Famous 20th Century Theologians

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 1 
Desmond Tutu
(First Black African Archbishop of Cape Town & Nobel Peace Prize Winner)
Desmond Tutu
7
Birthdate: October 7, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Klerksdorp, South Africa
Died: December 26, 2021
Desmond Tutu is known for his anti-Apartheid activism in South Africa. The first black Archbishop of Cape Town, he has also been the Bishop of Johannesburg. His efforts to eradicate AIDS, poverty, anti-LGBT sentiments, and human rights violations earned him the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
 2 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
(Theologian Known for His Staunch Resistance to the Nazi Dictatorship)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
7
Birthdate: February 4, 1906
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: April 9, 1945
Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer is remembered for his anti-Nazi stance, for establishing the Confessing Church, and for authoring the book The Cost of Discipleship. He was sent to the Flossenbürg concentration camp after being imprisoned for a year. He was eventually hanged after being charged of plotting to assassinate Hitler.
 3 
Albert Schweitzer
(Physician and Founder of the “Albert Schweitzer Hospital” in Lambaréné,)
Albert Schweitzer
8
Birthdate: January 14, 1875
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France
Died: September 4, 1965

Albert Schweitzer was an Alsatian polymath who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophical work, Reverence for Life. He is credited with founding the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which was a direct result of his philosophical expression. Schweitzer is also credited with influencing the Organ reform movement, which began in the mid-20th-century.

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 4 
Thomas Merton
(Writer & theologian was ordained to the Catholic priesthood and given the name "Father Louis".)
Thomas Merton
8
Birthdate: January 31, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Prades, France
Died: December 10, 1968

American Trappist monk and theologian Thomas Merton was ordained a priest and named Father Louis. He was a member of the monastery Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani. He is remembered for his bestselling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, and for his study of Eastern religions such as Buddhism.

 5 
Reinhold Niebuhr
(American Reformed Theologian, Ethicist and Commentator on Politics and Public Affairs)
Reinhold Niebuhr
6
Birthdate: June 21, 1892
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wright City, Missouri, United States
Died: June 1, 1971
An American Reformed theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote and spoke frequently about the intersection of religion, politics, and public policy. He is widely known for his philosophical perspective known as Christian Realism and his book Moral Man and Immoral Society. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 and the Time magazine posthumously called him "the greatest Protestant theologian in America since Jonathan Edwards."
 6 
Swami Vivekananda
(Indian Monk & Philosopher Who Introduced the Vedanta and Yoga to the Western World)
Swami Vivekananda
12
Birthdate: January 12, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: July 4, 1902

The founder of the Ramakrishna Mission and Ramakrishna Math, Swami Vivekananda was an Indian Hindu monk, philosopher, and spiritual leader. He is credited with introducing the Indian philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the Western world. He is also credited with elevating the status of Hinduism as a major religion in the modern world by raising interfaith awareness.

 7 
Martin Niemöller
(German Theologian and Pastor Known for His Most Famous Poem 'First They Came...')
Martin Niemöller
4
Birthdate: January 14, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lippstadt, Germany
Died: March 6, 1984
Best remembered for the quote “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out...,” Martin Niemöller was a German pastor who tried to counter discrimination against Christian converts with Jewish heritage. His Confessing Church was perhaps his apology for initially being a Nazi sympathizer.
 8 
Edith Stein
(Philosopher, Christian Nun and One of the Six 'Patron Saints of Europe')
Edith Stein
4
Birthdate: October 12, 1891
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: August 9, 1942

Edith Stein was a German Jewish philosopher who studied at the University of Freiburg and completed her dissertation on empathy. Always interested in Catholicism, she read the autobiography of the mystic Teresa of Ávila and converted to Christianity, and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She was killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp and is canonized as a martyr.

 9 
Rudolf Otto
(German Theologian and One of the Most Influential Scholars of Religion in the Early Twentieth Century)
Rudolf Otto
5
Birthdate: September 25, 1869
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Peine, Germany
Died: March 6, 1937

Initially a professor of theology, philosopher Rudolf Otto later contributed to some of the most significant works of theology, such as The Idea of the Holy. He was also a member of the Prussian Parliament and is remembered for his services to Christianity and his idea of numinous.

