Sunday, October 28, 2012

Excited by ABC

I may not be excited by the ACC meeting in Auckland because, er, it is a meeting and such meetings are, mostly in my experience, not exciting. But that does not mean I cannot appreciate, even be excited by individuals who have come to the meeting. I am looking forward, for instance, to the visit of the ABC to Christchurch next weekend. Why? Because when all the critical things said about him over the years are gathered up and placed in a box to one side of the road, for later assessment and discussion, we are left with a great theologian who can put things into words which, well, do not come nearly so easily to me, as I try pitifully to respond to life's dilemmas. Thus in this Taonga report, regarding some aspects of the introductory gatherings as ACC begins, we find a few ABCic bon mots.


carl jacobs said...

Rowan Williams systematically and with deliberate intent destroyed both the Primates meeting and the Lambeth Conference. He ruined what little credibility the ACC still maintained at Jamaica. In the process he completely discredited his own office. Whether he did all this through blinding incompetence or intentional malice is open to debate. But there is no question that his term in office has been marked by one continuous stream of magnificent failures.

Why did he fail so badly? Because he was serving several incompatible masters.

1. He was trying to maintain unity between the mutually-exclusive religions that now occupy TEC.

2. He was trying to keep the conflict in TEC from spreading to England.

3. He was trying to protect TEC from consequences for its revisionism and by extension protect his access to its money.

4. He was trying to maintain England's place of prominence in the AC.

RW realized that a defense of TEC was a defense of the CoE because TEC is now where the CoE is soon to be. Discipline for TEC would mean eventual discipline for the CoE and the end of an England-centric Communion. But RW had to keep the growing part of the church onside if the AC was to avoid shrinking into irrelevance. So he tried to bury the conflict in the stasis of eternal process. He didn't have the integrity to defend sound theology. He didn't have the integrity to chase after full-throated liberalism. He tried to split the difference, and he failed. History will record him as the incompetent ditherer who triggered the destruction of the Anglican Communion.

Which might be why he is now pushing for Women Bishops so hard. He wants history to attribute some successful achievement to his name. Futile. Success over Women bishops will mark the beginning of the end for the CoE as well. RW isn't so much the AoC as he is a Greek tragedy. He tried so hard to avoid his fate, but in the end his very actions brought it about.


Father Ron Smith said...

With his level of rhetoric against Dr. Rowan Williams, one wonders which particular branch of the Christian Church Mr Jacobs actually belongs to. Can he be an Anglican?It strikes me that he can hardly be of the same family. We don't even talk about abusive relationships in the way that Mr Jacobs speaks of our esteemed Primus-inter-pares.

Meme for meme, I would suspect that the ABC has more theology in his little finger than some of his critics have in their whole bodies.
++Rowan is, after all, a person of academic distinction which, allied to his considerable spiritual nous has gained the respect of other Church Leaders - like the present Pope.

It has just been so sad that his leadership has been dogged by the vicious attacks of fundamentalists within the Communion, that left him so vulnerable - in his desire to bring about more change in the areas of contention that needed to be addressed.

May God richly bless ++Rowan in his return to academe - a place where he is rightly respected by many.

Shawn said...

I suspect many Anglicans were not overly impressed by Rowan's tenure as ABC either. His embarrassing statements on political issues were woefully I'll-considered. Have we ever had an ABC who managed to offend the Jewish community as much as this one?

Father Ron Smith said...

For thosewho douybt the spiritual integrity of Archbishop Rowan williams, I urge you to listen to his address to the congregation of Holy Trinity Cathedral at this morning's Eucharist. Click on to:

He speaks of the great Love of God, that has no boundaries - a reality that many of us have never quite understood - to our detriment and to the detriment of our Church's mission in and to world.

Tim Chesterton said...

Rowan Williams is a man of holiness and prayer. But unfortunately, large sections of the Anglican Communion (and not just on the Conservative side, Ron Smith!) wanted a suspect they'll be just as mad at Rowan's successor.

Shawn said...

I didn't want a policeman in chief, I wanted a strongly Evangelical ABC who understood that true Biblical Christianity DOES have boundaries, that leaders are supposed to lead, not try to please everybody and thus nobody, and who did not make facile and deeply offensive and hurtful excuses for Islamic terrorists, excuses which did great damage to Jewish/Anglican relations, and to those of us personally affected by 911 sounded arrogant and hateful.

And lets not forget his call for the acceptance of Sharia law.

RW constantly cane across as a standard British Academic Lefty, whose worldview often seemed formed more by the Guardian than the Bible.

Only God is holy. Only God has integrity. RW was and is just a man.

Paul Powers said...

Fr. Ron, Carl's comments are actually rather mild when compared with those of some bloggers on the "liberal" side of the aisle. You might go back and look at some of the vitriolic remarks that some of them made when +Williams torpedoed his erstwhile friend Jeffrey John's selection as a C of E bishop or
when he refused to invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference, not to mention their reaction to his fervent support for the proposed Anglican covenant, as well as what was perceived by many to be an unwarranted intrusion into the internal affairs of TEC and other provinces.

I don't question his integrity or his spirituality, and in all fairness, I doubt that any other ABC could have stopped the split between two groups who either follow two different gospels or who at the very least have two different interpretations of the same gospel. However, his decision to give preserving institutional unity priority over promoting either gospel (or version of the gospel) has won him few friends in either camp.

In any case, he may very well find his new position as a master at Magdalene College much more suited to his temperament.

Bryden Black said...

This is a peculiar thread; and I suspect, because its subject is peculiar. Folk are right to emphasize the strong reactions of both ‘conservative’ and ‘revisionist’ these past 10 years. Heaven knows, my own reactions at times have been equally strong!

For my own tuppence worth, the way to ‘read’ RDW, noting too his evident prayerfulness and search for ‘holiness’, is via one of his heroes, Gillian Rose, in whose conversion from brilliant secular philosopher and non-practising Jewess to Christian faith just before she died he was involved as well. My substantiation for this claim will be found in Andrew Shanks’ Against Innocence: Gillian Rose’s Reception and Gift of Faith (SCM, 2008). For there we may see how Lambeth 2008 was one big fat seminar run along the lines of G Rose’s ‘reading’ of Hegel and post-Hegelian philosophers, notably Adorno. It was a genuine reprise of The Phenomenology of Mind!! But of course, if so, then the ‘conversation’ was never going to ‘conclude’, and/or satisfy either ‘wing’ ... Thereafter, my only question is: But is this the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Lord of the Church and Lord of all human history? I am not convinced - despite RDW’s evident boldness - and patience.

Bryden Black said...

BTW: for a direct take by Williams on Rose, see “Between Politics and Metaphysics: Reflections in the wake of Gillian Rose”, Modern Theology 11 (1995), 3-22, reprinted in Wrestling with Angels.

The Hegelian “violence” extends of course to one NOT having to decide between A or B - for all will become washed up in the “synthesis” vom Geist, of the Spirit - where:

A = The Holy Spirit is telling some people that gays and lesbians can be ordained ministers, while telling other people that such a move is contrary to God's will. Ergo, the Spirit is a relativist who imposes moral requirements based on cultural norms rather than on a fixed, knowable standard.

B = The Holy Spirit is consistent and has expressed his will on this issue to one group; the other group is mistaken in believing that the Spirit has spoken to them. The group that he has spoken to are therefore justified in attempting to apply this standard consistently throughout the Anglican Communion.

But perhaps this judgement is more than mere tuppence!