David Anderson—All is not well with Rowan Williams

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of the 38 primates who could and should be in attendance at a legitimate Primates' Meeting, we understand some 15 are absent. The GAFCON primates AND Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis and Archbishop John Chew are among those with more important things to do than attend a meeting and be manipulated by procedural rules that Dr. Williams will dominate. More important, because Rowan Williams structures the meeting to control the primates and disempower them from taking any action that he doesn't wish, and when their photographs are taken together, the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) uses that photo to announce that all is well in Rowanland.

Many of the primates have made their reasons for being absent very clear in public and private correspondence to Dr. Williams, who is the convener. However, the Anglican Communion Office, headed by Canon Kenneth Kearon, has concocted reasons for some of them that are simply disingenuous. Most of the primates have made it clear to Dr. Williams why they are absent and why they are frustrated and disappointed in his leadership. With this fact in mind, there is a question that begs to be asked; "Is Dr. Williams competent to lead the Communion?" You would be surprised if you polled liberal revisionists and orthodox conservatives to find that many on both sides would answer NO. It is time to acknowledge before the world that the emperor has no clothes, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has no competency to lead the Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican PrimatesPartial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011Global South Churches & Primates

16 Comments
Posted January 31, 2011 at 7:17 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. rugbyplayingpriest wrote:

hard to disagree

January 31, 10:46 am | [comment link]
2. newcollegegrad wrote:

“Williams was chosen by Prime Minister Tony Blair to assist in Blair’s task of blending church and state agendas to the gay agenda.”

The first statement is not in evidence. If that was Blair’s main interest, there were and are plenty of other UK bishops who would have been better suited for the task. Williams is a standout academic theologian. At the time of his appointment, he was widely respected in Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox circles for his contributions as such. Anderson doesn’t trust and is frustrated with Williams—fine. That doesn’t make Anderson’s summary true.

January 31, 10:49 am | [comment link]
3. St. Nikao wrote:

The Anglican Curmudgeon has also responded to the Dublin meeting.  (http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2011/01/descent-into-irrelevance.html

Mr. Haley notes that the ACC has been surreptiously appropriated more powers, giving TEC more control than before.  This, plus the Continuing Indaba Project (designed to take homosex/abortion propaganda into third world countries), has turned the whole Canterbury-centered Communion into an instrument of evil.

January 31, 11:26 am | [comment link]
4. A Senior Priest wrote:

Rowan is a “foreign”, i.e. Welsh prelate imposed by a soi-disant Scottish, i.e. “foreign” Prime Minister upon the English Church for political and -let us be frank- ethnic reasons.

January 31, 11:45 am | [comment link]
5. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

“Williams is a standout academic theologian”.

Goes to show that there can be a huge difference between theory and practice, and that people sometimes have a gift for destroying their own credibility.

January 31, 1:30 pm | [comment link]
6. billqs wrote:

#2-  I’m not sure he got “walking orders” from Tony Blair to push the gay agenda in the C of E, however, he was the highest selectable liberal on the short list for Archbishop of Canterbury, and is a self-acknowledged “hairy leftist.” 

While he does have academic heft, if the Archbishop of Canterbury were chosen based on academic credibility only, then it would have gone to N.T. Wright who stands much more center of the working theology of the C o E faithful, and is just as liberal on many social causes.

January 31, 2:03 pm | [comment link]
7. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

And thank you, #3, Mr. Haley’s post is worth the read.  May as well understand the truth, that the Communion has been hijacked by a minority, wealthy, pseudointellectual sect, aided and abetted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

January 31, 7:09 pm | [comment link]
8. Dan Ennis wrote:

“That [Robinson and Schori] have perpetrated grossly unbiblical misconduct and deserve to be severely punished is clear enough…”

I’m sure God appreciates the advice from the Reverend Anderson.

January 31, 8:39 pm | [comment link]
9. Sarah wrote:

Thankfully, God isn’t getting any advice from David Anderson—since He’s already made His intentions and will quite clear in His revealed and written word as to what happens to false teachers.

January 31, 8:41 pm | [comment link]
10. MichaelA wrote:

Newcollegegrad at #2 wrote:

“The first statement is not in evidence. If that was Blair’s main interest, there were and are plenty of other UK bishops who would have been better suited for the task.”

Not necessarily. It is implicit in +Anderson’s statement that Williams was chosen by Tony Blair as the most acceptable candidate who would assist in furthering Blair’s agenda. I have no idea whether that is true or not, but there is nothing inherently improbable about it. Williams’ own behaviour gives credence to the idea.

