"Metropolitan Hilarion begins his address with a series
of thanks. He thanks the Archbishop of Canterbury for the invitation to speak. He mentions Rowan Williams’s “personal contribution to inter-Christian dialogue” and “commitment to keep the Anglican Communion together.” He acknowledges Abp. Williams’s “love of the Russian Orthodox Church, of its saints and great theologians, of its spiritual tradition,” and he offers his prayers and support.
Even in this brief kudos, I detect a note of rebuke, which becomes more noticeable as he goes on. Yes, Rowan Williams has desired to maintain unity within the Anglican Communion, and yes, he loves Russian “confessors,” but his ecumenical sentiment has confused surface unity with true reality and in the process he has bypassed the heart of Orthodoxy – which is, orthodoxy.
Toward the end of his address, Metropolitan Hilarion turns to the problem of the moral and spiritual deterioration of the West. It is important, he says, for the Christian Church to provide a unified front against those who would destroy the essence of Christianity, especially in Europe. He speaks of an “Orthodox-Catholic” alliance to this very end. But it is clear he does not trust that the Church of England can be an effective member of that alliance, as it has allowed the secular enemy to infiltrate its ranks.
Abp. Williams seems to think he can hold traditional and liberal poles in creative tension. He seems to think one can be “affirming” (a.k.a. liberal) and a catholic at the same time. According to the Metropolitan, such a view is itself a denial of the either/or character of Christian orthodoxy as expressed at Nicaea. At a political level, the result of Rowan Williams’s “indaba-ing” is that the liberals wink and move on with their agenda.
At the end of the day, Rowan Williams is a follower of Schleiermacher, the godfather of theological liberalism. Religiosity – a.k.a “holiness” – is the determinant of truth, whether in the church or in the public square. Hence the divide between Anglicans and Roman Catholics is as unbridgeable as that between the Anglicans and the Orthodox, and a genuine dialogue of issues that unite and divide Christians will not happen.
Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll
17 September 2010"