50 Incredible Christians You Really Should Know About
I have said it before: one of the best ways to grow in your Christian faith, to be inspired, to be challenged, and to be renewed, is to read about the great Christian men and women of the past. I believe it is essential that all Christians read biographies and autobiographies of the great saints.
As A. W. Tozer once said, “Next to the Holy Scriptures, the greatest aid to the life of faith may be Christian biographies.” In an earlier article on this topic I spoke about setting the bar high. I said:
With Jesus Christ as our ultimate standard, and his command that we be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48), every single Christian has the bar set as high as it can go. But sadly most Christians don’t even consider this standard, and don’t care about raising their own bar. They are far too satisfied with a nominal, mediocre life. They look at other nominal, mediocre Christians and think that this is the way the Christian life is.
They simply compare themselves with one another and never get a vision of something better, something greater, something more pleasing to God. These folks need to raise the bar. There are various ways we can do this, but one way which helped me very early on in my Christian life was to read biographies, autobiographies and stories of great men and women of God.
Over the years I have featured and reviewed many of these stirring and inspirational biographies. Here I just want to list 50 of these Christian champions that you should be aware about. Around half of them I have already looked at in detail in my Notable Christians series: https://billmuehlenberg.com/category/christianity/notable-christians/
The other half I hope to cover soon. And I may eventually turn all of this into a book. So let me just mention these folks, when they lived, and provide a very brief blurb about them. Those featured here are somewhat recent Christians – those mainly from the past few centuries, but some going back almost 500 years.
If I had gone back any further, the list would have been much too long. There would be Augustine and Aquinas, Luther and Calvin, and so many more. Thus this list features somewhat more recent men and women of God who are important and significant figures.
There are many different sorts of Christians highlighted here: pastors, writers, missionaries, theologians, apologists, church leaders, scholars, poets, novelists and so on. But all have made a difference, and all have a wonderful testimony and story to tell.
Needless to say, such a list obviously reveals my own biases. I write as a Protestant evangelical, so most folks featured here fall into that camp. But I have included some Catholics and others as well, so hopefully everyone will find some names of interest here.
Most of these 50 Christians happen to be those I turn to again and again for inspiration, encouragement and a challenge. Whenever a new book by or about them comes out, I tend to snatch it up. Since my interests lie in the areas of theology, ethics, apologetics, and the prophetic, cross-lived life, it is not surprising that the men and women featured here fall into those camps.
Here then are my 50. Many others could be featured here. I only arrange them by chronological order (based on when they died).
John Bunyan 1628-1688 English writer, Puritan preacher and author of The Pilgrim’s Progress
David Brainerd 1718-1747 American evangelist and missionary to the Delaware Indians
Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758 American theologian, pastor, philosopher and revivalist
Count Zinzendorf 1700-1760 German social reformer and founder/leader of the Moravians
George Whitefield 1714-1770 English pastor, preacher and revivalist
John Wesley 1703-1791 English preacher and revivalist
William Wilberforce 1759-1833 British parliamentarian, social reformer and abolitionist
William Carey 1761-1834 English missionary, translator, social reformer in India
Robert Murray McCheyne 1813-1843 Scottish pastor and minister in the Church of Scotland
Adoniram Judson 1788-1850 American missionary to Burma
Charles Finney 1792-1875 American evangelist, revivalist and theologian
Lord Shaftesbury 1801-1885 English politician, philanthropist and social reformer
Charles Spurgeon 1834-1892 English Baptist preacher
George Muller 1805-1898 English evangelist and orphanage director
D. L. Moody 1837-1899 American preacher and evangelist
J. C. Ryle 1816-1900 English Evangelical Anglican bishop, writer and theologian
Hudson Taylor 1832-1905 English missionary in China
John G Paton 1824-1907 Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides
