Carol Platt Liebau

Sunday, January 02, 2005

This is absolutely appalling. In discussing the terrible devastation wreaked by the tsunami, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (the titular head of the Episcopal/Anglican Church worldwide) has informed all of us that "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."

How, exactly, is it wrong for one's faith in God to remain constant, even in the face of tragedy? It's perhaps understandable for the tsunami to raise hard questions, and perhaps it's not necessarily sinful for terrible suffering to elicit some uncertainty about the existence or role of God in this world. But that doesn't mean the converse is true -- that because it's not wrong to doubt, it is wrong not to doubt.

Rowan Williams' theological pandering and lack of leadership is one of the reasons so many Episcopalians are becoming increasingly alienated from their Church. It's admirable if he is trying to reach out to the suffering and the doubtful -- but should it be at the expense of sound theology? It's human to doubt, of course -- but our religious leaders are supposed to help us understand why we shouldn't, not to tell us that we should.

After all, doesn't the Bible tell us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our might? Surely there isn't an exception for the case of a devastating tsunami, is there, Archbishop Williams?


Blogger Rebecca Necker said...

Hi, that's an interesting thought you've had there. I didn't really notice it -- that he's saying it's wrong not to doubt God in circumstances like these. You're right, it's not necessarily wrong either to doubt or not to doubt. I think the archbishop is a crypto-atheist, myself, and wrote a piece to say as much (it's here).

I'm not religous, so it doesn't trouble me whether Rowan Williams believes in God or not, but what is a bit objectionable about the article is there's a hidden instruction to believers not to think.

11:35 AM  

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