I was listening the other day to a satirical comedy show on British Radio. The presenter was making a point about human relationships. The bulk of his satirical piece consisted of a reading from Genesis 2:18-25, in full, from the King James Version of the Bible (“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him …”). He read it slowly and theatrically in a fake American accent. During the reading, the audience laughed uproariously. When the reading was finished, the skit was effectively over; the point was made. The show moved on to the next topic.
What grieved me most about this piece wasn’t the presenter’s viewpoint on the particular issue under discussion. Nor was it even the fact that the Bible was being ridiculed. The saddest part of the skit was the fact that the presenter chose an American accent for his reading of the King James Version of the Bible.
It’s not (I hasten to add) that I’ve got a prejudice against American accents; I myself spoke with a broad Californian twang up to age four. But why did this English presenter choose an American accent for his Bible reading? The King James Version of the Bible is, after all, a very English product. It was commissioned by a King of England, created by English scholars, and influenced, in a large part, by the English martyr William Tyndale. It is generally regarded as one of the greatest crowning achievements of English literature. Some even regard it as the greatest literary work of all time. The presenter could have chosen to read it with a voice sounding like a Shakespearian actor, for example—or an upper-class, holier-than-thou bishop. Then, at least, his ridicule of the Bible would have had some connection with its English heritage. Why on earth did he choose to read it with an American accent?
I can only conclude that, in the view of the presenter and his audience (which consists of a substantial cross-section of well-educated Brits), the Bible is no longer something that belongs in Britain at all. This is the assumption behind the satire, and it’s the reason that an American accent for a Bible reading has instant comedic value. The Bible is not just seen as historical, archaic, sentimental or vaguely quaint; for a substantial proportion of British society, the Bible is seen as something over-the-top, crazy and, above all, foreign. The Bible is no longer at home here; it belongs across the Atlantic. This is, of course, a great testimony to the biblical faithfulness of many of our American brothers and sisters. But for British society, it is a great tragedy.
On Thursday, the UK will elect a new parliament, and the results are very hard to predict. Please pray for the election and the resulting government. From all reports, all three major parties are trying to distance themselves from the Bible to one extent or another. There are particular ethical stances that are causing concern to many Christians here. Above all, please pray that the Bible itself—the word of God that brings eternal life, hope and peace through Jesus Christ—is not lost to the hearts and minds of this nation.Comments on the Sola Panel