Miniblog #145: My Perspective on the New Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
This past week the Church of England announced its selection for the new Archbishop of Canterbury: Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby. A number of individuals11.Anglicans and non-Anglican alike. have asked what I thought of him. I was quick to reply that a life philosophy of mine is that when you don’t know what you’re talking about, admit it.22.Otherwise you’ll come across as a blowhard, dunce, or idiot. Quite literally the only facts I knew were that he was a white Englishman from the evangelical camp who’d succeeded N.T. Wright as Bishop of Durham. Since then, however, I’ve done a fair amount of research and am now prepared to offer my tentative perspective: While I remain a fan of Rowan Williams, I’m finding myself rather quickly coming to like Justin Welby as well. From what I’m seeing, he’s committed to intently listening to those with whom he disagrees and is serious by temperament yet loves self-deprecating/witty humor.33.I like this man already. Bishop Welby grew up in a broken home and without significant means, sent his children to public schools, and has experienced personal tragedy with an alcoholic father and a child’s death. Colleagues from the business world say he doesn’t come off as “churchy.” He’s theologically just right-of-center, has a passion for social justice, is egalitarian, and supports traditional marriage but isn’t a jerk about it.44.To put it in American terms, he’s neither a progressive nor a fundamentalist. From what I gather he’s something of a party outsider who exhibits steadfast integrity while challenging the status quo.55.To give two examples, he was originally rejected for ordination by a liberal bishop and openly criticizes unethical practices from the conservative banking industry. Perhaps most importantly, he has good, strong relationships with Archbishop John Sentamu and the Global South. It seems to me he’s the sort of irenic, principled pragmatist around which the Anglican tradition was historically formed. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner. In the coming months and years my prayer is that Archbishop Welby will, by the God’s grace, be able to help heal the Anglican Communion and save it from fragmentation.