 10 
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
(Jesuit Priest who Co-developed the Concept of Noosphere & was Part of the Discovery of Peking Man)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
6
Birthdate: May 1, 1881
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Orcines, France
Died: April 10, 1955

French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is remembered as someone who deviated from theology to science. He discovered the fossilized remains known as the Peking man in China, but faced a lot of opposition from his religious superiors when it came to publishing his scientific thoughts.

 11 
William Lane Craig
(Philosopher, Theologian, University teacher, Writer)
William Lane Craig
7
Birthdate: August 23, 1949
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Peoria
William Lane Craig is an American analytic philosopher and theologian who is known for defending the Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God. He has authored or edited over 30 books, and a hundred articles in professional journals. Craig is a professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University and Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology.
 12 
Francis Chan
(Theologian, Author)
Francis Chan
10
Birthdate: August 31, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hong Kong

The Cornerstone Church and Eternity Bible College founder Francis Chan is a popular Protestant preacher. Apart from authoring the New York Times bestseller Crazy Love, Francis has also penned children’s books such as Halfway Herbert and Ronnie Wilson's Gift. He has also co-launched the discipleship movement named Multiply.

 13 
Paul Tillich
(Christian Existentialist Philosopher and One of the Most Influential Theologians of the 20th Century)
Paul Tillich
4
Birthdate: August 20, 1886
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Starosiedle, Poland
Died: October 22, 1965

German-American theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich is remembered for his work in the field of Christian existentialism and for concepts such as the method of correlation. His notable works, such as The Courage to Be and the three-volume Systematic Theology, has inspired intellectual thinkers and commoners alike.

 14 
Rowan Douglas Williams
(104th Archbishop of Canterbury)
Rowan Douglas Williams
8
Birthdate: June 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales

Rowan Douglas Williams became the first archbishop of Canterbury who was not from the Church of England. The Welsh Anglican bishop has been quite liberal in his views on homosexuality. He has also taught theology courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and is a life peer.

 15 
Timothy J. Keller
(Theologian)
Timothy J. Keller
8
Birthdate: September 23, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States

The author of the New York Times bestsellers The Prodigal God and The Reason for God, Timothy J. Keller also chairs Redeemer City to City, which establishes new churches and trains pastors. He is also the founder of the Manhattan-based Redeemer Presbyterian Church. In 2020, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

 16 
Francis Schaeffer
(Theologian, Philosopher)
Francis Schaeffer
5
Birthdate: January 30, 1912
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: May 15, 1984

Francis Schaeffer was an American philosopher, evangelical theologian, and Presbyterian pastor. He is credited with co-founding the L'Abri community, an evangelical Christian organization, along with his wife Edith Schaeffer. Francis Schaeffer's work has influenced several Christian conservative leaders like Tim LaHaye as well as members of the L'Abri community.

 17 
N. T. Wright
(New Testament Scholar, Pauline Theologian and Anglican Bishop)
N. T. Wright
5
Birthdate: December 1, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Morpeth, England

N. T. Wright is an English New Testament scholar. Also a Pauline theologian and Anglican bishop, he served as the bishop of Durham from 2003 to 2010. He calls for a biblical re-evaluation of theological matters and has authored several books and seminars about theology and Christian life. He is highly regarded in academic and theological circles. 

 18 
Jacques Ellul
(French Philosopher Known for His Study on the Interaction Between Christianity and Politics)
Jacques Ellul
7
Birthdate: January 6, 1912
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
Died: May 19, 1994

French philosopher, Christian anarchist, and social scientist Jacques Ellul initially wished to be a naval officer but was pushed to study law. He is best remembered for his iconic volume La Technique, or The Technological Society. He taught social history and the history of law at various universities.

 19 
Karen Armstrong
(Theologian, Writer, University teacher)
Karen Armstrong
8
Birthdate: November 14, 1944
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Worcestershire

Karen Armstrong is a British commentator and author best known for writing books on comparative religion. Her work emphasizes the commonalities of major world religions like the Golden Rule and the importance of compassion. Karen Armstrong has received several prestigious awards, such as the Freedom of Worship Award and the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding.

