Thinking Anglicans

Justin Welby interview for the Telegraph

Cole Moreton has been interviewing the Archbishop of Canterbury for The Telegraph (and not just about same-sex marriages).

Part One (Friday) The Archbishop of Canterbury’s deadly dilemma
Part Two (Sunday) Archbishop of Canterbury: Sometimes I think: ‘This is impossible’

There are also these news items by Cole Moreton and John Bingham.
Justin Welby: the anguish I face over gay marriage
Church holds on to Wonga shares.

Other news outlets have covered the first part of the interview.

Kashmira Gander The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says Anglican Church cannot support same-sex marriage

Jack Simpson The Independent Justin Welby: Same sex ceremonies a balancing act for Church of England

Ben Quinn The Guardian Justin Welby: church ‘struggling with reality’ of same-sex marriages

BBC Welby: Church ‘struggling’ over same-sex marriages

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Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

What surprises and disappoints me is his assertion that it is “impossible” for African believers to accept LGBT people and their relationships. You might have said exactly the same in the UK fifty years ago. But people can change: new beginnings and new attitudes are possible. We help each other on that road when we treat people, and especially those who count as ‘the other’ with dignity and respect. Many churches in Africa are in the vanguard of doing that in relation to inter-communal strife – I know that because I worked there. Peace-making can happen in relation to all… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Indeed, Jeremy. It’s fear&loathing of the unknown. If a (Western) lesbian or gay male couple hosted an African student for a year, whatever the Biblical interpretation of that student, the fear&loathing would be Gone, Long Gone… *** Reposting my comments on Justin’s latest from a thread below: Speaking of Welby, has this interview been posted here before? http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/04/19/archbishop-of-canterbury-it-is-almost-impossible-for-some-christians-to-accept-same-sex-marriage/ [I note that it’s credited to the Telegraph] If some find marriage equality an “issue an almost impossible one to deal with” in terms of responding to a wedding invitation w/ a nice gift and joyful attendence, that’s one thing. However, if… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“What surprises and disappoints me is his assertion that it is “impossible” for African believers to accept LGBT people and their relationships.” It’s nineteenth century paternal racism, which believes that white people are capable of insight and change, while black people are all just a little bit savage, and prone to following only their simple hearts. So, for example, if a white man born in 1920 and raised in an atmosphere of pervasive reason uses the wrong word (perhaps “coloured” rather than “black’) of an African-heritage priest, he’s a racist who should be excoriated for his poor use of language.… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“What surprises and disappoints me is his assertion that it is “impossible” for African believers to accept LGBT people and their relationships.”

Indeed, Jeremy, and it also ignores the fact that there is a very large number of African lgbt believers who are campaigning for the recognition of their relationships in their countries.

Africa is not homogeneous, there is no one “African believer”.
We should stand with those African lgbt people facing persecution from their own churches and with great Africans who fight for them, like Archbishop Tutu and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo.

Jeremy (not Pemberton)
Guest
Jeremy (not Pemberton)

The Archbishop of Canterbury is going from bad to worse. ‘[T]here are other groups in many parts of the world who are the victims of oppression and poverty, who we also have to listen to, and who find that issue [i.e., LGBT equality] an almost impossible one to deal with.’ This is ridiculous. He’s retreating from the ‘gay marriage will cause Christians to be killed’ argument, because it is factually suspect, and because it collaborates with the persecutor. So his next argument is that some ‘groups’ who themselves are ‘victims’ cannot ‘deal with’ the fact that elsewhere in the world… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I don’t think Justin is a ‘racist’ and I don’t think he is ‘morally bankrupt’. I do feel that a little caution is merited over sweeping statements, or we end up ‘monstering’ other Christians who we disagree with. In my view, Justin is taking the wrong tack on LGBT issues in the Church of England. I have stated that quite a few times. I am not an apologist for his recent statements or the episcopal letter. However, I am not such a fine figure of a Christian, that I can dismiss the life and personality of another Christian in dismissive… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

[[ When I wrote “pervasive reason” that was the OSX automatic spelling corrector, which I must turn off, catching a mis-typing of “racism”. ]] “I’m trying to paint a picture of this, and all I can come up with is that Africans and LBGTs are together on a vessel called the S.S. Victimhood.” Actually, it’s slightly simpler than that. Welby has fallen for the simple-minded analysis that everyone is either an oppressor or oppressed, but either (simple-minded form) never both or (slightly less simple-minded form) the latter means you aren’t really the former. So either African men cannot be sexist… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

