Archbishop Welby: Necessary questions and necessary prayer

From Australian Church Record

Justin Welby’s appointment as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury has been widely welcomed by Anglican Evangelicals. The recent biography by evangelical Andrew Atherstone describes his sudden rise through the Church of England as ‘meteoric’, and his appointment as a ‘significant change’ for the Anglican Communion. Although he rarely describes himself as an evangelical in public, his spiritual formation, shaped largely by his conversion whilst at Cambridge University, the Alpha movement and Holy Trinity Brompton in London, is much more positively evangelical than that of his predecessor. He is clear in his commitment to evangelism, mission and church growth, even having smuggled Bibles with his wife into Czechoslovakia and Romania during the oppressive regimes of the 1980’s. He affirms the importance of marriage in its biblical and heterosexual sense, having spoken against the UK gay marriage bill in June 2013. Locally, he sees the need for the UK’s law and social order to draw on its ‘rootedness in Christ’, and globally he has also been hailed for his commitment to reconciliation work in the cause of which his own life has been at times in
jeopardy.

While it is important to affirm what is good and we desire to honour the historic role of the See of Canterbury, the fabric of the Communion has sustained very serious damage over the past ten years. The Anglican Communion in the West has been seriously compromised through false teaching and lack of doctrinal and moral discipline on the part of its leadership: namely, the defiance of the 1998 Lambeth statement on human sexuality (Resolution 1.10) by the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, and the failure of the ‘Instruments of Unity’ to remedy the situation. Given the attendance of bishops from the unrepentant churches at Lambeth in 2008, it would therefore be naïve to assume that Archbishop Welby’s appointment means a simple return to ‘business as usual’ for biblical Anglicanism.

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