March 23, 2017

November 7, 2012

Habemus Cantuara? - The New ArchBishop of Canterbury?

We’re not quite there, but it seems that the cat is now out of the bag.

Sources have confirmed that the Eton-educated bishop will be announced as successor to Dr Rowan Williams as early as Friday, after the Crown Nominations Commission put his name forward to Downing Street.

It marks a meteoric rise for the former oil executive who has been a bishop for only a year, but insiders described Welby as “the outstanding candidate”.

Last night a spokesman refused to confirm his appointment. But it came a few hours after he pulled out at short notice from a planned appearance on the BBC Radio 4 discussion programme Any Questions due to take place in County Durham on Friday.

He also cut short a retreat with diocesan staff and returned to the capital where it is understood his wife is travelling down to join him tomorrow.

Earlier this week bookmakers stopped taking money on Bishop Welby after a flurry of bets on him being chosen.

Well, we all know that the bookmakers have a good handle on these sort of things wink

It really does look as though Justin Welby will be announced as the new ArchBishop of Canterbury this Friday. After a convoluted (and, dare we say it, quite badly managed) process that began to border on almost Roman orders of tension and secrecy, we now have our man.

And he’s not too bad at all.

Well, given the choice. OK, it’s actually better than that. Here’s a wonderful video made a few years ago when he was appointed to Durham

Welby places himself firmly in the evangelical camp and while some conservatives might not be best pleased with him they have to admit, it could have been far far worse. Now is not the time to despise the day of small (or even moderate-sized) things (Zech. 4:10). In keeping with the recent pattern of appointments to the Chair of St. Augustine (Coggan/conservative, Runcie/liberal, Carey/conservative, Williams/liberal) we now have a “conservative”. So what ought we to be thinking about as we watch him take up the thankless rôle?

  1. Before any analysis of the man, let’s just remember that God is sovereign. This is who God wants to have in the chair, for better for worse, for our benefit or for our chastisement - which it will be, of course, is yet to be seen.
  2. He’s got a good background for the job. Establishment, in that he’s Eton and then Cambridge educated. There’s also some good corporate and financial experience. He covers a good number of bases. He’s written extensively about financial/corporate matters, the latest being a well-received piece on financial ethics [pdf] given in Zurich. Perhaps he lacks a little in experience, having been a bishop for less than 2 years, but it’s hardly as if masses of experience has served us well recently.
  3. On the key presenting issue of the day for the Church of England, women bishops, he is sensibly placed and advocates proper protection for conservatives. In a recent pastoral letter  [pdf] to his diocese he wrote: “I strongly support, in addition to the ordination of women as bishops, finding ways of ensuring that those who in good conscience and for theological reasons are opposed to ordination, the proper place, pastoral care and love, which is the command of God and is in my own heart.” However, he will be enthroned after the key vote later this month. For him the question will be how will he look after a church that will whichever way be divided - either because the Act is defeated and he’ll have extremely disgruntled proponents of WO, or because he’ll have to deal with the inevitable alternate provisions for oversight that conservatives will reluctantly feel forced to set up. It’s hard to see how even his own good will can overcome that one but he can at least try. His work at the International Centre for Reconciliation might help!
  4. Globally we will all be watching to see if he takes a firmer line with the liberals than Williams did. The ABC has incredibly powerful influence whatever he chooses to do. Williams’ inaction spoke volumes - so what will Welby do? We will, of course, be hoping he will chart a far better path, recognising that the job of the Archbishop is not simply to “chair” the Communion but to guide it and drive away false teaching. Welby has a bit of a reputation in his own diocese for not upsetting apple carts. That will have to change if he is to be the man who can help pull us back to where we should be. At a minimum we’re sure to see him advocating hard for the Covenant - but will he go further and speak out clearly against revisionism? Only time will tell.

So we wait with great anticipation. My mind is that it could go either way.

