Theo Hobson’s View of Rowan Williams

July 3, 2012

Scot McKnight’s excellent Jesus Creed blog has an excellent reflection on Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. As an Anglican, I feel sorry for Dr. Williams. Could any man be at the helm of this ship of fools at a more inconvenient and turbulent time? Williams, a gentle professor and thoughtful theologian, has been ravaged by conservatives and ignored by liberals, especially within the American Episcopal establishment.

I think I disagree with Hobson concerning Williams’ tone of leadership, but that is to be expected of an evangelical, rigidly Protestant, low ritual, high sacramental Anglican such as this miserable offender. Williams also has a healthy and “high” view of of the catholic church, the universal assembly of Christ-followers. It is this keen sensibility that causes Williams to hold back on the ordination of practicing homosexuals. He is willing to wait on the Holy Spirit to move the worldwide church to a common opinion.

Anglicanism is experiencing a great stress from proponents of women’s ordination and homosexual inclusion. The church is in the challenging situation of being both faithful to the biblical and historic doctrine while loving and respecting those with whom we disagree. All of this is happening in the confines of a culture that is reflexively anti-religion (even more in England than America). Anglicanism is being town apart by its own impatience. The “something” in our institutional DNA that accepts a certain amount of tension between differing theological viewpoints, within the context of a brilliantly understated standard – the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, is unable to find peace between the American factions.

Since the Articles are plainly protestant and opposed to some errors of Roman Catholic theology in a style that some consider ‘politically incorrect,” the Articles have fallen into disregard by seminarians, professors of theology, bishops, and lay people that should know better.Those Anglicans who are accepting of propositional religion understand the necessity of this statement of unity.

Organized Anglicanism is suffering in many ways, but it is also experiencing a rebirth in the less wealthy nations of the south. Canterbury no longer matters in any way that can reach the man in the pew, or the preacher in the pulpit. History will be kinder to Dr. Williams than newspaper commentators, and the evangelical joy of Anglican faith and practice will prosper.

Theo Hobson’s View of Rowan Williams.


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