I do value the comments on the blog, they often clarify my thoughts and recently some of the contributions have formed the basis and inspiration for blog posts. A recent comment today has set me thinking about whether Rowan Williams is much like Jesus in that Jesus often refused to answer questions, as in Luke 201-7 when he asks the religious teachers by whose authority John baptised, and when they will not answer him (for fear of alienating the people) he responds in like.
I think Rowan Williams is a good and holy man, I think the job of being Archbishop of Canterbury is an impossible task, I am sure he is as much like Christ as other Christians, possibly more so than some. I am not convinced though that his “pass” cast him in a Christ like mould.
Jesus did often answer a question with a question or story. Jesus was often questioned by those who longed to incriminate him, but his response to the religious leaders in Luke seems to me to be a way of trapping them in their own caution and political expediency, not retreating behind his own fears. Jesus always had the courage of his convictions, he never felt it wasn’t his job to have an opinion and he wasn’t afraid to speak out, especially when he saw injustice to the weak, or hypocrisy on the part of the religious leaders.
Lesley wishes Rowan Williams would be candid, I do as well. It isn’t so much a case of won’t answer, more daren’t answer. I sometimes wish he would have the courage of his convictions. He reminds me, not so much of Jesus, but of Chamberlain clutching his piece of paper and declaring “peace in our time.” He also reminds me of the Aesop’s fable in which the man tries to please everyone and pleases no-one.
There have been calls for Williams to be more prophetic; there have been prophetic voices, but I do not hear his among them. I wish that he would heed the call of those such as James Jones and Michael Perham, who have suggested that we accept a diversity of views. Seeing as there IS a range of conscientious opinion, their pleas are surely not unreasonable or so terribly divisive – the world really would not come to an end.
What has not been discussed as much is William’s intimation that he may not continue in the role much longer. The prospect of the unholy row that may ensue between liberals and traditionalists over his successor doesn’t bear thinking about. The day may come when we long for William’s gentle evasion. When it comes to the hopes of liberal Christians, Williams has been neither prophet nor saviour, but we might all find it a case of better the devil you know.