Saturday, February 20, 2010

From bad arguments to possible renegade action against women bishops in England

Rachel Marzselek very helpfully reproduces an excellent letter by Matthew Grayshon in the CEN challenging Rod Thomas'/Reform's recent letter which threatened this and that should women bishops become a reality in the C of E. I have been a little involved in a thread on The Ugley Vicar where there is also concern about women bishops, and have noticed that David Ould has taken Christina Rees of WATCH to task. One constant theme of this kind of evangelical concern is that the arguments for women in presbyteral and episcopal ministry are unscriptural and thus inadequate because cultural, experiential or otherwise. The letter cited above is a very good response to these concerns. I have another.

Those against the ordination of women to be presbyters or bishops are (logically) confident that their churches conform to Paul's vision for the church. But suppose Paul were to write to the Reform churches in the Church of England today. When he got to the 16th chapter which women would he address and salute their ministry? Who is the Phoebe who would be first to be named and the Prisca who would be second to be named? The fact is that in 21st century Reform type ministries, although women are involved in ministry (virtually always as ministers to women), they are fairly anonymous. But women in the Pauline mission and churches were not anonymous! Is there further work to do on understanding the full implications of Paul's whole corpus of writing on church life? As the letter writer cited above says,

"We are trusted with an emerging pattern not a fixed pattern."

Then, Julian Mann of Cranmer's Curate, blows the whistle on "Plans involving 'senior figures' are now underway to consecrate a group of Conservative Evangelical bishops for the UK". (Perhaps everyone knows about this over in the UK so it is not strictly blowing the whistle, but it is the first I have seen mention of it in recent months). But maybe that explains the sudden surge of internet interest in these matters!

45 comments:

Rosemary said...

By all means ordain women Peter. By all means have women bishops, we have here in Christchurch. What is more, we [that is St. John’s Latimer Square] could be a good example of what Bishop Victoria has called for in her ‘strategy.’ But are we welcome? Is the fact that we’re DOING what Bishop Victoria has asked for, mentioned? Are the many young people who have been called by God to serve His church in this land welcome additions to the Diocese of Christchurch? Are they being cared for and nurtured by our Diocese? Have their letters been answered? Are the many women who wish to ‘serve the Lord and their church’ but NOT in an ordained capacity in this Diocese lauded, so that their names are well known? Are they celebrated as Paul celebrated them? Why not mention our full time female staff member Peter? Do you even know her name? Why not ordain her? She’s better trained than many and God has blessed her work immeasurably.

We are told ad nauseum that the genius of the Anglican church is it’s ability to ‘live with difference.’ I see no proof of that, in fact quite the opposite.

We are called to ‘Truth.’ Can we have some please? Are we welcome in the Anglican church of New Zealand? If not, if for you and others like you, this is a ‘first order’ issue, and we must all believe that women have the same role as men, please be honest and tell us and the world, then we can deal with it.

Many years ago, when Archbishop Eames visited New Zealand soon after the decision was taken to ordain women, he assured us personally, and his report was accepted by Lambeth, that both views were part and parcel of the Anglican communion, that we would always be ‘acceptable.’ That is the decision of the church that women work in and for, and yet I haven’t heard one word of support, why is that? If you believe we’re wrong, please have the decency to tell us and the world of your conviction.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
I made this post because, in an attempt to be an evangelical upholding the catholicity of the Anglican Communion, I note a kind of triangulation of matters between David Ould writing in Sydney and posting on Stand Firm (USA) and Rod Thomas/Reform's recent public letter (England) a continuing bugbear in which (a) some Anglican evangelicals continue to argue the case that women in presbyteral and episcopal leadership has no scriptural underpinnings (I beg to disagree), and (b) there could be an imminent move in the UK to organise some consecrations of conservative evangelical bishops, apparently without the authorisation of the C of E leadership. These Communion wide matters also touch on local concerns, as you point out. However you will appreciate that it is not appropriate for me to attempt to discuss your particular concerns/questions on a public blogsite - I am happy to have a coffee with you sometime!

In a more general observation I would continue to say, what I have tried to say, off and on over the months this blog has existed, that it is an important test of Anglican inclusivity throughout the Communion that its concern to include progressive viewpoints should be matched by a concern to include conservative viewpoints.

In working through this test of our resolve as Anglicans there are many matters to discuss: you mention, for example, the question of what is 'first order' and what is 'second order' - that's something I have not really thought much about, but clearly should do some thinking about. But the posts I have linked to herein raise other matters for discussion: will conservative evangelicals not in favour of the ordination of women let go of unfair criticism that those in favour have no scriptural basis to their support (please note I am raising this as a general issue across the internet - specific points of difference between you and me have been well canvassed over the past year or two!!)?

If there are plans to make more conservative evangelical bishops, are they going to be discussed openly with a resolve to find a way forward walking together, or will it be done as a 'fact on the ground' with all the predictable pain which will ensue?