Abraham Joshua Heschel
3
Birthdate: January 11, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Warsaw
Died: December 23, 1972

Born into a family of rabbis in Warsaw, Abraham Joshua Heschel managed to move to London before Germany’s invasion of Poland but lost his mother and sisters to the Holocaust. The theologian eventually set base in New York, where he continued his work on Jewish philosophy and American civil rights.

 21 
Max Lucado
(Theologian, Writer)
Max Lucado
12
Birthdate: January 11, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Angelo
A best-selling author and pastor at Oak Hills Church, Max Lucado is known for combining poetic storytelling and homespun humor. With over 120 million copies sold in 54 languages, Max is dubbed as America’s Pastor. He received three Gold Medallion Book of the Year awards for his books, Just Like Jesus, In the Grip of Grace, and When God Whispers Your Name.
 22 
Daniel Berrigan
(Peace activist, Theologian, Writer, University teacher)
Daniel Berrigan
8
Birthdate: May 9, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Virginia
Died: April 30, 2016

Daniel Berrigan was an American anti-war activist, Jesuit priest, Christian pacifist, author, poet, and playwright. Berrigan gained national attention for his protest against the Vietnam War, which landed him on the FBI's most-wanted list. He remained a popular anti-war activist throughout his life, co-founding an anti-nuclear weapons movement called the Plowshares movement in 1980.

 23 
Shmuley Boteach
(Writer, Theologian, Rabbi)
Shmuley Boteach
5
Birthdate: November 19, 1966
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Los Angeles

Orthodox rabbi and author Shmuley Boteach, also known as the host of Shalom in the Home, soared to international fame with the release of his book Kosher Sex. The father of nine was a spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson and has founded the pro-Israel non-profit The World Values Network.

 24 
John F. MacArthur
11
Birthdate: June 19, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

John F. MacArthur is an American author and pastor best known for his television and radio program Grace to You which is broadcast all over the world. MacArthur has been playing an important role in the prosperity of a non-denominational, evangelical megachurch called Grace Community Church where he has been serving as a pastor-teacher since 1969.

 25 
George Pell
(Cardinal)
George Pell
8
Birthdate: June 8, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ballarat, Australia

Australian archbishop George Pell had served as the first prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. He had also played professional Australian rules football before stepping into priesthood. He made headlines in 2018, when he was convicted of child sexual assault, though the conviction was reversed later.

 26 
Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi
(Islamic Scholar, Reformer)
Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi
8
Birthdate: June 14, 1856
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bareilly
Died: October 28, 1921

Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, also known as Ala-Hazrat, was a renowned Islamic scholar and an Urdu poet. Born in Bareilly, British India, he belonged to a family of Rohilla Pushtuns who had migrated from Qandahar. He wrote about various subjects such as philosophy, science, and astronomy.

 27 
Gabriele Amorth
(Catholic priest, Writer, Theologian)
Gabriele Amorth
5
Birthdate: May 1, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Modena
Died: September 16, 2016

Exorcist and Catholic priest Gabriele Amorth had been in charge of countless exorcisms in his career of over 6 decades. The founder-president of the International Association of Exorcists, he had also penned a few books on his experiences as an exorcist and had been part of World War II, too.

 28 
Jeremiah Wright
(Theologian)
Jeremiah Wright
16
Birthdate: September 22, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Philadelphia

Dr. Jeremiah Wright had initially served the Marine Corps before joining the U.S. Navy as a cardiopulmonary technician. He has also been a professor, and his research interests include Black Sacred Music and African diaspora studies. He also led the Trinity United Church of Christ as a pastor.

 29 
Martin Adolf Bormann
(German Theologian and Roman Catholic Priest)
Martin Adolf Bormann
4
Birthdate: April 14, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Grünwald, Bavaria, Germany
Died: March 11, 2013

Son of a top Nazi official, laicized Roman Catholic priest Martin Adolf Bormann found shelter in a church after Germany lost the war. Ordained as a priest, he later served in Congo before leaving the ministry to become a teacher of theology. After retirement, he began traveling across Germany and Austria, talking about the horrors of Nazi rule in schools.