William Booth 1829-1912 British social reformer and evangelist, founder of the Salvation Army along with his wife Catherine
Fanny Crosby 1820-1915 American hymn writer
Mary Slessor 1848-1915 Scottish missionary to Nigeria
Oswald Chambers 1874-1917 Scottish Baptist evangelist, teacher and devotional writer
Abraham Kuyper 1837-1920 Dutch politician, Prime Minister, academic, journalist and theologian
F. B. Meyer 1847-1929 English Baptist pastor and evangelist
C. T. Studd 1860-1931 English cricketer and missionary to China, India and Africa
John Stam 1907-1934 He and his wife Betty were American missionaries in China, both martyred by the communists
Billy Sunday 1862-1935 American athlete, evangelist and revivalist
G. K. Chesterton 1874-1936 English journalist, novelist, poet and apologist
Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945 German theologian, Lutheran pastor, and martyr to the Nazis
Amy Carmichael 1867-1951 Irish missionary and orphanage founder in India
Jim Elliot 1927-1956 American missionary martyred in Ecuador
Isobel Kuhn 1901-1957 Canadian missionary to China and Thailand
Dorothy Sayers 1893-1957 English academic, novelist, lay theologian and apologist
A. W. Tozer 1897-1963 American pastor and devotional writer
C. S. Lewis 1898-1963 British academic, apologist, Christian thinker and best-selling author
Gladys Aylward 1902-1970 English missionary to China
Keith Green 1953-1982 American musician, song writer and evangelist
Corrie Ten Boom 1892-1983 Dutch Christian speaker, writer and prisoner of the Nazis
Francis Schaeffer 1912-1984 American intellectual, apologist and pastor, known for the work of L’abri in Switzerland
Vance Havner 1902-1986 American evangelist and devotional writer
Malcolm Muggeridge 1903-1990 English journalist, author and apologist
F. F. Bruce 1910-1990 British theologian, author and New Testament scholar
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones 1899-1991 Welsh Anglican and evangelical leader, author and expository preacher
Leonard Ravenhill 1907-1994 English preacher, evangelist and revivalist
Leon Morris 1914-2006 Australian Evangelical Anglican, theologian and New Testament scholar
John Stott 1921-2011 English Anglican priest, theologian, evangelical leader and prolific author
Charles Colson 1931-2012 American author, lay theologian, evangelist, social reformer and apologist
Elizabeth Elliot 1926-2015 American missionary, author, speaker and wife of Jim Elliot
Helen Roseveare 1925-2016 English missionary to the Congo, doctor and author
Billy Graham 1918-2018 American evangelist
Yes I know, so many more great Christians could be listed here, as I already mentioned. You likely have many other names you would want to see included here. The number of godly men and women to be aware of and write about really is endless. Therefore, more lists will have to be forthcoming, so stay tuned.
For further reading
There are plenty of books that have lists of famous Christians. I have simply grabbed 15 of these off my shelves and I list them here, alphabetically:
Daryl Aaron, The 40 Most Influential Christians. Bethany House, 2013.
Christian History Magazine editors, 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. Christianity Today, 2000.
Wesley Duewel, Heroes of the Holy Life. Zondervan, 2002.
Gene Fedele, Heroes of the Faith. Bridge-Logos, 2003.
Geoffrey Hanks, 70 Great Christians. Christian Focus, 1992.
Steven Lawson, Pillars of Grace: AD100-1564. Reformation Trust, 2011.
Roberts Liarden. God’s Generals: The Revivalists. Whitaker House, 2008.
Roberts Liarden. God’s Generals: The Roaring Reformers. Whitaker House, 2003.
Roberts Liarden. God’s Generals: Why They Succeeded and Why Some Failed. Whitaker House, 1996.
Eric Metaxis, 7 Men and the Secrets of Their Greatness. Thomas Nelson, 2013.
Eric Metaxis, 7 Women and the Secrets of Their Greatness. Thomas Nelson, 2016.
Iain Murray, Heroes. Banner of Truth, 2009.
John Perry, ed., 10 Christians Everyone Should Know. Thomas Nelson, 2012.
John Piper, 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy. Crossway, 2018.
Warren Wiersbe, 50 People Every Christian Should Know. Baker, 2009.
28 Replies to “50 Incredible Christians You Really Should Know About”
Thanks a veritable who’s who. I’ll see what I can get on these people.
I’d like to add David Wilkerson from Times Square Church.
Yes absolutely Kyle. Wilkerson will certainly be on one of my future lists. And i did already feature him prominently when he passed away:
There could be lists of e.g. those that have had a significant impact through time spent in Australia. Whilst D. L. Moody was invited to come to Australia he died before he could come, so he would not make such a list.
There are a number of biographies of other Christians that one can read where one/more of your list is mentioned. Each generation can be inspired afresh by those that have gone before.
I cannot in my wildest imaginations conceive of a list that does not contain the name of A W Pink.
Thanks Malcolm. Yes Pink is another one who must make a future list. As I said several times in the piece, many more names can be included here!
Matthew Henry for his incredibly well written commentary on the whole bible.
Yes another worthy inclusion Jo.
Would you consider Bishop Fulton Sheen?
Thanks David. Yes I sure would, and he is already in mind for future lists. I have often quoted from him. See here, eg:
Love this post – love anything that gets people inspired to live unconditionally and missionally for Christ. They make true to the statement that one totally surrendered person and God are a majority.
I’d also recommend some of the biographies about China and Chinese notables such as Brother Yun in the The Heavenly Man, and more modern missionaries such as Rolland & Heidi Baker through who God have transformed Mozambique.
It’s hard to remain the same after stories like these.
Quite so Garth.
Thanks a bucket load for this list. As a muso I discovered Keith Green’s music early on as a Christian and fell in love with it. To think he was only 29yrs when he died and yet the legacy of his music lives on for many and myself. I gotta get busy and scout around and read up on these saints who I know in name but not enough in their lives. Thanks very much for sharing.
Many thanks Colin.
And to think Bill you and your wife met Keith and Melody. Thats just grand. One of my favourite Keith Green songs was, O Lord your Beautiful. Magnificent. I will be getting his CD’s out in my Car tomorrow pronto. Really enjoy reading your posts. Cheers Colin
Thank you Bill for remembering these saints of God that have gone before us, who inspire and lead those who follow.
It’s an amazing list. Thank you.
I would suggest you to consider
Dostoevsky- of a Russian background.
Richard Wurmbrand – a jew of a romanian background jailed by romanian comunists.
Paul White, Australian medical missionary to Tanzania. Author of the Jungle Doctor books?
You will soon have another 50 list, Bill 🙂
Charles Finney! Billy Sunday! What were you thinking Bill? Oh well, each to his own I suppose.
if Charles Finney could know, and speak to, ‘the pulpit being responsible’ for a nations morals decline (for lack of preaching the truth of the word) then I wouldn’t dismiss him out of hand.
John Ridley Anglican evangelist, and hero of the 1st AIF, who said in a sermon he wished he could write ETERNITY on the hearts of the people of Sydney which caused Arthur Stace to go around Sydney writing in Copperplate ETERNITY on footpaths.
Your list is wonderful Bill. I would add Joni Erickson-Tada also
Thanks Sue. Yes she deserves to be there as well.
There are a lot now to look up with this list, thank you. My favourite men of God were G. C. Bevington and George Mueller himself from your list. Their lives would give the Hyper Faith preachers a run for their money, such a different walk in faith.
Hi Bill, good to see C.T. Studd on the list. His mission, The Heart Of Africa Mission, morphed into WEC International (World Evangelisation for Christ). Bother Andrew & Reinhard Bonnke both studied at the WEC Missionary Training College in Glasgow, & they are big league players. Happily I got to study at the WEC College in Launceston area Tasmania. “Your labour in our LORD is NOT in vain”.
Kind regards in Jesus, Mike, Greens Beach, Tasmania
That’s a great list, Bill! My wife is reading two books of John G. Paton at the moment – after she read John Pipers article about him. Very humbling!
Hi Bill, here is the info re Destined For the Throne, a teaching on Believing, Prevailing Prayer x Paul Billheimer,1983 (Gone to Glory 2017). It is SO encouraging to learn of our privilege and responsibility in Holy Spirit led prayer.. just like “if we (Church) don’t/won’t evangelize” the world won’t be saved.. “If we (Church) don’t/won’t pray” God is similarly hindered from the work he wants to do. We are being trained for our role as the Bride Of Christ now by co-working with God in prayer & praise worship. Prayer proceeds action.
The whole reason for Creation to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb & beyond is so the FATHER can prepare a BRIDE for His Son Jesus. I reckon its a MUST read.
Max Lucado seems to think its good. Dr Billy Graham wrote the forward.
Its can be downloaded for free (?):
Thanks Michael. Yes I read that book many years ago.