NOTE: VOL believes that in light of recent revelations of Dr. Williams on homosexuality with letters between himself and a lady psychiatrist in Wales, that this SPREAD article with links to the original S.P.R.E.A.D. document are important enough to run again.

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams has been exposed in a 140-page document as a theologian-leader who has long supported non-celibate gay and lesbian sexual relationships, contrary to Holy Scripture.


Williams, who authored The Body’s Grace and Open to Judgement has a long history of supporting pansexual behavior going back to the early 1980s when he was a spiritual director to persons engaged in homosexual activity.

A team of theologians headed by the Rt. Rev. John Rodgers produced the document believing that the Anglican Communion has not been made fully aware of the archbishop’s views that are at variance with the vast majority of 78-million Anglicans most of whom reside in the Global South and who eschew homosexuality.

The findings of the report are devastating and conclude that the defenders of the Anglican Faith cannot rely on Rowan Williams to use the powers of the Archbishop of Canterbury to preserve, much less propagate, the Anglican Faith which adheres to the sovereign authority of Scripture and requires obedience to the moral commandments given from God by Moses.

The evidence shows that Williams worked for many years before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury to replace the Anglican Faith with a different kind of faith which adheres to the sovereign authority of man’s reason, intelligence, and experience, and promotes a new moral code. The evidence also allows little room to believe that since becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury Williams has changed his teachings.

The 140-page document reveals that Williams began to reject Scripture’s prohibition of same gender sexual relations some time in the 1980s and in a newspaper interview in 2002 he stated that his “developing sense over the last twenty years” that the Church should approve of same gender sexual relations “has come in part from being the spiritual director to people of the homosexual orientation.”

In an interview Williams said; “I did come to a point where I could no longer say the Biblical account answers all of the questions we have or want to ask.”

Williams acted on his conclusion that scripture did not have all the answers concerning same gender sexual relations with such diligence that he became a leader in the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. This movement was founded in 1976 in England by Richard Kirker who is currently its Executive Director. The LGCM sponsored an annual “Michael Harding Memorial Address” and Rowan Williams addressed the group a decade later in his now famous lecture “The Body’s Grace”.

Williams founded the Institute of Christianity and Sexuality and in 1996 changed its name to the Center for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality expressly holding as a matter of “conviction ” that “it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex, but also express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.”

Williams critique of Scripture can best be summarized in his own words: “I suspect that a fuller exploration of the sexual metaphors of the Bible will have more to teach us about a theology and ethics of sexual desire than will the flat citation of isolated texts; and I hope other theologians will find this worth following up more fully than I can do here.”

Williams was also a member of the board of editors of the journal Theology and Sexuality when its first edition was published in 1994 and remained on its board till 2002 after he was selected to be the Archbishop of Canterbury.

David Holloway, an evangelical leader exposed an issue of this journal which had such articles as, ‘men, Muscles and Zombies,” “The Place for Porn in a Gay Spiritual Economy,” and “Finding God in the Heart-Genital Connection.”

In 1990, Williams worked with the Rev. Canon Jeffrey John, Bishop Richard Holloway, and others to found another organization which promotes the Church’s approval of same gender sexual relations, “Affirming Catholicism”. In the words of its executive director, “Affirming Catholicism has consistently called for the full inclusion of lesbian and gay members of the Church.”

Affirming Catholicism sets forth in its website many of the concepts used by the proponents of the Church’s approval of same gender sexual relations. Among them is the major concept that Scripture’s commandments concerning moral behavior are not conclusive, but are subject to change inspired by the Holy Spirit and measured by human reason, intelligence and experience.” This concept becomes clear when various Affirming Catholicism web publications are pieced together.

Williams gave papers at the Affirming Catholicism conferences in 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2000. Williams traveled to the USA and Canada addressing Affirming Catholicism members in those countries.

In 1992 when Williams was enthroned as Bishop of Monmouth in the Province of Wales he ordained a priest he knew to be unrepentantly homosexual. Williams later explained that he takes the “minority” position that priests do not have to give up a homosexual lifestyle, and he is “not convinced that a homosexual has to be celibate in every imaginable circumstance.” However, if priests engage in same gender sexual relations, Williams would “want to be sure that their attitude to their sexual habits is a reasonable, prayerful, and theologically informed one.”

Not surprisingly Frank Griswold’s teachings reflect Affirming Catholicism’s themes of the Holy Spirit speaking in new ways and the measuring of sexual conduct by human experience.

But it is not only homosexuality that Williams has affirmed. In March 1996 Williams reviewed a book, “Just Good Friends: Towards a Lesbian and Gay Theology of Relationships. Williams states among other things, “Liz Stuart is able to point meaningly and effectively to the image of Sophia as the connection-making, time-taking energy of God in the world, the divine “Spiderwoman” whose life is found in but not extinguished by the event of Jesus – Jesus in the community of those he loves and who love him.”

