Elia’s biography of Ladd, A Place at the Table, was one of the most disturbing reads of my life. I would love to talk to him about his faith and his struggles.
  7. Edmund Clowney: In his preaching, academic labors, and his writings Edmund Clowney taught a generation how the whole Bible bears witness to Christ. Clowney influenced a generation of preachers to apply evangelical biblical theology to its preaching, treating the whole Bible as a narrative that finds its meaning in Jesus. He wanted to bridge the gap between study and pulpit and opposed moralistic preaching and lifeless doctrinal preaching. His writing and preaching ministry reinforced to me that preaching Christ from all the Scriptures is not simply an automatic product of an abstract hermeneutical method but rather reading the Bible instinctively with Jesus the Messiah as the hero of the entire redemptive-historical narrative. I would love to spend the day with Clowney, simply talking and asking him questions about Jesus in all of the Scripture.

David Prince serves as the Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and as the Assistant Professor of Christian Preaching at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of Church with Jesus as the Hero.

Who are your Seven Summits?

Join the conversation in the comments below and learn who are my Seven Summits and more about the book here.

Other posts in the Seven Summits series:

7 Summits with Trevin Wax and Bruce Ashford

7Summits CoverWith the recent release of Seven Summits in Church History, designed to give a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers, I have asked several friends, pastors, and scholars to answer:

Who are your “Seven Summits”? Or, what figures in church history would you enjoy sharing a meal with?

On Fridays over the last few weeks, I have shared their responses and would love your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation in the comments.

Today, it is my delight to share who Trevin Wax and Bruce Ashford think are seven summits in church history worth knowing:

Trevin Wax’s Seven Summits:
  1. Clement of Rome (so close to the apostles!)
  2. Athanasius (What was it like to be contra mundum)
  3. John Chrysostom (to talk shop on preaching, application, creating wonder, etc.)
  4. Augustine (I already feel like I know him from Confessions, but I’d want that conversation to continue)
  5. Thomas Cranmer (for his crafting of the prayer book and his all-too-human wobbling of conviction)
  6. EY Mullins (the most enigmatic and probably most influential Southern Baptist in history. His work fascinates me, as does his trajectory in life and pullback toward the end. Both conservatives and moderates in the SBC split claimed him – conservatives for his confessionalism and moderates for his emphasis on experience.)
  7. G. K. Chesterton (I’m in awe of his brilliance in writing virtually any kind of literature and yet maintaining a coherent vision of life and love)

Trevin Wax is the managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources. He also has recently completed is Ph.D. in Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Bruce Ashfords’s Seven Summits:

If I could choose seven figures from the history of Christianity with whom I could spend a day, my list would look something like this:

  1. I’d sit at the feet of Irenaeus, whose Against the Heresies traced the biblical narrative and showed that the heretics go awry precisely because they rip biblical passages out of the context of that narrative.
  2. I’d swill tea with Athanasius, whose On the Incarnation made the single most important statement in the history of Christianity—that the Son was begotten and not made, and therefore is of one substance with the Father.
  3. I’d swig some coffee with Augustine, whose City of God showed that Rome was but a bit player in the grand sweep of creational and redemptive history.
  4. I’d hang out with Thomas Aquinas, whose Summa Theologiae is the most enduringly influential text in the history of Christianity,
  5. and John Calvin, whose Institutes is easily the most influential Protestant text.
  6. I’d spend a full day with Balthasar Hübmaier, asking him to tell the story of how he recovered from early timidity under persecution and was able to go on to become a courageous martyr for the Christian faith.
  7. Finally, I’d imbibe some of the bubbly (diet Coke®) with Abraham Kuyper, whose life and writings help us consider how to build a public theology for the common good; Kuyper was a pastor who later became a professor, parliament member, prime minister, journalist, founder of a political party, and author of numerous books.

Bruce Ashford currently serves as Professor of Theology and Culture, a Fellow for the Bush Center for Faith and Culture, and the Provost and Dean of Faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is the author of Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians.

