Saturday, 9 August 2008

Living the Double Life

Odd this. The Bishop of Durham and (only?) eighteen bishops wish to protest in the strongest possible way about the misrepresentation of Rowan Williams when Rowan Williams himself doesn't so protest according to his own statement. Tough guy Bishop Tom Wright wants to make it clear that there is:

...a difference between ‘thinking aloud’ as a theologian and the task of a bishop (let alone an Archbishop) to uphold the church’s teaching. the letter goes on in a very predictable manner.

It wasn't the view of one of his recent predecessors, where there was a kind of idolatry at play in upholding something because he was a bishop when it was theologically open to investigation. To David Frost he said in 1993 :

DAVID JENKINS: [the Church of England is] still squabbling. And I think the homosexual business is perhaps almost the most pathetic, you know, because it seems so neurotic about sex and it shows, you see, the difference between saying a text of the Bible proves something when it's only relevant in its time and where do you go from here, between thinking things are fixed when all the species are changed, not understanding that homosexuality is distributed on a bell curve and so on. And it's just picking up a central - but an important point about sexuality - and being neurotic, worried and closed about it, and simply stopping us from getting on with the real problems.

The Archbishop himself doesn't repudiate his eight year old comments, which is implied in the present Bishop of Durham's letter (what follows is the Archbishop's short message in full):

In the light of recent reports based on private correspondence from eight years ago, I wish to make it plain that, as I have consistently said, I accept Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference as stating the position of the worldwide Anglican Communion on issues of sexual ethics and thus as providing the authoritative basis on which I as Archbishop speak on such questions.

That Resolution also recognises the need for continuing study and discussion on the matter. In the past, as a professional theologian, I have made some contributions to such study. But obviously, no individual's speculations about this have any authority of themselves. Our Anglican Church has never exercised close control over what individual theologians may say. However, like any church, it has the right to declare what may be said in its name as official doctrine and to define the limits of legitimate practice. As Archbishop I understand my responsibility to be to the declared teaching of the church I serve, and thus to discourage any developments that might imply that the position and convictions of the worldwide Communion have changed.

In other words, he is called to live a double life.


Tom Allen said...

(only) 18 Bishops
Given the number of Bishops who are now on holiday post Lambeth (and don't they deserve the break) I was suprised that 18 could be found to support the letter. The spread of views represented by the Bishops also gives it some wider credibility.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Well there is comment about the implications of someone like John Gladwin adding his name. All I'm saying is that the letter makes a point about not having the same views as eight years ago that the Archbishop himself does not make. But this does seem odd, to believe one thing and proclaim another - but, as I've said, he also proclaims other personal views, such as the Catholic one, with more enthusiasm, that would impose a Church where stands a Communion.