Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The political imperative of Archbishop Rowan Williams

He gets an awful lot of stick, mainly from the BBC and The Daily Telegraph, and very occasionally from His Grace, but only when it is deserved. The media decided long ago to be unanimously unkind to him, principally because he thinks in paragraphs, talks in complex polysyllables and has distracting eyebrows. His Grace has met his successor on a number of occasions, and he is far more congenial, respectful and listening than any politician he has ever met (and that numbers hundreds, of all parties). Archbishop Rowan is a gifted pastor and an intelligent theologian: he is a man of great humility and considerable spirituality.

He just isn’t much of a leader.

But neither was Iain Duncan Smith.

And while Mr Duncan Smith has discovered his undoubted metier – that of Beveridge the Sequel, crusading against ‘want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness’ – there is a sense in which you feel that Rowan Williams is still in search of his.

He had a bit of a bad hair day yesterday: five bishops defected to the Bishop of Rome, and he ventured an opinion on IDS’s welfare reforms.

As a result, he was mocked, insulted, scorned and lambasted. One blogger, Mark Wallace, who describes himself as a ‘political campaigner, writer and angry young man’, alerted His Grace via tweet message to his post on the matter, remarking that he 'doesn’t normally foray into religion’.

And so he asks in his opening line: ‘What exactly is the point of Rowan Williams?’

His Grace has never met Mr Wallace, who seems to be a perfectly splendid and decent sort of chap.

But he really shouldn’t have forayed into religion without doing a bit of homework.

As one of his commentators observed: “…one or two absurd remarks doth not a pointless person make.”

Indeed it does not.

Otherwise David Cameron would be pointless.

But he is needed to lead the Executive.

And Ed Miliband would be pointless.

But Parliamentary democracy needs a loyal Opposition.

And then there's Nick Clegg.

O, hang on.

There might be one or two exceptions.

But Mr Wallace asked His Grace to respond to his post about ‘meddlesome’ and ‘misguided’ priests, and so he will.

The ‘point’ of Rowan Williams is evident to all who have ears; to all who understand history, the religio-political function and purpose of the Monarchy, the development of our system of government and the checks and balances which have evolved over the centuries to limit the exercise of absolute and arbitrary power.

The Church of England was once referred to as being ‘crucified between two thieves’. While this reference was to the respective fanaticism and superstition of ‘the Puritans and the Papists’, there is a modern parallel with a church now suspended between the decline in institutional religion and the burgeoning of generalised ‘spirituality’; between the secularisation of society and the plurality of faith communities. The postmodern context is marked by diversity, fragmentation and all that is transitory; beliefs and practices are culturally relative, and Anglicanism has ceased to be supra-cultural or catholic.

The Church has always struggled with the tension between the affirmation and assimilation of culture, and the call of the gospel to confront and transform it, which remains the Queen’s ultimate raison d’être. Niebuhr outlined five possible relationships between the gospel and culture, which are the typical answers given in Christian history. His Christ against culture; of culture; above culture; with culture in paradox; and Christ the transformer of culture, each generate different understandings of the mission of the Church. And each finds its expression in the ‘broad church’ that is the Church of England – which incorporates Protestants, Evangelicals, conservatives, liberals, Anglo-Catholics (minus five) and permutations of various fusions of these held ‘in tension’.

Historically, some archbishops have viewed culture as antagonistic to the gospel, and adopted a confrontational approach. Others have seen culture as being essentially ‘on our side’, adopting the anthropological model of contextualisation, looking for ways in which God has revealed himself in culture and building on those.

Those who adopt the ‘Christ above culture’ model have a synthetic approach and adopt a mediating third way, keeping culture and faith in creative tension. And those who see Christ as the transformer of culture adopt a critical contextualisation which by no means rejects culture, but is prepared to be critical both of the context and of the way we ourselves perceive the gospel and its meaning. Thus culture itself needs to be addressed by the gospel, not simply the individuals within it, and truth is mediated through cultural spectacles, including those performed at great state events by the Church of England, which are inimitable.

This latter model mitigates cultural arrogance or easy identification of the gospel with English culture. It also permits one to see how mission relates to every aspect of a culture in its political, economic and social dimensions, which is what has brought the Archbishop of Canterbury into conflict with Iain Duncan Smith.

The task of the Church (and so the Archbishop of Canterbury) is to challenge the reigning plausibility structure by examining it in light of the revealed purposes of God contained in the biblical narrative. Archbishop Rowan essentially advocates a scepticism which enables one to take part in the political life of society without being deluded by its own beliefs about itself: Establishment commits the Church to full involvement in civil society and to making a contribution to the public discussion of issues that have moral or spiritual implications.