I think the shape of the debate/conversation now has the potential to change. It is interesting that Archbishop Justin has brought testimony into the public sphere – both his own testimony, and that he hears from some of the churches in Africa, as well – in fact – as that which he hears at home: and he is honest about the conflicts in that testimony. However we all know that experience alone/testimony (which is after all narrated experience) alone cannot be determinative of theology – though the impact of experience on lived theology is greater than often acknowledged. And that… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

I never thought that fighting for the welfare of one group logically entailed neglecting the welfare of another group — au contraire.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Reading the archbishop’s assertion that it is ‘impossible’ for African Christians to accept the prospect of Same-Sex Marriage – and, by definition, the reality of legalised homosexual relationships – I am mindful of the scriptural reference to the response of the archangel Gabriel to Mary’s questioning of her call to become the mother of Jesus: “For nothing is impossible for God”. Perhaps here is the ABC’s answer to what seems to be his major problem with African (and maybe his own) acceptance of homosexuality.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

‘However, I am not such a fine figure of a Christian, that I can dismiss the life and personality of another Christian in dismissive terms.’

Nor am I. What I am dismissing is his performance in the job of Archbishop of Canterbury.

Like it or not, that job requires moral authority. At this point, Justin Welby has none.

He has lost it by denying the equality before God of LGBT people.

When you think about it, who is really dismissing lives and personalities?

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Equal Marriage: “There’s nothing to be afraid of, after all it’s only love”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtmHOWHq1ZQ Sorry, but the dogmatic resistance to the lovely reality and actuality of people’s love and desire for consecration of that love in marriage, feels to me like a kind of hardening, and a refusal to open up to underlying acceptance of people (regardless of gender) loving and caring and serving, and the sharing of that relationship with the community, in marriage, and blessing, and Christian love. There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. When a man loves a man (or in my case, when a… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

At root Welby is a “fixer” or “problem solver” who is approaching the situation as just that so “We do what we can, which isn’t much.” He has missed the wisdom of “think globally but act locally” — it is only at the global level that action is constrained (since the WWAC is not a world-church with him at the apex). But locally there is a great deal he could do in England that would actually help to undermine the homophobia that drives the things he rightly condemns in Africa. The point is, whether they do that or not, they… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

This situation is beginning to recall Oliver Twist begging Mr. Bumble for more gruel: “Please, sir, I want some more.” Only the most loyal members will stay in an institution which continues to serve gruel. As marriage equality activists chanted in New York State before we got marriage equality?: “What do we want? Marriage equality. When do we want it? Now.” Mr. Welby’s policies are misogynistic, racist, and homophobic. It doesn’t matter what his motives are. At the very least he is a compromised moral authority. The question is if people are organizing to resist his unacceptable policies. I find… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Interesting. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams was an academic and world class theologian, but his leadership on the human sexuality file within the Communion was not effective. Archbishop Welby, not a theologian, but more of a practical pastor and shuttle diplomat, seems to be deploying a very different set of gifts but with the same unfortunate outcome. It must be something intrinsic to the office of ABC that no matter who the occupant it has the air of a kind of noblesse oblige. The Canadian and American churches ought to be very attentive to what this will mean… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I agree with Susannah here, signs are that Welby’s acting in good faith. For once, I find C.S. Lewis instructive:-

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Thus proving why we do not number C.S. Lewis among the 20th century’s great political philosophers.

I’m not sure I can think of a “tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims.”

If someone manages to become a ruling tyrant, then he or she is not likely to have much of a conscience in the first place.

MarkBrunson
Guest

“Thus proving why we do not number C.S. Lewis among the 20th century’s great political philosophers.”

THANK you.

I’m sick to death of C.S. Lewis, the Anglican world’s Augustine of Hippo – inerrant and omniscient. Ugh. He had a few interesting concepts which he then served up, book-length, in clumsy allegory and ham-handed moralizing, completely undermining their interesting qualities.

Come on. It’s time to let him go, already.