Williams wrote that “contemporary debates suggest that we are getting worse all the time, with out obsessive searches for purity, whether radical or conservative.”

Later he wrote, “The apparently clear line between eros and friendship is illusory; we are looking at different forms of one passion – the passion for life-giving interconnection.”

In 1997, Williams demonstrated his commitment to his teaching that the Church should approve of same gender sexual relations by giving up the opportunity to be the Bishop of Southwark in the C of E rather than abandon it. Carey objected to the appointment, and asked Williams to distance himself from his teaching. Williams refused the condition and was not nominated for the post.

Williams later helped the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality’s “sister organization,” Changing Attitude, (a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual members of the Church of England) lobby for the approval of same gender sexual relations at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Williams wrote the forward for the book “The Other Way? Anglican Gay and Lesbian Journeys” published by Changing Attitude in June 1998.

The 1998 Lambeth Conference voted overwhelmingly against homosexual relationships affirming that the only place for sexual expression was in life long union between a man and a woman in marriage. When Roman Catholic Cardinal Cassidy gave the homily at Lambeth, he said that there could be no unity between the Catholic Church and the Communion as long as the Communion permitted sexual behavior contrary to the Gospel. Williams took an opposite position to Cassidy saying that opposing views on the sexuality question should not be a bar to unity. Williams said that unity in the Anglican Communion despite the difference over the sexuality question was not “unity at all costs.” Williams obliquely dismissed Scripture as the basis for Christians to discern moral truth.

When Lambeth 1:10 was overwhelmingly passed by a vast majority of bishops that said same gender sexual relations are “incompatible with Scripture” and therefore should not be engaged in, Rowan Williams countered that God doe does not communicate to us authoritatively through the Holy Scriptures, because the writers thereof “misapprehended(ed)” and “misread” “the mind of God” and therefore Holy Scriptures are not the rule and ultimate standard of faith and practice.

Williams joined with other bishops in announcing to the world their refusal to comply with the 1998 Lambeth Conference’s teachings concerning the authority of Scripture and same gender sexual relations.

On the last day of Lambeth Williams and a group of other Anglican bishops announced to the world their opposition to Resolution 1.10’s prohibition of the approval of same gender sexual relations. They did this by signing and issuing to the public the 1998 Pastoral Statement to Lesbian and Gay Anglicans.

In 2000, after Williams was enthroned as the Archbishop and Primate of Wales, he provided the Foreword to the book “Seeking the Truth in Love, The Church and Homosexuality, by the Bishop of Bristol-Swindon, Michael Doe. Williams argued, as he did at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, that the members of the Anglican Communion should remain united despite their differences over the teaching that the Church should approve of same gender sexual relations.

With the publication of “The Body’s Grace” as a pamphlet and as a chapter in the book “Theology and Sexuality: Classic and Contemporary Readings”, and the reprinting of Open to Judgement in 2002, Williams put forth afresh, which he was under consideration to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, his teachings that the church should approve of same gender sexual relations and any opposition to based on Scripture relies on “an abstract fundamentalist deployment of very ambiguous biblical texts.”

In 2002, on the eve of his becoming the next Archbishop of Canterbury, a group of evangelical clergy and laity who sought the return of the C of E to its Biblical roots expressed its objection to Williams becoming the next ABC. They wrote a book “A Line in the sand, Reform and Rowan Williams” which pointed out Williams’s anti-Scriptural teaching concerning same gender sexual relations and called on Williams to expressly state his position concerning such teaching and suggested Williams decline the appointment to be the next ABC if he could not repent.

Williams responded saying he would separate out his personal views from “the majority teaching of the church, and I will exercise the discipline of the Church as I am bound to do. But I can’t go beyond this and say that I believe what I do not believe.”

As a result Church Society an orthodox group of theologians, clergy and laity me with Williams and after talking with him made the following charges against Williams.

On salvation: Williams claimed to uphold the 39 Articles believing a person can only be saved through Christ, however this does not mean that a person of another religion can be saved even though they do not personally know Christ.

On Sexual Practice: Williams is the first ABC who is prepared to condone sexual immorality, including homosexual practice in defiance of I Cor. 6: 9-10. Williams believes that there may be circumstances in which homosexual practice is acceptable. Within a committed ‘covenantal’ relationship it may be permissible for homosexual practice to take place, says Williams.

We conclude that Dr. Rowan Williams teaching on sexuality are sub-Biblical, indeed heretical; that he does not accept Scripture as God’s Word concerning the nature of God, man’s relation to God, or the manner in which man should behave. Williams does not provide answers, he only poses questions and offers a methodology for answering them by looking to “our experience of Christian humanity and reality and how our thinking fits with it.”

By dismissing Scripture as the supreme source of knowledge and treating it as merely a methodological guide for finding God’s will in the experience of Christian humanity, Williams replaces the Anglican faith with a totally new religion wrapped in Christian trappings and terminology.

The entire 148 page report can be read in PDF format here:


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