Who are your Seven Summits?

Join the conversation in the comments below and learn who are my Seven Summits and more about the book here.

Other posts in the Seven Summits series:

7 Summits with Ronnie Floyd and J. T. English

7Summits CoverWith the recent release of Seven Summits in Church History, designed to give a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers, I have asked several friends, pastors, and scholars to answer:

Who are your “Seven Summits”? Or, what figures in church history would you enjoy sharing a meal with?

On Fridays over the next few weeks, I have shared their responses and would love your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation in the comments.

Today, it is my delight to share who Ronnie Floyd and J. T. English think are seven summits in church history worth knowing:

Ronnie Floyd’s Seven Summits:

These seven men have shaken not only the world, but my life in many ways:

  1. John Hus, even prior to the Reformation, his courage resembled the apostles and served as a foretaste of more to come
  2. Martin Luther, his boldness to stand for the gospel in his generation inspires me to do the same today
  3. Jonathan Edwards, his scholastic brilliance blended with his mighty heart for God and his passion for the advancement of the gospel globally, is an example for me continually
  4. Charles Spurgeon, his legacy of preaching, writing, and ministry challenges me endlessly
  5. William Carey, leader, missionary, and visionary . . .  “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God”
  6. Dwight L. Moody, evangelist, pastor, innovator, educator, and world changer, the very things I pray I could emulate
  7. Billy Graham, his commitment and vision to reach the world for Christ challenges me daily

Ronnie Floyd is the Senior Pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas and the current President of the Southern Baptist Convention. The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention will convene in St. Louis Missouri June 14-15, 2016 and Dr. Floyd has written on how members of the convention can prepare.

J. T. English’s Seven Summits:

If I could spend a day with seven figures from church history and have a conversation with them, I would want to talk to:

  1. Athanasius about the Incarnation
  2. Gregory of Nazianzus about pastoring
  3. Augustine about prayer
  4. Martin Luther about the German Reformation & Katharina von Bora about setting a new pattern of life for Protestant families
  5. John Calvin about the Holy Spirit
  6. Herman Bavinck about theological method
  7. Bill Bright about evangelism and to thank him for the impact that Cru had on my life (the Lord used the 4 Spiritual Laws to save me while I was in college).

J. T. English, who holds a PhD in Systematic Theology, serves as a Pastor of Training at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas where he is in charge of The Village Church Institute.

Who are your Seven Summits?

Join the conversation in the comments below and learn who are my Seven Summits and more about the book here.

Other posts in the Seven Summits series:

7 Summits with Malcolm Yarnell and Jim Hamilton

7Summits CoverWith the recent release of Seven Summits in Church History, designed to give a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers, I have asked several friends, pastors, and scholars to answer:

Who are your “Seven Summits”? Or, what figures in church history would you enjoy sharing a meal with?

On Fridays over the next few weeks, I will share their responses and would love your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation in the comments.

Today, it is my delight to share who Malcolm B. Yarnell III and James M. Hamilton, Jr. think are seven summits in church history worth knowing:

Malcolm Yarnell’s Seven Summits:

The seven summits of Christian history for me represent a broad and diverse group. Here are some of the conversations that I look forward to having with the saints in glory:

