Justin Welby has admitted that the terrorist attacks in Paris had made him doubt the presence of God.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was left asking why the attacks happened and where God was when the militant jihadis struck.
He said he reacted with ‘profound sadness’ at the events, particularly as he and his wife had lived in Paris when he was an oil executive.
Asked if these attacks had caused him to doubt where God was, he said: ‘Oh gosh, yes,’ and admitted it put a ‘chink in his armour’.
Appearing on Songs Of Praise, which will be broadcast on BBC 1 this evening, he said: ‘Saturday morning, I was out and as I was walking I was praying and saying: “God, why – why is this happening?
“Where are you in all this?” And then engaging and talking to God. Yes, I doubt.’
But he added that he nevertheless had faith that God was alongside people in their suffering and pain.
When asked what his reaction was to the attacks on the French capital, he said: ‘Like everyone else – first shock and horror and then a profound sadness. And, in my family’s case, that is added to because my wife and I lived in Paris for five years.
‘It was one of the happiest places we have lived and to think of a place of such celebration of life seeing such suffering is utterly heart-breaking.’
But he warned against a knee-jerk military response, saying: ‘Two injustices do not make justice.
‘If we start randomly killing those who have not done wrong, that is not going to provide solutions.
‘So governments have to be the means of justice.
‘The Bible tells us that they are put there by God with the sword for justice, but they also have to lead us into a place where peace can be established.”
The Archbishop said the way Islamic State terrorists had distorted their faith to the extent they believe they are glorifying their God is ‘one of the most desperate aspects of our world today.’
He said: ‘Religion is so powerful in the way humans behave that it has always been a tool used by the wicked to twist people into doing what they want them to do.
‘But just because someone believes something deeply wrong does not mean that they are right in some way because they put God in it.
‘The perversion of faith is one of the most desperate aspects of our world today.’
The Archbishop first admitted last year that there were times when he questioned whether God existed.
Last night he reacted with fury at a decision by Britain’s biggest cinema chains to ban the screening of a film in which he and members of the public recite the Lord’s Prayer – because they say it could be offensive to movie-goers.
Odeon, Cineworld and Vue have refused to show the one-minute film the Church of England planned to run in cinemas across the UK before the new Star Wars blockbuster, which opens a week before Christmas.
The Church of England threatened legal action against the cinemas, saying it was the victim of religious discrimination.
The astonishing decision to block the film was made even though it was given a Universal certificate by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) – meaning anyone, of any age, can watch it – and approved by the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA).