Over at the Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter points to a piece in Religion & Politics in which Molly Worthen examines a curious phenomenon among American evangelical Christians: Anglophilia. Worthen notes that, in addition to the late John Stott, evangelicals seem to naturally gravitate toward theologians from British Isles. Though these persons of interest are genuinely important thinkers, and more than worthy as apologists, philosophers, and fiction writers, there does seem to be a certain additional mystique attached to their nationality:
American evangelicals’ fondness Stott is part of a larger pattern, a special affection for Christian gurus of British extraction. Droves of American evangelicals stock their shelves with books by British Christian scholars such as N.T. Wright, a professor of New Testament and the former bishop of Durham, and J.I. Packer, a British-born theologian at Regent College in Vancouver. Despite ancient hostility toward Roman Catholicism, American evangelicals lionize the British Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton and raise their children on Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Carter agrees with the diagnosis, but pushes back about the cause. Calling the trope of intellectual inferiority a “cliché,” he suggests a national/cultural affinity may be more helpful in explaining the connection:
Worthen raises an intriguing question—why do we American Evangelicals have such a fondness for the British?—but provides an unsatisfactory answer. Her claim that American Evangelicals have an “intellectual inferiority complex” isn’t completely unwarranted, but it’s a dated and clichéd critique. (Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind was published 17 years ago. A lot has changed since then.)
I suspect a more likely explanation for why American Evangelicals love the Brits is related to the reason we love the Jews: We believe that we share with these groups a historical and theological imagination.
You’ll find Carter’s commentary (and a link to the original piece) here.