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Rowan Williams’s Legacy: Christianity Is a Cultural Tradition, Not a Big Idea

Rowan Williams’s Legacy: Christianity Is a Cultural Tradition, Not a Big Idea November 6, 2012

That’s the message of British theologian, Theo Hobson:

To put it bluntly, [Rowan Williams] has helped me to see that Christianity is not essentially a big idea that we must try to spread, by arguing for its truth, but a cultural tradition, centred on the church’s ritual. In other words, he has helped me to see the intellectual strength of Anglo-Catholic tradition.

It took me a while to come round to this view. When I started thinking about religion, in my teens, it seemed obvious that the overlap between Christianity, morality and reason should be emphasised. Christ should be presented as a revolutionary moralist, and supernatural belief should be sidelined, reformed away. So should church ritual – it obscured the radicalism of the gospel with nostalgic flummery. I was a liberal Protestant. Soon I was impressed by Protestant voices that rejected such rationalism – Kierkegaard, Barth, Luther – voices that emphasised defiant faith, and scepticism towards liberal progress. But I remained semi-sceptical about church and ritual. Then I began, slowly, to admit that ritual practice was absolutely fundamental to Christianity, and, even more slowly, that it was time to repent of my late-teenage aversion to church. Williams’s work helped me towards this realisation.

Read the rest: Rowan Williams got it right about ritual | | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.


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