To mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Premier Media has produced a list of the 60 most influential Christians during that time.
Under the headings of ‘church’, ‘charity’, ‘the arts’, ‘sport. ‘leaders’, ‘science’, ‘academia’, ‘business’, ‘politics’ and ‘youth’, those named include Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, Sir Harry Secombe, Dame Judi Dench, JRR Tolkien, Graham Kendrick, Usain Bolt, Nelson Mandela, Sir Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Mary Whitehouse and even Rupert Murdoch. You can find the full list at http://www.premier.org.uk/features/~/media/095660D9C3EE41A7997758176C59B9EB.ashx
Comment: There’s no place for Billy Graham – possibly because he doesn’t come from a Commonwealth country – but his Crusades in the UK, held at regular intervals since the 1950s, have had a profound effect upon many British lives.
It’s also curious that there is no place for Her Majesty herself. After all, she is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, so she’s probably had some influence over Christianity in the UK during her reign.
There’s also no place for anyone who isn’t even slightly famous – so the list espouses the idea of ‘prosperity theology’ (if you follow God, he’ll make sure you do well and rise to the top of your profession). This means there’s no credence for the idea that you don’t have to be famous to be a Christian.
A good many of those named are – or were – members of the clergy (for example, Rowan Williams, Donald Soper, Trevor Huddleston and David Martyn Lloyd‐Jones). However, you could argue that these people were only doing their job. Surely there’s nothing special about any of these people being ‘particularly Christian’? After all, it’s their job. They get paid to be ‘Christian’. It would be more surprising if, after all that, they weren’t ‘particularly Christian’.
Presumably each of the names on this list will evoke a raised eyebrow or two – denoting anything from mild surprise to shocked disbelief – from someone, somewhere. We all like lists but, on this evidence, it’s a good thing – a really good thing – that no human being ever gets to decide, objectively and authoritatively, once-and-for-all, who is a ‘real Christian’. Thankfully, that job belongs to Someone Else.