Saturday, December 22, 2007

Orthodoxy and Trust: A Plea to Rowan Williams

The Rev. Clark West

Recently on a blog discussing the almost complete lack of trust in Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams among many Anglicans, Matt Kennedy asked the following two questions of Ephraim Radner, a brilliant and much admired anglican theologian well known for his opposition to gay sexual activity and for his defense of the orthodoxy and integrity of Williams' theology:

"I must ask though, perhaps you know, 1. has the Archbishop changed his opinion with regard to homosexual relationships and 2. Is it possible to be 'orthodox' and reject the biblical revelation concerning homosexual behavior?"

It is not often that I agree with Matt Kennedy, but for quite some time I have been burning with the same questions and I dearly hope that Williams himself will have the courage to answer them. For it is without doubt his failure to come clean and speak about his own current theological position regarding same sex relations which has contributed greatly to the utter erosion of the Anglican Communion's trust in Williams. Once having written some of the most progressive theology of sexuality on record, which others have used to craft impressive inclusive theologies of sexuality (Eugene Rogers' "Sexuality and the Christian Body: Their Way into the Triune God", which Williams effusively praised in a 2003 issue of the Scottish Journal of Theology, is perhaps the most significant), Williams has recently made statements and actions which suggest that perhaps his mind has changed. At the very least, his (presumably theological) distinction between 'privately held' theological belief and 'public' official adherence to the majority report rejecting same sex relationships (Lambeth 1998) is one many do not understand or accept and his failure to justify this distinction has eroded the trust of many.

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