Top Authors – Who Rocks Your World?

Just a random thought today – seeing as how it is Friday and no one is paying attention anyway —

I got to thinking about the authors that have really influenced me – maybe not convinced me of the truth of every one of their thoughts, but the authors that invariably make me think deeply about their subject. I came up with 7 (a good biblical number) based on the number of books in my library, and by the significance of the author’s ability to cause me to reflect on my own beliefs and to think holistically.

Here are my seven: (well, I will actually throw in an eighth, but with a caveat)

  1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (if you know me, this was a no-brainer)
  2. C.S. Lewis (I am continually blown away by Lewis’ logic and penetrating insights)
  3. Thomas Merton (a contemplative’s contemplative; profound insights into human nature and Christian theology)
  4. Henri Nouwen (a poetic theologian, or a theological poet)
  5. N.T. Wright (a scholar who can write so I can understand him – a rare trait; has just exploded my understanding of many points theological)
  6. Os Guinness (just learning more about Guinness – but right up there with Bonhoeffer for penetrating intellect and Merton and Nouwen for powerful prose)
  7. John Stott (had to put a preacher/commentator on the list)

(And for my wild card – Glen Stassen, although with Dr. Stassen his influence has been primarily in the field of ethics, specifically in relation to the Sermon on the Mount and Christian ethics)

By the way, I have to explain why no authors from my own heritage are on this list – primarily it is because I already approach the subjects with which they interact in a posture of basic agreement. But, for sheer brilliance and depth of intellect, no one can even hold a candle to Everett Ferguson. I would be hopelessly lost in my journey in the Restoration Movement without such guides as Richard Hughes and C. Leonard Allen. In terms of historical knowledge and critical analysis, the peak of Mt. Olympus belongs to David Edwin Harrell, Jr. There, I think I have covered all of my bases.

So, who makes your list? Why? Any thoughts about new voices on the horizon? (Six out of my top eight are deceased, hmmm. Why is there such a dearth of theologians who can write anything more than vapid pablum today?)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Author: Paul Smith

Paul Smith was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds the Bachelor of Science in Youth Ministry, Master of Biblical Studies and Master of Divinity, all from Abilene Christian University; and the Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Paul's passion is in teaching and preaching the gospel. Beyond the study of the Bible, his main academic interest is in the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is an unashamed mountain-goat, and longs to spend his time with his feet in a cold trout stream.

5 thoughts on “Top Authors – Who Rocks Your World?”

    1. I’ve seen Newbigin referenced a lot…never really read much of him. And I was considering adding Willard, but (a) I only have a couple of his books, and (b) I don’t get the Divine Conspiracy. I have read it two or three times and just can’t follow him. Also, he has an understanding of the Sermon on the Mount that I question, but that is also why I read people like Willard, they make me think. Interesting, he is the only non Restoration Movement author given in this thread that I have heard live and in living color. Awesome speaker, I treasure that memory.


  1. I’ve read most of the authors on your list Paul. I would add Jim McGuiggan and John Mark Hicks from churches of Christ and Christopher J H Wright and his outstanding work on the OT. Sometimes Scot McKnight has had good material. The “one hit wonders” have a good book based on a title or a subject but either have no others or kind of fade.


    1. George, I will have to look up Wright’s OT work – I am not familiar with it. My only thoughts on McKnight is that he is so radically egalitarian – almost a radical feminist – that I have a hard time separating his other work from that issue. I know he has a huge following, but his method in dealing with male and female is so flawed that I question some of this other assertions. I guess maybe that says more about me than him, but that is how he strikes me.

      Thanks for the list – I like most of what Hicks writes, although sometimes I wonder if he does not have an agenda that is too carefully concealed. I would much rather an author be up-front with his or her direction, and it just seems to me that Hicks is not fully forthcoming with his intention. Once again, maybe that is just me.




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