Thursday, January 3, 2008

Andrew Brown on the Archbishop of Canterbury

Andrew Brown has a very interesting assessment of Rowan Williams' leadership of the Anglican Communion that I think has a great deal of merit:

Over the last few years, Dr Rowan Williams has sometimes looked criminally innocent ("The trouble with Rowan is that he's too damn Christian,") as one of his colleagues remarked; sometimes merely well-meaning but powerless; very occasionally he has looked as if he is working to an angelically cunning plan. This week has been a good week for the cunning plan interpretation. It is not that he has done anything - but his rigorous policy of inaction and delay has given his opponents an opportunity to fall apart which they have exploited to the full.

Plans for a gathering of his opponents in Jerusalem, reported yesterday by Riazat Butt, have imploded spectacularly with the announcement by the Bishop of Jerusalem that he does not want them to meet there. This isn't a trivial matter, because it reveals that Rowan has been right about at least one thing all along: it is not just homosexuality which divides the 50 or 60 million Anglicans around the world. They are also divided about whether women can be priests; some Anglicans doubt whether even men can be priests (the more extreme evangelicals believe in "ministers" or leaders instead); they are divided over whether marriage must be lifelong, and, if so, always to one woman (there are parts of Africa where the church welcomes polygamous converts); and they are also bitterly divided about Islam and Zionism.

. . .

The leaders of the church in south-east Asia are certainly anti-gay, and unenthusiastic about Muslims. But they don't like being pushed around, either, and the last straw came when one of their theologians received an angry email from Akinola which appeared to have been drafted by one of the Archbishop's conservative American advisers, whom he has rewarded with a bishopric.

The purpose of the Jerusalem meeting is to organise a formal rupture in the Anglican communion, which would leave the liberals isolated and cast out and someone very like Dr Akinola running a much more conservative, disciplined organisation. But there is no reason to believe that most Anglicans, conservative or not, want to belong to a disciplined global organisation.

The choice for them this summer may come down to one of Williams' painfully reluctant leadership or Akinola's enthusiastic alternative. If that is what happens, the events of this week make it look as though Williams will be the one to emerge with a global following - providing he doesn't try actually to lead them anywhere. Small danger of that.

Read it all here.

I think that Brown may be right. Williams is clearly working hard on a strategy of delay--and that strategy is working. the real test, of course, will be on attendance at Lambeth, but I suspect that many in the orthodox parts of the Anglican Communion will attend.

1 comment:

Simon Boswell said...

Hi there. Have clicked through to you on the Anglican bloggers site.

Hadn't come across Andrew Brown's article but it makes interesting reading.

Personally I'm a keen fan of ++Rowan; I like the fact that he doesn't want to 'lead' us anywhere! His strategy s not delay, but conciliation. As such he is almost uniquely equipped to the needs of the role!