Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Excuse my cynicism but...

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday about the trend towards celebrity in the church and lo and behold I read today of the 60 most influential Christians according to a list complied by Premier radio on account of the Queens Diamond Jubilee. Cringing at the thought of the implications of such a list in our celebrity-conscious culture, I nervously followed the link to the article about the list.

Here's the list, but not in any order other the way I copied and pasted them from the article, which in itself was not an attempt to rank them in any way (and neither I think is the list anyway). To be on the list the person has to have lived within the last 60 years and in the Commonwealth, just in case you are intending to write to Premier and ask why Jesus isn't on it!

Steve Chalke; Mary Whitehouse; The Lord Pakenham, aka Francis Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford; Dame Shirley Williams; Baroness Margaret Thatcher; Tony Blair; Ian Paisley; Sir John William Laing; Rupert Murdoch; Lesslie Newbigin; Gordon J. Wenham; NT Wright; John A. T. Robinson; Eric Mascall; Charles H. Dodd; Sir John Houghton; John Polkinghorne; Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill; Nelson Mandela; Bishop Festo Kivengere; Usain Bolt; Graham Kendrick; Sir Cliff Richard; Sir John Tavener; Dorothy Sayers; J.R.R. Tolkien; Dame Judi Dench; J K Rowling; Bono; Clifford Longley; Malcolm Muggeridge; Graham Greene; Rt. Hon Lord John Reith; J. Arthur Rank; General Sir Richard Dannatt; Harry Secombe; Ronald Stuart Thomas; Leonard Cheshire; Isabel Carter; Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres; Peter & Miranda Harris; Basil Hume; George Hoffman; John Bertram Phillips; Frederick Fyvie Bruce; Donald Soper; Dr. Rowan Williams; Trevor Huddleston; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Revd Nicholas Gumbel; Clive Staples Lewis; David Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Janani Jakaliya Luwum; Rev John Robert Walmsley Stott ; Jackie Pullinger; General Eva Burrows; Gladys Aylward; Andrew White; The Rev'd Kathleen Margaret Richardson; Mother Teresa.
Thankfully this is not a list of those who are well-known Christian speakers or activists. And it has some interesting names on it too. As evangelicals we are often quick to pass judgement on the status of anyone who believes things that fall outside our definition of orthodoxy, but even the most generously minded among us might find some of the names surprising. Who would have thought that we'd see JK Rowling on a list of influential Christians given her literary output and the divide debates it sparked in churches across the country! And Rupert Murdoch too.

So there it is. A list of people who may or may not be familiar to you or I, but who somehow have made it to this very 21st century process of making a list of everything.

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