Rowan Williams, as everyone knows, is stepping down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury and returning to academic life as master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University. Ben Myers of Faith & Theology links to an op-ed in which he discusses the transition. The op-ed is full of insight, as we have come to expect from Ben, but he does not overtly address the question on everyone’s mind.
Assuming that the next Archbishop will be more conservative than Williams, someone whose views on a lot of things will be closer to the views of clergy and rank and file members of the Church of England viewed as a global communion, will the longsuffering and patience which characterized the tenure of Williams characterize the tenure of his successor?
I doubt it very much. It will be a time of realignment in which the influence of liberal Anglicanism, already in a phase of retrenchment, continues to decline. It will be much to the advantage of the evangelical and Catholic wings of Anglicanism for the rapprochement underway between them to continue. At the same time, one can only hope that a more conservative Archbishop will, for the sake of the Church, take a page from the liberal playbook and find a way to coopt elements within Anglicanism with which he may have relatively little ideological affinity. These are interesting times.