Father David
Guest
Father David

“Mr. Welby’s policies are misogynistic, racist and homophobic” GPG
It would seem from this rather uncharitable comment and other similar unkind comments that Thinking Anglicans is fast descending into a Let’s Bash the Archbishop of Canterbury Blog.
As the late great Tony Benn oft used to say – “Let’s concentrate on the issues not the personalities” and in so doing a little more Christian charity wouldn’t go amiss.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Well, Tobias, if he’s a fixer, it’s no wonder the Anglican Communion is irrevocably broken.

I’ve never seen a more laughable response. It’s like Welby is doing some kind of skit. “Now, when I said we should give in to moral terrorism, people automatically assumed I was saying ‘We should give in to moral terrorism.'”

If this is the best the CofE can do, we need to cut ’em loose.

Andrew Brown
Guest
Andrew Brown

There is, if I may say so, something about the firehose of self-righteousness in the comments here that can be rather off-putting. I don’t like Susannah calling my piece a “hagiography”! I don’t think +JW is a saint, and on the substantive issue of gay marriage I think he’s wrong. But he’s also a bit like Olof, the conscientious object-or, “More brave than me; more blond than you”. His statement that “the Africans” can’t accept gay marriage is entirely true on an official level and we all know this, Of course, tho use “Africans” as a shorthand for “African bishops… Read more »

robert Ian williams
Guest
robert Ian williams

I’m sick to death of C.S. Lewis, the Anglican world’s Augustine of Hippo – inerrant and omniscient. Ugh. He had a few interesting concepts which he then served up, book-length, in clumsy allegory and ham-handed moralizing, completely undermining their interesting qualities.

Couldn’t agree more.. after all, when it suited him he married a divorcee!

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I thought calling out someone’s policies is perfectly OK on this, or any other thread. I’m sure that we all think Justin Welby is a nice bloke. For myself, I found it hard to credit the first time I heard this as an excuse for not consecrating Jeffrey to Reading. Interestingly, as we were told by The Times, Jeffrey came a close second at Exeter and has obviously had the all clear from Welby ….. so deaths abroad because of gay bishops are no longer a problem……. but it seems gay marriage is NEVER going to work. My partner and… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Let’s concentrate on the issues not the personalities”

We are.

If policies are racist, it is not reasonable to fail to say so just because it implicitly criticises the perpetrator.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Oh, Martin, I think he’s a very nice fellow.

That’s about the worst thing I can say about anyone. At least a “right evil bastard” actually has some backbone and believes in pursuing what he believes right!

I do, however, find this continuing assertion of a worldwide “Anglican church” to be nothing short of pernicious. I would at least think Welby less of a complete loss if he would correct that lie, promulgated by his disastrous predecessor (may his name be expunged).

MarkBrunson
Guest

Well, Robert Ian Williams, at least we can agree on something.

I have to say you Catholics have the master in Tolkien (though I always thought his description of Sauron’s temple to Morgoth in *The Akallabeth* to sound a lot like St. Peter’s).

We Episcopalians can, at least, claim to top Lewis with Madeleine L’Engle.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Andrew, I apologise for describing your profile of Justin as a ‘hagiography’. I slipped into a careless use of language and it was unfair because your profile was certainly interesting and informative. I shouldn’t have called your objectivity into question like that. I agree that we should be careful to remain temperate in the words we use, because as I have said here before, I think the *grace* with which we interact in these debates (and church life generally) is as important as the struggle to win doctrinal arguments. So as I say, I am sorry for using that word,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“I’m sick to death of C.S. Lewis, the Anglican world’s Augustine of Hippo – inerrant and omniscient. Ugh. He had a few interesting concepts which he then served up, book-length, in clumsy allegory and ham-handed moralizing, completely undermining their interesting qualities.

Couldn’t agree more.. after all, when it suited him he married a divorcee!” – Robert I Williams –

Go easy Robert. I know you’re tough on divorcees, but I think you should examine more closely the reason C.S. Lewis married this particular divorcee.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Let’s concentrate on the issues not the personalities.” Like it or not, the Archbishop of Canterbury is one person. No one else is responsible for his policies. He is tying himself up in knots because he is trying to balance the desire of CofE members and priests to marry in church, against the homophobia of the Global South. The only reason he is doing this is because he views whether several hundred bishops attend the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference as more important than whether the Church of England marries hundreds of people a year. In other words, people in England are… Read more »

Geoff
Guest
Geoff

‘As the late great Tony Benn oft used to say – “Let’s concentrate on the issues not the personalities” and in so doing a little more Christian charity wouldn’t go amiss. ‘ (Father David)

