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William Temple

1881-1944. Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942. Son of Frederick Temple,* he was educated at Rugby, then became an exhibitioner at Balliol, gaining a double first. In 1904 he was appointed a fellow of Queen's. In 1906 he was refused ordination by Bishop Paget of Oxford, who thought Temple was insufficiently certain concerning the doctrines of the Virgin Birth and resurrection. After further discussion (and with Paget's consent) he was ordained by Archbishop Davidson in 1908. In 1912 he became headmaster of Repton and contributed to the volume Foundations. He became in 1914 rector of St. James', Piccadilly, which he later resigned during the war years to become the secretary of the Mission of Repentance and Hope and later the leader of the Life and Liberty movement which resulted in the enabling act setting up church councils and the church assembly.

In 1921 he was appointed bishop of Manchester, and in 1929 archbishop of York. In 1942 he became archbishop of Canterbury. Temple combined a first-rate philosophical mind with theological acuteness and great social awareness. He was for many years president of the Workers Education Association. He chaired the Conference on Christian Politics, Economics and Citizenship in 1924, and his last book was entitled Christianity and Social Order. He was also in the forefront of ecumenical affairs and presided at the meeting which inaugurated the British Council of Churches. He had a great deal to do with commending the Church of South India* to the Lambeth Conference.*

His concern to express the Christian faith was done both in sermons, particularly in well-known missions to the universities, and in his books; particularly noteworthy among these are Mens Creatrix, Christus Veritas, and his Gifford Lectures Nature, Man and God. At the same time, his Readings in St. John's Gospel shows that his scholarship was matched by his devotion.

Toward the end of his life he himself noted the divergence between his own incarnational theology and that of the theology of redemption then coming into fashion. He was often said to be too much of a philosopher for the theologians, and too much of a theologian for philosophers. His sudden death in 1944 was widely felt as a serious loss to the worldwide church.

See F.A. Iremonger, William Temple, His Life and Letters (1948).