Now the dust is beginning to settle after Rowan Williams’ comments regarding Sharia law, I feel prompted to make an entry on the topic. Not the topic of Sharia law, but the topic of Rowan Williams. In the past few days I’ve grown heartily sick and tired of hearing the same three things being repeated about Dr. Williams from every quarter.
Firstly, I’m fed up of the media hailing the Archbish as either the spiritual leader of the world’s 800 million Anglicans, the spiritual leader of the Church in this country, or both. Secondly, I’m tired of being told by the same people what a remarkably intelligent man Williams is. And thirdly, I’m getting fed up of media pundits and analysts of the news telling us that it’s precisely because Williams is so clever that no-one can understand what he’s talking about most of the time.
Do these three things stack up? In what way is Dr. Williams my ‘spiritual leader’? Well, search me. And I’m a member of the Anglican church! And is it good to have a spiritual leader who seems totally incapable of articulating the Christian Gospel? Or of articulating anything in a straightforward way? And if the media’s elite, along with politicians and even some Anglican clergy struggle with what he’s saying, what of the ordinary person in the street?
Some commentators have suggested that the Archbish should resign and go into academia where he’d be more use. I wonder if he’d be better employed weeding a herb garden in a monastery. The habit and sandals would fit the image perfectly. And, as long as he felt the need to drink lots of water, it would be scriptural! (‘Hoe, all ye that thirsteth’ [Isaiah 55:1])
Chris Lazenby is Tutor in Theology at the Midlands Bible College.