It’s entirely possible that he lives up to the promise, and even exceeds it. Perhaps he will recognise that he has an enormous responsibility. His term as ABC will, surely, be the time during which we either right the ship or fall apart properly. If he understands that and does not fear the backlash he could be a great leader of both the CofE and the Communion more widely. That means, of course, preaching not only in-season (so expect him perhaps to be invited to address, and to accept the invitation, to the 2013 GAFCON (no, I know nothing but I wonder if it might happen) Conference), but also out of season - will he have the courage to face down the wolves and denounce them for who they really are?

Of course there is the other possibility; that he will be the conservatives’ Rowan Williams. When Williams was first appointed the liberals were delirious with happiness since they knew he shared their convictions. That praise soon turned to criticism and worse when he failed to deliver for them. There is a chance that Welby could do the same for us. Perhaps, like Williams, he will be so keen to hold everyone together at the table that no-one will end up wanting to come to dinner. That would be tragic and, surely, he would have the wisdom not to repeat Williams’ mistakes, but ought not to be naïve about the possibility.

Either way, we ought to be on our knees for him. He loves Jesus and he has courageously taken on a very difficult job. And God will use him as He sees fit. Either to show us mercy or to discipline us. Who is equal to such a task?

ALMIGHTY God, giver of all good things, who by thy Holy Spirit hast appointed divers Orders of Ministers in thy Church; Mercifully behold this thy servant, now called to the Work and Ministry of a Bishop; and so replenish him with the truth of thy Doctrine, and adorn him with innocency of life, that, both by word and deed, he may faithfully serve thee in this Office, to the glory of thy Name, and the edifying and well-governing of thy Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

(The Form of Consecrating an ArchBishop, BCP 1662)

See also, my thoughts given to Eternity Newspaper and Archbishop Cranmer’s fine piece.

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Welby might be able to be more of a success than Carey and Williams. The past two ABCs were not really the right sort to get on well in the upper levels of the English scene. Welby’s Eton and Cambridge education, his business experience, and (yes, this still matters very much) the fact that he’s related to half the hereditaries in Debrett’s will give him entree and acceptance where George and Rowan never could insert themselves.

[1] Posted by A Senior Priest on 11-7-2012 at 11:27 PM · [top]

ASP, I think that could very well be true.

[2] Posted by David Ould on 11-8-2012 at 12:13 AM · [top]

I just hope he can use his talents and natural advantages to the benefit of the CoE before it’s too late, David. Anglican Communion matters perhaps are a bit of a distraction which should be kept in it’s place rather than the scattershot approach poor Rowan took.

[3] Posted by A Senior Priest on 11-8-2012 at 12:30 AM · [top]

And it is so embarrassing to accidentally misuse apostrophes. smile

[4] Posted by A Senior Priest on 11-8-2012 at 12:32 AM · [top]

“In keeping with the recent pattern of appointments to the Chair of St. Augustine (Coggan/conservative, Runcie/liberal, Carey/conservative, Williams/liberal) we now have a “conservative”.”

Interesting way to put it.  It used to be said that the pattern was anglo-catholic/evangelical. 

And really, I question how accurate the idea is anyway - each of these Archbishops of Canterbury carried the CofE further down the liberal road by building on the work of their predecessors, and it would be difficult e.g. to say that Coggan was more conservative than Runcie.

Donald Coggan worked tirelessly to introduce the Ordination of Women into the Church of England.  He was a greater partisan for this cause than Robert Runcie, who was much more suspicious of it.  Coggan also encouraged the push for WO in other churches, and many of the proponents of same were not noted for their devotion to scriptural authority. 

Similarly, George Carey has been more noted for his conservatism (and even orthodoxy) AFTER he stopped being Archbishop of Canterbury, than when he occupied the chair.  Ordination of women priests became a reality under his leadership, and the debate then moved on to ordination of practicing homosexuals.  Carey made some nice noises but did nothing to stop any of this. 

Carey did his best to stop Resolution I.10 being tabled at Lambeth 98.  He also worked closely with Frank Griswold of ECUSA and showed no interest in helping to protect orthodox members of ECUSA from Griswold’s attacks.  How is he to be called “conservative”? 

Carey only seems conservative because since his retirement he became alarmed at the trajectory of CofE, but it is a trajectory that he and his predecessors Coggan and Runcie firmly set CofE on.