Anonymous said...

Clicking through to Rosemary’s profile I find her webpage to be the parish she refers to. There I can find no link to your diocesan website – only to a sister church St Saviour’s which (from another link) runs another church called Campus Church. There appears to be no relationship between sermons and the lectionary, and no reference to Lent. Campus Church gives no indication it is an Anglican Church. If this is doing “what Bishop Victoria has asked for” – how are those who want to follow a lectionary and be “Anglican” (eg have Lent) “cared for and nurtured by [y]our Diocese”? I don’t know the report “accepted by Lambeth” of Archbishop Eames (perhaps Rosemary could give us the link) – but Archbishop Eames and any reports “accepted by Lambeth” are not in any way binding down under. Whichever order you place women (first, second, third, …) the Anglican province down under fully accepts women in all positions. Clergy sign up to that when ordained and at each new position, along with keeping to the lectionary, church year, etc. Rosemary, Peter has, I think, always been clear he fully supports the position of the Anglican province down under that women can hold all positions and be ordained to all orders of ministry.

Rosemary said...

Hello Mr anonymous, whose profile I cannot follow???

Did you notice that Lent is mentioned on the front page of our website? Did you notice that six days a week there is a collect? I’m sorry there are no further links, I’ll ask those responsible about it. Meanwhile, we are on the Diocesan website, what a pity you hadn’t looked earlier. Campus church is not an Anglican church, nor as you point out, is it linked from our website. We are doing nothing with regard to sermons or the lectionary that has not been approved by our Bishop, so I don’t have to answer that.

The report from Archbishop Eames can be found relatively easily. Whatever search engine you use, the call for the report was Lambeth 1988 and the final report [there were a couple of interim’s] was Lambeth 1998. What a pity you don’t know about it?

As for the rest, I work for the Anglican province down under. I fully accept women in all positions. Clergy do NOT sign up to that, at least we didn’t, if that is a fact now, then that answers my question above.

Rosemary said...

I take it Mr. Anonymous, you don't support the Virginia Report either. Autonomy rules huh?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary and Anonymous

I presume that the Eames/Lambeth report we are talking about is the Eames Monitoring Group Report which can be found at http://www.lambethconference.org/1998/documents/report-10.pdf

While I appreciate the clarity being achieved in the interchange here about St John's Latimer Square's Anglican character etc (and SJLSq is thoroughly embedded in the Diocese of Christchurch, I might underline, for the sake of Anonymous), I would prefer the comments here to stick to the topic at hand (i.e. how we handle differences on the ordination of women within the life of the Anglican Communion).

Anonymous said...

Apologies, Rosemary, I think we are looking at two different websites.
I am looking at the website which on your profile you call “My Web Page”: ie. http://www.stjohnschch.org I cannot see any mention of Lent, nor any “collects” there. Thanks for clarifying that Campus Church is not an Anglican Church. I find it unusual that an Anglican minister can be the rector of one parish and “Senior Pastor” of another – and would be interested how his preaching and practice changes between the two and how the diocese and province manages such flexibility. It may present just the sort of model that Peter is seeking in this post. Again, we appear to be looking at quite different websites because Campus Church is linked on http://stjohnschch.org/index.php?page=canty-university
Thanks Peter for the report, which I have now read. I cannot see, Rosemary, where it indicates “we would always be ‘acceptable.’” And I’m confused now in any case – as you have said in the strongest way possible that you accept women in all ordained positions and are seeking ordination for a woman staff member. I think, Peter, you have the answer to your issue in the motion in the report:

This Conference resolves:
a. That each Province respect the decision and attitudes of
other Provinces in the ordination or consecration of women to
the episcopate, without such respect necessarily indicating
acceptance of the principles involved, maintaining the highest
possible degree of communion with the Provinces which
differ.
b. That bishops exercise courtesy and maintain
communications with bishops who may differ, and with any
woman bishop, ensuring an open dialogue in the Church to
whatever extent communion is impaired. etc.

Within your province, however, there is no possibility, as I understand it, of rejecting women’s ordination.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous

For clarification: I can see a box on the top left hand side of the SJLSq site entitled "It's Lent" which takes the reader to a Lenten reflection. The box below that, Daily Devotions, leads to daily devotions which include collects.

