As reported in Sunday’s Guardian, the Archbishop of Canterbury has given his Easter Speech (called by some bloggers “Facepalm Sunday”), which is notable for containing two big whoppers:
- New Atheism is dying off and a fruitful dialogue is emerging between faith and unbelief.
“Recent years have seen so many high-profile assaults on the alleged evils of religion that we’ve almost become used to them; we sigh and pass on, wishing that we could have a bit more of a sensible debate and a bit less hysteria. But there are a few signs that the climate is shifting ever so slightly,” he said at Canterbury cathedral. . .
Contrasting the “hysteria” of “aggressive polemic against religious faith” with an increasing recognition among “serious and liberal-minded commentators”, he said faith was no longer seen as “a brainless and oppressive enemy” but recognised as a potential ally against a greedy and individualistic way of life that feels “increasingly insane”.
Although perhaps the Archbishop isn’t required to adduce evidence in an Easter homily, I don’t believe this for a moment. It’s pure wishful thinking—which of course is what he’s trained in.
But he then raised the mllion-pound question, one blithely ignored by many “liberal” theologians who emphasize that all scripture is metaphorical:
But he said Christians could not be satisfied with this. “Easter raises an extra question, uncomfortable and unavoidable: perhaps ‘religion’ is more useful than the passing generation of gurus thought; but is it true?”
Indeed. Faitheists and accommodationists, when extolling the virtues of faith, often overlook this crucial question. Is it true? For if it wasn’t, and believers actually found that out, religion would vanish. It’s more than just a bonding mechanism, or a chance to admire the stained glass in the company of confrères. Ergo the second lie:
- Jesus really rose from the dead. I was of the impression that Williams had equivocated on this in conversations with Richard Dawkins, but I may be wrong. At any rate, he makes no bones about his belief:
The archbishop concluded that Christianity was true and the resurrection was a fact, not “a beautiful imaginative creation that offers inspiration to all sorts of people” nor merely a way of saying that “the message of Jesus lives on”.
He added: “Even if every commentator in the country expressed generous appreciation of the church (and we probably needn’t hold our breath …), we’d still be bound to say, ‘thank you, but what matters isn’t our usefulness or niceness or whatever, it’s God, purposive and active, even – especially – when we are at the end of our resources.”
On what basis, I wonder, does Williams conclude that the resurrection was a fact? If it’s just because Scripture says so, then he’d better get his methodology in line with that of Archbishop Pell. But pay attention to what Williams said: what matters isn’t the usefulness or niceness of faith, but the truth of scripture and the existence of God.