Rowan Williams Exegetical Soft-Shoe Shuffle

I once read that Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, had a problem being understood. The problem was that his thought is so profound that it confuses those of us with lesser intellects.
I’ve just read his comments made to Toronto theological students regarding Paul’s comments on homosexuality in Romans 1. It seems that according to Williams, the apostle Paul has the same communication problem. What seems plain in Romans 1 to the ordinary reader is in fact just plain confusing. Seemingly when Paul writes about men being filled withshameful lust’, ‘committing indecent acts with one another’ and being guilty of ‘perversion’ he was not condemning homosexuality. He is according to Williams not making a primary point about homosexuality but about self-righteousness. Instead he was urging Christians not to judge one another. At the same time Williams agrees that Paul and his readers regarded homosexuality as immoral and being so on the same basis as idolatry.
Williams argument that homosexuality is not condemned and condemned at the same time is just too profound for me! I think I’ll stick with Paul who wrote, ‘I did not come to you with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed the wisdom of God.’ Unless of course I’ve misunderstood this as well.

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4 Responses to “Rowan Williams Exegetical Soft-Shoe Shuffle”

  1. astudent Says:

    Well I have to laugh. I probably laugh a little too much, but I see humor in places others do not. I am no mental heavyweight, but I played one once.
    Actually I admire those with great intellect, but like you (I think) I see that it can be a disadvantage as well as an advantage.
    Intellect is like wealth to some extent. It can be used to gain understanding, or wasted on pleasure. Too many times I have observed those blessed with a great mind waste it trying to show others how smart they are, and they were.
    It seems that sometimes a man with intellect will not try to simplify an understanding before building their own understanding. Something like starting on the second floor to build a two story house.
    Well, that’s my comment, unless of course your post was about homosexuality and not intellect and I misunderstood you as well.

  2. sibbesian Says:

    Thanks. Your reply gave me a smile. My point was about intellect. I think there is a character in Pilgrim’s Progress- and if not there should be- who faces both ways at once. Enter Rowan Williams.

  3. Feargal Says:

    It seems to me that Archbishop Williams was trying to have a bet each way. Yet, what was Paul actually attacking? Lust is wrong, for heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. Why did Paul single out homosexual lust? Why did Paul condemn ‘suphroi’ (the closest we can come to is transvestite, but with a penchant for dressing up like underage boys) in 1 Corinthians in the same sentence as homosexuals?

    Could it be that homosexuality as we understand it may not be the issue, but the vicious Graeco-Roman view of sexuality, which by necessity applauded lust, multiple partnering, pedophilia as part of normal adult behaviour?

    Remember the quote on Caesar; “He was every womans man, and everyt mans woman”.

    Perhaps if christians more directly attacked LUST, it would clear the air.

  4. sibbesian Says:

    Even if Paul were dealing with Graeco-Roman sexuality it was still expressed in homosexual terms which he condemns. I do not think that we can escape the Bible’s clear rejection of homosexuality.
    You are however right I think that we must be careful as Christians not to elevate homosexuality above other sexual sins which equally undermine God’s design for human sexuality. Having said that it is out there in the arena of contemporary debate because that is where the homosexual lobby have chosen to put it.

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