New Evangelical Archbishop of Canterbury – Justin Welby

New Evangelical Archbishop of Canterbury – Justin Welby November 9, 2012

Justin Welby Today they have finally confirmed that the current Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby will become the next Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican church worldwide. My Church of England Evangelical friends are no doubt very pleased, but we must not underestimate the challenge Welby has ahead of him.

The phrase “Bishop of Durham” still sends a chill down the spine of older evangelicals in the UK like me. One of the previous incumbents was infamous, and was so liberal he would not have been a Christian by my definition. More recently N.T.Wright held the position, and we were all glad that he believed in the resurrection of Jesus! Wright resigned as Bishop because he decided to focus on his academic work.

Welby had stepped into Wright’s shoes only a few months ago, but had already made a mark for himself in the UKs second chamber, the House of Lords, where he had been outspoken about the sins of bankers and payday loan sharks. His past as an ex-oilman also fascinated the press.

At the press conference announcing his appointment as Archbishop, Welby said, “My initial reaction was, ‘oh no’! It’s something I never expected. And the last few weeks have been a rather strange experience, to put it mildly.” Reuters

In 1983 Welby lost his 7 month old daughter in a car crash, and began attending an Alpha Course at Holy Trinity Brompton where he encountered God, became a lay leader, and felt a call to ministry.

Welby faces some massive challenges as the Anglican Union continues to threaten to tear itself apart on a range of different issues. He immediately on his appointment pinned his colors to the mast as in favor of Women Bishops, a development that now looks even more likely to be passed at an assembly later this month.

On homosexuality, Welby has stated

“We must have no truck with any form of homophobia, in any part of the church . . . I support the House of Bishop’s statement in the summer in answer to the government’s consultation on same sex marriage. I also know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully.

I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed honestly and in love.”

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  • He sounds like a radical liberal to me. His stance on women bishops is the same that led to PCUSA to eventually ordain homosexuals and His stances on homosexuals begs the question as if this man has the right to over rule God’s word as far as God’s view concerning homosexuality and the ordination of women. No man has that right, we submit to God’s word we do not rule on it. The Anglican church has not appointed a champion of the faith, they have appointed a moderately conservative politician – and I strongly doubt a regenerate one based upon his cavalier treatment of God’s word.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      The archbishop supported the bishops statement on gay marriage,-family-and-sexuality-issues/same-sex-marriage.aspx

      Also, egalitarianism does not necessarily equal non-evangelicalism.

    • While I very much doubt that any likely candidate for the post would be someone I would support (but, hey, I’m a Fundamentalist gone Papist, so it’s not like they would ask me), the bishop’s statement on marriage is not radical. It’s not what I would support, but it’s not something I would feel the need to be outspoken in opposing, either.

  • Did he really attend an Alpha course? He was certainly a Christian, and an active Christian Union member, long before 1983. Danny Webster of the EA is sceptical,

    • The pieces I’m reading suggest taken as a whole that perhaps he had some Christian background but that events around the time of his daughters death brought that to the fore. I’d love to get more confirmation on this and learn a bit more about him.

  • Welby’s Eton contemporary Charles Moore describes him in The Telegraph as having at school “an unadorned, personal faith in Jesus as the saviour”, and says that at Cambridge he was “in a quiet way” a pillar of CICCU, the Christian Union. I was in CICCU probably at the same time, but don’t remember Welby – but there were hundreds of us and we were in different colleges. From that time I remember Jane Williams – not Justin’s mother but Rowan’s wife. But Moore seems to be speculating, and making himself a good title, when he links Welby with Alpha.

    • Now the Telegraph is contradicting itself. At it says that faith “faith, because that did not come until his second year at Trinity College, Cambridge. … The conversion to Christianity that followed was apparently powerful, and personally overwhelming…” But I suspect Moore knows more than Moreton. Interesting to see the latter’s suggestion that Welby was inspired by John Wimber – and that that was why Welby’s then bishop told him “There is no place for you in the Church of England.” Interesting days ahead for that church – almost makes me regret having left it and for an independent fellowship in America.

  • The headline word, ‘evangelical,’ raised my hopes. The article reminds me that I recently was convicted to use the word no more in my self-description. After all, we have the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, here, etc.
    Christians need to get a grip on the Christian meaning of ‘love’–a word so transformed by the world.