  1. Abraham: Yes, I know you said, “church history,” but all people are saved only through the mediating work of Christ on the cross. In that sense, Abraham and the other pre-incarnation believers in the coming Messiah may properly be classified as “proto-church” Christians. I would love to hear Abraham speak directly about the grace of God that came to him even in the midst of his own repetitive failure of courage, of his profound privilege to see the trinitarian appearance in Genesis 18, and of his gut-wrenching encounter with God on the slopes of Mount Moriah. To speak to the man who defines for us what it means to be “justified by faith” will be a profound privilege.
  2. John: While I look forward to meeting Peter, Paul, and the other apostles, I especially want to sit with the writer in the New Testament who has shaped my own theology so. The crispness of John’s realization-that this man whom he had heard with his own ears, seen with his own eyes, and held with his own hands-that this man is also the eternal Word begotten of the Father before the ages-still shocks me and shapes my whole reality. I want to see the hands that held our Master dear and close to him during that last supper, and I want to thank John for witnessing with such poetic power to me about the One whom he saw, he heard, he touched.
  3. Gregory of Nazianzus: Gregory is known in church history simply as “the Theologian,” and that for good reason. While reading Gregory’s works, including his famous “Five Theological Orations,” one will hear a particularly and peculiarly powerful proclamation of God the Trinity. Gregory helps us to begin comprehending, nay merely glimpsing, the incomprehensible. He teaches us how to detect the lineaments of the revelation of the divine nature as a three-personed relationality through a proper reading of the biblical text. In the light that he perceived and poetically portrayed I have seen again the Light that created, entered, and will conclude the world. I also look forward to commiserating with a man who likewise understands what it means never to have known a public place of peace.
  4. Patricius and Monica: Yes, rather than their son, Augustine, we should hear how his parents understood their son’s development into the man who would become the theologian that, for good and for ill, shaped all of Western thought. I want to hear Patricius describe the incredibly perverse philosophies/theologies that he paid good money for Augustine to learn. Why was Augustine so attracted to the dualisms of Mani? How exactly did he garner his innovative doctrine of libertarian free will, indeed of the whole human being, from Plotinus? I want to hear Monica describe the transformative grace of God that came to Augustine after years of tearful prayers for her brilliant and wayward son. After that, perhaps we can listen to Augustine with some discernment regarding his own extra biblical theological constructions, especially as he paved the way for then responded to the Pelagians.
  5. Abelard and Heloise: Wouldn’t it be interesting to gather these two long-separated theological love birds, sit them down together, hold their hands, look them deep in the eyes and say, “So, you two, tell us how you really feel about sweet Uncle Fulbert?” (Okay. Not really. We would never be that cruel. The reader just needed a break from the routine. Check the history books if you want more detail. Not a pretty story. Back to business…)
  6. Michael Sattler: Yes, while multitudes of evangelicals are making medieval-like pious pilgrimages to visit the irascible Augustinian monk in Wittenberg or exalt in the presence of the supremely confident lawyer in Geneva, I want to stop for a moment in out of the way Horb and sit at the feet of a man who knew God with his whole heart, submitted his will entirely to the Word of God, and paid the price for teaching a more pristine theology than any of the other Reformers ever grasped. I want to see the tongue that was torn and the flesh that was ripped before looking at the hand that was raised through the fire as a sign that God gives his witness grace to persevere even through the worst that man can do to him. Then, Michael will take his blessed hand and he will point my wet eyes toward the source of all Christian truth and courage, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  7. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Among all the theologians of modernity, it is Bonhoeffer who has challenged me most to be like Jesus in the midst of a culture and a church that is far less interested in the ways of God than in their own ways. This is not to say, mind you, that I agree with everything that Bonhoeffer said, but what a beautiful and courageous soul he has alongside a keen and restless mind. I will rejoice with him in our Savior’s presence.
  8. Bertie Mills: Bertie never preached a sermon and never wrote a book. She was not extraordinarily handsome nor was she particularly bright. She never led a meeting and few people outside of 20th-century Bossier City, Louisiana had a clue as to who she was. Like so many of the best Christians on this planet, she will never receive the accolades of the scholars and the pundits. But from her loins came over 100 descendants who professed Jesus as Lord. She was faithful to her Savior for over 100 years on this planet, and it was in her house that the Lord called me back to faithfulness. I just want to tell her, “Thank you for living consistently for the Lord in your family and in your church. I wish we had all been more like you. You are the summit of church history because you kept pointing us to Jesus.”

