The Christian Hall of Fame: Beyond My Knee-Jerk Sarcasm

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Did you know there is a “Christian Hall of Fame“? It’s even located in Canton, Ohio, home of the pro football Hall of Fame. It’s a creation of Canton Baptist Temple. The most recent inductee is Jerry Falwell, added September 23.

When I read about that, I immediately fell into my default cynical mode. I assumed it would be populated mainly by fundamentalist Baptist Republicans. And I figured it would be fertile ground for a very satirical blog post, as if that would edify the Kingdom.

Then I took a look…and I’m fascinated by it!

First of all, the website is very, very well done. As user-friendly as can be.

The inductees span the last 2000 years. Click on a name, and you get a picture and description of that person. Click on a period of history (say, “The Church in Reformation: AD 1000-1500”), and you get a list of persons from that period–some that you’ve heard of, some that you haven’t.  In the Reformation period, there were eight persons: Wycliffe, Huss, Savonarola, Hubmaler, Zwingli, Tyndale, Luther, Simons. I’d never heard of Savonarola or Hubmaler, so it was interesting reading about them and their contribution to Christianity.

The last period, “The Church Expands: 1900-2000,” has 50 entries. Of those, all were English-speaking Caucasians–ten from Great Britain, one from Canada, the rest from the US of A. So I guess the world’s significant Christians mostly lived during the last 100 years, and apparently almost entirely in the United States, or at least they spoke English. There is only one person of color in the list (John Jasper, from the 1800s) and only one woman (hymn-writer Fanny Crosby). It’s too bad that, according to the Christian Hall of Fame, there has not been a single significant black or Asian Christian in the whole world during the last 100 years.

So if you want to make it into the Christian Hall of Fame, you really need to be a modern-day white English-speaking American man. And I’m guessing that you need orthodox fundie credentials. 

But still, it’s interesting. 

My favorite entry was the very last entry, for “The Unknown Christian.” It says:

This Christian never made the headlines as a greet theologian or a silver-tongued orator. He (or she) is a faithful, consecrated, born-again layman. The foot solder in the Gospel army. He (or she) is a Sunday School teacher, an usher, a singer, a bus worker, a nursery helper, a parking lot attendance, or a prayer warrior. His (or her) service is unheralded but vital in the cause of Christ. His (or her) testimony adorns the gospel as he (or she) faithfully witnesses daily “in the temple and in every house,” sacrificing time, talent, and tithe to the Lord.

Having served the Lord in the home, the church, and the world, this Christian will one day hear the Master say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord” (Matthew 25:21).

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