Archbishop Rowan Williams.  Pro Ecclesia (O’Donovan, 2003).

Archbishop Rowan Williams. Pro Ecclesia (O’Donovan, 2003).

I remarked to John Macquarrie, as we ambled up Oxford’s Cornmarket early in 1984, that it seemed we had found him a worthy successor as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity. “Ay, it will be fine,” the ironic Scot replied, “if only he’s out of jail at the time!” For the young professor designate, still Dean of Clare College, Cambridge, had just been newsworthily arrested accompanying his students on a protest sit-in at an American military base. To the theology faculty, however, it seemed there had been a conservative turn with the appointment: in comparison with Maurice Wiles’ hesitations over orthodox trinitarianism or the project of existentialist “translation” urged by the earlier Macquarrie, this disciple of another Scots theologian, Donald Mackinnon, bore the promise of a new generation of Anglicans who did not think it the business of theology to make Christian faith less offensive to modern man, but rather to expand modern man’s imagination to the dimensions of trinitarian faith. Orthodoxy, as he described it in Arius, is “a ‘making difficult’ of a gospel buried under the familiarities of folk piety.”

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