Malcolm B. Yarnell III is Professor of Systematic Theology, Director of the Oxford Study Program, Director of the Center for Theological Research, and Chair of the Systematic Theology Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. A prolific author of scholarly articles and academic works, he is the author of the forthcoming work God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits and is scheduled for release in April 2016.

Jim Hamilton’s Seven Summits:

This is going to be a pretty non-theological (although chiastic) answer. (Note balancing aspects of structure, parallel language, and the way the centerpoint of the chiasm is the best and most important thing I say):

Two of the seven I’d like to spend a day with would be Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson. And wouldn’t it be great if it were a day in Spring Training, maybe the spring heading into Jackie’s first year in the Big Leagues? I wouldn’t want to intrude on their lives, just be a fly on the wall, so to speak, to watch them in action.

The third Christian from church history that I think it would be fascinating to spend a day with would be William Shakespeare. From what he wrote, I’m pretty confident he was a genuine believer, and our lack of hard evidence on him results in biographers doing a lot of guesswork based on the plays. Could I bring some biographical facts back to the future with me?

My fourth choice is the person that I’d spend every day of church history with if I could. Her name is Jillian Ashley Hamilton, and she is spectacular. I’m so blessed to be her husband.

Balancing Shakespeare, I’m also pretty confident that the poet who wrote Beowulf was a Christian, and it would be fascinating to enter his world for a bit. Here too it would be nice to bring his name and some info on him back with me.

And I’m going to close it out as I opened, with another pair, two of my favorite people. This time I don’t want to be a fly on the wall but to interact with them–maybe next fall at ETS we can pull it off on whatever unique excursion you’ve good cooking, because my last two are Denny Burk and Jason Duesing.

James M. Hamilton, Jr. is Professor of Biblical Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the preaching pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. His most recent work is What is Biblical Theology? A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Pattern.

Who are your Seven Summits?

Join the conversation in the comments below and learn who are my Seven Summits and more about the book here.

Other posts in the Seven Summits series:

7 Summits with Nathan Finn and Jared Wilson

7Summits CoverWith the recent release of Seven Summits in Church History, designed to give a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers, I have asked several friends, pastors, and scholars to answer:

Who are your “Seven Summits”? Or, what figures in church history would you enjoy sharing a meal with?

On Fridays over the next few weeks, I will share their responses and would love your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation in the comments.

Today, it is my delight to share who Nathan A. Finn and Jared C. Wilson think are seven summits in church history worth knowing:

Nathan A. Finn’s Seven Summits:

It’s hard to choose only seven summits from church history, but I’ll take a crack at it. I don’t think these men are necessarily the most important figures in church history–whatever that means. But these are the guys I most want to meet:

  1. Augustine is likely the most influential theologian in the history of the church, at least as it developed in the West.
  2. Martin Luther was the key figure in the Reformation era and would almost certainly both teach me a ton and keep me laughing while he did so.
  3. Jonathan Edwards is the theologian who has most shaped my understanding of the Christian life; I owe him a deep spiritual debt.
  4. Andrew Fuller helped mediate Edwards’s thought into Baptist life, which proved catalytic in the birth of a renewal movement that both renovated Baptist doctrine and propelled Baptists and other evangelicals into global missions.
  5. I don’t agree with some of what Karl Barth wrote, but I’d love to buy him a steak and hear him talk about his theological journey out of liberalism.
  6. C. S. Lewis has also had a significant influence upon my thinking and would rival Luther as the best conversationalist on the list.
  7. I think Martin Luther King Jr. and I would have some serious theological disagreements, but I greatly admire his faith-driven courage and would love to hear his thoughts on the state of religion and race in contemporary America.

I know this is cheating, but just to get in all the conversations I want to have, I’d also schedule a conference call with IrenaeusThomas Aquinas, John Calvin, John BunyanJohn Wesley, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’m not sure what we’d talk about, but I know it would be a great conversation!