No-one can easily deny that the ministry of Iain Duncan Smith is not contiguous with the ministry of the Church of England: Jesus cared for the poor; indeed, Luke’s Gospel is a message of undoubted privilege for them. IDS is driven with Christian missionary zeal to minister to the most vulnerable of society. For what it’s worth, His Grace agrees wholly with IDS on this matter.

But he also wishes to point out, yet again, that the Archbishop of Canterbury has been woefully misunderstood and misreported by a ferociously judgmental hostile press.

By talking of ‘spirals of despair’ in which the unemployed might find themselves, he concerns himself with the pastoral dimensions of wholeness and healing. Archbishop Rowan is persuaded that the mission of the Church accords with people’s quest for meaning and an assurance of identity which cannot be found without community, without fellowship. It is this which the Archbishop was addressing: he was not advocating unlimited benefits for the indolent and workshy.

Notwithstanding some of the excellent work going on in some of the most impoverished parishes in the country, the public perception of the Church of England remains one of middle-class privilege and an élitism which has little relevance to a modern, pluralist, multi-ethnic society. While this is an undoubted misconception, it is exacerbated by the nature of establishment and the fusion of the Church with an increasingly secular government.

And yet it is within this relationship that there remains one of the Church’s primary functions in holding government and political parties to account. The document ‘Moral but no Compass’, although unofficial, illustrated the powerful role the Church of England may still exercise in highlighting the inadequacies - spiritual and political - of the governmental system, in order that people’s welfare may be improved. Whatever the outcome of the Archbishop’s words, the intervention suggests that the public realm remains an arena in which the Church’s moral and ethical mission continues to be exercised. Perhaps it is only the Establishment Church that, in contemporary society, possesses the status to permit it to fight for representation of a slighted electorate in the face of an increasingly abstract political élite.

While the Archbishop’s observations may or may not be valid or politically astute, they add to the perception that the Church of England seeks to exclude or is out of sympathy with some distinct groups of people, in this case the Government or fans of IDS.

Hence the vitriol from Conservative-supporting blogs.

But it must be remembered that the Church’s Supreme Governor is also the Head of State, and by virtue of being so she is obliged to exercise her public ‘outward government’ in a manner which accords with the private welfare of her subjects – of whatever social status, creed, ethnicity, sexuality or political philosophy. The Royal Supremacy in regard to the Church is in its essence the right of supervision over the administration of the Church, vested in the Crown as the champion of the Church, in order that the religious welfare of its subjects may be provided for.

While theologians and politicians may argue over the manner of this ‘religious welfare’, especially, it seems, in the provision of benefits, the Archbishop speaks because the Head of State cares and cannot speak. He may not always speak as she would wish to, but by speaking at all he reminds us that there is something which transcends the scurvy politicians, who, as the Bard observed, have an annoying habit of seeming to see the things they do not.

We are no longer in an age, if ever we were, where the Archbishop of Canterbury can impose a morality or a doctrine of God, and Archbishop Rowan sees his primary function as being the acutely political one of calling the state to account by obstinately asking the state about its accountability and the justification of its priorities.

He may occasionally be a thorn in the side of government.

But it is better to have a benign and occasionally misguided Anglican one than a monolithic, absolute and malignant one…

…if you have ears to hear.


Blogger revjgoode said...

We come from different ends of the political spectrum and (probably) from different ends of the country.
But I always read your blog and was glad when you got better and were able to start writing again.
I value most your commitment & clarity in expounding the unique Anglican spiritual & ethical tradition to those who accuse us of woolliness, or obsolescence.
I'm a priest ministering on one of those impoverished parishes you write of, a tough post-industrial housing estate in the north east, and I'm intensely angry about the consequences of the recession on the people I serve.
I fully support both the Archbishops' commitment to speak on the pastoral implications of economic and social legislation.
Like you, I don't always agree with them (probably for different reasons!), but I never doubt for a minute that their public utterances come after much reflection and prayer.
Thank you for an excellent appraisal of the role the Church of England still provides, in speaking for those in our democracy who feel marginalised and without a voice.

9 November 2010 at 10:54  
Blogger Raedwald said...

How unfortunate then that a man so reputably learned should choose his public words so clumsily that they require interpretation by his apologists - and this is not the first time.

9 November 2010 at 11:00  
Anonymous LDS said...

Thank you for this your Grace solidarity amongst the Archepiscopacy. With his beard and sandals Archbishop Rowan "does what it says on the label" and I respect him for it. My criticism is I hope not one of Tory Tribalism or for criticising government which he has a duty to do but of a flawed religious understanding of IDS proposals. At the heart of the enterprise is a realisation that a system that regards people as simply recipients of cash is one that cannot help people to change and treats them as passive actors erodes the sense of a life with purpose that is surely at the heart of the Christian message. We may be sustained by the dole cheque but we will not be redeemed by it.

