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 Archbishop doubts existence of God

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The Asian tsunami disaster should make all Christians question the existence of God, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, writes in The Telegraph today.

In a deeply personal and candid article, he says "it would be wrong" if faith were not "upset" by the catastrophe which has already claimed more than 150,000 lives.


Prayer, he admits, provides no "magical solutions" and most of the stock Christian answers to human suffering do not "go very far in helping us, one week on, with the intolerable grief and devastation in front of us".

Dr Williams, who, as head of the Church of England, represents 70 million Anglicans around the world, writes: "Every single random, accidental death is something that should upset a faith bound up in comfort and ready answers. Faced with the paralysing magnitude of a disaster like this, we naturally feel more deeply outraged - and also more deeply helpless."

He adds: "The question, 'How can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?' is therefore very much around at the moment, and it would be surprising if it weren't - indeed it would be wrong if it weren't."


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2005/1/3 19:34Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Archbishop doubts existence of God

Hi Greg
Far be it from me to defend Rowan Williams, but I don't think he is saying he 'doubts the existence of God'. There have been other bishops in the Anglican church who got close to that, and certainly some who denied the personality of God.

Rowan Williams is saying that such events [i]should upset a faith bound up in comfort and ready answers[/i]. He is right to say that the question 'how can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?' is around at the moment. I think these events do make us pause and think; which is why I wrote last week's devotional on this theme.

The Anglican church is a peculiar creature. Most anglicans will have no sense that Williams 'represents' them. Their connection to the wide anglical communion has practically no impact upon their lives. When I was an anglican we had almost no contact with other local anglicans but were actively involved with baptists, and pentecostals, and many others. Our 'anglican' links were something of an embaressment but not too much in our minds. A little like having a distant member of the family who had done something shameful.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/1/4 4:01Profile
KeithLaMothe
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Joined: 2004/3/28
Posts: 354


 Re:

It is indeed a strange creature. I once was at a lecture by N.T. Wright; quite interesting. There were a number of good jokes, and while discussing the situation before the ecumenical movement (that apparently gave us the worldwide "Anglican" communion as it stands) there were a number of Anglicans ministering in Africa, and they wound up praying with a number of brothers from a split-off group (possibly Episcopalian). This caused something of a significant stir at the time, and the Archbishop of Canterbury responded with something along the lines of:

"I am sure that this inter-denominational communion was infinitely pleasing to our Heavenly Father... and that it must never be allowed to happen again."

I don't think anyone outside of the British Isles could pull off that kind of humor.

 2005/1/4 4:51Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

and I thought the Americans couldn't understand the English!

There's an old story of an West Indian lady who arrived at an Anglican service with an enormous tambourine. "you can't play that here, madam" said the man at the door.

"But, brother, I've met the Lord," she replied "I have such joy in my heart. I'm saved, I've got religion!".

"well madam," replied the man at the door "you certainly didn't get it here!"


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Ron Bailey

 2005/1/4 7:34Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

It's more than that wonderful accent... :-)

Quote:
Rowan Williams is saying that such events should upset a faith bound up in comfort and ready answers.


Tempted to lift this phrase and move it over to the Christian Book Store thread, in fact may still.

But is this not part of the larger problem? That what can be portrayed betrays reality and experience? Even scripture itself, by contorting and giving shallow, even half-truth sentiments to the brutaliies that this life offers?

Certainly the Lord didn't nor did He offer an answer to every question under the sun. As our brother Ron pointed out in an earlier thread mentioned here. Is it not enough to [i]weep with those who weep[/i]?

[b]The Greatest Danger—Life[/b]

"Life is a far greater danger than death. I want to say something, crudely, but very definitely: the Bible nowhere says that men are damned; the Bible says that men are damnable. There is always the possibility of damnation in any life, always the possibility of disobedience; but, thank God, there is also always the possibility of being made “more than conqueror.” The possibilities of life are awful. Think—are you absolutely certain that you are not going to topple headlong over a moral precipice before you are three years older? Look back on your life and ask yourself how it was you escaped when you were set on the wrong course—the tiniest turn and you would have been a moral ruin? Disease cut off with a tremendous fell swoop your companions—why did it not cut you off? The men with you in your youth who were so brilliant—where are they now? Out in the gutter some of them, all but damned while they live. Why are you not there? Why am I not there? Oh, it does us good, although it frightens us, to look at the possibilities of life. May God help us to face the issues.

Unless a man’s peace and prosperity are based on a right relationship to God, it may end in a sudden and terrible awakening. We never know whether the next moment is going to bring us face to face with green pastures or a hurricane. The Bible reveals that here is a ruling principle at work in this world that hates God, and when we take sides against that principle there is the very devil to face. That is the Apostle Paul’s argument here. When we are born again into the heavenly kingdom, then come tribulation and anguish, then come persecution and famine, then come nakedness, peril and sword; then comes life, and then comes death—mocking us with paradoxes and puzzles we cannot explain. The possibilities and perils of life are enormous. It is only when some such considerations get hold of men who are bound up in “a show of things” that they begin to see the need for Jesus Christ’s Redemption."

[b]The Greater Deliverance[/b]

"I have been drawing a very dark picture, you say. I have not. It is not within the power of human tongue or archangel’s tongue to state what an awful fact death is, and what a still more awful fact life is. But thank God, there is the greatest deliverance conceivable from all that life may bring and from all that death may bring. Jesus Christ has destroyed the dominion of death, and He can make us fit to face every problem of life, more than conqueror all along the line.

Let God have His way, and He will turn the drama of your life into a doxology, and you will understand why the Psalmist breaks out with the words, “O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Jesus Christ can make the weakest man into a Divine dreadnought, fearing nothing. He can plant within him the life that was in Himself, the life Time cannot touch. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth . . . hath everlasting life,” that is, the life Jesus had, so that a man can face all the powers of hell with a conqueror’s tread. Heroics? No, heroism. Heroics sound all very well on a stage, or on paper, but heroism works in flesh and blood, and Jesus Christ makes us flesh-and-blood dreadnoughts. Not all the power of the enemy can fuss or turn aside the soul that is related to God through the Atonement."

Oswald Chambers
The servant as His Lord.


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Mike Balog

 2005/1/4 9:04Profile
mloaks
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Joined: 2004/5/13
Posts: 129
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 Re:

Concur. Rowan did not imply what this thread's title did. A cheap shot?

 2005/1/4 10:47Profile
KeithLaMothe
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Joined: 2004/3/28
Posts: 354


 Re:

It wouldn't be a cheap shot in the normal sense, just a misunderstanding.

 2005/1/4 16:57Profile
crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

In all fairness came across this again and wanted to share. The original posting here was taken along with the headline from elsewhere and had been unfortunately portrayed with that dubious heading from snippets out of the whole. After a little searching got back to the original, the complete text;

[url=http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/sermons_speeches/050102.html]Article on the Asian tsunami for the Sunday Telegraph – [/url]

And a follow up as well;

[url=http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/releases/050101.html]Statement issued in response to Sunday Telegraph story[/url]


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Mike Balog

 2005/1/7 10:01Profile
Agent001
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Joined: 2003/9/30
Posts: 386
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 Re:

Checked the links from crsschk.
[i]Sunday Telegraph[/i] is the one making the [b]cheap[/b] shots!

Pray for the media!


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Sam

 2005/1/7 18:24Profile





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