Today, Thom Rainer posted a list of the “twenty most influential evangelicals in America.” In light of the recent World Vision controversy, I think this list demonstrates precisely what is wrong with evangelicalism in America, at least as it is perceived and defined by most people – both insiders and outsiders. Namely, it is limited to those who are publicly conservative in their politics, against legal gay marriage (and hiring married gay people to do charity work, apparently), and limited in their interpretation of the Bible to an inerrancy-based, mostly neo-Calvinist perspective.
Here’s the list:
Matt Chandler — The lead pastor of teaching at The Village Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and prominent author. Chandler’s podcast is consistently in the top five of the leading Christian podcasts on iTunes.
Wilfredo De Jesus — Better known as Pastor Choco, he is the head pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago and the author of Amazing Faith. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in America in 2013.
Ross Douthat — Author, blogger and New York Times columnist. He was a senior editor at The Atlantic and wrote Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.
Tony Evans — Prolific author and senior pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. He is also founder and president of The Urban Alternative, a national organization that seeks to bring about spiritual renewal in urban America through churches.
Lecrae — Christian hip hop artist, record producer, and co-owner and co-founder of the independent record label Reach Records. Co-founder and president of the non-profit organization, ReachLife Ministries.
Dave Ramsey — Best known for his syndicated radio show, “The Dave Ramsey Show,” heard on more than 500 radio stations. Authored many books, including four New York Times bestsellers. Focuses on personal financial health.
Priscilla Shirer — Bestselling author and frequent speaker, largely at women’s events. Most common venue is Bible teaching to women. She and her husband, Jerry Shirer, own and run Going Beyond Ministries.
Rick Warren — Senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of the largest churches in the United States. Author of several books, including Purpose Driven Life, which has sold over 30 million copies.
Granted this is not a study, just a poll done by Rainer himself with his own readers. But I think it’s reflective of what most people think when they think “evangelical.”
Do you agree? And if so, what does that mean for the future of centrist/nuanced, progressive, and emergence evangelicals in the U.S.?