The choice of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury has been hailed or condemned as a victory for progressives over conservatives, particularly concerning the issue of gay rights in the Church of England.
But Williams election also signals the ascendancy of Anglo-Catholicism in Britain, writes Theo Hobson in The Guardian newspaper (Aug. 3). Hobson notes that after the blip of predecessor George Carey (an evangelical), “the Church of England is resuming the course it has been tactically pursuing for decades, and with new determination. It is trying to distance itself from that awkwardist of ideologies, Protestantism.”
In the past generation, “Anglican theology has been Catholicized. It is dominated by Anglo-Catholic liberals, whose figurehead is none other than Dr. Williams. In short, Anglo-Catholic theology has successfully assimilated postmodern thought, and this has lent it great energy and confidence [as evidenced in the popular theological movement, radical orthodoxy].”
Hobson adds that the general intellectual culture in Britain has likewise turned against Protestantism, viewing it as dull, unsexy and non-artistic. “The best example is English history, especially its dramatic Tudor phase. English Reformation studies have undergone a revolution in the last decade or so; Roman Catholic revisionism has become basically orthodox.”