During the testosterone-fuelled boom years, Christian faith was about surviving in the City, but since 2008 and the revelation that it was all built on sand, Christians have been saying unequivocally that the gospel is non-negotiable, that working in commerce isn’t about surviving as a Christian but about transforming the way we do business, that Christianity is disruptive of systemic greed and corruption: that, in short, their work serves their faith and not the other way round. They are converting markets, not just people. These are the new Power Christians.
Welby is their spiritual, as well as titular, leader. Born in 1956 into a privileged, if eccentric family, he has managed a tension between descent from a powerful Conservative dynasty (on his mother’s side, he is a scion of the Butler family, which gave us Rab Butler, the deputy prime minister to Harold Macmillan) and skeletons in the family cupboard (it was seen fit to conceal his paternal Jewish-immigrant lineage from him until he became an adult).
This background may have contributed to Welby the Outsider, part of the establishment but also a thorn in its side. It is no surprise that the relentlessly bourgeois HTB couldn’t contain him. Note that he considerably widened not only his social but his theological circle after he left the Knightsbridge church. Via Africa and the Middle East, he arrived as dean of Liverpool Cathedral, where he operated what he and Dr Williams have dubbed a “mixed economy” of traditions. Now add that eclecticism ”“ one might even call it a catholic taste in denominations ”“ to the can-do attitude of the City whizz-kid and you have someone who can tap effortlessly in to the energy of any kind of Christian witness….
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