Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rowan Williams gets God off the hook

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of the Church of England was in New York on September 11, 2001 not far from the World Trade Center. This article tells of Williams' experience that fateful day and the days that followed. What is revealed is a man whose concept of God is quite small.

“When [Rowan] got to the rubric for the homily he was totally surprised; he hadn't expected to preach, so he preached off the cuff. He went back to an encounter that he had with an airline pilot on the streets at 7am that morning. The pilot said to him, “Where the hell was God?” Rowan's answer was that God is useless at times like this. Now that's pretty shocking, but actually what he then went on to unpack is that God didn't cause this and God [was not] going to stop it, because God has granted us free will, and therefore God has to suffer the consequences of this like we do. So in a sense he exonerated God...”

Is it any wonder why the Church of England is in such a state of chaos?

Any thoughts?

How would you have answered the pilot?


Pete Morris said...

Have you told them of your ability in interpretive dance?

Talk about a hook.

Perhaps when Mr. Williams talks of God he should dance instead.

rmkton said...

These questions proffered in the context of tremendous pain and tradgedy are difficult...however the response to the pilot should have been "God is right here..."

This is where I think liberation theology is helpful...rather than have to deal with the issue of sovereignty/will of God/predestination in this context it is more helpful to focus on God as being with us during these times.

Todd Pruitt said...


Well, I find liberation theology, like all half-truths, to be quite unhelpful. It is an entirely this-worldly perspective focused on political liberation. Man's greater need is for liberation from sin and death. Unfortunately liberation theology, like all liberal ideas has no real categories for sin, judgment, heaven, or hell.

Also, as a pastor I can assure you that matters of God's will and sovereign purposes matter a great deal to those who are suffering. Yes we need to be assured of our Father's comforting presence. But there is a profound difference between a God who passively observes the random course of our lives and a God who is truly sovereign over all. I find the later, in addition to being biblical, much more comforting.

case.jess said...

Rowan Williams needs to develop a Trinitarian perspective. God the Father is in absolute control, not a helpless bystander. God the Son has complete authority over all things, including terrorists. God the Spirit is ever and always present...intimately.

Todd, right on concerning LT.

Keep up the blog.

rmkton said...


I didn't say that I buy into all of liberation theology's ideologies concerning its political is just that it emphasizes God being with us in the here and now which is helpful in these situations more than discussions of sovereignty.

I suspect this is another issue we will disagree on but I think we have to be careful of guilt by association. I find that aspects of the gospel can be found in many places beside our (Evangelical) understanding of the faith. Believe it or not...we do not have the market on the truth...I know that will come across as incredibly postmodern, but I believe it nonetheless