 30 
Hans Urs von Balthasar
(Theologian and Catholic Priest Known for His 15-Volume Trilogy on Beauty, Goodness, and Truth)
Hans Urs von Balthasar
6
Birthdate: August 12, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lucerne, Switzerland
Died: June 26, 1988

Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar was one of the chief figures behind the formation of the Community of St. John. He also co-launched the Catholic journal Communio and penned numerous books on themes such as classical literature. Declared a cardinal, he died shortly before his investiture.

 31 
R. C. Sproul
(Theologian, Philosopher, Non-fiction writer, University teacher)
R. C. Sproul
5
Birthdate: February 13, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pittsburgh

R. C. Sproul was a Reformed theologian. He was an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America and also the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries. He has been described as the greatest proponent of the recovery of Reformed theology in the 20th century. He was a popular speaker and a  co-pastor at Saint Andrew's Chapel as well.  

 32 
John Stott
(Theologian)
John Stott
3
Birthdate: April 27, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 27, 2011
 33 
Leo Baeck
(German Rabbi, Scholar and Theologian)
Leo Baeck
2
Birthdate: May 23, 1873
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leszno, Poland
Died: November 2, 1956

German rabbi and spiritual leader Leo Baeck remains a symbol of liberal Jewish thinking of the Nazi era. He is best remembered for The Essence of Judaism and This People Israel, the latter of which was penned by him while in a Nazi concentration camp.

 34 
Abraham Kuyper
(Prime Minister of the Netherlands (1901 - 1905))
Abraham Kuyper
3
Birthdate: October 29, 1837
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Maassluis, Netherlands
Died: November 8, 1920

After studying subjects such as literature and theology, Abraham Kuyper became a pastor and founded the Calvinist paper De Standaard. He later established the Anti-Revolutionary Party and also served the Netherlands as prime minister. He was also the founder of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.

 35 
Israr Ahmed
(Islamic Theologian, Philosopher and Scholar)
Israr Ahmed
8
Birthdate: April 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Haryana, India
Died: April 14, 2010

Israr Ahmed was a Pakistani philosopher, Islamic theologian, and Islamic scholar. He is credited with founding an influential Islamic organization called Tanzeem-e-Islami, which has attracted followers from North America, Western Europe, and Middle East. Many of his books have been translated into various other languages. In 1981, Israr Ahmed was honored with the prestigious Sitara-i-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan.

 36 
Peter L. Berger
(Sociologist, Theologian, University teacher)
Peter L. Berger
4
Birthdate: March 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna

Born in Austria, Peter L. Berger initially moved to Palestine and eventually to the U.S. after World War II. While aspiring to be a Lutheran minister, he ended up being a sociologist. He taught at various institutes, such as Boston University, and penned the iconic book The Social Construction of Reality.

 37 
Alvin Plantinga
(Theologian, Philosopher, University teacher)
Alvin Plantinga
3
Birthdate: November 15, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ann Arbor

Alvin Plantinga is an analytic philosopher best known for his work in the fields of epistemology, philosophy of religion, and logic. He has also served as a professor at institutions like the University of Notre Dame. From 1983 to 1986, he served as the Society of Christian Philosophers' president and is sometimes regarded as the greatest Christian philosopher alive.

 38 
Gustavo Gutiérrez
(Peruvian Catholic Theologian, Philosopher, and Dominican Priest)
Gustavo Gutiérrez
4
Birthdate: June 8, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lima, Peru

Gustavo Gutiérrez is a Peruvian Catholic theologian, philosopher, and Dominican priest. A respected theologian, Gutiérrez has served as a visiting professor in many prestigious universities in Europe and North America. Gustavo Gutiérrez has also taught at the Harvard University, the University of Michigan, the University of Cambridge, and the University of California, Berkeley among other schools.

 39 
Timothy M. Dolan
(Theologian, University teacher, Catholic priest)
Timothy M. Dolan
7
Birthdate: February 6, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: St. Louis

The archbishop of New York, Timothy M. Dolan has previously also served as the archbishop of Milwaukee. He has also penned several religious books, such as Doers of the Word and Called to Be Holy. He was also assigned with the task of handling cases of priests engaging in sexual abuse.

