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June 24, 2007


Jason Goroncy

Jim. Sounds like almost as much work as writing another book. Great question regarding identifying contrasting figures for a possible new chapter. Though they may not meet all your criteria I thought of a few possible candidates.

Eugene Peterson (a spirituality of Sabbath) and Bono (a spirituality of Jubilee)


Brother Yun (a spirituality of persecution and martyrdom) and Tom Smail (an evangelical-charismatic spirituality)


some combination of James Torrance, Luci Shaw, Don Carson and Alister McGrath.

I may think of others (and I'm looking forward to what other bloggers might propose) but I wish I hadn't read your blog this morning. I have some serious reading to do today and now it will be competing in my brain space with thinking about possibilities for your final chapter.


Jim. I also wondered about Jim Wallace (instead of Bono) or Ray Anderson or Donald Bloesch or ... ? You were right, the pickings is slim!


How about Jim Gordon and Stuart Blythe?

simon jones

How about Philip Yancey - due to his influence (judged by book sales) - and John Drane ( a fellow Scot and influencial thinker South of the border among a certain group of evangelicals). The contrast between them is that Yancey is seen as mainstream and Drane as a maverick. I reckon they're not as different as their reputations paint them.
Others to consider are Eugene Peterson, Brian McClaren and maybe even Rob Bell - though maybe he's a bit new. And how about
Mike Frost and Alan Hirsch who are exploring the spirituality of being missional.

andy goodliff

what about steve chalke?

jim gordon

OK - back to my original question / dilemma - of all those suggested, how many of suggestions so far made are able to be named in the same company as Wesley, Edwards,Simeon, Spurgeon, Havergal, Forsyth or Stott? I suppose a helpful question would be - what criteria determines someone's influence / stature / presence within a spiritual tradition? Any suggestions here?


Were all those people you mention recognised as hugely influential in their day ie when they were alive? Is there something here about the passage of time?

andy goodliff

In my opinion the list you have already reflects people who had popular appeal and influence, the person in the pew had heard of them - i think steve chalke and eugene peterson and philip yancey fit that bill.


Jim - joining the conversation late, and I see you've posted further on this.That said here's my thoughts.Those you mention i.e. Wesley to Stott were primarily working and ministering in a period where modernity gave society and church a greater unity. Technology meant that the printed word and the spoken word at a gathered public event held much greater power then they perhaps do now. I would also hazzard to gues that in generations past lay people in the church were more aware of issues of doctrine. I am sturck that one reason so many people now feel free to choose a church like any other consumer product is due to the fact that how church feels is more important than the doctrine it teaches and thus tries to live.
I think all these factors means that in some respects it's harder for someone to reach the stature, the authority rating of a Wesley or Stott in todays fragmented and pluralistic society. Having said all this I'd choose the late Stan Grenz!

jim gordon

Brodie, your point is exactly to the point! And it doesn't only affect Evangelicalism though a tradition so focused on individual experience is particularly vulnerable to a culture where personal choices are made with an eye towards personal fulfilment. And yes, authority structures within religious communities are also eroding so that allegiances are much more dissipated, leadership much less authority based, and choices far more diverse. All makes for an intriguing if uncertain fauture for traditions of faith forced into transition in a transitory culture.

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