While it is clear that ACANZP is a province committed to the ordination of women, it is not clear to me how we as a province live appropriately and Anglicanly with all shades of beliefs on these and other matters. Rosemary rightly raises the question of the roominess of our accommodation as a church and clearly feels uncertain as to the answer.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Peter for the helpful clarification. I will not comment on the choice of that particular reflection out of the many possible options as you have been crystal clear about the position of this site on that. But I do have two questions of you:
1) Is it within a bishop's authority in your province to dispense a parish from its requirement to follow the lectionary as Rosemary appears to state?
2) Rosemary has declared her full acceptance of women in all positions of ordained ministry here - I have defended you when she asked you for your position - but you have notably not affirmed my defence. Now you are stating that she "clearly feels uncertain as to the answer". Are you uncertain of the answer to the question you state she is posing?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Two interesting questions, though I confess that I am not quite clear what you are getting at with the second one. Taking that one first, this is what I think I am trying to say: we are a province committed to the ordination of women, a commitment I share, have been clear about sharing, and about which you defended me in an earlier post, but we are also a province like most Anglican province in which there is a diversity of viewpoints on the ordination of women so there are some in our fellowship who have reservations and some who have objections. I understand the question being raised in this thread is whether those who have reservations or objections are truly welcome in our midst or not. The answer to that question is not clear to me in at least this sense, whether those who have reservations or objections themselves feel truly welcome.

As for the first question. I think that requires a prior question: are ACANZP clergy required to the follow the lectionary? If the answer is 'yes' then I have to say that in my 23 odd years of ordained ministry I have seen little or no attempts by bishops to enforce that requirement. On the whole I think we are required to follow the lectionary, but I do not think that is very clear to our clergy because (a) we have no canon that directly says we must, (b) we have rubrics in our prayerbook which speak of 'the appointed readings' ... only recently have I myself come to realise that means the lectionary ... but I recall no part of my training that told me that; and I recall plenty of Sundays in which preachers followed this series of expository sermons or that series of topics ... and then you must realise that we have at least two lectionary cycles authorised (a two year cycle and the RCL ... so plenty to choose from) ... and, perhaps unusually for an Anglican province, we have no requirement to say the daily office.

Revd John P Richardson said...

Peter, you ask who would be Phoebes and Priscas of English evangelicalism today.

How about Leonie Dryden, or Carrie Sandom, or Lizzie Smallwood (of Lizzie and Simon fame)? Never heard of them? Well, that may just be what distance does for you.

There is, in fact, a considerable network of Conservative Evangelical women working in parishes in England. The 'institution' largely ignores them, however, because they are not ordained. In fact, I would suggest that since the ordination of women was introduced, such women have been much more marginalized than before, which is sad.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John,
Well I had begun to hear about Carrie Sandom (she has featured on the internet in the last week or so ... what with writing a pamphlet addressed to mixed gender readership about women being submissive to men ....). But my point is, of course, that Paul was far from Rome, and he had heard of and/or interacted with these leading women in Romans 16. Although I cannot prove it I am sure it was not because the early church had 'women's conventions' at which capable women gave outstanding talks which they were not permitted to give to mixed gender congregations. I am also confident - though again I find I cannot prove it to you - that if the church of Paul's day had had to have public meetings to found an ancient version of FCA it would not have stacked the platform of speakers with men and relegated Phoebe, Prisca, Euodia, Syntyche and Lydia to a chairing role or to leading a prayer. The sense of Romans 16 is of a mixed gender church leadership without the straitjacket imposed by the "ordained roles" understanding of marriage and ministry.

Funnily enough, if I think a little harder I can think of some evangelical women who have gained sufficient profile to be as well known outside the shores of the UK as (say) Dick Lucas or Richard Coekin or Jonathan Fletcher. Elaine Storkey springs to mind ... but then she has gained her reputation partly through publication and partly through many appearances before mixed gender audiences!

Rosemary said...

Peter, do we agree that the local church is important? That His people attend local congregations. That those congregations are in a deep sense, their families, led by [we hope] someone they trust and listen to as he preaches God’s Word. They may see a Bishop once a year, they may or may not read a book by Elaine Storkey. Their involvement is at least weekly, but there are mid week meetings and Bible Studies. In our case, also WOW {Women on Wednesdays] when quite a few women come who have husbands who would rather they not attend church .. so WOW is a church within a church. When members of a local church have a need they turn to the minister or ministers of their congregation. If the problem is a child, then those involved in children’s ministry swing into action. Often a lady will prefer to go to the leader of our ministry to women, [not always] whereas a gentleman will prefer to go to a male, in fact in the majority of cases, is uncomfortable about sharing that problem with a woman. All .. children are definitely encouraged and included .. pray for each other. After the announcement this morning, the first person to come to me was a young man of 11 who said simply, “That must have been very difficult for you.”

I’m very pleased to hear that Carrie is making her mark in England, she nearly came here! As it is, we have had two UK trained women as full time workers, being unable to find anyone with those qualifications here in New Zealand.

What I’m trying to say in my bumbling way, is that BECAUSE we’re a family, we need each one of us, male and female. The question with regard to the ordination of women has muddied the waters. Women were and are an integral part of those local church families, with precious God given roles to play. Here we particularly treasure them, they are the backbone of so much that we do .. but of course, we don’t ordain any of them, although God does, and we don’t mind if you insist on it, but it’s never even suggested!!! [continued]

Rosemary said...

