The first shall be photographed for Time, and the last shall blog about it
Lists of "most powerful," "most influential," best, or other superlatives always have some ostensibly high goal. Time magazine doesn't say why it published a cover story on "the 25 most influential evangelicals in America," but the idea seems to be to communicate to the country that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell aren't really the faces of the movement. This is a group that's broader than you think.
The introduction is delightfully sweet: "American evangelicalism seems to defy unity, let alone hierarchy. Yet its members share basic commitments. Time's list focuses on those whose influence is on the rise or who have carved out a singular role."
But really, the de facto purpose of lists like this is to get people talking, to develop some kind of buzz, to spur some kind of debate. And so it has begun.
Here's the list: Howard & Roberta Ahmanson, David Barton, Doug Coe, Chuck Colson, Luis Cortès, James Dobson, Stuart Epperson, Michael Gerson, Billy & Franklin Graham, Ted Haggard, Bill Hybels, T.D. Jakes, Diane Knippers, Tim & Beverly LaHaye, Richard Land, Brian McLaren, Joyce Meyer, Richard John Neuhaus, Mark Noll, J.I. Packer, Rick Santorum, Jay Sekulow, Stephen Strang, Rick Warren, and Ralph Winter.
Okay, let's get the obvious out the way: there are 28 names on this list of 25 (due to the inclusion of three couples), and not everyone is an American (CT executive editor J.I. Packer British born and lives in Canada).
Then there's the question of influence: Influencing whom? Some seem to have been included for their influence outside the evangelical community (especially on national politics) while others for their influence on the evangelical ...1