We have recently (and rightly I think) been quite critical of actions and words from +++Welby over the past few weeks but during Holy Week it is worth us stopping and remembering that in our current occupant of St Augustine’s Chair we have a man who clearly professes orthodox faith as we understand it with none of the caveats and finger-crossing that others need and we should take him at his word. As Canon Philip Ashey recently wrote,
When Archbishop Welby recalled the nation in his sermon to the role the Church played in freeing slaves, he was also recalling the example of that great Anglican William Wilberforce. William Wilberforce began his crusade against slavery in the face of almost impossible opposition. He faced political powers and structures utterly compromised by the profits from the slave trade. He faced personal attacks and ridicule for years. But his leadership never waivered in the face of those attacks. He persevered with grace and determination– courage empowered by faith in Jesus Christ– through vote after vote until Parliament voted to abolish the slave trade.
That is exactly the courage empowered by faith in Jesus Christ that Archbishop Welby called the nation, the Church of England, and indeed the Anglican Communion to embrace in the days ahead. In the spirit of Philippians 2:3, it must be the faith-empowered courage he is calling himself to embrace, like Wilberforce, in the face of almost impossible challenges to hold the Anglican Communion together without compromising Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of all. Such courage needs company. One place he can surely find such company is in the counsel of the GAFCON Primates, who wrote to him before they departed:
“We greet you on this day of celebration and assure you and your family of our prayers for your future ministry.
We are grateful for this opportunity to worship in Canterbury Cathedral and be reminded of our historic faith that is grounded in the revealed Word of God.
We encourage you to stay true to the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ and as you do we will stand with you for the sake of Christ.”
May we continue to pray for Archbishop Welby and his family, for courage empowered by faith in Christ Jesus, and for good and godly counselors to stand with him in that courage all along the way.
+++Welby was on this week’s Songs of Praise on the BBC and spoke clearly of his own Christian understanding and key moments that formed it.
Amidst all our concerns that ought to be moment for encouragement. For all his faults and for all our fears let’s not lose sight that we thankfully have a man who speaks unambiguously of objective faith in the Lord Jesus Christ of the Scriptures and commit to pray for him that going forward he would make the right decisions for the sake of the Communion, the wider Church and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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