Rumor has it: Archbishop to step down in 2012

It is now being reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is planning to step down next year. It is believed that Cambridge University will create a position for Williams so that he can pursue an academic life; he studied, taught, and served as a chaplain at Cambridge.

Archbishop Rowan, aged 61, could serve almost ten more years, since he is not required to stand down until he is 70 years old, however reports indicate he would like to give his successor plenty of time to settle into the role of archbishop before the next Lambeth Conference (probably in 2018), which will no doubt have plenty of difficult issues to deal with.

It is also being suggested that the Archbishop of York would act as a caretaker until the new Archbishop of Canterbury could be selected. Bishop of London Richard Chartres has been suggested as a likely successor as Archbishop of Canterbury. Chartres recently preached the homily at the Royal Wedding, has a close connection to the Royal family, and has had an increasingly prominent place in the media (at least I've noticed and linked this blog to more articles about him in recent months). Interestingly, while Rowan Williams made paving the way for women bishops one of the goals of his reign, Bishop Chartres, a traditionalist, is reported to oppose womens' ordination (which, perhaps more importantly, presumably makes him a traditionalist on sexual issues as well).

The full article from "The Telegraph" can be found here. And some other links are at the Duke Divinity Blog.

Personally, I think this is likely a good change for Anglicanism. Rowan Williams is a gifted academic theologian, but I do not believe his reign as archbishop has been effectual for strengthening the Anglican Communion. I wonder what the election of Chartres could mean for the row within the Church of England over women bishops (since many Anglo-Catholics are threatening to leave for Rome if they do not receive some special protections for their position that, as yet, they do not have), and also for the wider divisions within the Communion.

Perhaps the next archbishop, whomever he may be, will provide a more decisive leadership that will bring the current crisis to some sort of resolution, rather then attempting the impossible task of appeasing all sides of controversial issues, even where they are diametrically opposed to one another.



Anonymous Stephen said...

To continue from my text in a better format:

Think long term, and remember your quote you found: "A person with a sense of history and no sense of destiny is no doubt a very boring fellow; a person with a sense of destiny and no sense of history is a very dangerous fellow."

One side sees scripture as codified historically. They have no greater grasp of how the Holy Spirit continues to reveal in our current time. The other side sees scriptures as outdated. They have no grasp of the broader context of the church.

Both sides are wrong. Rowan understands this, but his problem is that his hand is being forced by both sides. He hasn't been able to stand up to the African churches and tell them their treatment of women and children and assenting to government codifying laws against homosexual behavior is evil. He hasn't been able to stand up to the American churches and tell them their complete and utter disregard for scripture and church law is evil.

My fear is that whoever replaces Rowan instead of taking the long difficult road of painful reprimand, restoration, and renewal will take the easy road of picking a side.

That middle of the road enough for you? :)

1:23 PM, September 12, 2011  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

I also feel that some, in their understandable search for allies to help them stand up for Scriptural teaching on marriage and family, have been to eager to assume that the African churches can do no wrong, so that if something is endorsed by the global south it must somehow THEREFORE be the work of the Spirit.

I believe, the next archbishop should pursue the covenant process with great vigor. This approach has been criticized by many GAFCON types as being too weak to deal with the crisis, and by many in TEC and other "liberal" areas as being too heavy-handed and sure to lead to a papal-style autocracy. The other option that could perhaps work is seeking a way to elevate the authority of the Lambeth Conference to be a bit more "binding" on certain time of "Communion-wide" issues (and more like our General Conferences).

3:24 PM, September 12, 2011  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

As we've discussed before, the problem with Anglicanism seems to be that, while individual provinces or national churches have decision making mechanisms, there is not authoritative voice that can address and resolve communion-wide issues (which in a globally connected world are more likely to emerge in the future). They need such a mechanism. In the United Methodist Church we are fortunate to have a General Conference that makes binding policy for the global church (and, even as we seek to find ways to equally empower all regions of the church and be less US-centric, we should also be careful not to water down that gift of authority).

3:27 PM, September 12, 2011  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Excellent analysis.

The Anglican Communion has no voice because they have no connection.

Again thinking long term: I believe it to be a symptom of the Protestant Church. Think of the history of the Anglican Church forged in disagreement with Rome over the "head" of the church. Protestantism breeds a way of breaking off from those we disagree with to form our own faith. I've seen Baptist churches in the same town "break off" because of versions of the Bible!

And taking newton's law seriously we have what happens on the other side. Clamping down on rules and regulations, setting tighter and stricter boundaries. Faith becomes adherence to a series of creeds, articles, sayings, and laws that becomes stricter and stricter in reaction to the free for all on the other side.

The only sure way to hold these things in tension is through a connection. A Rule of Life if you will. Shared by all followers, and the agreement that we will adhere to similar values. Methodists have General Conference. Our connection, however tense at times, is still the strength of our denomination.

We all come to the table, we all confess our sins, we all are unworthy to receive God's grace, and yet Christ's sacrifice is sufficient and love is proclaimed.

You are right. What the Anglican Communion needs is connection. I am saddened that both sides seem to be unwilling or unmotivated to seek this. Instead as I have pointed out they feed the evil that seeks to divide the communion.

My point still remains. I thought Archbishop Rowan realized this as well, but I am not so sure that the next Archbishop will be so longsuffering in his demeanor.

Who knows maybe the sea needs to be parted before it can be restored.

5:14 PM, September 12, 2011  
Anonymous Stephen said...

This minister has an interesting concept that I think would severely damage the "connection"...

UM Reporter

3:00 PM, September 13, 2011  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Yes, if we embraced the philosophy behind that article we could stand up and preach that God's command is "thou shalt not AND thou shalt have other gods before me" "thou shalt not AND thou shalt commit adultery and murder." Good coherent message.

On the other hand, I've been reading Philippians to prep for upcoming lectionary texts and I'm amazed how often the Scripture teaches believers have the same mind and to walk in one accord and live in agreement and unity. This guy's postmodern philosophy makes that sort of conformity to the New Testament teaching utterly impossible, though I think that is at some level exactly what he is going for. Like the folks in Psalm 2 who are saying "Let us rid ourselves of the boundaries given by the Lord and his Christ. We'd rather do it our own way." It all gets back to that fruit in the garden...

8:01 AM, September 14, 2011  
Blogger rob said...

"I'm amazed how often the Scripture teaches believers have the same mind and to walk in one accord and live in agreement and unity."

Something we are supposed to strive for, even if it doesn't happen in our lifetimes. Something the church seems to have failed at consistently, perhaps for as long as she's been around.

Maybe it needs to be done from the bottom-up, as well as top-down. I don't know.

1:44 PM, October 03, 2011  

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