THE Archbishop of Canterbury was in defiant mood this week, as he spoke of his hopes for the Lambeth Conference. He was positive about its strong mission agenda, which he believes should put into perspective the debate about sexuality.
In an interview for this paper, Dr Williams admits to feeling “frustrated”, and even to having “kicked the furniture a bit over the last few weeks”. But he is clear in his analysis that GAFCON (News, 4 July) was not just about the biblical interpretation. “The vast majority of Anglican theologians and Anglican leaders have an absolutely clear commitment to the authority of scripture in the way we always have,” he says. Rather: “There are major ethical and cultural anxieties about sexual ethics here.”
He affirms the Anglican approach as being able to encompass plurality, without any one view undermining the basis of scriptural authority.
In the long term, the Anglican Communion would survive, he argues. “We may be less obviously at one for a few years, but that doesn’t let us off the obligation to keep listening to each other.” The model of diffused authority was part of the essence of Anglicanism: “If we did have a tight central model, we would cease to be the kind of Church we have always set out to be.”
The Church does, however, need to keep up to date with the new speed of global communications: “When something which happens in one province is instantly around the world, you have to go for a more coherent structure.”
When pressed about the personal hostility he has encountered, Dr Williams confesses to “feeling really whingeing” about the idea that he might be “incapable of talking to the person in the pew”. He jokingly painted a picture of himself “hiding in a foetal position under the bedcovers” if the situation gets any worse, but he remains resilient.