I’ve been thinking lately about the development of my theology, and my subsequent world view, and it has occurred to me just how much it has been influenced by the writings of five men in particular. Now one might argue that our theology should be developed directly from the Bible, so let me clarify what I mean. I believe that each of these men have given me keys for which to unlock the mysteries and unlimited deepness that lie within the Bible’s pages. You might say I’ve looked to these men as mentors that have aided me in my journey to know and love God more deeply.
Again, while there are many writings within the Bible that have greatly influenced my life, (i.e. the letters of Paul, the psalms of David, the four gospels) the following list consists of men whose writings are not held within those pages. For, as I said above, these are writers that have made more clear those writings of the others. It should also be noted that this list is not in order of influence, but in chronological order according to the time in which I was first introduced to their writings. There is no way to fully convey the influence they have had on my life in a single blog post. Nevertheless, I will attempt to give a short summary of why I am thankful for each of them.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Bonhoeffer was the first of my influences that I read seriously. It was he that first rocked my world, so to speak, in my understanding of the Gospel. It was he that taught me that while “Jesus is God’s YES to humanity” accepting that “Yes” costs us our life.
- C.S. Lewis – My first reading of Lewis actually took place before I read Bonhoeffer. However, I read the bulk of his writings post Bonhoeffer. One of the many things I am thankful to Lewis for is a more full understanding of the nature of worship. I also attribute to Lewis the beginnings of my development in thinking deeply about the things of God.
- John Piper – I was introduced to Piper for the first time by a very good friend of mine that I sat beside through a majority of the Masters of Christian Studies program I attended at Union University. I think it would be most accurate to say that Piper built on the foundation that Lewis laid in regards to thinking deeply about God. It has also been Piper that has helped in fanning into a flame my love and passion for following Jesus.
- John Bunyan – I first read “The Pilgrim’s Progress” simply because it was a classic. It has since become my favorite book of all time. I love “The Pilgrim’s Progress” because it paints such a clear picture of what it is to follow Christ. It shows that the Christian walk is a journey that, despite it’s peril, is fully worth the cost.
- Jonathan Edwards – I was recently introduced to Jonathan Edwards by means of my continued readings of John Piper. Let me say, if all you know of Jonathan Edwards is the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” you have not yet experienced the depth of Jonathan Edwards. I am not exaggerating when I say he probably had the greatest mind in American History. His writings on the nature of God have lead me into a much deeper state of understanding and awe of the majesty, sovereignty, and holiness of God. He has forever altered the way I understand God.