The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby spoke during two thought-provoking sessions in the school’s chapel, answering a variety of questions from the students.
The Archbishop told the County Times that Christ’s Hospital is ‘an extraordinary place’ and said he was impressed by the intelligent questions.
During his visit he also met some pupils over lunch and saw the lunchtime band parade.
Choirs from Christ’s Hospital performed some beautiful songs at the services too, which were accompanied by students on piano and saxophone.
One of the students’ questions asked Archbishop Welby what his average day is like and he answered that ‘there is no such thing’.
He said his job can involve visiting Christians in foreign countries, talking at a meeting on protecting vulnerable people from abuse and recording interviews for BBC Radio 4.
He said he had recently interviewed former senior British Army officer General Sir Nicholas Patrick Carter, as well as Clare Moriarty the Citizens Advice chief executive, and novelist Stephen King.
He also said he was recently in Islamabad because part of his role is to help Anglicans and people around the world.
“The average Anglican is a woman in her 30s in Sub-Saharan Africa on less than four dollars a day,” said Mr Welby, adding that they may live in a place where they are persecuted.
“The most important part of the job for me is going to speak to people like that and to see what we can do to make their lives a bit better,” he said.
The Archbishop was asked about his reasons for being Christian and spoke about his own journey with faith from growing up in a family that only went to church on Christmas to truly engaging with Jesus and his teachings as an adult.
He said that through his faith he had found the passion to want to transform the world for the better.
Archbishop Welby was accompanied by theologian Dr Amy Orr-Ewing who spoke about growing up in a non-religious family that converted to Christianity.
She answered the question about the reasons for being Christian too and spoke about the metaphysical case for believing.
“Why do things like love and language and thought exist, which cannot be reduced to things you can test in a test tube?” she asked.
Dr Orr-Ewing said: “Things like that are of immense importance to us as human beings and the source of those things is God – there’s not a physical source of that.”
Other subjects that The Archbishop and Dr Orr-Ewing covered included: the issues surrounding love, sexuality and morality, kindness towards others, the evidence for the existence of Jesus, climate change, what people should expect from world leaders, and the role of faith in a world that is reliable on science and technology.
Mr Welby told the young Christ’s Hospital audience: “In your lifetimes, in the next 30 or 40 years, we will see more changes in technology and science than we have in any equivalent period in human history.”
He said he is worried these advances help us to understand our world but do not include ‘the equipment to ensure that we face this world with human values and justice’.
He also said it was possible humanity could face a future of increasing inequality.
In particular, The Archbishop said he is concerned about military technology and robotic weapons that have ‘no capacity for compassion or mercy or accepting surrender’.
The Archbishop ended one of the sessions by encouraging students to make up their own minds about what they believe, saying that the ability to choose is ‘one of the best things we have as human beings’.
He also urged students to follow their passions, explaining that Jesus asked his disciples ‘what are you seeking?’
“To end life and say ‘I never really knew what my passion was, I never really knew what I really wanted’, that seems to me to be a tragedy,” he said.
“Pursue your passion, know what you desire, follow it with all your heart and answer Jesus’s question: ‘what are you seeking’?”
One student, Keir, called the talk ‘very insightful’, while another, Daisy, said she appreciated how ‘down to earth’ the Archbishop was during the discussions.
“I think it made it easier to understand his beliefs for a lot of people in chapel who don’t necessarily have the same beliefs as him,” said Daisy.
Another student, Alex, said: “The real highlight for me was the time he took to properly answer each question.”
“Some of the questions he was asked you could see him taking a moment to think about his answer and I thought that was really good.”
Senior chaplain of Christ’s Hospital Craig Huxley-Jones said the school was delighted to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“To have Archbishop Justin among us to encourage us is a real thrill,” he said.
Head teacher Simon Reid said he was pleased to show the Archbishop what Christ’s Hospital stands for.
He said: “We are very proud of our mission at Christ’s Hospital which began in 1552 and carries on today: to challenge disadvantage through transformative education.”
Christ’s Hospital is the UK’s leading charitable school and largest bursary charity.
It is a co-educational boarding and day school for pupils aged 11-18 and provides free or substantially reduced cost places to more than 630 of its 900 pupils each year.