Five most important Christian theologians

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historia
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Five most important Christian theologians

Post #1

Post by historia »

Question for debate:

Aside from Jesus, who are the five most important / influential / consequential theologians in the history of Christianity? And why?

Rank them from one to five, with one being most important.

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Post #2

Post by ttruscott »

Can't rank them but here it is anyway:


Augustine: for proving that the worldly Greek wisdom and the Latin scholars are useless to understand GOD.

Calvin: for proving that a strict adherence to an interpretation of the word without experiencing the love of GOD is useless to understand our place in this world.

Arminius: for proving that the love of GOD cannot negate the Scripture about our election and salvation being by HIS Spirit, not our own means.
PCE Theology as I see it...

We had an existence with a free will in Sheol before the creation of the physical universe. Here we chose to be able to become holy or to be eternally evil in YHWH's sight. Then the physical universe was created and all sinners were sent to earth.

This theology debunks the need to base Christianity upon the blasphemy of creating us in Adam's sin.

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Post #3

Post by brianbbs67 »

I vote for one. Arius.. The others probably are lost to time.

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Re: Five most important Christian theologians

Post #4

Post by Tcg »

[Replying to post 1 by historia]

I can't imagine this list without Paul. In fact, after Jesus, he most certainly would have to be considered first on the list. Without Paul, Christianity may have fizzled out before any other important Christian theologians got involved.


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Re: Five most important Christian theologians

Post #5

Post by Divine Insight »

historia wrote: Question for debate:

Aside from Jesus, who are the five most important / influential / consequential theologians in the history of Christianity? And why?

Rank them from one to five, with one being most important.
1. Moses
2. Paul
3. John
4. Mark
5. Jesus

Matthew and Luke were basically just regurgitating the theology of Mark and adding their own additional claims. To include their names would take the list beyond the 5 requested anyway.

Explanations:

1. Moses

Without the original theology of Moses we wouldn't have the foundations of Christianity which is the claim that there exists a jealous God who demands to be worshiped and obeyed lest he'll kill people.

Without this fundamental theology nothing in Christianity would make any sense. Christian theology rests entirely on the idea that if we don't do as we are told the God of Moses will kill us. This is the foundation.

2. Paul

Most of Christendom appears to place far more values on Paul's theology than on anything else, including the theology supposedly taught by Jesus. So I'd place Paul's theology as being more important to Christian theology over all then the teachings of Jesus. Paul is also the one who claims that all men are sinners and in dire need of repentance. This idea in Christian theology did not come from Jesus.

3. John

I'm tempted to place John above Paul in terms of importance to Christian theology. John's theology is certainly just as important as Paul's for most of Christendom.

John is the one who claims that Jesus is the "Only Begotten Son of God" and that if we fail to acknowledge this claim as truth we will surely be damned. So this is also paramount to Christian Theology.

4. Mark

Without Mark we most likely wouldn't also have the Gospel theologies of Matthew and Luke. And it is from these three theologies that claims about Jesus being the Son of God and God speaking from the clouds to confirm this come.

5. Jesus

In Christian theology I would say that Jesus' theology is actually viewed as being the least important of all. The ideals and theology that have been rumored to be Jesus' own words are the least observed, followed, and preached of all the Christian theologies. While it is true that some New-Age Christian theologies, like Jehovah's Witnesses, try to bring the theology back to being solely about Jesus, but they are basically too little too late.

The theologies of Moses, Paul, John, Mark and those who have plagiarized Mark's work to add their own twists, have dominated over the theology of Jesus entirely.

So I would say that in Christian theology Jesus is on the bottom of the list of important theologians (save for some New-Age Christian theologies who are trying to change thousands of years of Christian theology by trying to put Jesus at the top of the list).

I'm not even sure if Jesus belongs on the list at all since he never wrote anything down. It's impossible to say that the hearsay rumors we read about him in the theologies of the other authors of the Gospels actually reflect what Jesus might have actually had to say. So in a very real sense, there is no theology of Jesus. All that exists are hearsay rumors about positions other people claim that Jesus might have possibly taken. So any theology attributed to Jesus would be second-hand theology at best. Maybe even further removed than just second-hand? Matthew and Luke appear to be offering up at least third-hand rumors of what Jesus might have had to say.
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Post #6

Post by Difflugia »

You specified Christian theologians, but I see a lot of Moses on here. In the same spirit and perhaps for nearly the same reasons, I'm going with Ezra. Ezra may be single-handedly responsible for the Old Testament in its present form and the theological flavor of Second Temple Judaism.

So, my list is:

1. Paul — Paul is responsible for modern Christianity's ideas about sin and salvation. The Gospels are all based on forgiveness of sinful thoughts and deeds; Paul's gospel is the banishment of sin as a supernatural force by replacing it with the Christ nature.

2. The author of Acts — The book of Acts is what unifies the Jewish Christianity of the Synoptics with Pauline Christianity. Acts reconciles Pauline and Petrine Christianity by having the characters of Paul and Peter meet halfway in a way that, if Galatians is to be believed, probably never happened.

