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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Discipleship

The Archbishop asks the critical question of our time; Who is Jesus and what does he mean for those who put their trust in him?

Victor Hugo said that, "There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world: and that is, an idea whose time has come".

Corporate-discipleship: fraternal-belonging was Jesus' big idea, and plan for the renewal of society; a catalyst and engine for building God's Kingdom. His idea, which has lasted over the centuries, was simply this: a mixed community of sinners called to be saints, a divine society where the risen Christ in the midst of it is grace and truth, and the Holy Spirit is at work within it.

An inclusive and generous friendship, where each person is affirmed as of infinite worth, dignity and influence. A community of love, overflowing in gratitude and wholehearted surrender, because it participates in the life of God.

This corporate-discipleship, we call the Church, worships God and infects the world with righteousness.

 

The Glory of the Church

It's a scandal of the Church in England that in the past decades it has tried everything except to stick to Jesus' plan for the world: Corporate -discipleship: fraternal-belonging.  

Che Guevara once said, "If our revolution isn't aimed at changing people then I'm not interested." 

The trouble with virtually all forms of revolution and modernising strategies is that they change everything – except the human heart.  And until that is changed corporately, nothing is significantly different in the long run.

The scandal of the church is that the Christ-event is no longer life-changing, it has become life-enhancing. We've lost the power and joy that makes real disciples, and we've become consumers of religion and not disciples of Jesus Christ.

You see, the call to corporate discipleship is a call to God's promised glory. For Christ did for us that which we couldn't do for ourselves.

God's acceptance of us just as we are, enables us to overcome our alienation and to experience the joy and the fulfilment of personal communion with God.

 

The Impact of Discipleship

In our time, this socialising and transforming power of corporate-discipleship is illustrated further by three Christian men at the University of Oxford: Richard Tawney, William Beveridge and William Temple, who were challenged to go to the East End of London to "find friends among the poor, as well as finding out what poverty is and what can be done about it".

In the East End their consciences were pricked by poverty: visible, audible, smellable. After university, Tawney worked at Toynbee Hall, creating a fraternal community; William Beveridge paved the way for the Welfare State in his report which for the first time set out to embody the whole spirit of the Christian ethic in an Act of Parliament. And William Temple, as Archbishop of York, and then Canterbury mobilized the church support for a more just, equal and fraternal Britain. His book Christianity and Social Order is one of the foundation pillars of the welfare state as we know it today.