Nathan A. Finn serves as Dean of the School of Theology and Missions as well as Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He is the author of History: A Student’s Guide.

Jared C. Wilson’s Seven Summits:

If I could spend a day with any seven figures from the history of Christianity, they would be:

  1. C.S. Lewis – Without a doubt, my all-time favorite writer and, I believe, the greatest Christian writer of the modern age. Lewis kindled my early appetite for the literary world.
  2. Keith Green – Green’s music was especially helpful to me during my high school years. It — and he — was so unabashedly God-saturated and so unembarrassed by the Christian faith, and yet his sincere passion and unpretentious gifting kept his songs from sounding like the propaganda they might have sounded like coming from anybody else. The biography of him written by his widow Melody was also pretty influential on my teenaged discipleship to Jesus.
  3. Martin Luther – I just feel like this stormy, neurotic, gospel-stubborn ox-man would really get me.
  4. Jonathan Edwards – While my affections run mostly with Luther, my expression runs directly from Edwards. I just love how he was up in the heavens in his sermons, splashing in the glories. And I know he did not do so from the comfort of an easy chair.
  5. George Whitefield – I became an admirer during my days pastoring in New England, but I really got turned on to his translation of gospel truths after reading Thomas Kidd’s recent biography. I’ve been making my way through Whitefield’s collected sermons ever since. I think I’d like to see how much of the apparent anointing this faithful preacher had came through in general conversation. He was an exceptional man, full of life and character, also beset by pain and suffering, like so many of the Church’s greats are. To have a coffee or a meal with this giant would be a dream come true.
  6. G.K. Chesterton – My admiration for Chesterton’s writings — his Father Brown stories in particular, and of course his classic apologetic work Orthodoxy — is nearly the same as my admiration for Lewis’s — not at the same level, but close. But I’d be willing to bet that Chesterton would make me laugh more than Lewis could, and I like to laugh.
  7. The Apostle Simon Peter – I don’t know if we are allowed to use heavy hitters from biblical history, but I couldn’t avoid naming the disciple whom I love. Paul gets all the press, of course, but I resonate more with Peter, if only because his faults and flaws shine more glaringly in the Gospels (and Galatians). I think it’d be a wonder to look at his face, to hear his voice, and to get some personal perspective on all that we know about this precious saint from God’s word.

Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also the managing editor of For the Church and the author of The Story of Everything: How You, Your Pets, and the Swiss Alps Fit into God’s Plan for the World.

 

Who are your Seven Summits?

Join the conversation in the comments below and learn who are my Seven Summits and more about the book here.

Other posts in the Seven Summits series:

7 Summits with Paige Patterson and Jason Allen

7Summits CoverWith the recent release of Seven Summits in Church History, designed to give a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers, I have asked several friends, pastors, and scholars to answer:

Who are your “Seven Summits”? Or, what figures in church history would you enjoy sharing a meal with?

On Fridays over the next few weeks, I will share their responses and would love your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation in the comments.

Today, it is my delight to share who Paige Patterson and Jason Allen think are seven summits in church history worth knowing:

Paige Patterson’s Seven Summits:
  1. Irenaeus of Lyon in France – early premillennialist, close to John the Apostle
  2. Vigilantius of Leon in Spain – early evangelical who stood for the pure gospel against Jerome
  3. John Hus – precursor of the Reformation and powerful preacher
  4. Peter Waldo – one of the greatest soul-winners of all time
  5. Balthasar Hubmaier – Anabaptist theologian and martyr
  6. B. H. Carroll – frontier church planter and theologian of the American West
  7. David Livingstone – african missionary, cartographer, and hunter

Paige Patterson currently serves as the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is the author of Revelation: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture in the New American Commentary Series published by Broadman and Holman.

