Packer calls on Williams to resign

There is quite a small club of us who have publicly called on Archbishop Rowan WIlliams to resign. In December last year I did so myself, here. This Februrary I quoted Tom Jackson writing this in a comment on Ruth Gledhill’s blog, and I reported here that an “anonymous senior churchman” had made the same call. Williams has perhaps had a bit of a break since then, but this week at GAFCON, as the BBC reports (and Doug Chaplin mocks, I hope the Nigerian church’s libel lawyers are merciful to him),

Nigerian bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma called for Rowan Williams to resign with immediate effect.

But the real news today is what the leading Anglican Evangelical J.I. Packer ha said. Somewhat surprisingly, Packer is not at GAFCON but in England, in fact in Eastbourne which is on his friend Bishop Wallace Benn’s territory while Benn is away at GAFCON. The following was reported by Hugh Bourne who heard him speak, and quoted by the Church Times blog:

Packer stated that Rowan Williams’ views about homosexuality (documented before becoming A of C, and not changed since) mean that he is not qualified to lead the Anglican Communion and enforce rules layed down at Lambeth in 1998. Big Jim was clear, “Rowan Williams should resign”!

Ruth Gledhill reports what appear to be Packer’s actual words:

I would say with great respect Archbishop, I believe that the way of wisdom is for you to resign.  Now that of course is very bold and tough talk and if I wasn’t in my 80’s, I might not feel that I had the gall to answer your question in the direct way that I have done, but that is what I would like to say to the Archbishop and I believe that it would be the kindest thing to say to him.

Ruth wonders if Packer is still a significant figure. Well, Ruth, even in this modern age there is more to being a significant figure than using computers and mobile phones – something we bloggers always need to remember.

Despite my reservations about some of Packer’s views, on this matter I find myself in good, and significant, company.

0 thoughts on “Packer calls on Williams to resign

  1. It’s own libel if it’s not true. And since you’ve falsely accused me of libel, you’d better hope my libel lawyer is kind to you. You may or may not be in significant company with Packer, but it’s certainly arrogant company. His excuse is old age. What’s yours?

  2. No, Doug, I am not accusing of libel, only of writing something which might interest libel lawyers and might require you to provide documentary proof, which will be difficult in the case of your “two short planks” remark.

    No, Doug, you don’t have to be stupid or senile to realise it, it should be obvious to all that the Anglican church could be in better hands at this time of crisis.

  3. So sad.

    All I see in all of this is more and more of why the Church doesn’t do power well. I don’t hear the voice of God in any of this ‘discussion’, only peoples own traditions and such speaking for them.

    When we hole tradition and history with the same reverance and Scripture, we are in trouble. Silly people that we are. No wonder the world questions where God is when his own people so easily desert him for pointless and irrelevant debate.

    No wonder Jesus got angry with the religious leaders. Many Christians today feel the same, and with good reason too.

    Those who lead are under greater responsiblity. Let’s not dare get on a high horse, and repent if we find ourselves on one.

    For Jesus’ sake.

  4. Indeed, Jamie. I must say I wonder how long I can stay in the Church of England when the people at the top, on both sides of the current disagreements, are so “religious” and dependent on empty traditions.

  5. Peter, I completely disagree. I think the church is where it always is, in the hands of God. In human terms its in the hands of a prayerful thoughtful and holy man who is refusing to play the games of power politics, and “my authority is bigger than yours” which all sides around him are urging on him. He is trying, it seems to me, in the face of almost impossible circumstances to create a situation in which people can still try to obey the command to love their enemies. Both liberal and conservative voices can be heard saying it’s time to stop the loving and get on with the smiting.
    I would have thought, after all you’ve said urging people to exercise discernment rather than rush to judgement about Todd Bentley, and asking us to accept that God can work through an imperfect man, that you might be willing to extend the same courtesy to Rowan Williams. But apparently not.

  6. The pattern of discernment I’ve heard in referring to Todd Bentley is ‘what’s the fruit?’. Well, using the same method here the ‘fruit’ is disunity and division.

  7. Doug, I am not the one rushing to condemn a bishop. I reported Packer’s call. I also reminded readers that I had made a similar call. While I did not retract that call, I did not repeat it. I simply noted that the church could be in better hands. You may disagree if you wish, but I take Jamie’s point that the current disunity and division, while not Rowan’s fault, are not a sign of strong leadership.