I know from ny own period of joblessness that voluntary work can help to give a pattern to the day, a meaning and contact with others (isolation is a major issue). I have had many friends affected in this way over the years. One kept himself going overa long period of unemployment by immersing himself in all sorts of things. He kept and added to skills and eventually emmerged on the far side after several years. Another afflicted by illness and unable to hold down a job I have worked with on another project and watched with joy as they have become confident, assured and totally changed over three years. Voluntary work did that.

I agree with the Archbishop there are issues. There are worries that the work may be mundane. That there may not be enough to go around or that it may simply supplant waged labour. There are very real concerns where this proposal is going to be administered by the rigid and bureaucratic hand of government. But isn't the last point rather the point that lies behind all this that the state alone will not and has not succeeded in addressing these problems.

If I was able to speak to Archbishop Rowan I would put the following to him:

Your Grace the UK has one of the biggest voluntary organisations in Europe. It has branches all over the place. It meets every Sunday. Its called the Church of England. Every Parish I know has need of more help and congregations themselves are like clearing houses for local voluntary activity. Perhaps you might hold out a hand of welcome as well as a finger of criticism.

I am sorry to write at such length.

9 November 2010 at 11:00  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

Cranmer. Your pieces seem to get longer and longer. Much of the comment is excellent and erudite and makes for interesting reading.
However it is a mixed bag.
Today you ride to the defence of Rowan Williams and then HMQ,in very odd statements which I quote, and which raise important questions.

The ‘point’ of Rowan Williams is evident to all who have ears; to all who understand history, the religio-political function and purpose of the Monarchy, the development of our system of government and the checks and balances which have evolved over the centuries TO LIMIT THE EXERCISE OF ABSOLUTE AND ARBITRARY POWER.#

The Church has always struggled with the tension between the affirmation and assimilation of culture, AND THE CALL OF THE GOSPEL TO CONFRONT AND TRANSFORM IT, WHICH REMAINS THE QUEEN'S ULTIMATE RAISON D'ETRE. #

How does Apb Williams or any Apb, function to limit such arbitrary power. Historically, and particularly remembering the role of the former and actual Cranmer amongst others in the same position, that role of limitation was exactly what they FAILED to do. Moreover it is not their role and function so to do.
Williams has no more power or authority over OUR authoritarian Executive, than he has over the power of our central government in Brussels. Whether Brussels or Westminster he remains, as ever, impotent. How do you make the claim?

Secondly HMQ. By what criteria is she responsible to function as you claim she exists for? A UK constitutional monarch's first and primary Raison D'etre is surely to maintain and defend the British Constitution. This she swore to do in her Coronation Oath in 1953, and which was confirmed in the Coronation Oath Act.
One primary element in our Constitution, and supremely important at the present time is of course our Bill of Rights (unrepealed).
This she has signally failed to implement or defend to such a degree that some have asked whether she has abdicated.
She has certainly abandoned her Coronation Oaths made before God and people. That I suggest is her primary function.
HMQ has as much right as anyone else to confront 'culture' as you put it, with the Gospel, but that is not the primary role of a constitutional Monarch is it?

9 November 2010 at 11:08  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

‘He may occasionally be a thorn in the side of government’.

Of course this cannot be a reference to the government [the Commission] in Brussels with whom, to our shame, the CofE is mixed up with. The EU will never ever surrender one concession that will damage the fascistic process of ‘ever closer union’. It is a union on their terms never ever on the Church’s terms.

‘He may occasionally be a thorn in the side of government’.

There is no chance he will be put on the scaffold for speaking truth to power or even be burned at the stake.

The British government would never have gone ahead with the 1967 Abortion Act if it had not been for the nod from from the CofE.

Are we not drenched in shame? Have we repented? Are we able to look into the eyes of our Non-Conformist bretheren?

‘The Church of England was once referred to as being ‘crucified between two thieves’. While this reference was to the respective fanaticism and superstition of ‘the Puritans and the Papists’, there is a modern parallel with a church now suspended between the decline in institutional religion and the burgeoning of generalised ‘spirituality’…’

‘… superstition of ‘the Puritans…’’ Your Grace, you are being unfair. When has the CofE permitted men on fire to speak to men about a God who loves them in their poverty and abundance? Bunyan? Wesley brothers?

The CofE is still caught between the Non-Conformists and Rome:

‘How can we answer it to GOD! to the Church! and to our posterity; to leave them [Non-Conformists and Romans] entangled with Fanaticism! Error, and Obstinacy, in the bowels of the nation? to leave them an enemy in their streets, that, in time, may involve them in the same crimes, and endanger the utter extirpation of the Religion of the Nation!

