Lifeway, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, has come up with this list of most influential 20th century Protestant preachers. Billy Graham and Charles Swindoll topped this list, followed by Charles Stanley and Rick Warren. The survey was done last November.
I found this list pretty non-diverse. How about women such as Ernestine Reems and Anne Graham Lotz? Or black preachers such as T.D. Jakes and Kirbyjon Caldwell? I will note that one woman — Barbara Brown Taylor — made the list, but she’s not someone I’d put into a top preacher category. And some really famous preachers, like Haddon Robinson of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, didn’t make the list at all.
Ed Stetzer, director of Lifeway research, said the responses were pretty white bread.
“Considering our sample includes liberal and conservative, all races and ethnicities, mainline and evangelical, we were surprised that the list looked like mainstream Christian radio and publishing and was not more representative,” he said. “Of course, the majority who answer drive the final numbers, but I was expecting more diversity in the responses.”
So, here’s my informal poll: 1. Who do you consider the top living preacher, and 2. Which preacher has most influenced you?
-- Julia Duin, religion editor