Clive Staples Lewis

C. S. Lewis is tenth (and final) on the list.In modern thought no one stands out like C. S. Lewis in my mind. I cannot think of any other person who could write an enduring, gospel filled children series and write a mind blowing (in many ways) book, Mere Christianity. While he is viewed mostly favorably today I think his place in history is still up in the air. I am hoping he over many others represents this era.

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Jacobus Arminius

Jacob Arminius is ninth on my list.To even out Calvin I included Jacobus Arminius, just as I did sort of with Aquinas and Luther. I did not think Arminius himself was a great theologian like Calvin but I think he helped balance out God’s sovereignty and God’s love together.

John (Jean) Calvin

Jean Calvin is eight on the list.For those who know me, my find Calvin’s inclusion strange. However, I realize that not matter what I am going to have to deal with some variation of his theology. I applaud Calvin’s commitment to God’s sovereignty but have to think he went over board on what that means.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther is seventh on the list.Martin Luther is the most devious on the list in my opinion. While he was a great theologian, I question his Christian spirit from my reading of him. Name calling really. I realize you had a differing view on some elements of theology from the Catholic but it could have been done more maturely. See Erasmus for a potentially better way to handle the situation, aka reform from within not splinter. I also picked Erasmus but thought he is not quite known enough and too close to Luther.

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas is sixth on the list.Thomas Aquinas I think has done the most to define Christianity today. By this I mean you either mostly follow his ideas or mostly disagree. I do believe the difference between the two is minimal since Aquinas used a lot of orthodox tradition but of course then added a unique twist and I think over analyzed everything. Nonetheless if one is too dwell into theology seriously I think they must deal with Thomas Aquinas earning him sixth on my list.

I want to mention that this list is in chronological order so I have not rank them.

St. Francis

St. Francis is fifth on the list.St Francis may seem an odd choice for my collection but I felt his stance on life merited him a spot. (It also helps I just finished a book about him and am three-fourths the way through another.) St Francis came from a wealthy family but forsook his wealth after a failed career as a knight and an active young life. He and then a few friends wrote a rule and got approval from the pope. His rule requires that a member gives up all possessions. So Francis may not have been a recognized apologetic but I think through his actions he defends the true faith.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is fourth on my list.Augustine (354-430) was aslo a North African writer and is arguably the most influential Christian writer of all time, at least in the West. Augustine gives us Just War theory, arguably was a Calvinist before one could be, Calvin believes he was making the logical conclusion of Augustine’s view of predestination. Augustine also wrote about what we now call original sin. Augustine had the advantage over the previous Christians in my list of living during Christian rule, though in Africa there was already a division/split in Christianity, Catholics and Donatist (also in Arianism existed). Most of Augustine’s works are quite dense and require most of your working brain (and probably some that usually does not work) to understand. I recommend though his Confessions, and easier read and probably the first ever autobiography written. Augustine also added many Greek Philosophy ideas into Christianity.

Tertullian

Tertullian is third in my list.Tertullian (ca. 160 – ca. 220 A.D.) was a North African writer and defender of the Christian faith. Tertullian may have coined the term Trinity, first extant writing we have of the term, and had the generally accepted formula of three persons, one substance. Tertullian has been accused of becoming a Montanist later in his life, however, recent scholarship has been calling this fact into question, many no longer making this claim. Despite these claims, Tertullian is also noted as being the Father of Latin Christianity, though it is thought he wrote all of his works in both Greek and Latin.

Just a note, Wikipedia still has the conversion to Montanism as an assumed fact.

Justin Martyr

Second in my list is Justin Martyr.Justin Martyr was well versed in Greek Philosophy and uses this knowledge to defend the Christian faith. Justin argues that Christianity is the law for human kind, see his work Dialogue with Trypho. I think Justin mixes too much Greek Philosophy into Christianity. None the less, Justin was very influential in the early formation of Christianity as many influential Christians in the following years know of him and use some of his material.

St. Paul

The First Christian (starting on the left) is St. Paul, aka the Apostle Paul aka Saul of Tarsus.

Paul is arguably the the first full time Christian apologetic. Paul as most of us know, traveled throughout Asia Minor just a few decades after Jesus’ death, teaching and then defending the Christian faith. Paul in his own words was an elite Pharisee and very religious. However, his knowledge of rules were lacking in faith. Paul had been zealous but mostly for the rules and not for his personal faith in God. His encounter with Christ began a turn around for him.

For more on Paul read Acts 7 (Stephen’s apology [defense]) and see how Saul became Paul. I also suggest Galatians and Philippians to gain more background information on him from a Biblical perspective.

Paul, writing more Biblical letters than any other author (even if you have doubts about his authorship of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), defends the faith against Greek/Roman and Jewish perversions. While both eventually do influence the Christian faith, Paul’s letters make it clear that there were problems from the very beginning of Christianity. Paul calls on Christians to unite and hold fast to their faith in Christ and to not let anyone persuade you away.

These are the primary reasons I went with Paul. So remember hold fast to the your faith in Christ and do not let anyone pull you away.