‘What is the difference betwixt this, and being subject to the power of the Church of Rome? from whence we have reformed. If one be an extreme to the one hand, and one on another: it is equally destructive to the Truth to have errors settled among us, let them be of what nature they will! Both are enemies of our Church, and of our peace! and why should it not be as criminal to admit an Enthusiast as a Jesuit? why should the Papist with his Seven Sacraments be worse than the Quaker with no Sacraments at all? Why should Religious Houses be more intolerable than Meeting Houses?

‘Alas, the Church of England! What with Popery on one hand, and Schismatics on the other, how has She been crucified between two thieves. NOW, LET US CRUCIFY THE THIEVES!

‘Let her foundations be established upon the destruction of her enemies! The doors of Mercy being always open to the returning part of the deluded people, let the obstinate be ruled with the rod of iron!

‘Let all true sons of so holy and oppressed a Mother, exasperated by her afflictions, harden their hearts against those who have oppressed her!’

From the pamphlet:

The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the establishment of the Church [the author at the time when he wrote it wished to remain anonymous]

9 November 2010 at 11:53  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Graham Wood, your questions and assertions regarding the Queen seem to suggest you are unaware of the constitutional position of The Crown in Parliament. In our constitution, following the historic overturning of the disastrous presumptions of divine right, the monarch has no scope for independent action, but must always act with the advice and consent of Parliament. The sovereign's role is as titular head of state, enabling, inter alia such functions as the courts and the civil service to be the Crown's, rather than falling under political control. When a PM resigns, the Queen's government continues, but then still under the power of the outgoing ministry, and only until the next lot come in.

Some of us might (foolishly) wish that the Crown had the right of independent action. Then, of course, as we imagine, we would see off Johnny Foreigner, and rid our country of its increasing domination by the EU. However, in reality, the Coronation Oath needs to be seen in its proper constitutional context, in which the Sovereign is bound by parliamentary advice and consent. And were it to be otherwise, I suspect we would have far worse things to worry about.

Imagine, for example, the current Prince of Wales as monarch with dictatorial power to enforce his loony-tune views on global warming. (Hang on a minute, we've got all that anyway.)

Cranny's idea of the Queen being the leader of the National Religion -- apart from being the absolutely orthodox and normal view of the C of E -- is, of course, a million miles from any vision of church that may be found in the New Testament. It is typical of an idea moulded by the assumptions of Christendom, but has no place in genuine Christianity.

9 November 2010 at 11:53  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr D Singh, we all like blithely to talk of "the fascistic process of ‘ever closer union’".

The depressing fact is, however, that our sovereign parliament signed up to that concept when it supported the ratification of the Treaty of Rome, and has continued to do so repeatedly at every subsequent opportunity.

It is wrong to imagine that the concept has been foisted on this nation without consent, by a foreign power, as if by imperial conquest. The fact is that our elected representatives have eagerly submitted us to that ever-closer union whenever they have had the chance to do so.

And, as usual, the latest bunch of craven liars headed by the un-conservative Cameron (of whom nothing good may be said) continue to lead us there.

Who was it, can you remember, who kept on warning against voting for them?

The Anabaptist
One of the thieves whose crucifixion seems to be urged in your quotation

9 November 2010 at 12:04  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Sorry, even after wading through that essay, my considered opinion is still that the man is an arse. A very nice, kindly, learned, prayerful arse by all accounts, but an arse all the same.

LDS (@11:00) said it best.

I would add that this is an ideal opportunity for the Church to step up to the plate, to offer the pastoral hope and encouragement that the state can't (and shouldn't) offer. And at the same time it can show the joy & value of serving others.

I have just returned from doing the bus run for our elderly day care centre since the regular driver is sick. What a wonderful time I've had. What a shame that there is a housing estate with a massive number of unemployed people sat in isolating, despairing idleness when they could be enjoying such a task (and getting 'paid' for it). What a shame the Archdruid didn't say, "we applaud this governments ambitions to reduce the burden on the public purse and to give people a chance to have their self-esteem and self-worth raised by positively contributing to society, and feeling they have done something to earn their income rather than having it doled out to them. And as the largest voluntary organisation in the country we would like to offer people the chance to positively participate in our immense range of community services in Jesus name."

Fat chance. Just another long, incoherent, rambling bit of socialist pontificating.

9 November 2010 at 12:19  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Mr Anabaptist

‘The depressing fact is, however, that our sovereign parliament signed up to that concept when it supported the ratification of the Treaty of Rome…’

You seem to believe in the Diceyan formulation of parliamentary sovereignty – invented in 1885 (query).

Sovereignty lies within the people. A parliament without a sovereign people is either nothing or a dictator. Given that parliament robbed the people of their sovereignty then by attacking a sovereign institution – the people – it has committed treason.

