Adrian (funny how all bloggers are on a first-name basis, isn't it? Hi Adrian!) listed John Piper in his list. Oh, big woop. Everybody would list John Piper because he's what all of us stupid bloggers wish we were: well-known for telling God's truth with no holds barred but with a charitable spirit.
Well, here's my list just so there's something to get upset about before you go home on Friday:
HONORABLE MENTION: J. Vernon McGee. He's "HM" because he's gone to be with the Lord, but let me convey a personal anecdote. The year that I was baptized I was "promoted" to being the receiving manager for a new SAM'S Club, and I had the distinct privilege of opening the place up every morning at 5 AM. On the drive in to work, there was only 1 radio station to listen to, and it was Christian talk. At 4:30 AM they had Thru the Bible on, and at first I just couldn't listen to it. That guy's voice -- can't be get a coach or something? But he was teaching through the book of 1 Samuel, and he was talking about Saul's disobedience to God and then about David. I can't remember at what point I realized that something was happening in that half hour, but one morning I got up early and had to listen to the whole broadcast. I was a brand new Christian, and I was hungry for the word of God, and I knew that this southern fella with the corny accent was saying something I needed to hear. It wasn't high theology or the micro-parsing of verses: it was the first pass I ever had at the Bible. I praise God for Dr. McGee, and for those who are still replaying the 5-year journey of his teaching through God's word.
Dr. John MacArthur -- If anyone from CNN is reading this, you should have Dr. MacArthur on Larry King every week. There is no one -- and it's a long list to compare against -- who presses the case for Christ and the Gospel harder than John MacArthur, especially when the stakes are high. He's clear-spoken, witty, gentlemanly, and will not accept anything but God's truth when it comes to world-view issues. And that's not even to mention his great books, like Twelve Ordinary Men, Hard to Believe, or and Unleaching God's Word in Your Life. If I were a more serious person, I'd want to be more like Dr. Mac.
Andy Stanley -- some people are going to find me repugnant for listing Andy Stanley as one of my favorites, but I have met Pastor Stanley and I have heard him preach. The stats on his church are about 10,000 attenders on Sunday, with only about 4,000 as members -- not counting kids. But read this bit from their church FAQ:
Why is membership important?Stanley isn't playing games about discipleship of believers. My personal opinion is that he learned a lot from watching his father (the mistakes as well as the good things), and if (BIG "if") the megachurch is useful in God's kingdom, Pastor Stanley is someone to watch to do it well.
* Membership helps the staff to identify the people in whom we can trust to lead and care for others.
* Membership identifies that a person has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that he/she is willing to go public with that faith through baptism.
* Membership identifies that a person is willing to support this ministry with their time, talents and treasure and to be held accountable to the values of NPCC. With the added requirement of participation in a strategic service team or community group, it also identifies that the person will partner with us in our strategy of "Foyer to Kitchen".
Why is it important to be a member in order to be in a leadership role?
* Because of what membership represents, members are the most qualified people to be in a leadership position.
* Often, if people are not willing to be held accountable, to go public with their faith through baptism, or to commit to leading people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, it can be an indication that they are not ready to lead others within the church environments.
Dr. James R. White -- in spite of my current defrocking in the #prosapologian channel, James White is someone a greatly admire. Somehow he has the reputation of being some kind of bully or ruffian, but I have never seen him lose his temper or deal with someone in a way which was unwarranted. There is literally hundreds of hours of evidence of his apologetic testimony, and one would be hard-pressed to put together 10 minutes of uncharitable discourse for James. However, that's only the best reason to admire him. My personal reason to admire him is that when I wasa stupid evangelical with a dim view of Christ's work, he spent his valuable time correcting me because it was the Gospel work to do so.
Chuck Swindoll -- If he wasn't Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, I'd have nothing to complain about. He has a very dynamic radio ministry (which is sometimes too theatrical for my tastes, honestly), but he is always about reading God's word at face value and making practical application to your life.
Kay Arthur -- everyone always laughs at me for this one because she's not a man. Well, you're right: she's not a man -- so she's not a pastor. And she accepts that as far as I can tell becuase her ministry in under the headship of of her husband (who is President of Precept Ministries), Jack Arthur. Moreover, the content of her studies is clearly constructed to be by women and for women -- and is growing for children and teens as well. That is not why she is on this list. She's there because her teaching caused my wife -- who had been an SBC Baptist since she was 7 -- to start reading the Bible at face value for the first time. There is no greater blessing than to have a wife who wants to study God's work and grow spiritually from it, and my wife gained that zeal from Kay Arthur's teaching.