Thursday, October 22, 2015

Why Anglicans should give Rowan Williams a break

Over and over again I encounter, in person and in writing, Anglicans who complain about what a bad job Rowan Williams did as Archbishop of Canterbury. They posit that all of the current problems of the Anglican Communion are in some way his fault through action or lack of action. It might seem incredible, but many Anglicans actually seem to hold him personally responsible.

This is of course completely off the mark, though many don't see it. Here are some reasons why Anglicans need to give Rowan Williams a break, take stock of themselves , and quite simply, "get over it".

1) The problems in the Communion (the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the Anglican Church of Canada especially) had problems long before Rowan Williams became Archbishop. Even if you want to blame him for not putting all of the wrongs right, there's a danger of too easily assuming that he was in some way the cause of the problems. Don't be deluded, they go way back.

2) As Archbishop, Rowan Williams faced circumstances which were singular in their occurrence. No other Archbishop has faced the particular circumstances, in the particular time, with the particular pressures, with the particular people, as he did. It's all too easy to apply hindsight bias to all of his decisions (or lack thereof), to all of his actions (or lack thereof) as though we are so wise and of such great integrity that we would have gotten it all correct.

Give me a break.

How many people who criticize and have criticized Rowan Williams honestly think that they could have and would have done a better job when faced with the circumstances and pressures?

3) Whatever you think of him based on his job as Archbishop, you must not forget that Rowan Williams is a man of God, someone who has served the Lord for longer than many of us have even been alive. The job of Archbishop is an administrative role. By Williams' own admission he may not have been the best suited for it, but he took the job on because he was called to do so. He heeded the call and did the best that he could with the skills he had. As such we should thank him for his service and all of the service he has provided and continues to provide, not demonize him.

4) All administrators face criticism from multiple angles, no matter what they do or don't do. Yet, it seems that many Anglicans have fallen into character assassination of Rowan Williams. Having read his books and listened to his sermons, I cannot understand why so many want to pick this man apart simply because he was not able to do a job which, let's be honest, was probably impossible to do (see point #2 above). So it is a problem with angry and disappointed Anglicans more than it's a problem with Rowan Williams. Disliking and saying nasty things about him because of his job as Archbishop accomplishes nothing other than making you a bitter and less like-able person.

5) The above four reasons are particular to Rowan Williams and the circumstances. But there's a fifth and overarching reason of great importance and that is this: If you are a true Christian then you must be more humble, more forgiving, more willing to put yourself in the other man's shoes. I will ask again, do you honestly imagine that in dealing with the mess that the Anglican Communion had become that you would have done a better job?

If so, I suggest that you write to Justin Welby immediately and tell him all of your brilliant ideas because the Communion surely needs it. Or, you could pray and ask to remain humble and that our leaders would remain humble to the Word as well. And you might just spend a little time asking yourself why you've been so angry and using Rowan Williams as a scapegoat all of this time. Maybe you should pray to God the Father and ask him for forgiveness for that.

Update October 27th, 2015: Don't take my word for it, Justin Welby speaks of Williams in this interview.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

300 Prophecies

Probability of one man fulfilling just 8 prophecies was calculated to be 1017.