‘Who was it, can you remember, who kept on warning against voting for them?’

I am too young. Tony Benn? Martin Tyndall?

The quotation is from Daniel Defoe.

9 November 2010 at 12:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't mention Rowan's dhimmitude towards Islam.

The Archbishop of Cant.

9 November 2010 at 12:34  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Oh, Mr D Singh!
‘Who was it, can you remember, who kept on warning against voting for them?’

I am too young. Tony Benn? Martin Tyndall?

It appears you are too old to remember: It was I, the Anabaptist.

9 November 2010 at 12:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

‘It appears you are too old to remember: It was I, the Anabaptist’.

Mr Anabaptist I read about Benn and Tyndall in a book entitled ‘The Writing on The Wall’ by a chap called Phillip Whitehead (a Canadian).

I do recall that you urged us all not to vote for Cameron. But be pleased that when we conservatives get in next time the Right of the Party will play the role that the Lib-Dems are now playing. So I would urge you to vote Conservative as we are the ones who will have the greatest chance of not only ensuring the orderly withdrawal of Britain from the EU – but also of liberating Paris!

9 November 2010 at 13:01  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

Anabaptist wrote:
"your questions and assertions regarding the Queen seem to suggest you are unaware of the constitutional position of The Crown in Parliament. In our constitution, following the historic overturning of the disastrous presumptions of divine right, the monarch has no scope for independent action, but must always act with the advice and consent of Parliament."

I am fully aware of the constitutional position of the Crown in Parliament, and of course HMQ cannot act unilaterally.
However HMQ clearly has "been deceived in her grant" in terms of her assent to the many treaties, particularly Lisbon, which are both illegal and unconstitutional.
True, in ordinary circumstances she is obliged to accept the advice of her ministers, BUT NOT WHEN THAT ADVICE ENTAILS THE INTRODUCTION OF USURPED POWER(S) - IN THIS CASE THAT OF THE EU.
That runs entirely counter to our own Bill of Rights which specifically excludes usurped power being exercised and which breaches the Constitution she swore to uphold.
The remedy? She should have refused the Royal Assent. Even now it is still within her gift to dissolve Parliament (she has that power)and call on Ministers of the Crown to re-assert the British Constitution. If they refuse, she also has the right to call on the PM to form a government that will observe our Bill of Rights in the spirit and letter. That is what it is there for!
Our politicians do NOT have the constitutional right to disenfranchise the people from their birthright of self-determination, and actually under our Constitution neither does the Monarch.
One lost his head because of the unlawful use of prerogative power!

9 November 2010 at 13:14  
Blogger St. Nikao said...

Your Grace,

Get real!!! For a shepherd to affirm evil, align with evildoers, to do nothing to stop or oppose evil and to obscure and confound the truth, is malignant. (Romans 1:32)

The person who holds the office of Archbishop of Canterbury is and has been malignant to the Kingdom of God and the Church for a very long while.

9 November 2010 at 13:28  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

Masterful work yet again Your Grace.

If you ever doubted your purpose...

9 November 2010 at 13:55  
Anonymous anthro said...

A joy to read.

9 November 2010 at 13:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't do much navel gazing my comments are simple. In a nutshell Rowan Williams is indeed an ass for the simple reason that the church is failing on his watch and he is watching it crumble with no plan to save it.

The mistake the church is making is choosing the assimilation of culture versus affirmation. The world is becoming more and more polarized and no longer can the church sit on the fence trying to appease everyone. They never will.

Us common plebians, I mean, people, in the pews (the whole reason why you priests and bishops have a job)have made it loud and clear we want to go to church to hear the gospel, have our faith renewed each week and our children educated. The church insists on getting rid of education and preaching politics from the pulpit, reinterpreting the gospel and people are fleeing. The churches that are growing have a solid foundation and people are flocking to them. The Catholic church is growing as is Baptist, non-denominational churches and even the Mormon church. The Mormon church is growing for the simple fact that they emphasize the family and family values and people want to get back to the simple things.

There will be no fence sitting and the churches that will survive will be the ones that return to the basics.... their values, their traditions, the gospel, and they will not compromise to appease and accommodate the progressive and secular agendas.

Rowan and the leadership knows what to do to grow their membership and have their flock return, they simply refuse to do it. I hope there is something left to salvage. The next generation (mine) is ready to take the wheel. If you leave us something we will resurrect the church.

9 November 2010 at 14:25  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr D Singh:
'But be pleased that when we conservatives get in next time the Right of the Party will play the role that the Lib-Dems are now playing.'

But that's more or less what you said last time. Once Cameron took power, he would reveal himself as the true conservative, instead of the greasy snake-oil salesman he had to pretend to be in order to get elected.

Just you wait and see, you said.

Well, I've waited and I've seen.

