Influence, leadership, sacrifice – these are the words that identify Christians throughout history who have answered the call from God to go and make disciples. From the early days of the church to the early 2000s, these “famous in the faith” Christians have influenced world leaders, presidents, and countless other believers.
Let’s dive in and take a look at 13 influential Christians – do you know all of them?
Athanasius, I was the 20th Pope of Alexandria. His tenure was fraught with struggle and included five exiles after four different Roman emperors ordered his replacement. The Egyptian Christian leader’s legacy is mainly as the chief defender of the Holy Trinity. His various monikers include Athanasius the Apostolic, Athanasius the Great, and Athanasius the Confessor.
Saint Augustine (354-430)
A Berber by origin, Augustine converted to Christianity and was baptized in 386. Saint Augustine was a theologian, scholar, and philosopher who influenced Western Christianity, writing several important works, such as Confessions, On Christian Doctrine, and City of God. He was also part of the original sin doctrine, with a part to play in ‘just war theory.’ Augustine was present at the fall of the Roman Empire.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
The most influential German ever to walk the earth, perhaps? Martin Luther was the figurehead for the movement against Catholic clergy’s indulgences and was integral to the Protestant Reformation.
As the youngest member of his priesthood, Luther is renowned for posting his “Ninety-Five Theses” proposition list on church doors in Wittenburg, Germany. However, his refusal to denounce his demands for an academic debate on allegedly corrupt legalistic practices saw him excommunicated.
William Tyndale (1494-1536)
The man partially responsible for the English Protestant movement was a famous English biblical scholar who translated the first English-language Bible from Greek and Hebrew texts.
Tyndale took advantage of a new revolutionary printing press to achieve this. In his life, he produced multiple texts, including his most renowned: the Tyndale Bible.
John Calvin (1509-1564)
A passionate polemicist and theologian, John Calvin was a French pastor and integral figure in the French Protestant Reformation. Calvin’s name is attached to the Calvinist doctrine, which preaches predestination, or the belief that God has already chosen those destined for salvation. Certain Presbyterian, Reformed, and Congregational churches still adopt his doctrine today.
John Owen (1616–1683)
John Owen was a Welsh, nonconformist pastor, theologian, and Oxford University administrator. Owen sat on Oliver Cromwell’s first Protectorate Parliament of 1654-1655.
Owen lost much in the struggle between Royalist and Parliamentary groups, and he was forced from Oxford by William Laud, a prominent Church of England bishop. Owen published many important texts in a volatile period of British history.
John Bunyan (1628–1688)
This prolific writer and Puritan, John Bunyan lived in England and fought in the Parliamentary Army in the opening chapter of the English Civil War. However, Bunyan wrote a hugely successful Christian allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, which many consider the first English novel. The book remains in print and has been translated into over 200 languages.
William Wilberforce (1759–1833)
No Englishman has saved more lives from destruction than William Wilberforce, the British politician, and philanthropist. Wilberforce led the abolitionist movement, which eventually helped outlaw the international slave trade, putting Britain at the forefront of ending the cruel practice. His catalyst for a life chasing reform came after becoming a Christian in 1785, shortly after being elected a Member of Parliament for Yorkshire.
George Herbert (1805–1898)
George Herbert was a renowned English poet connected to the ‘metaphysical poets’ — a group of 17th-century lyricists more concerned by the spoken quality of their stanzas. His poetry uses imagery that revolves around Christ’s redeeming love.
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Another popular Englishman among various denominations, Charles Spurgeon, gained the moniker “Prince of Preachers” for his tireless enthusiasm and devotion to benevolence. He encouraged his congregation members to share salvation with the poor in Victorian London and set up orphanages and community housing for those in need.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
A prominent American civil rights leader and Baptist preacher, Martin Luther King Jr. used his Christian faith and conviction to lead the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott, among other peaceful protests.
King’s most famous march on Washington allowed him to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech which is full of faith-influenced themes and expressions. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, King continued to march and advocate for racial equality until his assassination in 1968.
C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)
Famous for his “Chronicles of Narnia” books, author, scholar, and theologian C.S. Lewis has influenced more children and adults alike with his Christian fantasy series and essays on apologetics. From “The Screwtape Letters” and “Surprised by Joy,” – his faith autobiography, to “Out of The Silent Planet,” Lewis used the genre of fantasy to connect readers to basic yet important spiritual truths.
Along with his closest friend, the author of “The Lord of the Rings” series, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis helped give genuine and sincere words and explanations to common issues regarding sin, loneliness, grief, and staying in the Christian faith.
Billy Graham (1918-2018)
Probably the most famous evangelist of the 20th century, Billy Graham was known for his large-scale crusades of faith that drew in hundreds of thousands of people who gave their life to Jesus. In addition to starting The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he also was an advisor to several U.S. presidents, influencing world leaders to choose faith and love for Christ and model the Christian.
15 Great Women of the Bible You Should Study
Those are some amazing men… but what about the women??
Here are 15 amazing women of the Bible every Christian should know as well as the valuable lessons we can learn from each of them.
10 Remarkable Catholic Saints Who Changed the Course of History
Whether or not you agree with Catholic teaching, it’s hard to deny: Catholic saints have played a pivotal role in shaping the course of history, leaving a lasting impact on both the Church and the world at large.
These remarkable individuals, through their unwavering faith, selfless acts of charity, and profound teachings, have left an indelible mark on society. Here are 10 remarkable Catholic saints who changed the course of history.
10 Best Bible Studies for Women to Help You Grow in Faith
Want to dive deeper into regular Bible study, but you’re not sure where to start? We’ve compiled a list of the most popular, most highly recommended Bible studies for Christian women today.
Divine Mamas: 12 Biblical Mothers Who Made History (Before It Was Even A Thing)
The Bible features many stories of famous prophets, kings, patriarchs, and warriors. Men like Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Timothy, and Jesus show us how to live lives of godliness. But these men didn’t just wake up and become men of influence. They were raised by some incredible (and imperfect) moms who “trained up their children in the way they should go.
15 Famous Celebrities Who Embrace Christianity Despite Public Scrutiny
The morals and values of celebrities in Hollywood often stand in stark contrast to the Christian faith. Where the Bible says not to be arrogant or put your hope in wealth (1 Tim 6:17), many in Hollywood flaunt their expensive mansions, cars, and wardrobes.
Or when the Bible says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourself (Philippians 2:3),” it’s obvious to see how the cut-throat world of Hollywood makes this verse difficult to live out.
Thankfully, there are several celebrities who are successful actors AND followers of Christ. In fact, these men and women use their fame as a way to honor God and give back to others – exactly what the Christian faith is all about.