Let’s be blunt - all of these men were bystanders when they should have been strong, and they permitted (indeed actively assisted) CofE down the path to liberal ruin.  The results being reaped now are very much their results.

I haven’t seen any real signs of orthodoxy (nor of excessive liberalism) from Justin Welby.  But he will shortly be placed in positions where he will have to declare himself, and then we will find out.

[5] Posted by MichaelA on 11-8-2012 at 01:57 AM · [top]

I think Welby is the worst possible choice…primarily because his purported orthodoxy joined with his “reconciliation” work will lead him to make peace with those he should be driving out. We do not need an appeaser at this moment. I think he will be one.

[6] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-8-2012 at 06:06 AM · [top]

Here’s his take on “mission”:

“it causes us to look outwards, away from those things that divide us, and to find ourselves shoulder to shoulder with others with whom we may disagree profoundly but with whom we share one unutterably precious thing — that we both love Jesus Christ and for His sake we are doing what we are doing.

...The more we are engaged in these works of mission, carrying in word and action the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world that is more and more in need of Him, the more we find ourselves regarding those with whom we disagree as fellow Christians, who may be wrong but with whom we are called to live, whose love we receive and to whom we owe such love.

“The miracle of the church,” said the vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton in the 1980s, the Rev. Sandy Millar, “is not that like-minded people agree but extremely unlike-minded people love each other while managing somehow to live in common service to Christ.”

The Diocese of Virginia has recently, through the common prayer of Bishop Shannon Johnston and the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican Church, set an example of coming together before Christ in order to overcome the division that has arrived in the past few years.”

Bishop Shannon Johnston promotes same sex blessings. He’s a false teacher. He carries another gospel. But for +Welby, Christian mission is about doing really nice stuff together with false teachers and in that way sharing the “gospel” by doing really nice stuff…or something.

This will not end well.

[7] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-8-2012 at 06:20 AM · [top]


From your perspective, does it really matter any longer? I’ve rather assumed from some of your other posts that you regard Canterbury as now largely irrelevant to what follows.

Incidentally - and I apologize for using the comment function but I’m not sure how else to reach you - is the ACNA parish history project about which I e-mailed you through the parish website something with which Good Shepherd wants to be involved? I would rather not ask someone else until you explicitly say nay.

[8] Posted by Jeremy Bonner on 11-8-2012 at 06:25 AM · [top]

Hi Jeremy,

Of course it matters. With the right leader, willing to exercise discipline, and beat wolves out of the flock, the Communion might yet be righted. That’s not happening with Welby.

As for your email…I think I must have missed it. try this email:

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

[9] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-8-2012 at 07:20 AM · [top]

“we now have a conservative”. I disagree here. His social policy is very much Broad Church. He will be operating on the same “inclusive” model socially as RW.

[10] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-8-2012 at 07:29 AM · [top]

A Senior Priest,
“I just hope he can use his talents and natural advantages to the benefit of the CoE before it’s too late, David. Anglican Communion matters perhaps are a bit of a distraction which should be kept in it’s place rather than the scattershot approach poor Rowan took.” And this is just the problem as I see it. The ABC is chosen to lead the CoE and Oh, by the way, among his secondary duties, also lead the WWAC. The man acceptable to the established CoE with an increasingly liberal social policy does not reflect the mind of the majority of the WWAC. Reconciliation is just another code word for inclusion. His selection is further clarity for those outside the CoE.

[11] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-8-2012 at 07:41 AM · [top]

As a pessimist, I predict his broad church path of reconciliation will a failure and create an even more polarized communion as “liberals” feel more and more empowered by each act of “reconciliation”. “Broad” = “Fraud”

[12] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 11-8-2012 at 09:12 AM · [top]

sorry for the typos, but you get my drift…

[13] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 11-8-2012 at 09:12 AM · [top]

If the call for him to be Archbishop of Canterbury is even remotely from God, then God will equip him for that ministry. Unless of course, the Roman Catholics are right, and Anglicanism is completely null and utterly void.

