Head Episcopalian Thinks He’s French

Well, perhaps not, but he would seem be attempting to out-surrender them when it comes to logical thinking. Melanie Phillips lays it out for us:

First, he used his sermon at Canterbury Cathedral to rebuke the most prosperous for having yet to ­shoulder their load in the economic downturn.

And then in an article for yesterday’s Mail on Sunday he wrote that the poor should be absolved of any responsibility for their own circumstances.

Ah, yes. We are all victims, unless we are wealthy. Hezekiah 3:14, if I remember correctly.

[T]he notion that those who have behaved immorally or irresponsibly should be treated in exactly the same way as those whose behaviour has been irreproachable is itself profoundly amoral.

Of course, no one chooses to be poor. But some people do choose lifestyles that cause them to become poor — such as choosing not to work, or deciding to bring up children on their own.

And what was so disturbing about Dr Williams’s observation was that he seemed to be negating the importance of such choices.

Indeed, by demonising the better-off while investing the poor with a halo, he came close to suggesting that wealth — however honestly or arduously earned — is intrinsically evil, while poverty is a holy state.

Sounds positively medieval, doesn’t it? If one didn’t know better, one would think the good Archbishop was simply re-purposing some papal bull from the 1300s.

Dr Williams’s view, however, effectively treats the poor as less than human. The essence of being human, after all, is to be capable of moral choice. And all of us, rich and poor, are capable of making those choices.

The choice to be honest rather than fiddling the benefits system. To work, however demeaning the job, in preference to taking state charity. To bring children into the world only where there is a committed father to help bring them up.

But if people who make immoral — or amoral —choices benefit from these, that creates a fundamental injustice throughout society. For there is no surer way of undermining and demoralising those who refuse to cheat the system or who are living lives of self-restraint and responsibility.

Yet that is precisely what our non-judgmental culture of dependency has given us — the moral degradation of an entire society.

The Bible does not say that all judgment by humans is proscribed. Rather, in the famous “judge not lest ye be judged” section, we are reminded that we cannot use one set of rules for others–thinking that we are exempt from those same rules ourselves. Such an understanding of judgment serves to restrain us from thinking that we are better than others and encourages us to temper our judgment with mercy and grace. A complementary passage is the one which says “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The good Archbishop’s apparent attempt to absolve those who are materially poor–with no regard to the actions which put them (and in many cases hold them) in that state–is completely without biblical basis and speaks to his sad surrender to modern politically correct thinking.

Do go read the entire article.

2 thoughts on “Head Episcopalian Thinks He’s French

  1. Readers would do well to read the Archbishop’s statement itself. It sounds quite different from the propaganda Ms. Phillips imagines. Williams offers no blanket absolution for the poor (at least no more than the Christian forgiveness that Jesus promises all of fallen mankind, rich and poor). He acknowledges that some people are in poverty due to their own bad choices, that some people (rich and poor) suckle at the teat of the “benefits culture.” But he also recognizes that most people in poverty don’t choose poverty.

    Williams speaks of volunteer work he saw in Greece:

    “I saw the work done daily in Athens by church volunteers who feed several thousand destitute migrants. I visited an inner-city parish with a formid­able programme of local relief, community education, holiday clubs for kids and so on.”

    Are those church volunteers supposed to quiz their beneficiaries to determine fitness for receiving charity? Of course not. Treat every man according to his deserts, and none shall ‘scape whipping.

    Williams says in the same address that you so criticize that the Church is called to help all people learn to make better choices, to live more confidently, fearlessly, and generously. That applies as much to helping the poor learn to provide for themselves as it does to helping the rich escape greed — all so men of all ranks may turn outward to serve others. Williams doesn’t let anyone off the hook.

    1. CAH,

      Unfortunately for the Archbishop, the church is not called to “help all people make better choices, live more confidently, fearlessly and generously.” The church is called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Right choices, confident living, proper fear of God rather than man and generous lifestyles are the out-workings of changed hearts. But changed hearts require that we consider hard-core theology.

      When it comes to assisting the poor, we should most definitely ensure that the behavior which placed someone into a food line or assisted housing, etc does not perpetuate as the result of our help. Anyone who is responsible for corporate charitable giving (from a church or other religious non-profit) understands very well that not everyone who comes with a fine story and broken-down shoes is to be helped. Financial resources are limited–and so we must be discerning as we sort real needs from false ones. If we do not, we enable continued bad choices and fail to help some of those in actual need.

Comments are closed.