Famous American Theologians

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Find out more about the greatest American Theologians, including Cornel West, Jimmy Swaggart, John Hagee, Reinhold Niebuhr and William Lane Craig.
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 1 
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."
 2 
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.

 3 
William Lane Craig
(Philosopher, Theologian, University teacher, Writer)
William Lane Craig
9
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.
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 4 
Jonathan Edwards
(Preacher, Theologian, Philosopher)
Jonathan Edwards
4
Birthdate: October 5, 1703
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Windsor, Connecticut, United States
Died: March 22, 1758

Jonathan Edwards was an American philosopher, revivalist preacher, and Congregationalist Protestant theologian. Considered one of America's most prominent and influential philosophical theologians, Jonathan Edwards played a major role in shaping the Evangelical Revival of the 1730s and 1740s. His theological work is credited with paving the way for a new school of theology called the New England theology.

 5 
Francis Chan
(Theologian, Author)
Francis Chan
12
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.

 6 
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.

 7 
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.

 8 
Joseph Smith Jr.
(Religious Leader and Founder of 'Mormonism' and the Latter Day Saint Movement)
Joseph Smith Jr.
19
Birthdate: December 23, 1805
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sharon, Vermont, United States
Died: May 27, 1844

Religious leader Joseph Smith Jr. is known as the founder of the Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. He also published the Book of Mormon. He established his communities in Ohio and Missouri and eventually founded the city Nauvoo in Illinois, which became the center of his spiritual activities.

 9 
Richard Allen
(American Clergyman Who was the First Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church)
Richard Allen
3
Birthdate: February 14, 1760
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 26, 1831

Born to slave parents, American clergyman Richard Allen became a Methodist convert at 22. He later founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church and served as its first bishop. Apart from establishing the first church for Blacks in the U.S., he worked on various aspects to improve the lives of Blacks.

 10 
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.

 11 
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.

 12 
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.
 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 
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.

 15 
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.  

 16 
Edward Everett
(Former American senator)
Edward Everett
3
Birthdate: April 11, 1794
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Died: January 15, 1865

Edward Everett was an American politician, diplomat, educator, pastor, and orator. Widely regarded as one of the great orators of the Civil War and antebellum eras, Everett is remembered for his two-hour speech at the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg in 1863, where Abraham Lincoln delivered his popular Gettysburg Address. Edward Everett also taught ancient Greek literature at Harvard University.

 17 
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.

 18 
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.

 19 
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.

 20 
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.

 21 
Elaine Pagels
(American Historian of Religion Known for Her Extensive Research into Early Christianity and Gnosticism)
Elaine Pagels
9
Birthdate: February 13, 1943
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Palo Alto, California, United States

Elaine Pagels is an American historian who serves as a professor at Princeton University. Pagels, who is credited with conducting extensive research into Gnosticism and early Christianity, came up with the influential book The Gnostic Gospels. The book has been named among the 100 best books of the 20th century by Modern Library.

 22 
Theodore Parker
(American Transcendentalist and Reforming Minister of the Unitarian Church)
Theodore Parker
4
Birthdate: August 24, 1810
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lexington, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 10, 1860

Theodore Parker was an American transcendentalist minister whose words and quotations would later help inspire popular speeches of the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. A reformer and abolitionist, Parker played a key role in fighting against such laws as the Fugitive Slave Act.

 23 
Mary Daly
(Philosopher)
Mary Daly
7
Birthdate: October 16, 1928
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Schenectady, New York, United States
Died: January 3, 2010
 24 
Walter Brueggemann
(theologian, university teacher)
Walter Brueggemann
4
Birthdate: March 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tilden
 25 
Stanley Hauerwas
(Ethicist, Philosopher, Theologian)
Stanley Hauerwas
5
Birthdate: July 24, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dallas
 26 
John Hagee
(Televangelist and founder of Cornerstone Church)
John Hagee
17
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.

 27 
Avery Dulles
(Jesuit Priest, Theologian and Cardinal of the Catholic Church)
Avery Dulles
6
Birthdate: August 24, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Auburn, New York, United States
Died: December 12, 2008

Avery Dulles was a Jesuit priest, cardinal of the Catholic Church, and theologian. Renowned for his skills as an author and lecturer, Dulles was associated with Woodstock College and the Catholic University of America from 1960 to 1974 and from 1974 to 1988, respectively. Over the course of his illustrious career, Avery Dulles received several prestigious honors and awards.

 28 
Jim Wallis
(Theologian)
Jim Wallis
7
Birthdate: June 4, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, US
 29 
Harry Emerson Fosdick
(American Pastor)
Harry Emerson Fosdick
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1878
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, United States
Died: October 5, 1969

Pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick was a major figure in the Fundamentalist–Modernist controversy of Protestantism in the U.S. He served as a pastor at New York’s Riverside Church and First Presbyterian Church and was an advocate of pastoral counseling. He had also written books such as The Manhood of the Master.

