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Welby would have been no match against the late John Stott in debate over hot button issues


By David W. Virtue DD
May 16, 2024

It should be apparent by now that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, still owns the Church of England and still holds sway over the majority of the communion's primates, even though he does not have the allegiance of his orthodox wing -- GAFCON and the GSFA and 70% of all practicing Anglicans.

This week he was awarded an honorary doctorate and a knighthood for services rendered, though many believe his services have been less than sterling and in fact his tenure as archbishop has been a wrecking ball of bad theology and decisions that have gone against the majority of global Anglicans. He has been called on to resign several times.

He has capitulated to the pansexualists, openly embraced women bishops, none of whom show the slightest interest in the gospel, pandered to all manner of woke issues and has, most egregiously alienated his catholic and evangelical wings of the church.

Is there anybody who could or would stand up to him? Certainly not his obsequious bishops or the Archbishop of York. The hierarchical chain forbids public opposition. Polite disagreement but nothing more. The day still ends with a glass of whisky ol' chap. Elitism runs in Anglican veins.

Welby not only faces serious opposition from his Anglo-Catholic and evangelical wings but from numerous other Anglican bodies that are thriving in England. He does not need to bow the knee to Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda or the Sudan, because at heart he is a colonialist and he holds the view that to be Anglican you need the ecclesiastical and historical authority of Canterbury.

Gafcon and GSFA can huff and puff but they will not blow the house (the occupant of Lambeth Palace) down. Welby is a survivor.

However, there is one person, had he been alive, that could have publicly challenged Welby and that is the late John R. W. Stott. Why do I say this?

Firstly, Welby and Stott have similar educational backgrounds; Eton and Rugby and of course Cambridge and the requisite theological training.

Welby would have had to acknowledge that Stott was and is his equal. He was the leader of the Church of England's evangelical branch, the founder of the CEEC; his Christianity Explored outreach from All Souls, Langham Place paralleled and was superior in many ways to Alpha of which Welby was an advocate and member. (One of its leaders recently resigned from the Church of England).

Furthermore, Stott had the gravitas Welby never had. J.I Packer could have challenged Welby but he had moved to Canada, which Welby could blow off. But not Stott.

Stott was firmly embedded in London, he had a global ministry overriding anything Welby had, was widely respected by both liberals and evangelicals; travelled extensively, taught in seminaries, wrote volumes of commentaries and books which Welby has not done, and most of all stood firmly on the authority of Scripture in any debates that Welby might choose. David Brooks of the New York Times wrote of Stott in his obituary, that if America were ever to have an evangelical pope it would have been Stott. In my view that is correct, though Stott himself would have eschewed any such notion.

Stott, in his polite British way would have skewered Welby leaving him lifeless at the palace gates.

He would have thrashed Welby over human sexuality issues, beaten him back over slavery and his groveling before ancient historical sins and the multiple woke issues Welby now endorses and embraces. He would have seen through the duplicity of the LLF report and efforts by bishops and clergy to broker homosexuality into the church.
Welby would not have stood a chance against Stott.

Even if Welby won the property, pews and pension calls, Stott would have won the theological and moral war leaving Welby in the dust, and everybody would see it. Welby could not escape his theological fate. He would be publicly humiliated; he would hang his head in shame and no DD or knighthood could overcome a battle he would have publicly lost. Welby would have been no match for Stott.

The sad outcome of all this is that Welby will not resign; he will last till retirement in two years; he will retire rich with inherited money, despite wanting to give a billion pounds of the church's money to anti-slavery organizations.

But he will be remembered by those of us who knew him as a loser; the history books will record the truth that he failed as an Anglican leader, undoubtedly the worst in my lifetime, and I have lived through five archbishops going back to an interview I had with Archbishop Donald Coggan in the 70s.

The communion may end with a whimper not a bang, but it will end for Welby in well-deserved humiliation and shame. Deuteronomy records these words; "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!" Sadly Welby has chosen the pathway of spiritual death.

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