Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Rowan Williams

Rather bizarrely, I found myself chatting to Rowan Williams recently. I suspect he is both more theologically orthodox, and more passionately concerned with personal holiness than a lot of his critics either are themselves or give him credit for, as well as working much harder.

Of course, that doesn't mean he's a master of soundbites. He's a very bright guy, and a very knowledgeable guy, and he tends to assume that other people can keep up with him. Oddly, if he talked down to people more, he might be easier to understand, but at the cost of being a less nice person.

Compare the following two quotes. Rowan Williams is more accurate, even "sounder" and closer to being comprehensive. But Rico Tice's is a better soundbite.

We are more wicked than we ever realised, but more loved than we ever dreamed.
Rico Tice, Christianity Explored

The human condition is more serious and more terribly damaged than anyone wants to hear; but the resource of God's self-emptying love is greater than we have words to express.
Rowan Williams, Easter Sunday 2010


Liam Beadle said...

I am increasingly liking ++Rowan. This, for an Easter Day sermon, is just superb. Thank you for posting it.

John said...

Full sermon here.

Daniel Hill said...

Why do you say that the quotation from RW is more accurate and sounder than that from RT?

John said...

Although Rico's is true, as a soundbite it can lead people to the conclusion that we are only ever wicked and incapable of anything good. Rowan points back to the original creation as good by using the phrase "terribly damaged".

That was what I was thinking of anyway. One could also discuss who the "we" is - does it include Esau, for example.

Daniel Hill said...

But Rico is right, assuming that `we' refers to people after the Fall and before regeneration, that we are only ever wicked and incapable of anything (spiritually) good.

I'm also surprised, knowing you, that you didn't say that Rowan's `the resource of God's self-emptying love is greater than we have words to express' was self-contradictory.

Lydia said...

I wouldn't have said it was self-contradictory - if so, only in the 'to know his love that surpasses knowledge' kind of sense...which I just think is rather amazing!

Daniel Hill said...

Lydia, I agree. I was teasing Custard, as he rubbished one of my favourite theologians, John Murray, for writing `the unspeakable horror of Hell', claiming that this was a self-contradiction.

John said...

I assumed an implicit "except apophatically" at the end of Rowan's comment...

Oh, and here's Calvin - Institutes 2.3.3

In every age there have been some who, under the guidance of nature, were all their lives
devoted to virtue. It is of no consequence, that many blots may be detected in their conduct; by the
mere study of virtue, they evinced that there was somewhat of purity in their nature.

The issue is "spiritually" good - we might know that what Rico says is true, but in the normal sense the words are used it isn't true.