Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Understanding Rowan Williams

Is it possible?

This was another gem from John Richardson at Lowestoft Living Word.

It's a major struggle for most Anglicans to understand why Rowan Williams is handling the Anglican crisis as he is. Liberals say he is being dishonest, hiding what he truly believes. Conservatives, while grateful for the small mercy that he isn't pursuing his personal position on homosexuality, also see an element of hypocrisy, and ultimate futility for someone to try to distinguish private and public belief.

No-one can understand how the Archbishop thinks the Communion will ever find a resolution, when the two sides are not just Christians in disagreement, but seem to follow two completely different religions.

Into this fray John Richardson stepped, suggesting that it is Rowan Williams' understanding of salvation which drives him in this, and that he is being utterly consistent with his own belief. I think I'd heard it before, but not so clearly.

Rowan Williams believes that Jesus, on the cross, is not bearing the penal wrath of His Father against sin, standing as a substitute for his elect. Rather God is rejecting rejection. Mankind rejects God, but on the cross, God rejects our rejection (stick with it...). God never rejects or judges anyone, but simply rejects rejection. Therefore salvation is found in rejecting rejection, it is embracing those who reject you, and rejecting their rejection.

Hence, salvation for Peter Akinola, is found in rejecting the rejection of those who reject him. But the same is true for Katharine Jefferts Schori. So, Rowan Williams is not being inconsistent or hypocritical in not siding with either side. Rather, as long as Akinola and Jefferts Schori are at the table together, rejecting each other's rejection, they are moving towards salvation.

Of course, in a sense, that's even more worrying, because it suggests that Rowan will never reach a place where things can no longer be held together. We may even guess that the stronger the resentment and rejection gets between the two sides, the more he will want to hold it together (a perverse version of "shall we sin then, so grace may abound?").

So, Rowan Williams, not hypocritical or inconsistent, just barking!

1 comment:

James Oakley said...

Enormously helpful analysis. Thanks.