TheologyDegreesOnline.com released an article some time ago that I stumbled upon recently listing the 40 Greatest Theologians. While some (Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley) were fairly good, many were just plain awful. The list included false teachers like Karl Barth, C.S. Lewis, Joseph Smith, Teresa of Avila, and even Non-Christians like Mohammad, Buddha, and Confucius. I thought that I could come up with a better list of 40. In fact, I could come up with 100 better than Joseph Smith and Buddha. This list is simply based off of my knowledge and preference, and is not an actual list of the absolute best. When I divide someone into a time period, I put them in the time where the majority of their ministry took place. This is not a list of my favorites, but the ones I see as having the most positive impact and sound doctrine.
To make things fair, I am not including anyone mentioned in Scriptures, as their Theology would be nearly perfect.
The Original Article can be found here.
Early Church (A.D. 33 - A.D. 325)
1. Clement of Rome (Unknown - 99) - First Bishop of Rome, before they were called popes and viewed as the head of the Church and sole interpreter of Scripture.
2. Polycarp (80 - 155) - Important figure in the Early Church. Student of the Apostle John, and a man whose preaching was used by God to save Irenaeus of Lyons.
3. Irenaeus of Lyons (130 - 202) - Student of Polycarp and First known Post-Apostolic Counter-Cult Apologist
4. Athanasius of Alexandria (296 - 373) - Most Vocal Opponent of the heresy of Arius (Known as Arianism), which denied the trinity and the deity of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit
5. Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430) - Most Vocal Opponent of heresies of Pelagius and Caelestius (Known as Pelagianism), which denied man's sin nature and claimed that perfection is possible. He carried a strong influence over the Protestant Reformation, particularly John Calvin, John Knox, and Martin Luther because of his preaching of Predestination. The doctrine known as Original Sin is also called Augustinianism, a namesake of his.
Age of Counsels (A.D. 326 - 1375)
Pre-Reformation (A.D. 1376 - 1516)
6. John Wycliffe (1320 - 1384) - Bible Translator and "Morningstar of the Reformation". Avid opponent of the Catholic office of Pope and the Ban on Non-Latin Bibles. Heavily influenced all Protestant Reformers to come.
7. Jan Hus (1369 - 1415) - First Protestant to leave the Roman Catholic Church for Doctrinal Reasons. Spoke against the Ban on Non-Latin Bibles, and Founder of the Hussites.
8. William Tyndale (1494 - 1536) - Bible Translator who opposed Prayer to Saints and the Ban on Non-Latin Bibles. He taught Justification by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Jesus Christ Alone, and also professed Predestination and Sola Scriptura. He heavily influenced Martin Luther and John Calvin.
Protestant Reformation (A.D. 1517 - 1629)
9. Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) - Starter of the Reformation. Denounced Prayer to the Saints, Papism, Indulgences, Infused Righteousness, and Prima Scriptura in favor of Christ being the sole Mediator, Christ being the Head of the Church, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Imputed Righteousness, and Sola Scriptura. Started the group known as the Lutherans, which hold many people throughout history such as Philipp Melancthon, C.F.W. Walther, and Chris Rosebrough
10. Philipp Melancthon (1497 - 1560) - Martin Luther's Right hand man and the author of the Ausburg Confession
11. Huldrych Zwingli (1484 - 1531) - Leader of the Swiss Reformation and Precursor to John Calvin. Professed the doctrine of Predestination/Election
12. John Calvin (1509 - 1564) - Founder of the Calvinists and Reformer who professed the Five Solae and Predestination. Author of the Famous/Infamous Institutes of the Christian Religion
13. Thomas Cranmer (1489 - 1556) - Early Anglican Leader who strived to shape Anglican Doctrine as close to Biblical Orthodoxy as possible. Although his career was cut short at his execution in 1556, he heavily influenced the Puritans, who, in my opinion, became what the Anglicans didn't.
14. John Knox (1514 - 1572) - Scottish Reformer and Evangelist who strongly opposed Counter-Reforming Queens of England and Scotland, "Bloody" Mary I and Mary of Scotland. His biggest contribution is the founding of the Presbyterians, a group of Christians that has included such people as D. James Kennedy and R.C. Sproul.
