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Archbishop Justin Welby: Risk-taker and Reconciler [Hardcover]

Andrew Atherstone
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Jun 2014
When the search for a new Archbishop of Canterbury began, Justin Welby had been a bishop for only four and a half months. He had little media profile and barely figured in the early speculations about Rowan Williams' successor. Welby claimed that it would be 'a joke' and 'perfectly absurd' to appoint him because he had such little episcopal experience. The Crown Nominations Commission disagreed and in March 2013 he was enthroned as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. This, the first major biography of Welby, critically examines the words, actions and impact of his first year as head of the Anglican Communion, including his active political engagement and his tackling of controversial issues such as same-sex marriage, women bishops and the emergence of GAFCON. Biographer Andrew Atherstone also analyses Welby's theological, strategic and pastoral qualities and, through extensive archival research and interviews with the archbishop's friends and colleagues, presents in-depth accounts of his unsettled childhood, the experiences that influenced his conversion to Christianity at Cambridge University, his successful career in the oil industry, his personal and professional links to Africa and his rapid rise through the ranks of the Church of England. What emerges is a portrait of a global Christian leader deeply motivated by gospel values, unafraid of risk and committed to tackle issues of division within both church and society. -- Archbishop Justin Welby: Risk-taker and Reconciler is more than twice the length of Atherstone's award-winning 2013 biography, Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury. It contains four new chapters that examine Welby's first year at Lambeth, sixteen pages of photographs and incorporates much of the text of the earlier book, substantially expanded, revised and updated.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Darton, Longman & Todd (26 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0232530726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0232530728
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Many a boy would have been driven off the rails completely by the problems which Justin has had to face.' Francis Gardner, Justin Welby's housemaster at Eton 'His is a muscular, unapologetic faith.' The Guardian 'He's unafraid of the world. We're going to see sparks flying, I suspect, in various ways.' Professor David Ford 'He's tough, streetwise and might turn out to be a real nettle-grasper - It's a clever appointment.' --Giles Fraser

'Remarkably well-researched.' --The Tablet

About the Author

Andrew Atherstone is tutor in History and Doctrine, and Latimer research fellow, at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
2.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy book about an easy man with a hard job 1 Aug 2014
This is an easy book about an easy man with no easy job. I say easy in that he seems hard to faze and we learn he was appointed among other reasons because he was easy in his own skin which seems rare among clerics. The lack of ease of the job is well chronicled so that his predecessor as Archbishop talked of needing ‘the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros’. A year into the job he has quite a track record in the establishing of a settlement for women bishops, charting a way forward re same sex unions and setting forth an agenda for prayer, monasticism, church growth and kingdom-oriented social engagement that sees the Pope as partner.

Andrew Atherstone is easy reading if you’ve got a passion for transformative Christianity. His chronicle of Justin Welby is peppered with joyous life, growth and change far more typical of the Church of England than, as is said, the letters to Church Times would have you believe. Sympathy with our Eton educated subject is won by tale of a broken home that sent him to boarding school. This may have skilled his capacity to deal with dysfunction in his Anglican family. Intellectual brilliance made him a fast riser in the oil industry and the church as ‘risk-taker and reconciler…able…to synthesise a lot of information quickly and under pressure’ be that linked to collapse of oil prices or the Anglican communion .

If I as an Anglopapalist can identify with him it’s not just to do with his being a Benedictine oblate of the former Nashdom but with his basic catholic conviction that truth and unity go together. It’s also attractive to me, as village priest leading a coalition from Forward in Faith across to Evangelical, to read of Justin’s friendship with people of both those hues.
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I have read Atherstone's first book on the Archbishop and it was ok, This is just the expansion of same and to be honest it's not bad and I really enjoyed it as read's go. An interesting read for anyone who is interested in the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Flawed by bias and party politics 7 July 2014
I am basing this review on the review I submitted (and which was subsequently published by Amazon) of Atherstone's previous biography of Welby 'The Road to Canterbury', with some additions, where necessary. The reason I am doing this is because, a. this book is an expansion of 'Road' and b. because it suffers the same faults as that previous book. I will therefore published extracts of my previous review in 'inverted commas' to distinguish what is new from what is not.

Sadly like its predecessor, this book 'provides no analysis whatsoever of Archbishop Justin's life, work or legacy: it is merely a descriptive work. (When set against Rupert Shortt's two biographies of Rowan, one an expanded version of the other, you will see just how lacking Atherstone's book is.) It is also written from a conservative Evangelical perspective (Atherstone is an excellent academic and a joy to read, but his political bias is never far from the surface). Thus the evangelical side of Archbishop Justin is played up (esp. his involvement with Holy Trinity Brompton and his attendance at 'Bash' Camps whilst at University*). He also plays up instances of Archbishop Justin's doctrinal conservatism, e.g. his defence of the theory of Penal Substitutional Atonement, following the Church of England's Doctrine Commission report on Salvation which favoured anihilism.'

This new book also suffers the same religio-politico biases that 'Road' did. In my previous review I questioned whether Atherstone was trying (unsuccessfully it would seem) to put Welby into his own mould of Conservative Evangelical. As I wrote previously: 'I do wonder, however, whether Archbishop Justin is the type of Evangelical Atherstone wants him to be - I severely doubt that he is.
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