It’s a pretty impressive display of chutzpah to reply to a criticism explicitly directed at “Mr Welby’s _policies_” with an exhortation to attack the issue and not the person, when Gary’s remarks did just that. If you don’t want the personality _or_ the policies to be criticized, just say so. As written, your rejoinder comes off as a non sequitur.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

‘Like it or not, the Archbishop of Canterbury is one person. No one else is responsible for his policies.’ I don’t know any theory that supports this understanding of leadership. It does not strike me as Christian either, which has a very particular understanding of leadership as shared. So I do not think any of us are absolved from judgement or responsibility for how things are working out. He isn’t ‘one person’. He represents us all actually – and that is partly why it is so difficult. I confess to struggling with the approach he is taking on certain issues… Read more »

Turbulent priest
Guest
Turbulent priest

Put simply, it’s like this: ++Cantuar : “I think you need our help and I am prepared to offer that to you” ++Africans : “We will only accept your help if you do X (on a completely different issue); otherwise we’ll take help from elsewhere or do without” Now what is ++Cantuar to do? Either A: “I have to be able to make my own mind up about X, but my offer of help is unconditional and remains open. But in the end it’s up to you to choose to do what you think best.” Or B: “OK, because I… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Turbulent Priest There is also a C: “If you cannot accept my help directly we will find other ways of giving it directly to the people who need it”. I’m also mulling over Andrew Brown’s comment that not everyone agrees that lgbt issues are the most important topic for the church. Obviously, the church should have resolved the issue a long time ago and now be able to fully concentrate on poverty, human trafficking etc. But it hasn’t and lgbt issues are in the media – partly because they make good news and partly because the church itself consistently puts… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

David R: “he is charged with exercising oversight over a church that is on certain issues close to being ungovernable.” I don’t think the Church of England is ungovernable over issues of sexual orientation and relationships. I think the key is to let the Church govern itself. By this, I mean that local churches should be allowed to get on and exercise their consciences in their local situations. This would result in some priests and PCC’s and local church communities whole-heartedly welcoming lesbian and gay relationships, and celebrating them. In this way, a local church would respond in its own… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“He represents us all actually.”

I think members of the various and autonomous churches in the Anglican Communion might strongly disagree with you.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“And even if [Welby] wants to bring the Church of England round to a more civilised stance with his facilitated conversations, he is quite right that these will take time. You’re never going to persuade everyone, but it’s a reasonable strategy to wait until the opponents are a strange and wholly isolated minority, as happened with women bishops. “Of course to reason like this is to suppose that the problems of LGBT people are not the most important issue facing the church today. Well, they’re not. And people who disagree about that ranking of problems are not on either side… Read more »

John
Guest
John

‘He represents us all actually – and that is partly why it is so difficult … I do not want to forget that he is charged with exercising oversight over a church is that on certain issues close to being ungovernable.’

That’s the crux. If ‘government’ entails everybody thinking the same, it’s absurd and unachievable. If it entails everybody acting the same, it’s ever more unachievable. So why not understand ‘governance’ more loosely? As he seemed to do in his Synod address.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“If a terrorist rang us up and said they would kill a dozen people if we got married, then I think we might delay.”

I confess, Martin, that my gut reaction is to tell this terrorist (if he called Yank *me*) “The United States Air Force has traced your call: look up!”

[Yes, yes, I’m a pacifist. Drones, Bad. But a terrorist interrupting me on my *wedding day* couldn’t count on getting an immediate Christian response! >;-/]

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“I’m also mulling over Andrew Brown’s comment that not everyone agrees that lgbt issues are the most important topic for the church.” Unfortunately, most of the senior management of the CofE think that they are, so in thrall to the idea that the CofE really exists to make sure that the sun never sets on Anglicanism. SSM is legal in this country. It’s no longer, outside the nuttier end of commenters on Telegraph blog postings, a topic of debate. A few elderly curmudgeons are still putting quotation marks about marriage, but for most people, the world has moved on. The… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Andrew Brown’s post is insightful, but not least of all his conclusion, “Of course to reason like this is to suppose that the problems of LGBT people are not the most important issue facing the church today. Well, they’re not. And people who disagree about that ranking of problems are not on either side heretics who deserve anathematising.” One could argue that the positions of both the current and previous archbishops of Canterbury align with such a view. In fact, I think one could find leadership in North America positioned on this same wave length. The advancement of equality for… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Justin Welby is trying to hold things together. It’s a morally precarious exercise but at least he has some anguish about it. Maybe anguish is what Anglicans do best – “it’s all so difficult, what are we to do?”. No doubt he’s muddling through in the best way he knows how. It is though very damaging that English people, Christian and non-Christian, Anglican and non-anglican are not being ministered to due to the geopolitical pretensions of the so called Anglican Communion. Still ++Justin is feeling his way through things without much of a script, a little like his predecessor. On… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

