Monday, 11 February 2008

Mike Higton on Rowan Williams and sharia

Mike Higton, the world’s leading expert on Rowan Williams’ theology, has posted an extremely helpful analysis of Williams’ lecture. It’s a lengthy piece, but it’s well worth reading the whole thing carefully – you won’t find a better account anywhere of what Williams was really driving at in his lecture. Here are a few excerpts from Higton’s post:

“Despite everything you’ve heard and read, the most striking thing about Rowan Williams’ lecture is that he mounts a serious and impassioned defence of ‘Enlightenment values’…. He takes it for granted that we live in a largely secular, liberal, pluralist state. And his question is about the place that religion appropriately has in such a state.”

“Williams’ point is not really (I think) about what happens once someone has apparently broken the law and has appeared before the courts…. His point is rather broader. When we as a state are sorting out how things should run – when we are framing laws, when we are deliberating about how laws should actually be put into effect, when we are thinking about exceptional and borderline cases, when we are designing systems and procedures – we should do so in a way that takes account of the plurality of voices and identities that our state includes. That’s what it means to be a liberal, pluralist state…. So, in Williams’ view, it is proper that the state recognise that I am a Christian, and that the Christian church is one of my defining communities – and it should recognize that this fact does make some public difference.”

Be sure to read the whole post.


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