Who will we be talking about 50 years from now?
One of things I love about teaching is being able to ask students questions that I don’t know the answer to. It’s fun. I get to throw something out there and see what the class comes up with. If they come up with something particularly insightful, and if my level of sanctification is running particularly low that day, I can pretend that I was steering them toward that conclusion all along. Makes me look like a genius. Teaching is fabulous.
One of the questions that I like to throw out to my church history class when we get to the twentieth century is, “Who do you think we’ll still be talking about 50 years from now?” Of course, in many ways, that is a very challenging question. How many of the theological giants of the 1950s are we still talking about? There are a few, but the majority of the “heavy hitters” of that generation have fallen into a quiet obscurity. And, that’s the way things usually go. Very few biblical and theological scholars rise to the level that their work is still being discussed 2-3 generations later. But, I like to toss the question out there and see what comes back.
I was reminded of this the other day when someone mentioned in a casual conversation that he thought NT Wright would be one of those people whose work would stand the test of time. He wasn’t saying that he thought NT Wright was the best and brightest of today’s Christian thinkers, nor was he saying that he thought NT Wright’s work was correct on every point. He was simply saying that NT Wright has had such an impact on biblical and theological studies that he would likely be the focus of discussion for generations to come.
So, acting like the teacher in front of the class, I want to toss this one back to you. What do you think? Of the Christian theologians, biblical scholars, speakers, and writers currently living (or, I guess we can cheat a little and include any who have died within the last ten years or so), which one(s) do you think we will still be talking about 50 years from now? Who do you think has (or will have by the end of his/her career) made such an impact on Christian thought that future generations will not be able to avoid talking about them? And, do you think NT Wright will be one of them?