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top ten up-and-coming theologians?

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 12, 2006

In the spirit of my last post, I want to ask, “who do you think are the top ten up-and-coming theologians?” In other words, who is going to be hugely important in 10, 20, 30, or more years?
Here’s the rules: Your list must be 10 people or less. They have to be published and already showing influence. They don’t have to be academic theologians–theologically-minded practioners, ethicists, theologians, etc. are accepted. You have to have read something of theirs.

Here’s my list:

LeRon Shults
William Cavanaugh
Vincent Miller
Amos Yong
Miroslav Volf (I know I included him in my influential list, but I think his best work is still ahead)
Christine Pohl
Richard Hayes

Mark Van Steenwyk is the general editor of Jesus Manifesto. He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.


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Comments

Viewing 15 Comments

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    I agree with all of those, except maybe Christine Pohl (no, not because she's a woman). I'll add:
    John Franke
    Brian McLaren
    Cheryl Sanders (a woman, mind you)
    Greg Boyd
    Phillip Blond
    (And from my previous list: all those RO people and James KA Smith)
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    Hmm, tricky. I think I'd settle on:

    Amos Yong
    Scot McKnight (if only he'd specialise just a little)
    John Francke
    James KA Smith
    James Alison
    Denny Weaver
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    Michael Westmoreland-White 1 year ago
    Great idea. I don't have time just now for a list, but I have already decided to start an ongoing series of "Faces to Watch."
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    David L Wetzell
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    ...interesting choice, dlw :)
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    I think theology is going to go the same direction as law, becoming more of an interdisciplinary field and if there can be Law and Economics, then there may be Theology and Political-Economy...

    dlw
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    Michael Westmoreland-White 1 year ago
    I have another interesting idea for lists: Top Theologians in one's own denomination or theological tradition. In my case, that would be Top 10 (20?) Baptist theologians. Someone else would have Methodist or Pentecostal or Lutheran or Catholic or Orthodox or Mennonite, Reformed, etc.

    Oh, and theology was always cross-disciplinary.
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    Michael,

    Great idea! The only problem is that many of us are genuine mutts. I came into the faith as a non-denominational charismatic with lots of Pentecostal flavors. Two years ago I planted a church with the Baptist General Conference, but we are seeking (dual) affiliation with the Mennonite Church USA. What is my tradition?
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    Michael Westmoreland-White 1 year ago
    Good point. Pick one. I am very committed to ecumenism, but not eclecticism. I think the Body of Christ is healthier when folks have a definite sense of their respective dominant traditions--even if, as with most of us, there are also influences from elsewhere. Mixing and matching with no pattern, however, I do not believe is helpful.
    Thus, I am a Baptist who draws more from the Anabaptist part of my heritage than from the Puritan part or the revivalist part. But I also have strong Mennonite influences, some charismatic impulses, and lesser influences from the Reformed and Catholic traditions. When asked, I used to just say "Baptist," but because of the dominance of fundamentalist Southern Baptists, I now usually say I am an (Ana)Baptist.

    Which part of the influences on you would you say is dominant? With a BGC/Mennonite dual affiliation, it sounds like you are more Anabaptist than charismatic/pentecostal. Make the call.
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    Michael,

    I always describe myself as an anabaptist--and I definitely theologize from that vantage point. The reason I brought up my own muttish background is to raise the point that the way we are rooted within traditions has changed--often more to do with consumer tastes than enculturation or thought-out theological reflection.

    I agree that we should anchor ourself within a tradition, otherwise I think we are left with a grocery-store approach to theology. But we can never fully encase ourselves within one particular tradition, and we will always struggle with submitting to something outside of ourselves (at least within our culture).

    And so, I usually say I am solidly Anabaptist. I've been profoundly influenced by the charismatic tradition, and to a generically baptistic evangelical tradition. But I think the parts I've enjoyed most thoroughly from my charismatic and evangelical background are those parts that touch upon Anabaptist themes. Though it could be argued I "chose" to be an Anabaptist in my mid 20s, I can see Anabaptistic thoughts and influences in the earliest days of my faith in Jesus Christ.
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    I think we're going to be more upfront about the interdisciplinary nature of theology, including in the backwaters of US Evangelicalism, hopefully.

    I think cross-pollinations are good things, though we inevitably tend to stand in one camp or the other.

    I consider myself a Swedish Baptist Pietist/(CS Peirce-style) Pragmaticist who is strongly influenced by Common Sensist Realism and Anglo-American Analytical philosophical tradition. I think Anabaptist thought reflects too much of an overreaction to the horrors of the 30 years war and their earlier persecutions. Yes, things went wrong in the fourth century with church-state relations, but that does not mean that church-state relations were meant to stay static.

    For me the critical test is whether something advances the kingship of God or undermines our witness as Christians.

    dlw
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    Michael Westmoreland-White 1 year ago
    Van,
    I get it.
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    I think there are divergent approaches within all traditions and so there is inevitably some selection among present or past hybridisations.

    I think we also choose who we dialogue with and that I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe the anabaptist tradition is well worth dialoguing with.

    dlw
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    Oh, Ched Myers. I definitely should have included Ched Myers!

    As for your new list suggestion, Michael, I like it but I think the discussion of anabaptist influence raises a problem. No anabaptist list would be complete without Hauerwas, who is clearly anabaptist, even if just with a small 'a'. Most identifications now seem to function a bit like "Charismatic", making them fluid and involving cross-pollination. So how/where would we draw the lines?

    I think my list would end up looking no different to "My top 10 favourite theologians" (which is different - and more subjective - than "Top 10 best theologians").
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    Michael Westmoreland-White 1 year ago
    Ched Myers for certain. Even though he has called himself a "Mennonite campfollower," Hauerwas' largest influences are Catholic--which is why he has recently become an Anglican. (Divorced and remarried, to a Methodist minister no less, Canterbury is as close to Rome as he can get.) So, I would have no problem leaving Hauerwas off a list of theologians in the Anabaptist tradition.

    If I could narrow the most important voices of my tradition to 10--it would NOT be identical to my favorite theologians.
 

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  • Kingdom Quest » Conversations

    December 17, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    [...] There’s alot of talk going around about top living theologians. (Michael, Mark, and Graham) I was just looking over ...

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