With 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:
- Augustine is likely the most influential theologian in the history of the church, at least as it developed in the West.
- 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.
- Jonathan Edwards is the theologian who has most shaped my understanding of the Christian life; I owe him a deep spiritual debt.
- 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.
- 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.
- C. S. Lewis has also had a significant influence upon my thinking and would rival Luther as the best conversationalist on the list.
- 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 Irenaeus, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, John Bunyan, John 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Martin Luther – I just feel like this stormy, neurotic, gospel-stubborn ox-man would really get me.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: