My Many-Varied Influences

I was thinking recently about different people who have influenced me in different ways over the years.  I don't agree with everything some of these men teach, but I was still influenced by them in ways that have stayed with me even if I no longer listen to some of them. 

Al Potter and Bob Sheridan taught me to think pastorally. Al was one of my seminary professors and every time he taught and every time I had a conversation with him, practical shepherding just oozed out of him. Bob was my pastor growing up and I completed did a pastoral internship under him as an upper classman in college. 

Neil Nelson and Andrew Smith taught me to think exegetically. These are my two Greek professors from Bible College and Seminary. Taking the original languages and breaking them down part by part opened my eyes up to the world of exegetical theology.

John MacArthur taught me to think expositionally. Chapter by chapter, verse by verse, no one does it better than J-Mac. He's not the most polished in terms of traditional homiletic style, but he is the greatest expositor of the last hundred years.

John Piper taught me to think passionately. Despite my theological differences with him, Piper is one of my all time favorite preachers. It was always clear to me that his passion was a result of him encountering the Lord through the text he was teaching. His emphasis that the Word of God should stir our hearts as well as our minds has had a lasting impact upon me.

R.C. Sproul taught me to think systematically. Of all the people in this list, I disagree with the theology of Sproul the most. Nevertheless, the man was an expert systematician. His ability to think systematically and communicate his convictions effectively tremendously helped me learn how to think and teach systematically.

Michael Vlach taught me to think hermeneutically and theologically. I've read nearly every book Vlach has published and have had him as a professor in seminary. It is through him that I developed many of my hermeneutical convictions. Vlach is also a master at biblical theology, which is the discipline of moving through the bible and developing one's theology as you go (This is the necessary process upon which systematic theology is built. Good systematics must first be built on good biblical theological processes. Systematics without biblical theology is either just proof texting or philosophical reasoning). No one has had a larger theological influence upon me than Vlach. 

Ken Ham taught me to think apologetically. Ken Ham is not the most refined person in terms of his apologetic, so this one might seem a bit strange to you. I would say I've learned more from other authors in terms of method and philosophy of apologetics, but Ken Ham was one of the catalysts that got me thinking about apologetics. His dogged commitment to the Word of God and his ability to direct his talking points to the Gospel is admirable. 

J. Gresham Machen taught me to think Fundamentally. There are other names I could have paired with "fundamentally" but it is Machen's story that really draws me in. Reading about his life, the battles he fought, and the stands he took is simply inspirational. Many of the things he wrote about are (sadly) still relevant that you might almost think he was a contemporary author! 

Ryan Denton taught me to think evangelistically. Ryan's zeal for evangelism is unmatched. His book "Even if None" has had a profound impact upon my thinking when it comes to evangelism in the public square. Again, we are very different theologically, but there is much to learn from him on the topic of evangelism. 

God has given me many great teachers. Some I have known personally, others I have only read their books or listened to their sermons.  Each of these men differ wildly from each other on their theological convictions and approach to a variety of things and, as I noted, I don't agree with all of them on everything, and I may not even recommend you listening to them the same way I did. This post was born from a train of thought I had one day about all those who have influenced me in one way or another over the years, and this is really an incomplete list! As I reflect upon this, I am profoundly grateful for all that the Lord has allowed into my life to influence me--and I hope for the better. 

Who have been your primary influences? Drop me a comment and share who has had the most influence on your growth and development. As you reflect on the question you may be as surprised as I was about the breadth of teachers God has used in your life. Praise God for them all! Thank Him for what he's done for you.