« Evangelicals of substance? | Main | The Paraclete as Community Theologian »

June 25, 2007


Ruth G

Hi Jim. I'm loving lurking here, and this has finally driven me out.... what about Jim McClendon, Steve Holmes and Ian Stackhouse?


Jim, is your goal to find those who ‘compare in stature to others over the past three hundred years’ or to find those who today exemplify the best of ‘Christian activity, writing, teaching’ and evangelical spirituality? If you are unconvinced about the depth of today’s offerings, then perhaps this in itself could form the basis of a final chapter. Though how do you do so without sounding like a grumpy old fundo whinging about how things aren’t not like they used to be?

Yes, I too wondered about the lack of female examples, but also about the total absence of those outside of the Anglo-American world. Surely we ought not be surprised to find examples of mature evangelical spirituality being nurtured outside of the West (or even in such God-forsaken places like Australia and New Zealand!), hence my mention of Brother Yun. He probably isn’t the best example but he is the one that came to mind.

I think your comments about Peterson are unfair. It is true that what you term ‘the modern publishing machinery and publicity technology’ do market Peterson well, but it seems to me that comparatively similar things could be said about Luther, Spurgeon, Stott and Lloyd-Jones in their own day. If you are going to excuse anyone who is well-marketed from your search then you had better end your book a decade or two back. For better or worse, these are our times.

In my view, Peterson represents some of the best evangelical spirituality and pastoral theology around. If millions of folk have found the same, then why should the richness and seriousness of his contribution be dismissed just because he is popular?

As far as I know, both Wallis and Smail consider themselves evangelicals – despite how pathetically and politically narrow this fuzzy term is banded around, especially in the USA. (As you are aware, this is part of the problem with your questions too – the defining of ‘evangelical’). I suggested Wallis because he represents a brand of activity-jubilee-spirituality that is certainly (to my mind) informed and shaped by evangelical convictions and he has had an enormous impact directly and indirectly on contemporary evangelicalism and spirituality.

I suggested Smail because I remain convinced that he is an important voice that would be taken much more seriously if he didn’t write so well. He also represents some of the best (if not the best) of anglo-charismatic theology around. The impact of the charismatic movement on contemporary mainstream evangelicalism ought to feature somewhere in your final chapter, if not in a larger way through dialogue with someone like Smail.

Donald Bloesch came to mind because he has not only written a 7 volume systematics ('Christian Foundations') and a 2 volume 'Essentials of Evangelical Theology', but also he has published some great books on prayer and spirituality. I think of 'The Struggle of Prayer' and 'The Crisis of Piety'.

Clark Pinnock are Stanley Grenz, as you suggest, are possible further examples. Grenz’s 'Prayer: The Cry for the Kingdom' (1988), 'Revisioning Evangelical Theology: A Fresh Agenda for the 21st Century' (1993), 'Created for Community: Connecting Christian Belief With Christian Living' (1996), '20th Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age' (1997, with Roger Olson), 'Theology for the Community of God (2000), Renewing the Center: Evangelical Theology in a Post-Theological Era' (2000), 'The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei' (2001), and 'Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology' (2004), among other works, makes him a definite contender I would think. I remain unconvinced that Pinnock is to be taken seriously enough to be counted as one of two of the examples you are seeking.

You wrote, ‘Nobody has yet mentioned Tom Torrance’. Certainly the Torrance tradition has had an enormous (thank God!) impact on evangelicalism. I suggested JB, rather than TF, because if your book is concerned with exploring evangelical ‘spirituality’ then it seems to me that this was more JB’s contribution than it has been TF’s – both in his own writing, and perhaps even moreso through the plethora of (published and unpublished) students that he has supervised. Speaking personally, JB’s essay ‘The Vicarious Humanity of Christ’ (published in The Incarnation, ed. By TF Torrance) and his book 'Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace' have been enormously influential.

While none of those I’ve mentioned might be as influential as Wesley, Edwards, Simeon, or Spurgeon, or as weighty as Forsyth, history may judge differently. Anyway, history is not the judge. Jim, you may need to make a decision that is based on criteria other than you used when you decided on Lloyd-Jones and Stott.

If we are talking influence, then Forsyth (shamefully) should probably not have been included. Of course, just because someone has extorted enormous influence in shaping an arm of the Church does not mean that they deserve a chance to bat on the team of your book.

If these comments don’t help, then I hope that at least they have not fogged up the issue.

Apologies for such a verbose response.


Jim - help me out here, what are you meaning by "substance"? Do you mean intellectual rigour, someone who does deep theology yet is accessible to the masses? Or do you mean someone who others look at and say "there's a great woman of God, I want to learn from her", someone of integrity who perhaps is not the greatest thinker on the block but in their life reflects something very profound about the gospel in a way that challenges and inspires others?
Oh and if your still collecting names for your list what about NT Wright or Oliver O'Donovan?
Also I would agree with Jason on Pinnock - nice man heard him speak a couple of years back, has some interesting things to say but lacks the depth of say a Gregory Boyd, and hey I thought Piper, Gruden and their heavies chucked Pinnock out of the Alliance of Evangelical Theologians? (Not that I'm agreeing with Piper et al).

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Currently reading

  • Paul Nimmo: Kenosis
  • Zahrnt: the question of god
  • harris: Act of oblivion

September 2023

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
My Photo

Currently reading

  • Paul Nimmo: Kenosis
  • Zahrnt: the question of god
  • harris: Act of oblivion