It looks like he’s hardly a perfect person, but who is?

I wonder how his first meeting with the TEC Presiding Bishop will go. An Old Etonian should have no trouble with her. His resume suggests that he’s far more intelligent and certainly better educated. I’d give anything to be there, watching and listening.

[14] Posted by Ralph on 11-8-2012 at 10:15 AM · [top]

Thanks for this David.  I hope and pray that you are correct in your more optimistic analysis.  It’s a refreshing read in contrast to your American co-bloggers’ nay-saying, and doom and gloom…, And hey, you turned out to be right about our election!!!!  LOL.

[15] Posted by Karen B. on 11-8-2012 at 02:48 PM · [top]

Karen, we Americans co-bloggers are indeed like that LOL

[16] Posted by MichaelA on 11-8-2012 at 05:38 PM · [top]

Ralph, the good bishop Welby has already met with Ms Schori, also with her House of Bishops.  He gave an interesting speech to them in March this year:

[17] Posted by MichaelA on 11-8-2012 at 09:34 PM · [top]

Oops, this link has the entirety of +Welby’s speech to the TEC HOB:

[18] Posted by MichaelA on 11-8-2012 at 09:37 PM · [top]

“As to the future. Reconciliation within the Communion is a huge challenge and comes for all of us with working as you are, with grace, through Ndaba, through generosity of Spirit and above all with long suffering and patience. Being here reminded me again that we in England and elsewhere need to find a better way of doing things in how we disagree.” This is an excerpt from his talk to the TEC HOB. This sounds no different than his predecessor Rowan Williams. It even makes me wonder if TEC had a covert hand in his selection.

[19] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-8-2012 at 09:54 PM · [top]

In the end, time will tell.

[20] Posted by A Senior Priest on 11-8-2012 at 10:03 PM · [top]

There is an old saying. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

[21] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-8-2012 at 10:38 PM · [top]

Ralph - He may be “better educated”, but will that equip him to meet with Satan?  She is rather crafty.

[22] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 11-10-2012 at 04:41 PM · [top]

This link at TitusOneNine has a positive point from +Welby’s initial press conference after the appointment was announced:

“...he gave straight replies to the curve balls that were thrown at him. One reporter asked him, ‘Do you really believe in the Virgin Birth?’ He replied: ‘I can say the whole of the creed without crossing my fingers’.”


[23] Posted by MichaelA on 11-11-2012 at 05:30 PM · [top]

I am in general agreement with#11, Father Dale and #12, Pewster. Despite my naturally pessimistic view of the WWAC, I am still optimistic and hopeful about this ABCD. He has not even had one day as ABC. #20A senior Priest is correct- In the end, time will tell.

[24] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 11-11-2012 at 08:43 PM · [top]

Interesting series of questions posed for +Welby and the Primates by a priest in South Yorkshire:

[25] Posted by MichaelA on 11-12-2012 at 04:33 AM · [top]

Just a couple of comments:
1. I am not impressed by his recent comments on homosexuality (it could have been any number of issues ). In that I saw an intellectual mind churning through analysis and trying take that down to a common thought on a way forward -but not telling me has a base theological view that would guide him. Remind you of anyone recent? Make no mistake this will be primary issue of the AC needs to address (and yes, I know it is symptomatic a larger issue).
2. Negotiation with those who hold a contrary historical position is hopeless. The entire Communion should have learned from recent history and 2000 years of pastoral warnings (Paul, James, John, etc.). The response should be a rebuke (see #1 above) with pastoral gentleness.

But in the end the ABC has to be accountable to Christ, and I hope his future body of work represents an apostolic love for the Gospel.

[26] Posted by Festivus on 11-12-2012 at 07:44 AM · [top]

I’d like to be assured that +Welby will be different than Rowan Cantuar, but his support for women bishops and his statement about his rethinking of his views towards the worldwide community of gays bothers me.  As I said on another blog, he needs to make his views crystal clear before he takes office.  This ambiguity must cease.

[27] Posted by cennydd13 on 11-15-2012 at 11:24 PM · [top]

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