American Colonial/British Imperial Times (A.D. 1630 - 1730)
15. John Owen (1618 - 1683) - Puritan Writer and Theologian during the Settling of Massachusetts
16. Thomas Watson (1620 - 1686) - Puritan Writer and Theologian during the Settling of Massachusetts
17. John Bunyan (1628 - 1688) - Early Baptist Leader and Author of the popular allegorical Book, Pilgrim's Progress
18. Benjamin Keach (1640 - 1704) - Early Baptist Leader and Writer of Keach's Catechism, or the 1693/1677 Baptist Catechism
First Great Awakening and Times Following (A.D. 1731- 1789)
19. George Whitefield (1714 - 1770) - British Evangelist and "Trumpet of the Great Awakening". Early Methodist Leader
20. Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758) - American Puritan Preacher, especially known for his popular and great sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"
21. John Wesley (1703 - 1791) - Co-Founder of the Methodists and British Evangelist
22. Charles Wesley (1707 - 1788) - Co-Founder of the Methodists and Hymn Writer
23. John Newton (1725 - 1807) - Former Slave Trader and Anglican Pastor. Abolitionist, Calvinist, and Writer of the Hymn known as "Amazing Grace"
24. William Wilberforce (1759 - 1833) - Abolitionist Leader who lead to total abolition in England. These ideals came from association and counsel with men such as John Newton and the Wesley brothers.
The First Downgrade (A.D. 1790 - 1900)
25. J.C. Ryle (1816 - 1900) - Anglican Bishop and supporter of the Good Traditions in Christianity
26. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 - 1892) - Reformed Baptist Preacher and Leader, strong opponent of the First Downgrade. Heavily influenced most of Modern Calvinism and Reformed theology, especially Reformed Baptist. Strong opponent of Slavery and Entertainment in Church.
Those Deceased From the Past Century (A.D. 1900 - 2015)
27. B.B. Warfield (1851 - 1921) - Presbyterian Minister and Strong opponent of Liberalism
28. A.W. Pink (1886 - 1952) - Calvinistic Author of many books, such as The Sovereignty of God
29. Cornelius van Til (1895 - 1987) - Father of Presuppositional Apologetics
30. A.W. Tozer (1897 - 1963) - Pastor, Author, and Magazine Editor
31. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899 - 1981) - Central Welsh Leader of Reformed and Calvinistic Christianity
32. Walter R. Martin (1928 - 1989) - Counter-Cult Apologist that opposed Mormonism, Catholicism, Jehovah's Witness, the Word-Faith Movement, the Prosperity Gospel, and Seventh Day Adventism, among others
Those Alive Today (The Second Downgrade)
33. J.I. Packer (B. 1929) - British Reformed Theologian and Author.
34. John F. MacArthur (B. 1939) - Reformed Theologian and Pastor. Critic of the Charismatic Movement, Yoga, Christian Science, and Roman Catholicism. Proponent of Calvinism, Cessationism, and Credo-Baptism
35. R.C. Sproul (B. 1939) - Presbyterian Minister and Strong Proponent of Reformed theology.
36. Ray Comfort (B. 1949) - New Zealand Evangelist and preacher of the Doctrine of Biblical Evangelism, also called the Way of the Master. Also a proponent of the Doctrine of True and False Conversion
37. Paul Washer (B. 1961) - Christian Missionary and Evangelist, who preaches against the Sinner's Prayer and Focus on Numbers while promoting Predestination, Perseverance of the Saints, True and False Conversion, and Regeneration.
38. James R. White (B. 1962) - Christian Apologist, Reformed Baptist, and Calvinist. Opposes heresies such a vinism, false teachers such as John Shelby Spong, Cults such as Mormonism, and False Religions such as Islam.
39. Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. (B. 1969) - Reformed Baptist Pastor and Theologian that influences both America and Africa
40. Conrad Mbewe - Reformed African Pastor deemed "The African Spurgeon". Strong opponent of the Charismatic Movement, The Word-Faith Movement, and the Prosperity Gospel.
About the Author
Brandon C. Hines is a young writer from somewhere in northern Alabama who writes about Theology, Polemics, and Apologetics. His beliefs are best summarized by the 1689 London Baptist Confession.
You can search for various topics I have written about by going to Google and typing in a keyword, then typing site:Learningthepath.weebly.com after it.