 40 
Francis Arinze
(Nigerian Cardinal of the Catholic Church)
Francis Arinze
3
Birthdate: November 1, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Onitsha
Francis Arinze is a Nigerian Cardinal of the Catholic Church. One of the leading advisors to Pope John Paul II, Arinze remained close to the pope until his demise in 2005. Francis Arinze has also published many books including God's Invisible Hand and Religions for Peace.
 41 
Adnan Oktar
(Turkish Sex Cult Leader Who Believes in Islamic Creationism and Anti-Darwinism)
Adnan Oktar
5
Birthdate: February 2, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ankara

Turkish sex cult leader Adnan Oktar is an advocate of Islamic creationism and opposes Darwinism. He has previously been arrested for several crimes, such as financial fraud and sexual abuse. He once sent copies of his book The Atlas of Creation, penned as Harun Yahya, to several French and American institutes, unsolicited.

 42 
Theodore McCarrick
9
Birthdate: July 7, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, United States

Theodore McCarrick is a former cardinal and laicized bishop of the Catholic Church. He became the first cardinal to resign from the College of Cardinals because of sexual abuse claims in July 2018. Known as a champion of progressive Catholicism and social justice causes, McCarrick was found guilty of sexual crimes and abuse of power. He was dismissed from clergy in 2019.

 43 
John Ortberg
(Author, Theologian, Psychologist)
John Ortberg
6
Birthdate: May 5, 1957
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rockford

John Ortberg is an evangelical Christian speaker and author. A prolific writer, John Ortberg's book If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat won the 2002 Christianity Today Book Award. In 2008, his book When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box won the ECPA Christian Book Award.

 44 
Ali al-Sistani
(Theologian, Akhoond)
Ali al-Sistani
7
Birthdate: August 4, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mashhad
 45 
William Barclay
(Author,Theologian)
William Barclay
6
Birthdate: December 5, 1907
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Scotland, United Kingdom
Died: January 24, 1978
 46 
Jürgen Moltmann
(German Reformed Theologian)
Jürgen Moltmann
3
Birthdate: April 8, 1926
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany

Currently Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, German Reformed theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, is especially known for developing a form of social trinitarianism. Describing his views as Post-Barthian, he has penned down numerous works including Theology of Hope, The Crucified God, God in Creation etc. He is of the view that God suffers with humanity, while also promising a better future through the hope of the Resurrection

 47 
John Hagee
(Televangelist and founder of Cornerstone Church)
John Hagee
15
Birthdate: April 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Baytown, Texas, United States

The founder of the John Hagee Ministries and the Christians United for Israel, John Hagee has also established the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. He has penned several bestsellers, such as Absolute Power, and is also known for his controversial concepts, such as the blood moon prophecy.

 48 
Rudolf Bultmann
(German Lutheran Theologian and One of the Major Figures of Early-20th-Century Biblical Studies)
Rudolf Bultmann
5
Birthdate: August 20, 1884
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wiefelstede, Germany
Died: July 30, 1976

A professor of New Testament at the University of Marburg, Rudolf Bultmann was a German theologian, known for his work on demythologization, a process that separates cosmological and historic claims from philosophical, ethical and theological teachings. An influential theologian of the post-war era, he undertook pioneering research in historical Jesus, attempting to reconcile faith and reason in a modern context.

 49 
John Owen
(The Greatest Theologian of the English 'Puritan Movement')
John Owen
4
Birthdate: 1616 AD
Birthplace: Stadhampton, Oxfordshire, England
Died: August 24, 1683

English Puritan minister John Owen was a strong advocate of Congregationalism and a close associate of Oliver Cromwell. He also served as the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. A proponent of Calvinism, or Reformed Theology, he also penned works on theological history and other religious topics.

 50 
Horst Kasner
(German Protestant Theologian and Father of Former German Chancellor 'Angela Merkel')
Horst Kasner
5
Birthdate: August 6, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pankow, Berlin, Germany
Died: September 2, 2011

Horst Kasner is best remembered as the father of German chancellor Angela Merkel. Part of Hitler Youth, he had served Hitler’s army during World War II and was held prisoner at 19. He later became a Protestant theologian and pastor in the town of Templin.