Is Justin Welby a Wobbly? [Updated]

Two Recent Reports on Archbishop Welby’s views, a Tweet and a Radio Interview:

1. Telegraph March 8th – ‘Archbishop of Canterbury opposed gay sex and adoption’:

The Archbishop of Canterbury voiced opposition to same-sex couples adopting children and insisted that the Bible is “clear” that gay couples should not have sex, previously unpublished writings show.

2. Bishop Nick Baines March 8th – ‘Growing up ‘

Now, I know anyone in public life is not allowed to have been a child or to have grown or changed. I realise that my own archive of parish magazine articles, etc. might be found to contain expressions that might embarrass me now. This is what happens to human beings as they grow up.

The bizarre thing is that anyone thinks this is anything other than story-creation. The Archbishop might or might not hold to views held or expressed in the past. I have no idea, and he can speak for himself. But, the notion that he should now be entirely consistent with what he said or thought or wrote twenty, ten or five years ago is utter nonsense. It simply suggests that he should never have grown up.

What matters is what he thinks now. The journey there might also be interesting. But, the fact that he might have said things or thought things in the past matters little”¦ except, of course, to those looking for contradictions

3. Tweet from Archbishop Welby on March 8th

Good blog (as ever) by Bishop of Bradford, unrequested by me. .

4. Iain Dale March 12th – ‘Archbishop Softens Line on Gay Marriage’

Iain Dale: You said once that you’re always averse to the language of exclusion and what we’re called to do is love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us, how do you reconcile that with the church’s attitude on gay marriage?

Justin Welby: I think that the problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally, it’s called equal marriage, but the proposals in the Bill don’t do that. I think that where there is”¦ I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way”¦ you know that the love that there is is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say. And civil partnership is a pretty”¦ I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way. It’s not the same as marriage”¦

Iain Dale: But if it could be made to work in a way that’s acceptable to the church you would be open to discussions on that?

Justin Welby: We are always open to discussions, we’ve been open to discussion, we’re discussing at the moment. The historic teaching of the church around the world, and this is where I remember that I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans, not just the one million in this country, has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life. And it’s such a radical change to change that.

I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.
[Audio by subscription here March 11th]



Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

10 comments on “Is Justin Welby a Wobbly? [Updated]

  1. sophy0075 says:

    Not so much confused as disappointed.

  2. Katherine says:

    I wish the Archbishop would read your next post, “Pope Francis: In his own words.” Either our created nature is God-given, and we are called to obedience, or it isn’t.

  3. DTerwilliger says:

    Disappointed also. If it is difficult to say that the Church cannot endorse homosexual behavior and that such sexual partnerships do not belong to the Kingdom of God, how can one every expect to be believed when they preach the Gospel’s call of repentance and faith? It is a double standard to call people to such a life but have an exception clause for a certain few.

  4. driver8 says:

    My own view is that the CofE House of Bishops is like a ship without ballast. They seem to lack the settled confidence in the ethical teachings of classic Anglican Christianity when forced to navigate the storm winds of contemporary western culture.

    There’s a more or less consistent pattern over the last 100+ years – first the classic Anglican teaching is affirmed but an exception is made, then the exception is taught as the norm, then the classic teaching is denied or prohibited. One might think of the grounds for divorce, or remarriage after divorce, or the use of contraception, ordination of women etc. etc. Not infrequently the process goes so far that bishops forget that they have even forgotten the classic Anglican teaching. It’s like a corporate form of Alzheimer’s.

    Here we see the Archbishop, who seems a good man, and less than 15 years ago was able clearly to affirm the classic teaching of the church, almost desperate to please. I’m sure that as an individual he has a strong and clear faith but come on, don’t seem to be embarrassed by your faith, don’t play down its distinctive claims or hide them in so much waffle that they become like rain wrapped tornados – potentially powerful but concealed behind a curtain of words.

  5. DTerwilliger says:

    Well stated #4.

  6. Terry Tee says:

    Interesting that he gives the (real) number of Anglicans in England as 1 million.

  7. Dr. William Tighe says:

    With regard to #4, may I point out that Edward Norman made such an argument, in detail and at some length, in his book *Church and Society in England 1770-1970: A Historical Study* (Oxford University Press, 1976).

  8. Teatime2 says:

    No, I’m not confused. I am as certain as ever that the churches need to separate themselves from civil, secular marriage as soon as possible. It is very clear that the “marriage is a civil right” brigade have only just begun.

    What we’re seeing here is what happens when an undoubtedly sincere and devoted priest becomes an archbishop/head of a government entity and tries to reconcile the differing agendas. It could happen here, too, unless clergy refuse to act as an agent of the state when they officiate weddings.

  9. MichaelA says:

    Bishop Nick Baines’ comments on his blog say volumes about +Baines’own attitude towards truth and consistency. He casts his comments about progressive learning and maturity, but what he is really saying is something like this:

    “Look, about ten years ago ++Welby said things that you and I find deeply shocking, but he can change his mind, and he is an Anglican bishop so we can be confident that he will change his mind”.

    The things that +Baines finds ‘deeply shocking’ (his own words) include that Reverend Welby “voiced opposition to same-sex couples adopting children and insisted that the Bible is clear that gay couples should not have sex”. Wow, you mean he actually once held to a mildly traditional and normal view on the issues?

    It should not be surprising to find that a senior bishop in the Church of England like Nick Baines is an open supporter of the LGBT agenda – the number of CofE bishops who *don’t* support it must be very small. But +Baines is also being disingenuous in his treatment of ++Welby’s former opinions:
    [blockquote] “But, the notion that he should now be entirely consistent with what he said or thought or wrote twenty, ten or five years ago is utter nonsense. It simply suggests that he should never have grown up.” [/blockquote]
    It would also suggest that he is not to be trusted; that anything he says now can no more be relied upon than anything he said ten years ago.

    Furthermore, ++Welby’s opinions stated a mere ten years ago are part of the reason that many people currently trust ++Welby to be an acceptable Archbishop – they think that he is not wholly committed to the liberal cause, that he can at least have some understanding of the interests of non-liberals. +Baines’ words will give them serious pause for thought. According to him, ++Welby can disclaim any orthodox opinions which he has stated in the past, at any time.

    “Trust in bishops to state their opinions and stick by them” – who needs it? Not +Nick Baines, apparently.

  10. Katherine says:

    On the other hand, according to [url=]Anglican Mainstream[/url], here is Archbishop Welby, on the BBC today, 17 March:[blockquote]My understanding of sexual ethics has been that, regardless of whether it’s gay or straight, sex outside marriage is wrong.”….Welby is adamant that the government were wrong to legislate to enable gay couples to be married. “They haven’t even achieved their objective. It’s a bad piece of legislation. It hasn’t resulted in equal marriage, in the sense we understand marriage. They have created a new institution that they label as marriage, and then say that it’s equal, only it’s not…This is a radical change to one of the most fundamental building blocks of society, and that is hugely important. A law that changes marriage from being about covenant to being contract is a weakening of the glue that holds society together.[/blockquote]Which is the real Archbishop?