The other day on facebook a reader of this blog ask me to comment on his post about evangelical academics. Specifically he asked is this is an oxi-moron? How academic are they? In course of investigation I found tons of sites that list accomplished evangelicals, many of these figures we all known. There is no doubt that there are many accomplished intelligent evangelicals in the academy. The problem is most of them tend not to innovate and they don't really raise the level of thinking in the evangelical church, although, there are notable exceptions!
The major problem with this topic is the ambiguity of the term "evangelical." They come in all stripes from moderates who just believe in the atonement and resurrection to far right wing legalistic and literalistic. One standard measure might be the classical definition defined by the Chicago statnent  includes those who accept inerrantcy of scripture. Others site five points such as Evangelicals are defined by belief in inerrancy, literal interpretation of scripture atonement, resurrection, conversion experience, and the like.  Some tend to equate evangelical with fundamentalist, I tend to think of fundamentalists as evangelicals on steroids. For this article I'll be using evangelical in a broad sense. Another aspect that must be understood is that the "lite" version tends to be foreign, evangelicals in UK and Netherlands tend to be more "rational," more "liberal." more on that in part 2.
I am going to begin with evangelicals who I would think are great and excellent in their fields, who clearly exemplify the best of the academic tradition. Then I'll move to show a middle group who are accomplished but who have not really contributed to scholarship in a significant sense. Then I will discuss those who I feel are only pretenders to the title of academic.
There are a couple of great theologians I would label as evangelical but not many. A great theologian advances the understanding of the field in some ground breaking way. It's hard to do that if your major messages is "stay the same." There is actually a site called Super Scholar and their list of great theologians includes only liberals: lists Crosson, Hick, Kung, Pannenberg, Ruther (counting theology proper not Bible scholars). There are some evangelical theologians who I count as great. The Best Is William Abraham (aka "Billy"). He was my professor at Perkins and we were coffee buddies. He's very conservative although Methodist. He's brilliant, studied positivism with Rawls at Oxford. His work Canon and Criterion I think is brilliant and ground breaking. I have a singed galley copy he gave me years ago. One I suspect is evangelical is Herman Dooyeweerd, the most prominent Philosopher of the Netherlands,. Dutch evangelicals are very rational and moderate.(see more) In the crazy fanatic column I would place Rushdooney the Christian Reconstructionist, it is not ground breaking theology it's just insane.
There are more philosophers than theologians who are evangelical, or that I count as such. The first I will name is really a social scientists, the only great Christian social scientist I know of (living at least) Peter Berger.He's brilliant, ground breaking, and is regarded as the Noam Chomsky of sociology of Knowledge. He writes a lot about secularization, saying society is secularizing but that does not mean decline of religion. He doesn't claim to be evangelical but says, "I am evangelisch [emphasis his] "I'm...Luthern, but I'm very comfortable with evangelicals," I call that "evangelical lite."  see more  Of course we would have to include William Lane Craig. He get's a lot of hate and criticism from atheists and even Christians especially us liberals, but even though Secular Outpost guys are always harping on him one of their top thinkers, Jeff Lowder, proclaims his brilliance and his competence as a philosopher. Lowder admires his sophistication, Crai is definitely evangelical. There is also Alvin Paltinga, I'm pretty sure we can call him evangelical. He is head and shoulders above Craig as far as I am concerned. Plantinga is probably the greatest living metaphysision of our times,(see more) There is William, Alston (see more)  and others. The evangelicals are strongest in philosophy, all of these thinkers have contributed to the field of philosophy in ways that even atheist philosophers acknowledge. The one exception might be Craig, I don't think he;s acknowledge as ground breaking in philosophy (although they know he's competent) yet from an apologetic view point he is, having saved the Cosmological argument and he dig up the Kalam argument from obscurity in the iddle ages. Together with Palantinga and Alson they have made reformed philosophy a force to recon with. I would tend to think of these ground breakers as evangelical lite. Another philosopher whose main contribution is in apologetic is Victor Repeert with his work C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea, the best treatment of the arument from reason.