“Williams is a standout academic theologian. At the time of his appointment, he was widely respected in Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox circles for his contributions as such.”

I think it would be safe to say that such respect is now sadly diminished, in Anglican, Roman Catholic AND Orthodox circles!

“Anderson doesn’t trust and is frustrated with Williams—fine. That doesn’t make Anderson’s summary true.”

It does not make it untrue, either. And ABC appears to be going out of his way to support the idea.

January 31, 9:39 pm | [comment link]
11. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

From the Curmudgeon: 

“The Anglican Communion Office promises to tell us who was elected to membership on the Standing Committee just as soon as all the non-attending primates have been notified first”.

How ‘bout we just make it easy?

+Schori
+Douglas
+Shaw
+Bruno

Do I have it right?!!  They don’t even have to be primates, do they?!!

February 1, 12:19 am | [comment link]
12. lostdesert wrote:

Is Williams a stand-out Christian?  I think not.

February 1, 11:50 am | [comment link]
13. newcollegegrad wrote:

#5 Bookworm—agreed. Theory and practice are much different. Where I most agree with Bishop Anderson is his statement:

“To be effective, discipline needs to be clear, redemptive in nature, and prompt - all of which Dr. Williams is unwilling and unable to fulfill.”

My take is that Williams is unwilling overtly to cause liberals or traditionalists to break ties with other members of the Anglican Communion. His passivity amounts to kicking the can down the road with predictable results.

#6 billqs- NT Wright was consecrated bishop in 2003, so it is unlikely that he would be a candidate to succeed Archbishop Carey in 2002. In contrast, Williams was consecrated bishop in 1992 and became an archbishop in 1999. Academically, Williams and NT Wright publish in different journals and book series—one in systematic and historical theology and the other in biblical theology. Their academic credibility is not really in competition given how those sub-disciplines interact (for better or for worse). As for Williams being a liberal and hairy leftist, yes and no. His views on the trinity and incarnation and the relevance of the church fathers are deeply traditional. His views on political economy and human sexuality are center left. (As a side note, Eric Mascall’s memoirs show that a scrupulous, conservative Anglican theologian could be deeply suspicious of capitalism.) Williams translation to Canterbury may advance some leftist causes but it retards others.

#10 MichaelA: “Nothing improbable” is entirely consistent with “not in evidence”. My complaint is that Bishop Anderson describes the selection of Williams as a single-issue conspiracy to advance unbiblical morals. I suggest that this allegation requires more evidence than (a) Bishop Anderson’s say so and (b) the attractiveness of another brickbat to throw at Williams (e.g., Williams is not only an incompetent, fainthearted shepherd but he is also something of a traitor and deceiver). As for Williams’ reputation, I said “widely respected . . . for contributions as such”, i.e., as “a standout academic theologian”. Most of the people who don’t like Williams now won’t read his works anyway because they don’t read academic theology (a decision with which I can sympathize) and don’t compare and rank academic theologians. For those who do read academic theology, I find it hard to understand how the quality of Williams’ judgments about Arius or divine impassibility or St. Thomas Aquinas, especially those written before he became Archbishop of Canterbury, are contingent on his performance as archbishop.

#12 lostdesert: Our disagreements with teaching contrary to scripture and tradition should be sharp. But if after all the charges are read out against Williams, Christ says, all true yet I love him and have redeemed him, then my reply will be Amen Lord.

February 1, 4:53 pm | [comment link]
14. MichaelA wrote:

newcollegegrad wrote:

As for Williams being a liberal and hairy leftist, yes and no. His views on the trinity and incarnation and the relevance of the church fathers are deeply traditional. His views on political economy and human sexuality are center left.

The relevance of this escapes me. “Centre left” is a trendy political label of variable meaning; its use does not advance the debate. +Anderson’s point is that Rowan Williams clearly regards his mission as being to bring about far-reaching and catastrophic change in the Church of England, in particular the acceptance of women bishops and practicing homosexual clergy. Some call that left wing, but if you want to call it “centre left” or “right” or something else entirely, go right ahead.

“Nothing improbable” is entirely consistent with “not in evidence”. 

You have only responded to one of my sentences in this paragraph, and not the main one. 

“My complaint is that Bishop Anderson describes the selection of Williams as a single-issue conspiracy to advance unbiblical morals.”