I've seen a fake conservative PM showing that he is far more at home with the Lib-Dems than with the grass roots of his own party.

I'm sorry, but there is no evidence whatsoever for a genuine conservative resurgence in the party that fraudulently bears its name. You are whistling in the dark, my friend. I wish it were otherwise, but it is not.

There have already been too many false dawns; too many promises of joy to come. It will never come with the Tory Party.

9 November 2010 at 16:29  
Blogger Owl said...

Agreed Mr. Anabaptist, it will never come from the Tory Party but.. I have heard of a T(ea) Party which seems to be some sort of grass roots (real people) group in the colonies. Apparently they have knocked the sh*t out of the ruling pseudo Maxist quangos who rule the roost and were, at least in their own eyes, regarded as untouchable.
I wonder what the British T(ea) party will look like when the revolution starts.
Cameron, Clegg and whatever puppet takes the place of Brown will eventually be flushed down the historical loo.

9 November 2010 at 17:22  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

There was a lot to take in there Your Grace, but I think I have the gist of it. First of all, you have done a fair analysis here and I can connect with the part about the public perception of the Church of England which "remains one of middle-class privilege and an élitism which has little relevance to a modern, pluralist, multi-ethnic society.....exacerbated by the nature of establishment and the fusion of the Church with an increasingly secular government." I am still not convinced that it is a total misconception though.

"IDS is driven with Christian missionary zeal to minister to the most vulnerable of society."

Now this to me is just spin, or Bullshit, as I prefer to call it. I would be most interested in reading how you would qualify this.

I totally agree with what you say about the Archbishop being misunderstood, but I am not really satisfied with the way you seem to make excuses about him being a thorn in the side of government: There needs to be no excuses made for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the ministering to the less fortunate. If he did more of this I would be a lot happier.

Thank you for the link to: Moral, But No Compass - Government, Church and the Future of Welfare. I will try to read this if I can.

Now, I have my own theory about what is taking place with the church , but I shall for the time being keep it to myself because it is rather 'fantastic' in the sense that I have absolutely zero evidence or digestible theory to back it up. I am an optimist and I do in fact see some good coming from it all - God moves in mysterious ways, and if we do anything, then we must always look for the best in our brothers and sisters, always seeking to be the peace-keeper, the diplomat with patience, tolerance and love - which brings me on to the next;

The last paragraph is just insulting and unnecessary.

9 November 2010 at 17:39  
Anonymous Oswin said...

An interesting and generous appraisal Your Grace, thank you.

One wonders if Dr.Williams will read it?

I further wonder if Dr. Williams believes himself 'up to the job' in this particular day and age; and if so, why?

9 November 2010 at 17:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So 5 anglican bishops desert the anglican church in protest of its unbiblical practice of allowing women to minister, hmmmm where do they go? To a church that employs more unbiblical practices than anton levey ever did. Trabsubstiation, purgatory, indulgences, prayer to saints, relics, rosary, mary as co redeemer with christ etc etc. These men are not born again, they are as Christ declared of the sanhedrin, whitewashed sepulchures full of dead mens bones, with regard to the anglican church, the writing on the wall says ICHABOD, with regard to the RC church, His glory was never there, Salvation comes through faith in Christ and no church.

9 November 2010 at 17:48  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

At the end of the day, we are all Christians who have lost Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit (and Len), the scriptures, and the fellowship of whatever church we choose to attend. Jesus is alive and well, I have often heard it said, and I have no doubt that it is true (within the confines of faith - which can be troublesome and dynamic). But Jesus is no longer with us in the world as a physical man, so we are all doing our best to remain true and faithful to the Jesus who we know has saved us, and who we have a real relationship with despite not being with us directly (loose and difficult explanation I know). My own relationship with God is precious - I am in constant dialogue, chastising myself and appraising each positive step that helps me overcome the worse of me, the things I hate about myself; it is a constant dialogue and process of emotional and spiritual ups and downs: A relationship, and it means everything that is anything to me.

But we are all struggling with everything, and non of us especially wish any the worse upon eachother. It is fear and worry, and ignorance that is keeping us set against eachother's differences. Details, details, details. What the hell am I trying to say? I have forgotten! Rats!

9 November 2010 at 17:59  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Jared, I share whatever it is that you fail to recall.

However, and I say this humbly, knowing that I am amongst better men by far, that the C-of-E is a working alliance between God and State, between God and our poor selves, who might otherwise mistake 'God' as an excuse to commit all manner of foul deeds in His name, or against His name.

It is a truly glorious institution of fudge, and counter fudge, of part construct, part organic development (not unlike the development of the safety-catch on a machine pistol) that allows us to be 'civilised' whilst maintaining a readiness for response.

