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archbishop of canterbury, rowan williams

November 25th, 2005 by isaac · 4 Comments

I am a huge fan of the current archbishop of the Anglican communion. His theological work continues to provide new horizons for my explorations in theology. I would have to say his book on the history of Christian spirituality, The Wound of Knowledge, is a must read for those interested in exploring the resources of spiritual practices of the church through history. If that book strikes one as a bit too academic, his recent book on the spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Where God Happens) does the same sort of work, but on a more popular and focused level. Maybe Where God Happens is a good point of entry into The Wound of Knowledge. And from that inroad, there is a growing theological corpus awaiting discovery—e.g. On Christian Theology, Arius, Resurrection, The Truce of God, Grace and Necessity, etc. If you are looking for good ideas for christmas gifts, I think Christ on Trial might be a good bet. Of Williams’ work, that piece offers the widest appeal. I already distributed a few copies this Fall as birthday gifts.

And, for all you web junkies, Archbishop Williams has a great website worth checking out. You can find all kinds of sermons and lectures and other cool stuff. Look here: Rowan Wiliams. I also added it to the list of links.

Tags: theology

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Drew // Nov 25, 2005 at 9:49 pm

    Yeah ++Rowan is pretty awesome. The last book of his that I read was a little one called The Dwelling of the Light. It’s a cool book about praying with icons of Jesus, a pretty neat introduction from a Western, but very appreciative, perspective. You know, he says his first real encounter with the living God was in his teens at a Russian Orthodox service. His Q&A with the Anglican primates of the Global South was pretty interesting in general: Questions to the Archbishop of Canterbury. (Question #11 is about his personal testimony.)

  • 2 isaac // Nov 26, 2005 at 4:58 pm

    Drew, good call on The Dwelling of the Light. What a great devotional book! I gave that book to my sister last year for Christmas. She likes it too.

    I will have to take a look at that Q & A with the Global South. I have been very interested to see how he mediates between the African bishops and the Americans in this whole discussion of homosexual clergy. In an address this past June, archbishop Williams offered the possibility of ties of friendship in the midst of a broken communion (look here). He spent most of his time presenting the arguments of both sides of the division. Then he said, “We can’t ignore the seriousness of what divides us. But if there is no easy solution, we can at least think about this simple suggestion. If it is difficult for us to stand together at the Lord’s Table as we might wish, can we continue to be friends?” Now, this may sound cheesy, but I think it is significant for a number of reasons. First, I find it completely amazing that Williams doesn’t engage in some anxious battle to keep the unity of the church. There is no anxiety in his ecclesiology, no iron grip on the communion as something he must control. Rather, he seems to see his leadership role in the church as sustaining the lines of communication. And that means presenting each argument in the best light possible in order to spur conversation. Secondly, this idea of the “friendship of the church” is so creative. I mean, he doesn’t replace the eucharistic bonds with bonds of friendship. That would be the “lest common denominator” approach to unity. Instead, he comes up with a description of friendship of the baptized. That is creative: “Friendship in Christ is a willingness to share prayer, to listen without rancour to one another, to respect and even enjoy difference, to be patient with each other, not expecting quick healing of divisions but not walking our every time difference raises its head.” I think that is a great way to help those divided in his communion to keep talking and arguing with one another. There is still hope for reconcilation if there are bonds of friendship that are honest about their differences, their disagreements.

  • 3 John Rasmussen // Nov 26, 2005 at 8:12 pm

    You might want to check out Rowan Williams’s recent lecture at the islamic university at Islamabad:

  • 4 Drew // Nov 26, 2005 at 11:37 pm

    Isaac, I was really struck by that sermon, too. I wrote an entry with my reactions to it here. I love how he chooses to keep in view the whole prophetic point of the Church.

    The Anglican Communion, and the position of Archbishop of Canterbury in particular, is very interesting in that there is no central authority, like a pope. In talks between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, especially via the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the issue of a centralized authority has come up. A representative from the Roman Catholic Church has even indicated that that is why the Anglican Communion is having such headaches as the homosexuality debate today (there’s a blurb in this article at the end here, haven’t found anything else more specific).

    So far, Williams hasn’t said much, in terms of “taking sides,” which as you indicated he seems to view as not within his job description. I think it’s wise, but I also think there’s something to be said for strong moral leadership, especially when someone like ++Akinola is ready to do the job, which, it seems to me, would be disastrous for the Anglican Communion.