There are evangelicals who tried to tap into the world of though through philosophy and social sciences but one must wonder if they knew what they were doing, In the Case of Tim LaHaye (April 27, 1926 – July 25, 2016) it's pretty obvious not. LaHaye was mimicking Francis Shaeffer. Shaeffer did not know philosophy, Anyone who does know that field and reads The God who is There will see that immediately, He thought Kierkegaard was trying to destroy christianity. One could only think trait by not having read any references works and not having read anything than the Attack on Christendom and that not having read carefully.  The Reagan supporters looked to Shaeffer as vindication of their own world view and raised him to a position as "missionary to the intellectuals" he had no chance of filling that role. LaHaye was mimicking him and had no Philosophical learning,LaHaye says: "Kant was a thought bomb." Yes, whatever. Shaeffer and LaHaye are more from the fundamentalist end of the spectrum.
Finally there is Biblical scholarship. Unfortunately the evangelicals don't do well here either. They have a lot of component people, some great ground breakers, mostly from the past. By competent I mean they have the degrees the work they do is good but they are not ground breaking. It's unfortunate because Biblical scholarship is where they should excel, but I find most evangelical bible scholars I come across do not impress me. From the past Sir William Ramsey,Albright, Kenyon,are legends in the field of Biblical scholarship. Lightfoot, Wescot and Hoart I would count as legends and as evangelicals but they've been disowned by modern evangelicals due to the propaganda of the KJV only crowd.
In contemporaneity era among living Biblical scholars who are excellent and evangelical scholars include Mark Goodacre and N.T, Wright."Mark Goodacre is a New Testament scholar and Professor at Duke University's Department of Religion. He has written extensively on the Synoptic Problem; that is, the origins of the gospels of Matthew."  I am impressed by Goodacre. He has made strides in dealing with issuers of synoptic problem while defending the faith. I think N.T. Wright is overrated. I woud not put him on apar with the greats of the past but he's certainly light years ahead of me.(more on him) He;s more than just component he;s probably the best to hold up against Koester or Crosson. Alistar McGrath I give high marks does good work ,he may be ground breaking I have to read more of his work. I give him a gold star foro stadning up to the atheist whiz kid Ricahrd Carrier. I give another gold star for making Carrier so angry he threw a temper tantrum just because McGrath argumed against Bayes.
In the middle ground I spoke of above,where they are comportment and accomplished and do good work but not ground breaking I put Carl Henry, F.F.Bruce, James I Packer. They had the degrees they did the work but they did not push the field forward. I use Bruce's work in apostolic. he did good stuff, His New Testament Documents are They Reliable? is good as apologetics but not on par with Koester or Crosson. In terms of the "pretender" category I put Grudem and John Piper whose "scholarship" is only done to support their doctrines (facsimileing women). Most Bible scholars don't impress me, I don't demand that one issue silly way out ideas to be "ground breaking." Most evangelical Bible scholars I find are repeating the Orthodoxy of their camp and passing that of a learning, There are numerous exceptions as I've named but the typical thing I find is mediocrity, I will give examples in part 2
Baukhaum (Jesus and the Eye Witnesses) is considered evangelical. As a matter of standards I use him as an example of ground breaking for a believing scholar. He does not propose some way out idea that reduces Jesus to less than divine or reduces the Bible to unless scribbling. He actually defends the faith and he does it in a way that moves forward our understanding of Gospels and the eyewitness to Jesus. His idea about the names is brilliant work. He figures out a pattern for when names of people are used or when they just identified namelessly and shows that at certain junctures the names must have been eyewitness who were important to the community that produced the Gospel,, It is possible to put the field forward while defending the faith but most of them don't hit that mark,
Peter Enns quotes Kenton L. Sparks in saying that the evangelicals have tried to give their sons credentials to make them able to counter liberal scholarship but their attempts are not successful,
[I]t was impossible for bright, young fundamentalist students to avoid noticing that the biblical and historical evidence created, or at least seemed to create, substantial difficulties for their conservative doctrine of Scripture. As a result, while their fundamentalist forefathers tended to reject biblical criticism with anti-intellectual fideistic responses, this new generation of fundamentalists from the 1950s and 1960s–now called evangelicals–intended to use their intellectual and critical skills to prove that fundamentalism’s view of the Bible was correct all along.
Consequently, a common characteristic of conservative, evangelical scholarship during the 20th century, and now at the dawn of a new century, is that it attempts to use accepted critical methodologies to demonstrate that certain conservative theological positions–such as the Bible’s inerrancy and historical accuracy–fit the biblical evidence and are intellectually satisfying.
 Unfortunatley Enns says Sparks argues they were unsuccessful but Enns does not include that information.