When religion is said and done, I doubt that God judges us too harshly...just so long as we keep trying, that is!

9 November 2010 at 18:30  
Anonymous len said...

Jared Gates said "At the end of the day, we are all Christians who have lost Jesus."

Jesus speaking about His imminent crucifixion said it was better that He went away, because in a physical body He could only be in one place at at a time. As a Spirit He could be omnipresent.
Jesus told his disciples, "It is better for you that I go away. If I do not go away, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will not come to you. If I go away, I will send him to you." (John 16: 7)

9 November 2010 at 19:59  
Anonymous len said...

If we are struggling along doing our best to live the Christian life (in reality trying to copy the attributes of Jesus ) can I say with all due respect we have missed the point of living the Christian like entirely!.
The Power to live the Christian life is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.
Jesus told the Disciples to do NOTHING until......."But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The same applies to Christians today.

9 November 2010 at 20:09  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Oh, Mr Len! This really will not do:
'If we are struggling along doing our best to live the Christian life (in reality trying to copy the attributes of Jesus ) can I say with all due respect we have missed the point of living the Christian like [sic...life?] entirely!'

Matt 16:24 -- 'Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'

Phil 2:5 -- ' Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus...'

1 Cor 11:1 -- 'Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.'

etc., etc., etc.

9 November 2010 at 20:27  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

For once Cranmer is actually talking some sense. Regardless, of your views about religion and whether the Archbishop of Canterbury is entitled to speak on behalf of the CofE he does represent a sizeable strand of moral views within the UK. What I continue to find worrying is how such a large proportion of Conservative bloggers seek to challenge the legitimacy of those making the arguments against them rather than seeking to engage with those arguments. Totalitarians of all political complexions have nearly always relied on such an approach as a precursor to more draconian measures.

9 November 2010 at 20:30  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Your grace throws some eloquent shapes and some deserving thoughts.I often wonder if being head of the synod is quite the spiritual experience one would hope , young ideas, contradictions, marketing worries funding , expenses all seem to arrive at these meetings . Great minds whirl on if the Chruch of England is doing its job .
I cannot forget Rowan Williams beautiful moment with the pope and some of his other snippets , I am no doubt sure he would wish for all to see the beauty of church service and for more to live in the understanding of christ work.

Pleasing as he his in the careful speaking from such an historic institution , you travel around and note so much has changed in our country , we have a church that somehow is an annex , yes it is there , but it is not reaching people in the transformative way it once did .Politics as perhaps defined the value of the church even to the point of scrapping the Bishops in the lords .
If one was cynical you might conclude that some dastardly plot by the marxists to destablise the state christian faith had succeeded , by conflicting twsiting and giving it such bad PR to make it irrelevent .

We are perhaps a less innocent generation , we suffer all the problems of fashion , we are busy but not necessarily spiritual , we are pulled to donate , but not to look after our home life , neighbour or parish . We shop in expensive palaces but no longer create and represent our own lives . The church if anything is about personal salvation and it is no surpise that having endured one of the biggest suffocations ever by uber inefficent/omnipresent big state , that it should find itself unsure of what message to give .

I often wonder that if we were to hold a referendum on eternal salvation through jesus christ, what the turnout would be , I jest but I hope it makes clear the position the church has got itsself into. Rowan williams has not tampered much with church litergy , its words are still relevant so he sees the continum of thread as being important , despite the heavy modernity political assults .
Why people have not understood that soundness of faith delivers much better works than spin is the challenge that awaits , that in part is why I am excited about the possibilities of Roman and English churches , god has always been there despite our countries journey into politcal totalitarianism , whose icons will not do the same job as ourselves being in the presence of the lord and taking our bread and wine in sincerity.

9 November 2010 at 20:57  
Anonymous LDS said...

I don't know if Your Grace picked this up but we have another episcopal intervention this time by the soon to be Southwark. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23895786-bishop-of-southwark-vulnerable-at-risk-from-housing-benefit-cap.do.

I do hope we are not heading for another Faith in the City type disagreement.

9 November 2010 at 21:12  
Anonymous Atlas Shrugged said...

No one, or very few anyway would seek to argue that giving money to an armed bunch of escaped convicted psychopaths to buy guns with, was either a sensible, or indeed a Christian thing to do.

Therefore charity is not always a good thing. It all depends on why you give the cash, and to whom you give it.

I hope I have stated an obvious truism, to any one but a Fabian.

The Bible does teach us, (however I forget where exactly) to think very carefully as to the intended or otherwise consequences of our charitable actions.

Charity can, and often does do more harm then good. Donations to The IRA, or to drunken bums to buy more booze with, being just two examples.

IMO, and I am sure many others, giving money to people who will not work, is not good for society as a whole, and even worse for the recipient.

