Poll: 20th Century Theologian who made greatest impact

The 21st Century will probably look little like the 20th. Globalization, race, gender, and creed will have a nearly incalculable impact on the church and the world – many of us think for the good.

In the Clayton Crockett podcast (Radical Theology), many names come to the surface. Who do you think had the greatest impact of the 20th Century theologians that were named (or another who was not)

you can pick 2 if you must .  Feel free to  leave a comment and let me know of any oversights!

[poll id="3"]

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21 comments
Bo Sanders
Bo Sanders

Cameron, the point is well taken. I have to admit - this has a been a fascinating experiment. I have closed poll in order to reorganize it. But the responses have been great. The new poll will come out later this week and will be about future projected influence. I just want to say three things for purposes of clarification: 1) I was working off those named in the interview - an initial limitation 2) if you read my intro paragraph, I say that the next century will be different than the last. 3) this is not about favorites. Look, I love Leonardo Boff and Elizabeth Johnson. LOVE THEM. But did they influence the 20th century as much as Barth and Tillich? No. I will be much more clear in the new poll ;) and I will ask everyone to not just ask questions (like 'why no women?') but offer suggestions like you did. -Bo p.s. I love this stuff. thank you for the wonderful conversation.

Cameron
Cameron

That's sort of my point. Why isn't Warfield in the conversation? He was a 20th Century Christian theologian who had an enormous impact on a sub-section of orthodox Christianity which has become one of the defining features of Christianity in the West. Like most of the folks around here (I presume) I don't particularly like his brand of theology. And there are many better names on that list. My question is more about how that list was generated. We've already pointed out the lack of women. There's only one name from the global south. Does one also have to espouse a particular brand of theology to be considered? (I'll admit I haven't had a chance to listen to the podcast yet. That might answer my question.)

Bill
Bill

Strong arguments could be made for Wolfhart Pannenberg and Hans Urs von Balthasar to be included. As for women, and as already mentioned above, it's a crime for Ruether not to be on that list. If the beginning of the 20th Century counts, then Rauschenbusch rules. In terms of impact, it's hard to underestimate Carl F. H. Henry (evangelical) and Rudolph Bultmann (liberal).

tom c.
tom c.

Impact on what? The Church, other theologians, 20th Century History? I'm more inclined to view theologians as figures who respond to their historical moments with syntheses or articulations of Christian tradition that more or less make sense for a particular audience. Sometimes those theological works transcend (to some extent) their locations and audiences, but even so I'm leery of thinking of individual people as the drivers of history (unless perhaps if we are just talking about the impact of a theologian on other theologians). So, I voted for "other" as a stand in for the social and historical dynamics to which these theologians responded (the rise of secularism(s), various wars, the Cold War, the end of colonialism, etc).

Duane
Duane

No John Howard Yoder?

Bob
Bob

No Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

Jeremy
Jeremy

interesting question would be knowing what your top 5 favs from the 20th are Altizer.

Tripp Fuller
Tripp Fuller

i imagine Barth or Tillich should be the only options if the question is biggest impact in the 20th century. now if it is which will have the longest impact then you are gonna need to add some more options. an interesting question would be knowing what your top 5 favs from the 20th are. then i would need to add E. Johnson and Jon Sobrino!

Hooten
Hooten

"Where all the white women at?" -- Blazing Saddles

Trisha
Trisha

Not a single woman is named. Ruether's Sexism and God-talk had a huge impact.

Jeremy
Jeremy

I don't think BB Warfield would qualify as on the most important 20th century theologian. He's not in the conversation. In America, James Cone and Reinhold Niebuhr are the most important theologians. However, I think Barth will go down as the most influential theologian. He's part of the greatest theologians of all time along with Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Schleiermacher, etc.

Cameron
Cameron

These folks are academics, and there's no question that they've had a lot of influence. But don't forget those who have influenced the thinking of Christians by popular appeal, even if their training wasn't necessarily in theological academia. I'm thinking of people like C.S. Lewis, William Barclay and Desmond Tutu. And if you're looking for influential theologians, you can't go past BB Warfield.

Bo Sanders
Bo Sanders

Additions made! Thank you for suggestions

Carl
Carl

No love for anyone of color?

Ryan
Ryan

I think that because of his orthopraxy having such a huge impact, often times Dietrich Boenhoeffer is overlooked in theological questions.

Nick
Nick

See. The problem here is in the question. I wanted to put who influenced the most, but that's not what you asked. :)

Bo Sanders
Bo Sanders

because I asked about impact? You wanted to talk about who influenced the most people? I'm interested in who would get your two different votes then!

Bo Sanders
Bo Sanders

Reinhold Niebuhr has been added. I was concentrating on the ones from the interview - so I apologize for the oversight ;)

Fred Clark
Fred Clark

A little love for Reinhold Niebuhr?