Wednesday, November 14, 2012

+Justin Welby: Reconciliation or Irreconcilable Differences

Fr. Dale Matson
* Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:28-31)

+Justin Welby has been selected as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. I am relieved that I will soon no longer be praying for ++Rowan Williams as ABC. It has been a long ten years.  I have some concerns regarding some of +Justin Welby’s statements. His central focus in his ministry is reconciliation. Reconciliation is one of the main goals of the church of Christ but like many words today, reconciliation has a contemporary meaning. The contemporary intent is not the reconciliation of sinners with God. The intent now is to resume a conversation between liberal and conservatives within the Anglican Communion. Conservatives are weary from years of listening to liberals that press forward a false gospel of inclusion as justice at the expense of leaving behind the transforming love of Jesus Christ that requires repentance and adherence to Scriptural and historical norms. This amendment of life is the response to God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ.

++Rowan Williams triggered suspicion early on with his professed willingness to respect the mind of the communion while openly disagreeing with it on GLBT inclusiveness. We are at a point in some provinces now where the mantra of “All the sacraments for all the baptized” has become a reality under the approving eye of ++Rowan Williams. +Justin Welby has already signaled a willingness to “listen” to the concerns of the GLBT community. Reconciliation for liberals really means willingness to compromise Scriptural standards. A willingness to listen really means collaboration and being co-opted.

As head of the Anglican Communion, +Welby should be considering true reconciliation. He could be considering reconciliation with the historical, holy catholic and apostolic church. He has already stated his advocacy for women bishops in the Church of England. His myopic view was shared by his predecessor ++Rowan Williams and my concern is that we are looking at ++Rowan Williams phase two.

While there is meager background evidence available on +Welby because of his brief tenure as a bishop, what is available in interviews and speeches indicates his liberal leanings. There are those who will condemn the public expression of my misgivings so soon after the selection of +Welby. My response is that after ten years of covert betrayal of conservatives, the burden of proof is on Canterbury. Will Canterbury reflect the established and enduring truth of Scripture, Tradition, the vast majority of the membership of the Anglican Communion and the church universal?

I am not the only one watching. While +Welby was congratulated by some conservative primates, he was also put on notice that they were holding him accountable to the enduring standards of Scripture and the teaching of the Apostles. It is past time for the ABC to be primarily the head of the Church of England and secondarily the head of the Anglican Communion.

 * Epistle lesson for Feast day of the Consecration of Samuel Seabury first American bishop.   

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