Jason Allen’s Seven Summits:
  1. Athanasius – because it is impossible to overstate Nicea, or Athanasius’ role in it. Christianity would not Christianity without Nicea and Athanasius.
  2. Augustine – because, after Paul, he is the primary tributary of Protestant, Reformed thought.
  3. Martin Luther – because he might be the most courageous Christian who ever lived, and because his personality and prose would make Donald Trump blush.
  4. John Calvin – because, love him or hate him, his Institutes of the Christian Religion is one of the most consequential theological works ever written. You simply cannot be a serious theologian without reading it and engaging him.
  5. George Whitefield – because he preached the gospel like no one before or since, and, literally, preached himself into his grave doing it.
  6. Charles Spurgeon – because given all that he was, did, experienced and accomplished, there is no one I’d rather meet, save Jesus.
  7. J. Gresham Machen – because he called theological liberalism out for what it really is—another, non-Christian, religion.
  8. Adrian Rogers – because, though he was more a pastor than a theologian, he in 1979 publicly launched, led, and won the most consequential theological fight in the history of my denomination, the SBC.

Jason K. Allen currently serves as the President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. He frequently writes at his website jasonkallen.com and is the author of the forthcoming Discerning Your Call to Ministry: 10 Questions to Help you Decide published by Moody later this year.

Who are your Seven Summits?

Join the conversation in the comments below and learn who are my Seven Summits and more about the book here.

Other posts in the Seven Summits series:

 

7 Summits with Danny Akin & Russell Moore

7Summits CoverWith the recent release of Seven Summits in Church History, designed to give a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers, I have asked several friends, pastors, and scholars to answer:

Who are your “Seven Summits”? Or, what figures in church history would you enjoy sharing a meal with?

On Fridays over the next few weeks, I will share their responses and would love your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation in the comments.

Today, it is my delight to share who Danny Akin and Russell Moore think are seven summits in church history worth knowing:

Danny Akin’s Seven Summits:
  1. Papias because he studied under the Apostle John.
  2. Athanasius because he was at Nicaea.
  3. Augustine because that is a no-brainer.
  4. Martin Luther because he would be so much fun.
  5. George Whitefield because of all he did and saw.
  6. David Brainerd because he really is responsible for the modern missions movement.
  7. Adoniram and Ann Judson because I am humbled when I consider all they endured for Christ and the people of Burma.

Daniel L. Akin10who currently serves as the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina and is the author of 10 Who Changed the World.

 

Russell Moore’s Seven Summits:
  1. Irenaeus of Lyons. He is my favorite theologian. I’ve leaned much from him about how the entire story of Scripture and the universe is summed up in Jesus the Christ.
  2. Justin Martyr. He stood up for Christ with boldness against all sorts of cultural pressures. Like Apollos, he was mighty in the Scriptures.
  3. Augustine of Hippo. His thought shaped the course of the Western church. Who would not want to consult with this inimitable mind and soul?
  4. Martin Luther. I would want to visit with Luther, and not only because my theology has been so shaped by him. I am an awful sinner, and my biggest struggle is to believe that God loves me. Luther hammered home the gospel as outside of us, hidden in Christ. He celebrated the freedom that comes from free grace. I need to hear that every day, even if it’s in German.
  5. Andrew Fuller. He’s my favorite Baptist in church history. Reading his work transformed my ministry in terms of the free offer of the gospel and the reasons for it.
  6. C. S. Lewis. No one’s writings have influenced more than his, starting from a The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which gripped my childhood imagination. I would love to sit for an evening and ask question after question about God, imagination, culture, and heaven.
  7. Fannie Lou Hamer. She was my fellow Mississippian, a Christian woman who endured beatings and imprisonment for the cause of racial justice and civil rights. I would love to learn from a woman so brave and confident that she could stand up to a white supremacist police state, and, ultimately, win.

Russell D. Mooreonward currently serves as the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. He previously served as Provost and Academic Dean for the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Moore is the author of Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.

Who are your Seven Summits?

Join the conversation in the comments below and learn who are my Seven Summits and more about the book here.

 

Seven Summits in Church History

Augustine. Luther. Calvin.

