it may just be that we have been given rowan williams 'for such a time as this'

craig uffman is co-founder of the covenant site and on the fulcrum leadership team and he has written a very insightful piece about the place of ++rowan in our current 'embarrassing moment'. I think it is fantastic, so I copy it in full here


Much has been said from all bearings about Rowan Williams, laying blame at his feet for our humiliation as a particular part of the people of God at this particular time. “If only he would have _____…..”

Perhaps the GAFCON movement is indeed the working of the Spirit the way its leaders claim in their declaration. Many voices have weighed in on that question and it is not my purpose to consider that question now.

There are the those who have declared Rowan Williams irrelevant, in words remarkably similar to the refrains that have ever mocked authority in the euphoric moments at the barricades of history. My concern here is to observe that his detractors on all bearings continue to underestimate and misunderstand Rowan.

A key to understanding Rowan is his understanding of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, and the gospel entrusted to us: God has acted toward humankind and God’s Word to humankind is that God chooses from eternity to be in relation to us in spite of our rejection of grace. In other words, God is the One whose relation to us is utterly undetermined by our own actions: God chooses to love so that we might be.

Rowan’s understanding of Christian ethics is derived from this. In response to that Word, following Christ means being that presence to others whose relation to them is utterly undetermined by them so that they might be, and in being, become part of God’s way of blessing humankind richly.

Therefore one cannot expect Rowan to allow his relation to others to be determined by their actions, for he has resolved in advance to remain in a relation of Christ-centered fellowship to them no matter how much their actions testify to the Fall rather than to Grace. And when a brother sins, he goes to Matt 18:15-18 in order to help them see what Christian fellowship demands, but with the understanding that we are called always to provide sanctuary even for the brother who rejects our fellowship through his volition as reflected in his refusal to repent.

The notion that Rowan will choose to turn his back on either TEC or GAFCON does not take account of Rowan’s theology of what it means to be a resurrection community. He acts consistently, I think, according to that theology. It is maddening to those of us who want things resolved in a timely manner, or in line with a particular result (cast out the sinners, now! said the crowd in a frenzy). For these calls for a primatial separation of the sheep from the goats is exactly that: our own prideful reversion to the ways of the world.

I quote below from his Christ on Trial:How the Gospel Unsettles Our Judgement (p. 9):

Mark’s trial narrative passes sentence on our understanding of power and significance. Without this strange moment at the heart of the trial, we might be left with a false clarity about God and how God is recognized in Jesus: God becomes the illustration of what is highest or strongest for us. This applies not only to the crude identification of God with success or domination, and the resulting belief that failure in the world’s terms somehow indicates God’s absence; it applies also to the identification of God with what seems to us wisest or holiest, most spiritually impressive….It may be that we hear God most clearly in such moments of obstinate detachment from results and successes. People at times make gestures and stands, not for the sake of dramatizing their beliefs or for the sake of any result that might be guaranteed, but because there is simply nothing else that can be done with honesty.

Rowan regularly writes of “the ‘obstinate uselessness’ of witness to God’s truth.” Later in this chapter:

How very tempting…to turn our emotional energy and imagination towards a ‘better’ Church, away from the embarrassing present moment. Nonetheless, it is here, in Jesus crucified and in the struggling and failing community, that the coming of the Human One in glory is made visible to the world.

I am deeply thankful that the Lord has given us Rowan as Cantaur at this time. What extraordinary moral courage it must take for him to resist the demands of those who would have us turn away from our embarrassing moment and place our trust in the power of a confessional plumbline. My prayers are with and for him.


Anonymous said...

Nice to see an evangelical who appreciates the Archbishop, instead of the Jensenites and their funny new religion

jody said...

there are more of us than you might imagine - we're just not as loud as sometimes I think we should be....