So what’s wrong with that? You haven’t advanced any cogent reason why +Anderson shouldn’t have described it that way. And it certainly fits the course of ++Williams’ behaviour: he intends to advance the cause of liberalism, including female bishops and practicing homosexual clergy, by any means he can.

However, I don’t think there is any warrant for your adding the words “single-issue”: I don’t read Anderson’s words as binding himself to say that this was Blair’s ONLY reason, just the primary or main one.

“I suggest that this allegation requires more evidence than (a) Bishop Anderson’s say so and (b) the attractiveness of another brickbat to throw at Williams (e.g., Williams is not only an incompetent, fainthearted shepherd but he is also something of a traitor and deceiver).”

Of course - ALL allegations require more evidence. That doesn’t mean its wrong to put them out there - we are not a jury sitting at Old Bailey.

Even so, your summary is badly flawed: “(b) the attractiveness of another brickbat to throw at Williams” dodges the issue of why anyone might want to throw a brickbat in the first place - are you perhaps suggesting prejudice against bearded men? More to the point, you leave out the issue that +Anderson and other posters have already raised: Rowan Williams’ course of behaviour throughout his primacy. Given his wholehearted devotion to the promotion of liberalism, it is difficult to believe that his political masters were not aware of this when they chose him.

“As for Williams’ reputation, I said “widely respected . . . for contributions as such”, i.e., as “a standout academic theologian”.”

If that was your only point, then it was irrelevant. Rowan Williams agreed to accept the role of Primate, not Canon Theologian. He is being judged entirely on his demonstration of godly leadership (or lack thereof), not his ability to put together obscure theological texts.

“But if after all the charges are read out against Williams, Christ says, all true yet I love him and have redeemed him, then my reply will be Amen Lord.” 

Of course. That applies to every single person on this planet if they truly repent, not just ++Williams.

February 1, 5:40 pm | [comment link]
15. lostdesert wrote:

[#13]  If he is redeemded by God, that is well with God, but he has aided in the destruction of the church of my birth by failing to find the moral courage to lead.  He and KJS will never be well with me.

February 1, 8:11 pm | [comment link]
16. MichaelA wrote:

An English evangelical Anglican, Charles Raven, sums up the fundamentally UN-orthodox beliefs of Rowan Williams in an article entitled “Dublin and the Art of Dishonest Conversation” at http://www.anglicanspread.org/?p=412. A relevant extract:

... We might well ask ourselves what sort of Communion we are in when the chief passion of the Archbishop of Canterbury and those still willing to work with him is for ‘conversation’.  Why this preoccupation with interminable and inward looking dialogue? What about a passion for reaching the lost, for faithful teaching and preaching, for the glory and honour of Jesus Christ? However sincere or even passionate the Primates may feel themselves to be, this is actually ‘dishonest conversation’ which displaces the gospel and is spiritually dangerous. Fundamentally, this is because ‘conversing’ has come to replace ‘confessing’. In my book ‘Shadow Gospel’ I demonstrate how Rowan Williams’ methodology amounts to a sophisticated redefinition of orthodoxy as a process of dialogue rather than faithfulness to a deposit of faith with its associated church order and morality. As long ago as 1983, Dr Williams’ wrote:

“We may need to develop an understanding of ‘orthodoxy’ as a tool rather than as an end in itself, a tool for discovery rather than control. Like any language it is unintelligible without some idea of grammar – necessary rules and regularities. But it is there essentially as something both functional to the life of the community, and necessarily bound up with – grounding perhaps – the identity of a community.” (What is Catholic Orthodoxy?’ in ‘Essays Catholic and Radical’ ed. K. Leech and R .Williams p13)

In retrospect this can be seen as something of a programmatic statement and it is very clever – too clever – because it allows Western liberals to use the same terminology as their orthodox colleagues from the Global South, but in such a way that the ‘new truths’ so beloved by revisionists can gain a foothold. The cumulative effect of immersion in such a church culture is a gradual increase in the ability to tolerate the spiritually toxic – as the careers of number of formerly evangelical bishops in the Church of England sadly demonstrates.”

This sets out effectively the defect in ++Williams’ reputation as a “theologian” - the “theology” he espouses is not something that orthodox Anglicans (whether from anglo-catholic or evangelical background) would recognise as meaningful. Rather, his main expertise appears to be in twisting words, in using orthodoxy as a “tool” for self-discovery rather than a guide to the practical applicaton of truth. A man of rare talents, Dr Williams, but regrettably not directed to worthwhile ends.

February 2, 2:36 am | [comment link]
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