Justin Welby: 'For the record, I do believe in God'

The Archbishop of Canterbury said in an interview that he doubted God.BBC

The Archbishop of Canterbury has clarified remarks he made about doubt in a Songs of Praise interview on Sunday.

His admission that the Paris terrorist attacks had made him "doubt" were picked up by secular media and generated headlines such as "Paris attacks made me 'doubt' presence of God, admits Archbishop", "Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says 'I doubted God'", Welby "admits 'doubt' over God's presence after tragedy".

In a blog posted yesterday evening, the Archbishop said: "Every now and then I spend a day kicking myself for getting things wrong. Yesterday was one of those days.

"Last week I willingly agreed to do an interview for Songs of Praise in connection with the appalling attacks in Paris. During it, I was asked whether events like Paris ever caused me to doubt and question.

"Foolishly, I said exactly what I thought, in a fairly lengthy discussion which particularly referred to Psalm 44.

"The essence of my answer was that everyone has moments when they question things, and one sees that in the Psalms. The psalmist in Psalm 44 asks God if he is asleep, and challenges him in the most direct terms about his failure to deliver Israel. It is a psalm of protest.

"When there are tragedies like Paris, when friends suffer, when evil seems to cover the face of the Earth, then we should be like the psalmist.

"But that is not the same as a settled belief that God does not exist, or even any serious questioning about his reality. It's a moment of protest and arguing."

The Archbishop said that this was "very much part of my normal prayer life, together with praise and wonder, with delight and awe, with petition and lament, with celebration and rejoicing".

He concluded: "So, for the record, I do believe in God, and that Jesus Christ is God himself, and I can say every word of the Creed without ever crossing my fingers once."

He said that he was "kicking himself" because "even as I said it, I realised that it would be too tempting for an editor or headline writer to take things out of context, a long context of a whole discussion, and to make a good headline. I really need to remember that."