The Prime Minister has today announced the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the former Bishop of Durham Justin Welby. Welby has not had a long background in the Chuch of England, coming from the oil industry before training in theology.
He is already known to be on what the BBC website describes as “the evangelical wing of the Church, closely adhering to traditional interpretations of the Bible with a strong emphasis on making the Church outward-looking.” He will focus on trying to make the church more inclusive and tolerant, and brings to the table his ability to negotiate and diffuse potentially divisive debates.
Whilst this is something the Anglican Church will welcome, it is not the Biblical approach to solving some of the big issues in society today. He is a passionate believer in women priests, which the Bible speaks against in places such as 1 Corinthians 14v34: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but they are to be submissive.”
His views on homosexual relationships are not so well known, although he is reported as saying: “We must have no truck with any form of homophobia in any part of the Church. I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the Church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed in honesty and in love.” Again, the emphasis is on personal opinion and political debate, not on what the Bible teaches.
It is worth bearing in mind that Jesus never advocated the appointment of bishops or archbishops. There were merely groups of believers who met in groups, and there would be some elders appointed to certain tasks. This is the reason Christadelphians have no appointed leader (see here). The role of an archbishop as leader of the church appears to go against these verses:
“There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2v5, showing that we have no need of any other mediator than Christ.
“He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church” – Colossians 1v18, showing that we should think of Christ as the head of the church and not a man.
It will be interesting to watch what direction Welby will take the Church of England in , but it will undoubtedly be a more inclusive and all-embracing one, which itself may well be at odds with the message of God for the believer to be separate: “As he who called you is holy [meaning separate], you also be holy.” (1 Peter 1v15). The basis for all the believer’s decisions needs to be the Word of God, and not the political thinking of man.