So, the Daily Telegraph has dug into the old writings of the new Archbishop of Canterbury and discovered something deeply shocking.
It would appear that he has said and written things in the past – in different contexts, for different audiences and free of archiespiscopal ambitions – that he might now either hold to, reject, nuance or express differently.
What this means is that – perish the thought – he might have grown up and learned and thought and developed as he has matured.
Now, I know anyone in public life is not allowed to have been a child or to have grown or changed. I realise that my own archive of parish magazine articles, etc. might be found to contain expressions that might embarrass me now. This is what happens to human beings as they grow up.
The bizarre thing is that anyone thinks this is anything other than story-creation. The Archbishop might or might not hold to views held or expressed in the past. I have no idea, and he can speak for himself. But, the notion that he should now be entirely consistent with what he said or thought or wrote twenty, ten or five years ago is utter nonsense. It simply suggests that he should never have grown up.
What matters is what he thinks now. The journey there might also be interesting. But, the fact that he might have said things or thought things in the past matters little… except, of course, to those looking for contradictions.
I remember a fellow curate in the late 1980s rejecting the idea that Jesus might have had to learn or change his mind (we were talking about the episode in Matthew 15 with the Syro-Phoenecian woman). In the end, I asked if he was suggesting that somehow ‘learning’ was sinful… and he said it was – the logic being that Jesus was perfect and didn’t need to learn. Er…