Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

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

Skip Content

Archbishop on The Bible in the Life of the Church Project

Friday 4th June 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is delighted to announce the Bible in the Life of the Church project.

The Archbishop says the project aims to discover how Anglicans worldwide read their Bible and provides tailored tools to help them do so in a deeper and more objective way. He says the project “will enable us - as is appropriate for something guided by the Holy Spirit — to listen to one another and speak to one another with greater love and greater intelligence and greater energy for mission”.


The Bible is how God tells us what he has done, what he is doing and what he will do.

And one of the most important things we can realise about the Bible is that it is concentrated on the action of God. It is not about something that happened long ago, a matter of historical record - but is something that is continuous day by day, because the God we meet in the Bible is the God we need now. And the Bible tells us what kind of God it is with whom we have to do: a God who freely creates; a God who is faithful to what he's created, and to who he's created; a God who sets people free; a God above all who comes and walks with us and speaks with us in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth.

This is a God who is also faithful even beyond the crucifixion of Jesus who brings him back from the dead and pours out his Spirit upon us so that we can continue to walk with him. That's our God and that's the God of the Bible. And it's because our God is that kind of God that the Church is the kind of Church it is - a church that believes in a faithful and forgiving God; a church unified in its worship of God made flesh in Jesus Christ and a church made one in the gift of the Holy Spirit, looking out upon the rest of humanity and the rest of creation in the hope and the prayer - that something of God's own love for humanity and creation is made real in this community.

So you can't pull the Bible and the Church apart. It's not that first of all you have a group of human beings who cast around for an interesting book to read and they find the Bible; nor is it that the Bible falls from heaven and a little bit later some people gather round it as a Church. No, from the very beginning the Church has listened to the Bible and the Bible has echoed in the life of the Church.

At times the Church has forgotten the Bible – that is, it's forgotten to come to the Bible to be challenged and judged and changed. At times too the Church has, it seems, got the wrong end of the stick about the Bible – that is, it's treated it far too much as a text book, a matter of rigid information and regulation from the distant past whose relevance to the present isn't clear. We need to remember that what really holds the Bible and Church together is the Holy Spirit - the Spirit which breathes through the pages of the Bible as the Bible itself says, the spirit that lives in us and binds us together and brings us to Jesus Christ to be converted and transformed.

So we have this [Anglican Communion] project on the Bible in the Life of the Church - a project which has enormous potential for our Anglican family, in reminding us how deeply these two belong together, how you can't understand the one without the other. A project which we hope will enable us - as is appropriate for something guided by the Holy Spirit – to listen to one another and speak to one another with greater love and greater intelligence and greater energy for mission. Personally I'm very delighted that this is work we're doing together as Anglicans. Sometimes we talk a lot about the Bible but we don't bother to attend to it, to learn it, to understand some of its immense depth and variety. I hope that through this project we will learn not just to say words about how important the Bible is, but really to allow God's Spirit and God's Word through the Bible to come into us and make us the community of people that God wants, and so make the world the world that God wants – the God of the Bible who loves what he's made, who's faithful to what he's made and who has actually come to inhabit and work within the world he's made through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Back · Back to top