Queen Elizabeth II died today at 96 years of age. She was England’s longest-reigning monarch, having been the queen for seventy years. She was much beloved throughout the British Commonwealth as well as throughout the world. Her son Charles is now the King of England, taking the name King Charles III.
I’ve been to England twice, but I never got to see Queen Elizabeth. Maybe you could say the closest I ever got to her was knowing her chaplain, or at least one of them–Tom (N. T.) Wright. For a while, he was the chaplain of Westminster Abbey. That made him a spiritual advisor to the queen. Tom also was for a while the Bishop of Durham, which position is also of high rank in the Church of England (Anglican Church).
However, N. T. Wright is known mostly throughout the world for his academic prowess. He has written many theological books, sometimes big ones, and I have a bunch of them in my library. He is known in the academy, among many other subjects, for being a leader in “the new perspective on Paul,” meaning the apostle Paul and his New Testament epistles. Tom delivers very persuasive and humorous speeches with his British accent. And for decades, Tom Wright has been regarded by many of his academic peers as the preeminent New Testament scholar in the world.
I know Tom Wright. He is a delightful person to know. It is because I’ve been a member of the Society of Biblical Literature since 1999. My close friend Dr. Scot McKnight introduced us. I often would see Tom at SBL’s Annual Meeting, and we would have a brief chat. I once had the honor of having dinner with him and his lovely wife Maggie. (Tom also gave me an endorsement of my Triangle Book invention, which you can see at my website atrianglebook.com.)
Tom Wright likely had many conversations with Queen Elizabeth II, no doubt some of them about God and the Bible. Being the queen, she was the head of the Church of England and known for being a strong Christian believer.
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned queen at the young age of 25 years. That following Christmas, in 1952, she made this plea on a radio broadcast to her British citizens, “Pray for me … that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”
Queen Elizabeth then made it a tradition to write and deliver her own message to her people via radio on Christmas. In her 2000 Christmas speech she said, “For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.” Queen Elizabeth II was good and gracious model for her people.