America’s Most Influential Evangelicals

America’s Most Influential Evangelicals June 21, 2012

Cleaning out my office this week, I came across Time magazine’s February 2005 list of “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.”

Here’s the list, in the order of appearance (though Time didn’t rank it):

Rick Warren
James Dobson
Howard and Roberta Ahmanson
Dianne Knippers
Michael Gerson
Richard John Neuhaus (a curious choice, I thought then and now)
T.D. Jakes
Billy and Franklin Graham
Joyce Meyer
Rick Santorum (a slightly less curious choice than Neuhaus after the 2012 primaries)
Luis Cortes
Tim and Beverly LaHaye
Charles Colson
Douglas Coe
J.I. Packer
David Barton
Mark Noll
Ralph Winter
Richard Land
Stephen Strang
Ted Haggard
Stuart Epperson
Bill Hybels
Brian McLaren
Jay Sekulow
John Stott (as a transatlantic inspiration)

I found the list interesting in several respects: the inclusion of two Catholics, the inclusion of only one Hispanic; and only two women outside of the two listed as part of a couple. Why wasn’t George W. Bush included? The editors chose to exclude some other then-obvious choices, such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Don Wildmon, choosing instead to introduce less familiar names to its readers.

In 2012, we’d have to make several obvious and sad deletions (Stott, Colson, Winter, Knippers, Neuhaus. Others no longer seem as influential, including Dobson, Gerson, and possibly even Billy Graham. Haggard = definitely not.

Some holdovers are certain, such as Warren, Richard Land, T.D. Jakes, and David Barton (we’d rather have John Fea, but he’s yet to make the Daily Show), and probably Bill Hybels.

Some new choices would also be obvious: Joel Osteen and Tim Tebow, for starters. Perhaps Mike Huckabee. Rob Bell? There must be other Latinos and at least one Asian American who should make such a list in 2012.

Who else?

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  • Not Rob Bell, who is considered outside the boundaries for many evangelicals now (and since he left Mars Hill, you don’t see much of him anyway…). Tim Keller has to be on there. Francis Chan? Beth Moore? Mark Driscoll? I also think it is also important to distinguish between popular, and influential. Mark Noll is influential, but not popular, and I think you could say the reverse about David Barton.

  • johnturner

    I haven’t followed Bell closely; I imagine you are corrct.

    Keller, I agree, as well as Moore (how many Bible studies across the country use her study guides?) and Driscoll.

    I think Barton does have a great deal of influence on the opinions of non-elite evangelicals, if that makes sense.

    I had to look up Francis Chan — very impressive!

  • Brian

    Agree on Keller, Moore, and Driscoll. In the last couple years, I think Chan’s influence has probably waned.

    I would add George W. Bush, John Piper, and possibly Eric Metaxas.

  • johnturner

    Good thoughts. Metaxas has become more influential. He’s visited my church in Mobile, Alabama, twice in recent years — a fabulous speaker.

  • Matt Chandler, although not there quite yet, might be an up-and-comer on the list now that he is the president of Acts 29 and has a new book out (it might even be his first book). I’d consider N.T. Wright for the the “John Stott memorial” spot. No evangelical sermon at Easter is complete without Wright’s arguments for the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection, he releases books at the same rate that Tyler Perry releases movies, and despite the fact that he had a throw-down with Piper, both Mark Driscoll and Rob Bell have good things to say about aspects of his work.

  • Dear John and Patheos gang, I think it’s high time that the racial and racialized nature of “evangelical” label and scholarship be addressed forthrightly:
    Since “evangelical” is a category here at Patheos … and since it’s current writers are white men largely writing about white men, should the issues of race and gender be made more explicit?

  • One African American evangelical that has extensive influence is the rapper Lecrae. He tops the iTunes charts with his album releases, and is popular across the evangelical racial divide (amongst the under-30 crowd at least).

  • Bear Reed

    Is a person evangelical because (s)he professes to be “evangelical” or because (s)he conforms to the doctrines which define “evangelicalism”? For that matter, are there a set of doctrines which define “evangelicalism” as compared to “Roman Catholicism”, “Eastern Orthodoxy” or “Mormonism”?
    I think, before we start creating lists of celebs who are “influential evangelicals”, we need to put some thought into what an evangelical is & what an evangelical isn’t.
    … and if evangelical can stretch to mean “no hell” & “Trinity is a secondary issue” & “Sola Scriptura” …. I’m not sure evangelical means anything.

  • johnturner

    Not that it settled the question, but look at my previous post (scroll down a few) where we had some discussion of evangelicalism’s definition.

  • dvd

    I would add Doug Batchelor and Shawn Boonstra to the list

  • This list is a joke. J.I. Packer, but not Tim Keller? Billy Graham, but not Fred Craddock? Ted Haggard and Rick Santorum? Tim LaHaye? Seriously?