There’s a new Archbishop of Canterbury. I must confess that we had a pony in the race. My sister is married to the Anglican Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, and his name was mentioned at one point. Alas. The big hat at Canterbury has gone to a certain breed of Church of England Evangelical that comes from the parish of Holy Trinity Brompton. This parish is well known for attracting well to do, well connected, well educated men from established families who combine a taste for the higher things in life with a taste for low church, fervor and charismatic worship. Nothing quite like it here in the USA. Think high end Ivy League NYC stock brokers and Washington lawyers meeting to hold hands, sway and speak in tongues…
The famous Alpha Course was developed at Holy Trinity Brompton by the charming Nicky Gumbell and Justin Welby the new ABC is popped right out of that mold. From an upper crust family, he was educated at the top boarding school Eton (where prince William and Harry attended) a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle. Welby has had a meteoric rise in the Church of England. He was ordained later in life after a career in the oil business. He quickly rose to become Dean of Liverpool and then Bishop of Durham (the fourth highest ranking bishop in the C of E). He was there less than two years and now has the top job. Far be it from me to suggest that anything so sordid as ‘ambition’ might infect the hearts of clergymen in the Church of England, but there must be not a few noses put out of joint from those career men who have worked long and hard to climb the greasy crozier, only to have the top job snatched from them by a newbie to the bishop’s bench.
Peter Mullen– a cranky right winger in the Church of England– comments here. He thinks the new ABC is just the same old thing: a politically correct, well connected, left wing establishment type.
In other words, remembering that excellent show Yes Prime Minister, he is the perfect Church of England bishop: “A socialite who is also a socialist.”
He will also combine all that with an Evangelical theological position which seems conservative (“the Bible really is the Word of God”) while adapting adroitly to the spirit of the age. (“After serious study of the Bible I am firmly in favor of women bishops” and “On the question of homosexual unions. We must continue to pray and discuss together,”) In other words, George Carey with class or Rowan Williams still with the fuzzy theology if not the fuzzy face.