10 Christian Authors Who’ve Changed The Way We Think
This month sees the long-awaited posthumous publication of Henri Nouwen’s new book Love, Henri. The Roman Catholic priest was a favourite author of Protestants and evangelicals in the ’80s and ’90s when his books The Return of the Prodigal Son and The Wounded Healer were huge bestsellers. It’s 20 years since his death so here we look at 10 of the authors who’ve taken up his mantle and changed the way Christians think in the last two decades.
1. Timothy Keller
The pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York has had a prodigious output in the past 10years especially. He’s written on a vast range of topics – from prayer, to philosophy to justice and preaching. As a conservative evangelical, his influence extends well beyond his natural constituency – he’s a well-known figure on both sides of the Atlantic.
2. NT Wright
Wright’s output is even higher than Keller’s. Writing popular level books such as Surprised By Hope, he has been incredibly influential on how evangelicals and other Christians think about topics such as heaven. He’s also written a large series of For Everyone commentaries on the Bible. His academic books, such as the massive Paul and the Faithfulness of God, have prompted debate and discussion across the world.
3. Rachel Held Evans
Evans has written four books which have become increasingly popular. They deal with her upbringing in an evangelical context and her journey to explore her roots while discovering other expressions of faith. In this way she embodies the experience of many in her generation, especially women who’ve felt maginalised or constricted by their conservative surroundings.
4. Pope Francis
The Pope wasn’t known as a writer or theologian when he took on the role in 2013. Unlike his predecessor Benedict XVI, he didn’t come with an academic reputation, but has managed to surprise and inspire with his writings. The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) written in 2013, was a short book which (like Nouwen before him) inspired both Catholics and Protestants alike. His encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, has been praised by academics and activists the world over.
5. Rob Bell
Rob Bell has become a controversial figure in the evangelical world, principally for posing questions about the existence of hell in Love Wins (2011). However, there is a whole generation of evangelicals who have been nurtured by his early books, such as Velvet Elvis (2005) in which he presented the Christian faith in a fresh and engaging way. Now he has found a new audience through his interractions with Oprah Winfrey. His latest book is How To Be Here (2016).
6. TD Jakes
Bishop TD Jakes pastors one of the largest churches in America, The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. He has also written dozens of books which regularly make the bestseller list. Jakes’ style is popular and he often uses his books to apply Christian teaching to lifestyle issues. The titles of his last three books give a good flavour: Let it Go: Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven, Instinct: The Power To Unleash Your Inborn Drive and Destiny: Step Into Your Purpose.