Hubmaier. Edwards. Carey. Henry.

Some of the richest spiritual lessons have come to me by way of great biographies. Jason has chosen seven fascinating, critically important figures and distilled some of their most important contributions to our faith and life. It’s a delight to read. 

–J.D. Greear, Pastor of The Summit Church, author of Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart and Gospel

In Seven Summits, Jason G. Duesing gives a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers.

The history of Christianity is like that of a great mountain range, with immense length comprised of peaks and valleys, enduring both stormy and prosperous weather. Certain figures in this history have risen to high peaks and represent significant moments in theological development. These figures are the hinge for major swings in the expansion of Christian thought.

Duesing offers a quick, yet insightful introduction to seven of the highest peaks worth climbing in church history. His biographical summaries include Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Hubmaier, Edwards, Carey, and Henry. By examining the peaks of Christian history in these seven figures, this book engages several key issues without overwhelming the reader.

It is brief but packed with pertinent information any student of history should know.

Seven Summits in Church History
Jason G. Duesing
Rainer Publishing, 2016
132 pages

Available today at Amazon from Rainer Publishing.

What People Are Saying About Seven Summits in Church History

For those intimidated by church history, or for those who want to learn more but don’t know where to start, this little book may be just what you need. Dr. Duesing offers a user-friendly introduction to seven sinners saved by grace who shaped the life of the church in significant ways. Think of those mini theological biographies as enticing appetizers designed to whet your reading appetite for more!

Justin Taylor, Vice President of Book Publishing at Crossway and he blogs at Between Two Worlds—hosted by The Gospel Coalition.

Jason Duesing’s Seven Summits in Church History delivers serious Christian history in a crisp, lively format. I recommend it to anyone wanting a reliable introduction to the history of Christianity, from the perspective of some of its greatest minds, from Augustine to Jonathan Edwards and more.

Thomas S. Kidd, Professor of History, Baylor University

Studying the history of the Church is vital to Christian life but often viewed as a daunting endeavor. With short, concise chapters on seven major figures in the history of the Church, Jason Duesing has produced an incredibly helpful book for the everyday Christian looking to explore Church History.

Kevin Peck, Lead Pastor at The Austin Stone Community Church, Austin, Texas

Jason Duesing has done it again! He has shown the importance of Christian history by giving us these succinct and accurate vignettes of seven of the most important figures among the people of God—from St. Augustine to Carl F.H. Henry. A great primer in Christian biography.

Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture.

Every movement needs heroes. Evangelicals stand to gain wisdom and perspective by standing on the mountaintops of church history and looking at our current setting in light of what God has done in the past. In this book, Jason Duesing provides an introductory guide to important figures in church history. This is a book that is both insightful and accessible and will serve to whet your appetite for further study.

Trevin Wax, Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, author of Clear Winter Nights, Gospel-Centered Teaching, and Counterfeit Gospels

If anybody’s looking for a tantalizing appetizer for the big world of church history, this little book on 7 of the heaviest hitters can’t be beat.

Jared C. Wilson, Managing Editor of For the Church, author of Gospel Deeps, Gospel Wakefulness, and The Story of Everything.

This is an excellent tool for the novice to the history of Christianity and also a great reminder for more advanced students that God changes history through people.

Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History, Southern Seminary.

You can purchase Seven Summits here.

For updates and more information follow Seven Summits on Twitter at @7SummitsHistory or take a look at the Seven Summits Facebook page.

Reviews of Seven Summits:

(Feb 2016) Books at a Glance by Cody Glen Barnhart

(Apr 2016) Evangelicals Now by Michael A. G. Haykin

(April 2016) LifeWay Pastors by Mark Dance

(April 2016) Hobbits and Handkercheifs by Joe Garner

(Aug 2016) Themelios 41:2 by Michael A. G. Haykin

(Spring 2016) SWJT 58:2 by W. Madison Grace II

Seven Summits Series Posts: