Besides the fact that the title is a bit of a misnomer (several of the persons on the list are not actually theologians - e.g., George Marsden and Mark Noll are historians and make no claim to be theologians), I was dumbstruck at the failure of such a list to mention Roger E. Olson.
But Olson (who is professor of Christian Theology and Ethics at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary) has written a number of books that essentially lay out the theological road map from the biblical autographs all the way to today's postmodern theologians. Such a map reminds us that our own theology was not developed in a vacuum.
In fact, I have comprised a reading list of Olson's works that will enlighten readers as to how we got to where we are today. I have chosen five of his books and note that they total 2,371 pages. So, in one year (assuming that one reads daily 6.5 pages) you can be brought fully up-to-speed on today's theological milieu.
From there, a person could venture out into any Christian theological dialogue and feel confident about being able to - at the very least - comprehend the gist of the discussion. As an example, when New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a piece about then-candidate Barack Obama's appreciation of Reinhold Niebuhr, how many readers had a frame of reference for what such appreciation might mean?
Not having an awareness of what other Christian traditions teach makes many people reflexively mistrustful - and then, sectarian. Now, it is true that there is nothing wrong with asserting that you do not believe what another Christian is espousing - but there is something wrong with shunning (or worse, attacking) someone merely because you are ignorant of how that person's argument works or how it was arrived at.
I think the following five books written by Roger Olson can go a long way towards developing Christians that are faithful to biblical truth and that are respectful participants in dialogue with those who see things differently. He does that, not by staking out some artificial neutrality (Olson, like me, adheres to Arminian theology and has a Pentecostal background), but by painstakingly presenting the views of others honestly.
- The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition and Reform (gives the reader a general sense of how Christian theology developed chronologically)
- God in Dispute: "Conversations" among Great Christian Thinkers (should be read in tandem with The Story of Christian Theology; using the device of imagined debates between Christian theologians - e.g., Augustine and Pelagius, or, Bultmann and Pannenberg - Olson allows himself to present sophisticated theological discussions more conversationally)
- The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity (Olson's irenic, mediating presentation of basic Christian beliefs utilizing common systematic categories)
- The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology (a wealth of material in 328 pages! Contains a history of evangelical theology, short articles on people and movements in evangelicalism, as well as short descriptions of significant doctrines and issues)
- the aforementioned The Journey of Modern Theology: From Reconstruction to Deconstruction (Olson's self-proclaimed magnum opus)
Olson also keeps readers informed about current theological discussions because he blogs frequently. His blog can be accessed here.