Giving money to governments of any nature, colour, creed, or political leanings, to buy WMD for example should of course be criminally and certainly is spiritually irresponsible.

Which is why no one in their right thinking mind would do such a thing, without one hell of a lot of clever trickery. Or in other words covert use of the Darkest of Arts.

Which is why we do not give money to government of our own free will and accord, Government 'charity' is forced out of US using civil as well as criminal law, and of course control of our entire MSM, and education/indoctrination systems.

The government/establishment only get away with this scam, by creating international conflicts, whilst perpetuating very real as well as relative poverty both nationally and internationally.

While also making as sure as possible only the government could ever hope to raise enough cash to solve the problem they themselves created by creating benefit dependency, whilst taxing the rest of us until the pips-squeak.

Thus we are perfectly screwed, however much cash we allow the government to steal from us, as the current system exists.

The proverbial THEY line their almost infinitely deep pockets ever more richly, we remain forever more enslaved, while the impoverished poor continue to murder, rob, sell their own bodies, or their fellow citizens body parts or slowly starve to death.

If this world was the invention of some divine creator,( which IMO is far more likely then not.) Then either a good God never existed, or he went on a very long extended holiday a very long time ago, from which he seems to have no intention of returning anytime soon, or quite frankly, God is a right sun of a bitch, or some kind of sadistic peeping-Tom type jokester.

After all just because a man made his own children, designed and bought the house they live in. Does not mean they are either a good parent, or even ever intended to be so.

9 November 2010 at 21:28  
Blogger Chelliah Laity said...

The Archbishop will always face prejudice from a hostile press who are ignorant of the role the church can play in modern day society. The press see 'theology' as a discipline centred only around a behavioural lifestyle i.e 10 commandments. Beyond this, the press don't see the pervasive role of the gospel.

9 November 2010 at 21:28  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

The real world must be a difficult place for the AofC. In order to demonstrate his piety he is expected to pronounce on things like the provision of social welfare and must inevitably take the side of the less fortunate, whether they be the “undeserving” poor or the illegal economic migrant. This means that he will be marginalised by those in power but who will continue to pay lip service to his “moral authority”.

As with all things temporal, they are complicated. Helping the disadvantaged may be a worthy aspiration or it may sap their drive and encourage dependency. What I perceive to be Christian values would logically result in a socialist political system where inequalities are removed and all are looked after by a benevolent state, not something I suggest, than many here would recommend!

Morality demands judgement, pragmatism and compromise and not absolutes. The expression that I heard often as a kid was “cruel to be kind” probably now it is “tough love”. All governments must be prepared to exercise “tough love” as now, but must recognise that in a humane society that those who suffer from no fault of their own should be helped. Does Christianity have anything to offer in aiding this process, I don’t thinks so as pious hopes do not solve intractable problems and wishy-washy must be kind to everyone platitudes are simply a cop-out.

10 November 2010 at 10:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christianity has alot to offer to aid in the process. For people who genuinely need help there should be a safety net provided by government however Christianity is also about free will. Isn't it more christian to give and serve voluntarily than to be forced to give grudgingly by the government.

Shouldn't we preach about virtue and making good decisions and when one falls or fails which we will all do, shouldn't we be gracious and merciful and help by the kindness of our hearts and not by coercion?

10 November 2010 at 13:56  
Anonymous Whitestone said...

The CoE functions with an unbiblical double-standard ethic: 'gay'priests-OK/'gay' bishops-NO.

This is the standard of the 1998 Lambeth/Windsor agreement resolution 1.10 that only specifically forbids no 'gay' bishops.

From the looks of things after Singapore, that's the default standard of the AC and ACNA/CANA/CAPA as well as Akinola, Orombi and Duncan shared Eucharist with Archbishop Williams head of the CoE where 'gay' priests have spousal benefits for same-sex partners.

10 November 2010 at 16:02  
Anonymous Dave said...

Here's one for Rowan the Theologian.." Thessalonians 3:9-11 (New International Version)
10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

Isn't this what IDS is proposing?

10 November 2010 at 16:33  
Anonymous len said...

"Let him deny himself"
Does this not say it all?
If I deny myself how can I still be struggling? .
Your answer makes no sense.
Which really will not do!

10 November 2010 at 18:27  
Anonymous len said...

Romans 7 gives an account of Paul struggling to live the Christian life under his own will power,his own strength.
"14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."

10 November 2010 at 18:34  
Anonymous len said...

And the answer to Paul`s (and our) problem?
In the first seven chapters of Romans the Spirit is only mentioned two times but in Romans chapter 8 the Spirit is mentioned some twenty-two times. Why is that? Because it is the Spirit of God that gives us the power to defeat the flesh( the fallen nature of man)and to keep the flesh crucified!

10 November 2010 at 18:44  

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