Rowan Williams’ Speech

Here’s a report from Archbishop Rowan Williams’ latest speech at Lambeth. It is an impassioned plea for tolerance, listening and unity.

Someone has asked why I am picking on the Anglicans so much. First of all, this summer is a hugely historical time for the Anglican Communion. Whether they split up into a hundred pieces or not, whether they find some way to resolve the feminist/homosexualist agenda or not is important not just to Anglican-Catholic relations, but to the whole Protestant movement.
Historically, wherever the Anglican Church goes, the rest of Protestantism follows. Not only do the other mainline Protestant denominations go the route of the Episcopal/Anglican Church, but in time the other, more conservative denominations and independent churches go there too.
In the area of morality this has happened over contraception, divorce and remarriage, co habitation, homosexuality and a range of other moral issues. In the area of doctrine, the theological drift is similar. Where the liberal Anglican scholars go, the other Protestants eventually follow.
Of course not all do. There are plenty of conservative Christians who hold the line and stick to Biblical and traditional Christianity, but even those who do become more fuzzy on the issues in many churches.
I don’t think I am particularly hard on the Anglicans. It is true I view their disintegration with somewhat of a sense of ‘I told you so’ only because I’ve been there and seen it all before. On the other hand, I honestly and truly love the Anglican Church. I grieve for the mess she’s in and wish it could be different.

  • Kevin Davis

    The conservative/evangelical churches will follow?Well, someone needs to tell that to the Southern Baptist Convention, which is decidedly more conservative now than in the 70′s and 80′s. And we can’t just dismiss the SBC as an anomaly. The conservative leaders who forced the SBC into a confessional mold are part of the broader evangelical movement which is consistently holding the line, with Catholics, against the homosexual agenda, abortion “rights,” pornography, premarital sex, and so on. Of course, there are differences in divorce and contraception, but this is hardly something that Catholics can parade around, since divorce(+annulments) is the same among Catholics as evangelicals and the percentage of Catholics who follow the Church’s teaching on contraception is in the low single digits. And, if we look at academia, evangelicals are in a far better state than Catholics if we consider biblical studies and dogmatics. Evangelicals comprise most of the top scholarship defending the credibility of the biblical witness and the classical categories of orthodox doctrine, which all ties into why the evangelicals are also orthodox on sexual ethics and family values (contra the mainline which long ago compromised the orthodox understanding of scripture, as well as tolerating heretical theologies of, e.g., the Trinity, Christology, the Atonement, and so on). I’m not trying to paint a rosy picture of evangelicalism; I’m just trying to offer some balance and to counter what I think are dubious claims by Fr. Longenecker.

  • veritas

    Father, Why do you “wish it could be different?”As an ex-Anglican myself I am praying that the disintegration of the Anglican Church continues so that any genuine Christians in that denomination will get the message and get out!What is the message I want them to get ?There is One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This Church was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It was founded upon the Apostles with Peter as the Rock, the head on Earth. In other words – I am praying that all Anglicans wake up and get home – home is the Catholic Church.The “rot” in the Anglican Church did not begin at Lambeth 2008, it did not begin last century when they endorsed contraception, it began 500 years ago when they allowed a licentious, despotic king to tear them away from Peter’s oversight.The Anglican Church is rotten within. It has so trampeled on all aspects of the faith as to be terminally ill. But that doesn’t matter because the true Church is waiting to welcome all who come.

  • Catholicdude15

    Hey Fr. Dwight,I just read an article which quoted the Episcopalian Bishop of Washington, D.C. as saying essentially that the notion that anyone can know the Truth about doctrine is demonic. I really think that statement deserves a response from you, since you are so very good at responding to such liberal bile. So that you can read Bishop Chane’s exact statement, here’s the link to the article: in Christ,Catholicdude15

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    kevin davis. Thank you for your perceptive comment. I agree with you and should have qualified my assertion with ‘some of the once conservative/evangelical churches.I am grateful for the spirited defense of Christian belief and Christian morals by many of our Evangelical friends, and lament with you the often lax and liberal positions that many individual Catholics assume.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I ‘wish it could be different?’ means ‘I wish the Reformation hadn’t happened the way it did.

  • Randy

    I would say the SBC and other more conservative protestant churches are more liberal now then they were in the 70′s and 80′s. On issues like female ordination and liturgy you do see movement. It is slow but it is there. I don’t think all change is bad. That is important. We need to distinguish between what must be preserved and what should be developed. Some protestant churches have erred on the side of preserving almost everything. That has cost them in areas where maybe they should have allowed some freedom like 6-day creation.

  • James

    Kevin,Yes, Father painted with a broad brush and many Evangelicals are towing holding the line on most issues. However, Father’s broad generalizing statement does have a lot of truth to it. The Anglicans seem to be just a bit ahead of the curve and when they compromise it makes it that much easier for other Protestants to do the same. Using your example of the SBC; if they had not been following in the same drift as the Anglicans then why did conservative leaders have to pull the SBC back from the brink?Also, you need to watch your terms and criticisms. Your equation of annulments with divorce only shows your ignorance of the subject. I recommend Dr. Ed Peters’ book on the topic if you desire edification. It is true that here in the States “Catholics” are as bad as the rest of the country when it comes to the civil divorce rate. However, a civil divorce has nothing to do with annulments. In the eyes of the Church a divorced Catholic is still married no matter what a judge says. The percentage of Catholics who obtain an annulment is miniscule in comparison to the number of “divorced Catholics.” Protestants get confused because they have accepted civil authority over a Sacrament of our Lord; just like the Episcopalians did.James G

  • dianonymous

    One more reason for grabbing a ring-side seat to view the Anglican train-wreck: It’s rather entertaining in a sick kind of way.Yes, I know, I’m baaaaaaaad. Will go to Confession this weekend!Diane