jc ryle Dead Brits and Living Americans gospel culture christianity britain america

This is something that I’ve wondered about for a while in a “I should be thinking about something else” kind of way. It seems to me that American Christians and pastors are fascinated by dead British Christians while British Christians/pastors are fascinated by American pastors. What’s with that?

I read this morning that Josh Harris is a fan of JC Ryle, which in itself is hardly something to get upset about but it did spark this mini-rant. Good for Josh, Ryle is a worthy hero of the faith. But it seems to me that the Yanks get all excited by CS Lewis, CH Spurgeon, JC Ryle, CT Studd and other guys with initials instead of first names. Lewis and Spurgeon in particular are highly exalted, oh and Dr MLJ of course.

On the other hand, if you pay close attention to the names that are bandied around amongst us Limey’s are John Piper, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Rob Bell and whoever else is leading some very large church.

What you don’t seem to find are Brits talking about dead American Christians of any note and any Americans talking about living Brits of any note (our churches are too small).

What shall we conclude from this completely unsubstantiated observation (although I challenge you to prove me wrong)? Well, the British want to find what works and by works we mean pull in the punters. The Americans speak English and pull in the punters so we should listen to them.

The Americans on the other hand already have the punters and want to give them something solid and reliable, and what could be more reliable than dead British people with that intoxicating air of intelligence, sophistication and links to a long history.

As Brits we forget the massive cultural differences and the fact that the majority of US churches are just as small as ours, we need to stop messing around with management techniques and busy ourselves with the task of proclaiming the Gospel to our nation, to our increasingly dry and thirsty land and with the task of forming lives which stand out a mile from the world around us in the following ways:

  • We care for our elderly up until the day they die
  • We care for our young from the moment they are conceived
  • We care for our poor by sharing our homes and abundance with them
  • We care for our marriages by fighting for them and sticking to our promises
  • We care for our environment because it isn’t ours but is merely in our care
  • We care for our families by calling them to generosity, service, and community
  • We care for our souls by humbling ourself before Christ

There endeth the rant.