May I respectfully submit that the Church of England is not the only Anglican Provincial Church that has the gender/sexuality issue high ion its agenda. This probably is the true situation for mosr of us around the world. In my own ACANZP Province (New Zealand and Pacific Islands Province), our May General Synod is about to debate these issues in an atmosphere of severe opposition by the conservative evangelical steam – to any affirmation of the Church’s need to bring justice to the LGBTI community, bith inside the Church and external to it. What concerns us most about the Archbishop… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

“He represents us all actually …” If you mean CofE “us all,” that’s up to other CofE to judge. He most emphatically *does not* represent TEC, or any other autonomous church. I am not going to stand for the “one global church” lie any longer. We gave “Cantuar” (which, in itself, is ridiculously pompous) our respect and it was spent away frivolously. Got to get it back, or recognize the authority that goes with it is gone. The ABC’s have, for some time, been absolute disasters and we in the rest of the world can no longer afford their bumbling… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

I have to disagree Ron… the best witness is the Gresham boy ( who didn’t cash in on Narnia) but was deeply upset by his Mother’s re-marriage.

CS Lewis moved the boundaries to suit himself.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Jeremy – there are some interesting reflections appearing on ‘leadership’ in the light of the sacking of David Moyes from Man Utd. In today’s Times (23/4) Daniel Finkelstein challenges three popular assumptions about leadership that for me speak into expectations and critiques of the ABC. 1.The assumption ‘that it is possible to make sensible judgments about performance over very short periods of time’. 2. The assumption that ‘any changes in the fortune of an organisation are down to its leader’. 3. The assumption that ‘it is it possible to separate the success of a business leader from that of his… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

David Runcorn, it has been 18 months since Welby was announced, 14 months since he became Archbishop, and 13 months since he was enthroned. The “grace period” is now over. It is time to evaluate his policies and priorities, which are becoming increasingly obvious. Chief among those policies and priorities is his evident decision to lead, and lead vigorously, on women bishops, but to draw the line there, and throw the conservatives a bone by continuing to discriminate against LGBT people. It’s politically savvy–it offends a much smaller group within the church, and it tries to keep the peace with… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“On the issue of equal marriage, however, he was instrumental in pursuing the very different parliamentary strategy of proposing and securing the infamous ‘quadruple lock.’ Which, thank God, people like Jeremy Pemberton are in the process of picking.” Jeremy

Jeremy Pemberton and I would not have married in a CofE church (or a church of any other denomination), even if it had been possible to do so – we would have chosen to marry in a register office in any event. To suggest that he is ‘picking’ at the ‘quadruple lock’ is, therefore, mistaken.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

It’s disappointing that the ABC is carrying on with this theme. The international human rights community has not attributed a single massacre to gay friendly churches in the West. I don’t doubt that that is what he was told, but given the power struggle happening there, it is beyond credulity to think that a group of murderers took time out from their power struggles to make a statement on LGBT tolerance! The ABC loses credibility every time he opens his mouth and gives affirmation to this claptrap. It is exceedingly hurtful to many for absolutely no gain – except of… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

I’m glad that Susannah Clark and others have stuck to their guns on this – notwithstanding the slip of accusing Andrew Brown of hagiography. I don’t think he has come up with the right tone re Justin Welby in his article, and neither does he get it right in his comments on this thread…those who accuse others of turning on the firehouse of self-righteousness perhaps need to be careful about their words as well. To my mind there are some interesting angles in this thread – not least the contribution from Mark Bennet.

Will Barton
Guest
Will Barton

It is entirely possible to have attended Eton and Cambridge and to have a successful career in business and also to be stupid. I’m not saying Justin Welby is – I’ve not met him – but I have met people from that background who are.