I doubted God after the Paris attacks, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby told a reporter for the BBC’s Songs of Praise. He said when the jihadis struck in Paris he was left asking why?
He said he reacted with “profound sadness” to the events, particularly as he and his wife had lived in Paris when he was an oil executive.
Asked if these attacks had caused him to doubt where God was, he said: “Oh gosh, yes,” and admitted it put a “chink in his armour”.
Welby went on: “Saturday morning, I was out and as I was walking I was praying and saying: ‘God, why – why is this happening? Where are you in all this?’ and then, engaging and talking to God.
“Yes, I doubt”, he concluded.
How worrying. As an afterthought he added that he nevertheless had faith that God was alongside people in their suffering and pain.
Well that’s a relief then!
I hate to think where Christianity would be if Welby’s predecessors had suffered from the same lack of conviction.
130 people tragically died in the Paris attack. The death toll from Islamist terror attacks on the West now amounts to thousands. But over 60 million people were killed in World War 2 – which translated then into 3 per cent of the world’s population. Did the head of Anglican Church doubt his faith then?
This is not to minimise Paris but it is to emphasize that fighting evil, whatever its scale, is hardly the time for liberal niceties, either of emoting or for enjoying the luxury of doubt.
Unfortunately, that does not seems to have occurred to our troubled very modern Archbishop.
Did the persecution of the Jewish people by Hitler lead the wartime head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Temple, to doubt his faith or his belief in God? No, it invigorated the determination of this renowned teacher and preacher to fight this evil. (Temple was known for his 1942 book Christianity and Social Order, which set out an Anglican social theology and a vision for what would constitute a just post-war society).
“My chief protest”, he said at the time, “is against procrastination of any kind…The Jews are being slaughtered at the rate of tens of thousands a day on many days…It is always true that the obligations of decent men are decided for them by contingencies which they did not themselves create and very largely by the action of wicked men. The priest and the Levite in the parable were not in the least responsible for the traveller’s wounds as he lay there by the roadside and no doubt they had many other pressing things to attend to, but they stand as the picture of those who are condemned for neglecting the opportunity of showing mercy. We at this moment have upon us a tremendous responsibility. We stand at the bar of history, of humanity and of God”.
We do now too.
Archbishop Welby needs to get his head round this and get his Christian faith straightened out. He should be taking a leaf out of the book of his predecessor. We are hardly showing Christian mercy if we stand by and doubt while people are massacred, whether they are non-believing secularists, Christians, Jews or Muslims, whether they are here in the West, in Africa or the Middle East.
The Archbishop’s belief in a just and compassionate God could and should be renewing his faith and energy to this end – to do God’s work in fact.
God, I fear, must be the one who is doubting his chosen servant.
Welby is proving himself too weak for his role in these challenging times for his faith and for humanity. A doubting Thomas was never a good defence against evil. If he cannot rise the awesome challenge of our times, he should stand down and let a cleric of true conviction take his place.