    I suppose you can make a point that the leadership the church needs is not strong but meek and servant-like. Yes, in some ways Jesus was like this, but not in others. The actual church leadership we see in the New Testament, in Peter, James and Paul, was not weak, “thoughtful” and vacillating (except where condemned, in Galatians 2:11-14) but authoritative and decisive. That is what the Anglican Communion needs in the current crisis.

  8. I have to agree with Doug. I think Rowan is a thoughtful and prayerful man, and I think he is doing his best in an impossible situation.

    Personally, I think the people who should resign are the African archbishops at GAFCON who refused to condemn violence against gay and lesbian people. As the father of a lesbian daughter, that scares me far more than Rowan.

  9. Tim, I agree with you that the African archbishops should have unequivocally condemned violence against gay and lesbian people. But they do have to take into account the opinions of their flocks. I don’t say that to excuse them, but to inject a note of realism here. Just as there are things which cannot be said in the West, so there are things that cannot be said in Africa, or by African leaders.

  10. Actually, Tim, I can also agree with “Rowan is a thoughtful and prayerful man, and I think he is doing his best in an impossible situation”. The trouble is that his best is not good enough. I think there are other people, not African archbishops (well, maybe Sentamu), not anyone at GAFCON, who could do better.

  11. Actually, Peter, it occurs to me that you’re promoting a double standard here. You’re saying that in deciding whether or not they should state unequivocally that violence against gay and lesbian people is wrong, the African archbishops are right to take into account the opinions of their flocks. But you do not give Rowan and the western archbishops the same leeway.

    And since when are leaders supposed to follow the opinions of their flocks. Isn’t it a failure of leadership that you are condemning in Rowan? Is Jesus impressed that the African archbishops refuse to speak out against those who would kill or beat or maim gays and lesbians ‘because they have to take into account the opinions of their flocks’? Would Jesus not speak out even if there were ‘things that couldn’t be said’?

  12. The Anglican church in Nigeria abdicated it’s moral authority when it not only condoned but approved of the laws denying gay people the right to assemble on pain of a prison sentence. Any British Anglican cleric who does not denounce this law also has no moral authority.

    ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ does not include imprisoning gay people. This concept is fairly easy to understand. ‘Hating the sinner’ is being condoned by some and encouraged by others.

    True colours and true fruits are showing. It’s not Williams who needs to resign.

  13. Tim, it is not for me to say what Rowan should be doing. But it seems to me that he is fiddling while the church burns around him – as I wrote last December. Decisive action is needed, but none is forthcoming. As I wrote then, Rowan

    may well share with some of the Primates “a deep desire to put the question decisively behind us as a Communion”, but it takes more than a deep desire to do this, it also takes decisive action.

    When I wrote that I saw some hope of the decisive action being taken. And maybe it has been taken behind the scenes. If so, I trust we will see the results at Lambeth, and then I will be able to modify my opinion of him.

    So perhaps the time for calls for resignation is not now, but after Lambeth if it should turn as disastrously as seems likely. I think the best we can hope for is an anticlimax, lots of bishops pretending to be nice for a couple of weeks while skating around the real issues. Of course if Lambeth turns out to be a triumph for Rowan, then he would not need to resign, but I am not holding my breath for that.

    Again, Tim and Pam, I do not condone what the African archbishops are saying or not saying. Like Rowan they are compromising, an ancient Anglican disease, looking to what is acceptable to their flocks rather than to the truth of God. But I am not going to tell any archbishop exactly what he or she should do as I am not in full possession of the facts.

  14. Anglicans are not in agreement with each other on the issue of homosexuality. That fact is not going to change. Rowan can’t wave a magic wand and make that change.

    So what are his choices? He can side with the conservatives who say ‘Revisionists should be excluded from the Anglican Communion’. Or he can side with the liberals and say, ‘Fundamentalists should be excluded from the Anglican Communion’.

    Or he can say, ‘We Anglicans are not in agreement on this subject, but we are going to continue together as a family and work together despite our disagreements’. That is a more costly road of leadership, I think, and that’s what he’s doing.

    Those who disagree with him say, ‘This is so fundamental that we think we’re justified in breaking up the communion over this’. But I ask, Why? What makes this so bad that we can’t hold the ship together? After all, all sorts of other disagreements exist in the Anglican Communion (just war and pacifism, for example).

    I think Rowan is showing leadership, Peter – you’re just not comfortable with the direction he’s leading in.

  15. Pingback: Packer on Williams | The Ramblings of Hughbo

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