Man on a mission: Archbishop Justin Welby
IBTimes UK asked two opinion leaders with vastly different takes on the Church of England to outline the future they foresee for newly-anointed Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Terry Sanderson, director of the Secular Society, and an anonymous Christian commentator who blogs under the name Archbishop Cramner gave their perspectives on the man who has assumed the highest position in the British church.
Justin Welby was formerly announced as leader of the world's Anglican communion, numbering more than 75 million believers. The old Etonian who became wealthy in the oil industry before turning his back on it by taking up a religious vocation, vowed he would be "humble but firm."
Tough times could be ahead, as Archbishop Welby faces competing demands from different sections of his flock. How to reconcile advocates of gay marriage with those within the congregation who strongly oppose it, is just one challenge ahead for him
Below are two persceptives on the post and its new incumbent.
Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society. www.secularism.org.uk
"It would be good for society and for the church to take out of government control decisions on the new Archbishop and that means dis-establishing the Church from the State. It should not be a political decision but for the church. For instance, when Margaret Thatcher was PM she appointed George Carey for purely political reasons because she thought him weak politically.
"I would advise Archbioshop Welby to look at what has happened in the USA where the religious right has become very vocal and very right wing and very conservative. They have been put in their place by the people at elections. If Archbishop Welby is anti-gay that indicates to me that he will be going in the wrong direction from where society is moving.
"He's already set his face to a losing battle which will make the problem worse for the church itself, as the government nears legalising gay marriage. The church will come into conflict with the government more and more, so it needs to get off the political bandwagon and concentrate on saving souls.
"In a society which is developing like ours and is becoming much more diverse and has religions from all around the world, I think it's very undesirable for one small denomination from one religion to have this status. It's not right when you have people from all religions, but who are denied 26 representatives in the House of Lords, making laws which we all have to live by. I don't think the Church of England can sustain this status for much longer because it's becoming smaller and smaller all the time."
Website of 'Archbishop Cramner'
'Archbishop Cramner,' Christian blogger. @His_Grace www.archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk
"The age is not conducive to reverence, and the media not inclined toward respect. In the years he occupies the Episcopal Chair of St Augustine, the Rt Rev'd Justin Welby will doubtless be unjustly criticised, mocked, pilloried and systematically misrepresented. He will be caricatured as an Old Etonian, ridiculed as an oil merchant, ignored as he preaches theology, and dismissed as he speaks politically. The Lord told his followers to expect as much, and to rejoice in the adversity.
"But where Bishop Justin was educated is far less important than how he inspires the Church of England's 4,700 schools. His former employment is less relevant than his obedience to a vocation of holiness. And his insights on banking reform will always be secondary to his commitment to the gospel.
"As the media focuses relentlessly on peripheral issues of gender and sexuality, the servant of God will concern himself with the primary task of preaching Christ and Him crucified, and then healing the sick, feeding the poor, housing the homeless and educating the ignorant. It's what the Church of England has faithfully done for centuries, whatever the ephemeral obsessions of the age."
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