3. Constantine — Whether of not Christianity would have ultimately made it without Constantine, he certainly gave it a huge leg up.

4. Ezra — I think that Ezra, Jeremiah, and a relatively small group of exiled Yahwist priests managed to get in good with the Persians. They took several competing sets of holy works and combined them with some new stuff to create what we now call the Old Testament. While they wrote in an inordinate amount of secular power for themselves, the new religion was sycophantic enough toward the Persians to gain an opportunity to create the new Israel from which Christianity arose.

5. Irenaeus — I think he was incredibly wrong about a lot of things, but in my opinion, his Against Heresies was the main reason for modern Christianity's insistence that the Bible records events of history in a literal way. Christianity's relationship with the Bible and its literalist inerrancy is Irenaeus's fault.

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Post #7

Post by brianbbs67 »

[Replying to post 6 by Difflugia]

Well, I guess we could add Polycarp to that list. Since he trained Iraneous.

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Post #8

Post by Divine Insight »

Difflugia wrote: 3. Constantine — Whether of not Christianity would have ultimately made it without Constantine, he certainly gave it a huge leg up.
I agree that without Constantine Christianity as we know it today most likely wouldn't exist at all. In terms of being the most important influence on Christianity I would put him at the top of list. Definitely above Jesus as Jesus himself really had basically no influence on how Christian theology evolved.

In fact many Christian theists today suggest that Jesus would not even approve of today's Christian theology. This is especially true in light of the continuous Cold Holy Wars between Catholicism and the many divergent and disagreeing Protestant theologies.

It should be obvious to everyone that Jesus could not possibly give his seal of approval to all of today's divergence Christian theologies.

In fact, this brings up a very important question concerning the very topic of this thread"

Five most important Christian theologians

Then we need to ask, With respect to which Christian theology?

Clearly the answer would be different for different Christian theologies.

Catholicism would different "important" theologians than say, the Amish, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or Southern Baptists, or Seventh Day Adventists, etc, etc, etc.

They all give different importance to different theologians.

So it's really meaningless to even ask who the most important theologians are with respect to "Christianity" without specifying which Christian theology we're talking about.

The answer I gave above would most likely fit in with Catholicism and perhaps some of the more orthodox fundamentalists Protestant factions. The further we move away from those into the more New-Age "Jesus Freak Theologies" the different the list will appear to be.

Clearly someone who claims to have a "Personal Walk with Jesus" is at least trying to put Jesus on the top of the list, even though that's quite difficult to do since we have nothing written by Jesus himself and therefore everything that has been attributed to Jesus has already been contaminated at least by the authors of the New Testament.

It's really impossible to believe in the words of Jesus. All we could ever hope to do is believe in the words of people like Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and/or Paul and other second-hand hearsay authors.
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Post #9

Post by Difflugia »

brianbbs67 wrote:Well, I guess we could add Polycarp to that list.
If the list weren't limited to five, there are lots of people I would put on it.
brianbbs67 wrote:Since he trained Iraneous.
I'm nitpicking, but Irenaeus only claimed to have at some time heard the preaching of Polycarp.

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Post #10

Post by PinSeeker »

In my opinion, Jesus can't be called a theologian because God doesn't "theologize" about Himself. Beyond that, and aside from Paul and the other writers of the New Testament, my list is as follows (not in any order other than chronological):

Athanasius of Alexandria
  • * Untiring advocate for Trinitarian theology against Arianism; much of the way we think about the Trinity goes back to his efforts
    * First to identify the 27 books currently in our New Testament
    * Main author of the Nicene Creed, unarguably the most important creed in Christian history
Augustine of Hippo
  • * Articulated the doctrine of original sin and God’s grace through divine predestination over against Pelagius’ emphasis on free will and innate human goodness
    * Proposed a distinction between the “church visible� and the “church invisible�
    * Popularized the amillennial view of the End Times, which has become the most dominant throughout church history
Thomas Aquinas
  • * Believed that a combination of Faith and Reason led to true knowledge of God
    * Sought rational proofs for the existence of God
    * Apologist for Christianity in a time in which Islam was increasing rapidly
John Calvin
  • * Overarching commitment to the Augustinian notion of the sovereignty of God in salvation
    * Taught that Scripture must interpret Scripture
    * Used the concept of the Covenant as the organizing principle for Christian theology
Karl Barth
  • * Sought to recover the doctrine of the Trinity, which had been practically abandoned by radical liberalism
    * Viewed doctrine of election and predestination as centered upon Christ
Honorable mentions:
  • * Martin Luther - for his instrumental role in the Reformation. He was definitely a theologian in his own right, although I see him more as a revolutionary than a theologian. Calvin is the one who took the Reformation insights and systematized them and therefore becomes more influential as a theologian.
    * John Knox - brought the Reformation to Scotland, and rose in the ranks of the Church of England, contributing to the Book of Common Prayer.
    * George Whitfield - revivalist who helped bring the Great Awakening to Britain and influential in the evangelical movement
    * Jonathan Edwards - one of the most important philosophers and theologians of American revivals

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