 30 
Walter Rauschenbusch
(American Theologian and Baptist Pastor)
Walter Rauschenbusch
7
Birthdate: October 4, 1861
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rochester, New York, United States
Died: July 25, 1918

Walter Rauschenbusch was an American Baptist pastor and theologian. He played an important role in the single tax and Social Gospel movements by propagating the importance of theology through his book A Theology for the Social Gospel which he published in 1917. Walter Rauschenbusch's work influenced prominent personalities like Martin Luther King Jr., Norman Thomas, Desmond Tutu, and James McClendon.

 31 
Johnny Lee Clary
(Theologian)
Johnny Lee Clary
6
Birthdate: June 18, 1959
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Martinez
Died: October 21, 2014

A prominent 1980s’ wrestling champion, Johnny Lee Clary later came to be known as Johnny Angel. He had been part of the Ku Klux Klan and had also appeared on shows such as Oprah, where he defended racism. He later renounced the Klan and became a Christian evangelist.

 32 
John Dominic Crossan
(Irish-American New Testament Scholar, Historian of Early Christianity and Former Catholic Priest)
John Dominic Crossan
5
Birthdate: February 17, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland

Irish-American theologian John Dominic Crossan, who has previously been a Roman Catholic priest, was also associated with the Jesus Seminar. It is believed, he had quit Catholic priesthood to marry Margaret, his professor wife, and had then focused on teaching and writing. His written works include Who Killed Jesus?

 33 
H. Richard Niebuhr
(Theologian)
H. Richard Niebuhr
4
Birthdate: September 3, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wright City, Missouri, United States
Died: July 5, 1962
 34 
Francis Asbury
(American Bishop)
Francis Asbury
3
Birthdate: August 20, 1745
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hamstead Bridge, Staffordshire, England
Died: March 31, 1816

Francis Asbury was a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He played an important role during the Second Great Awakening, popularizing Methodism in British colonial America. He is credited with establishing many schools and his journal is deemed important by scholars due to its account of frontier society; his journal has descriptions of the functioning of towns in Colonial America.

 35 
Irvin Baxter Jr.
(Televangelist)
Irvin Baxter Jr.
5
Birthdate: July 8, 1945
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Richmond, Indiana, United States
Died: November 3, 2020
 36 
Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi
(Educator, Theologian)
Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi
1
Birthdate: 1975 AD
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
 37 
C. I. Scofield
(Theologian)
C. I. Scofield
3
Birthdate: August 19, 1843
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Michigan, United States
Died: July 24, 1921
 38 
Nicholas Wolterstorff
(Philosopher, Theologian)
Nicholas Wolterstorff
3
Birthdate: January 21, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bigelow
 39 
Jaroslav Pelikan
(Historian)
Jaroslav Pelikan
3
Birthdate: December 17, 1923
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States
Died: May 13, 2006

Jaroslav Pelikan was a scholar of the history of Christianity and Christian theology. He earned a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He joined Yale University in 1962 and had a brilliant academic career. He was the author of more than 30 books. He was a recipient of the John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Human Sciences. 

 40 
Richard Foster
(Theologian best known for his 1978 book Celebration of Discipline)
Richard Foster
4
Birthdate: 1942 AD
Birthplace: New Mexico, United States
 41 
Philip Schaff
(Church historian, Translator, Theologian, University teacher, Writer, Bible translator)
Philip Schaff
2
Birthdate: January 1, 1819
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chur
Died: October 20, 1893

Swiss-American theologian Philip Schaff is remembered for his works such as The Creeds of Christendom. He believed that the positive aspects of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism could be blended into an ecumenical form of spirituality. He later founded and headed the American Society of Church History.

 42 
Charles Hartshorne
(Philosopher)
Charles Hartshorne
2
Birthdate: June 5, 1897
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kittanning, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 9, 2000
 43 
John Witherspoon
(Scottish-American Presbyterian Minister, Educator and a Founding Father of the United States)
John Witherspoon
4
Birthdate: February 5, 1723
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gifford, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1794

John Witherspoon was a Scottish American slaveholder, Presbyterian minister, and Founding Father of the United States. A signatory to the Declaration of Independence, Witherspoon also signed the Articles of Confederation. He also played a crucial role in shaping public policy in the United States of America.

 44 
Thomas J.J. Altizer
2
Birthdate: September 28, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Virginia, United States
Died: November 28, 2018
 45 
Martin E. Marty
(Historian of religion)
Martin E. Marty
2
Birthdate: February 5, 1928
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: West Point, Nebraska, United States
 46 
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.

 47 
Albert Barnes
(Theologian)
Albert Barnes
4
Birthdate: December 1, 1798
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rome, New York, United States
Died: December 24, 1870
 48 
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.

 49 
Jacob Neusner
(American Academic Scholar of Judaism)
Jacob Neusner
2
Birthdate: July 28, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: October 8, 2016

Jacob Neusner redefined the study of Judaism in the U.S. at a time when theological studies focused on Christianity. A Harvard alumnus, he later attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He not only ushered in new techniques of critical examination of Judaism but also translated countless Jewish texts.

 50 
Richard John Neuhaus
3
Birthdate: May 14, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pembroke, Canada
Died: January 8, 2009