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May 23, 2012


Mark Jennings

Fascinating question Andy. I reckon I'd want to have Fiddes in my top ten, at least! And Stan Grenz on the USA side. Ps Much as we admire and rightly want to appropriate the invigorating thinking of David Bosch he wasn't a baptist. He served from within the Dutch Reformed Church in RSA. Baptism for the dead?

Andy Goodliff

Mark, I'd put Fiddes on the 21st century side - otherwise he'd be there, probably likewise for Grenz. According to Steve Holmes in his new book Baptist Theology, Bosch was a Baptist, but a quick internet search seems to say you're right, he was not.

Kevin Davis

A strong case can be made for E. Y. (Edgar Young) Mullins. Though Mullins was born in 1860, all of his major publications were in the 20th century, along with his presidency of the SBC and the BWA. He is most known for his 'Axioms of Religion' (1908), which defined the Baptist self-identity in America for generations to come. But, by far his most impressive work is his dogmatics, 'The Christian Religion in Its Doctrinal Expression' (1917), a fine exemplar of neo-orthodoxy before "neo-orthodoxy" was coined. There is much to not like about Mullins, especially his idealizing of "soul-competency," but he was a creative and challenging theologian -- a moderate back when moderates were allowed in the SBC. Even apart from his scholarship, his work as a churchman (Southern Seminary president and professor, SBC president, BWA president, creator of the first 'Baptist Faith and Message') is alone enough to mark his enduring significance in 20th century Baptist life.


I agree with the above comments about Fiddes and Grenz.

I've been googling 'Soul Competency' - VERY interesting! Fascinating to see modern Southern Baptists disliking it so much and wanting to reinstate a kind of priesthood of Bible experts. Hardly the only evangelicals to be doing that, though...

Personally, I'd have to go with Tony Campolo, who shaped my own adolescent understanding of the gospel more than anyone else. And he's funny.

Simon Woodman

Like your list, but I'd add D.S. Russell - not only a world-class academic who wrote a game-changing book (The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic), not only a Principal of a college, not only General Secretary of BUGB, but also a CBE for services to human rights.


Hi Andy,

Thanks for blogging this, the answers are really helpful.
The reason I asked the question in the first place was to help inform me as to whose papers it would be important to preserve in The Angus for future generations.

Therefore my focus was more geared towards UK people rather than US, but I would be more than happy to receive key US papers as well if they came our way.

So I'd love to hear more people's ideas as to who they think is important, there does seem to be a gender imbalance at the moment.....


PS. I have deliberately not defined the term important


No space for Jimmy Carter? He'd be in my top ten for sure!


Thanks for the list, Andy. I must say that the Baptists from the UK are mostly unknown to me, so this is helpful.

As an addition, how about Howard Thurman on the US list as an 'important Baptist'?

Also, why Grenz in 21st century? Not disagreeing, just interested in your reasoning.


Andy Goodliff

Emma - lack of women is a big issue; in part depends on how we interpret 'important'. See conversation last year around creating a list of baptist saints: http://andygoodliff.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/08/creating-a-list-of-baptist-saints.html The sad fact is that most of those that affected baptist life or made an impact on the world were men. My hope is that the 21st C will tell a very different story.

Tyler - Grenz is major work was between 1990-2005 (much like Fiddes from 1988), and so fall in between the centuries. Its a judgement to put them 21st rather than 20th. In 2000, Grenz' systematic theology was reprinted, and he published Theology Without Foundations, which in many ways I might suggest marked a shift in his theology.

Jonathan - the list is headed those in who might be in the running, not definitive and Jimmy Carter probably should be in there somewhere. The list continues those who made an impact on the world - MLK and Billy Graham and those who made an impact on baptist life and theology - shakespeare, payne, beasley-murray and mcclendon.


Thanks for response. Was thinking further -- what about Walter Rauschenbusch for the list?


I'd second Mullins. I don't think any list that includes Americans can exclude him. He was, after all, simultaneously the presidents of the SBC, BWA and SBTS. That's one very influential Baptist.

David Judkins

Emma/Andy, yep, it's a shame that women wouldn't feature prominently (if at all?) on this list...

How about Steve Chalke? I would say he's been hugely influential on the evangelical scene in the UK over the last few decades (or would he come under 21st century)?

Brandon Morgan



Yes, Rauschenbusch (apologies for such a late response). If 'important' is the criteria surely he can't be too far from the conversation. And since _Christianity and the Social Crisis_ was published in the 20th century there's a good argument for him to considered there. For certain American baptists, like David Gushee at McAfee for instance, his legacy and work is especially important.

ian tutton

James Henry Rushbrooke...early C20...pioneer in European baptist federation working...former president of BWA...highly influential in anglo/german christian reconciliation in aftermath of WW1...first minister @ Hampstead Garden Suburb Free Church - pioneering ecumenical work...Ernest Payne has written of him..

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