In another setting, I asked if a female could give an evangelistic talk in a Rugby Club with results? I could equally ask if a male could give an evangelistic talk in a netball club with results? I don’t ask you to answer publicly, but I do ask you to think about it. I can tell you that over the years, as I’ve read historical novels, I’ve always felt slightly uncomfortable that nuns had to have the oversight of a male priest when they had a perfectly good Mother Superior of their own!! So as far as I’m concerned, there WERE questions that needed answers with regard to the ‘esteem’ with which women and their roles were held in our church. I also deeply believe that in answering that question the way we have, we have put upon women, a burden that we will have to answer for. By ordaining women, we are [in my opinion of course] turning lovely, caring, nurturing women .. into burdened women who have lost their abilities to ‘nurture’ because they are carrying a burden God never wanted them to have.

Oh I can hear women screaming at me that they are equal .. and they ARE .. but I personally don’t believe their roles are the same. I have no problem with Bishop Victoria being who she is. I hope she’ll forgive me for saying, she is ‘married’ to the church. She is a single lady whose whole life has been the church. I also had no problem with Alison Jephson as Diocesan Manager, ask anyone, she has been the best. Women often are you know. But the dichotomy for married women who must carry the burden of the church if they are vicars, and a marriage, and raise children .. well does God REALLY ask that of us? Is that what we’re to carry just to prove that we can preach as well as men? To prove that we can lead services as well as men? If we can and do, what does that prove?

Finally, I’m deeply concerned for men, especially those that are ‘lost.’ Do we really believe that Jesus sent us .. women .. to evangelise men? If that is the case, why haven’t good, faithful women achieved that over the years? The church has always been full of women, but they haven’t succeeded in bringing their menfolk with them. Only when what Gerald Bray calls ‘manly’ men are called into a ministry, is there a church full of men .. and that’s an indisputable fact.

Anonymous said...

I think John Richardson's point holds. The old office of deaconess has all but died out in much of Anglicanism, and many are ordained with little aptitude in biblical preaching and biblical teaching. An infusion of middle aged women trained on liberal evening courses has altered the 'clerical balance of power' in places like England. The old evangelical powerhouses remain (but face increasing pressure from the liberal hierarchy), while younger people (especially females) are often drawn to new charismatic churches, which are decidedly male in leadership.
It will be interesting (in the Chinese proverbial sense) to see if 'renegade consecrations' take place in England. Part of the problem arises from the 'closed shop', committee way that bishops are appointed in England. It means that no opponent of women's ordiantion can ever be consecrated as a diocesan in England.
Peter: an amusing scenario you depict. But as I read 1 Timothy 3, I can find no suggestion that anyone other than a man (and preferably a married man) should be appointed episcopos/presbuteros. Why does Paul make this stipulation?

Revd John P Richardson said...

Peter, one of the realities is that the church is bigger! If I think of Australia, I doubt whether I can name more than a couple of outstanding Anglicans outside Sydney (and no women at all!), but I'm sure they exist.

On another point, I know of no evangelical conspiracy to appoint bishops (though I suppose by definition I wouldn't), and I think I'd be in a position to know if there were rumours on this one.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary John Anonymous

A bit to attend to!

No conspiracy? Excellent!

Women involved in ministry to women? Also excellent. But that can happen in a church which has (a) ordained women (b) women (lay or ordained) who are commissioned to minister to men as well as to women.

None of the woman in a local church want to be ordained? There is no pressure from me to do so.

But a woman wants to be ordained, believing she is called by God - let's say one with responsibilities of childrearing in the past, one with a quality theological education, gifts of teaching and sound evangelical convictions? Let's ordain her!

Would one ordained women on the staff of a well led, well balanced larger parish be handicapped reaching men? Not at all.

Should a woman be able to give an evangelistic talk in a rugby club? Perhaps. I love rugby, am a man, am ordained, but I do not think I am the right bloke for that caper. But should such an ability in a prospective woman ordinand be a sine qua non of ordination? I cannot see where that is laid down in Scripture!

Paul writes in the Pastorals as though only men may be presbyters or episcopoi? True, but was he in those remarks addressing the whole future history of the church? Life has changed in a number of ways. Ways which mean (for example) that we do not think it necessary for women to be veiled in church, for men to lift hands when they pray in church, or for the church to run an enrolment scheme for widows.

Let me address a question to you? Do you believe in a God who creates men and women, redeems men and women, gifts men and women, leads men and women into all truth, calls men and women to be faithful to that truth and to teach that truth, yet determines that on gender and only on gender grounds a gifted, believing, able woman teacher may never teach in the gathering of male and female believers?

Rosemary said...

Let me address a question to you? Do you believe in a God who creates men and women .. yes, without doubt.

Redeems men and women .. yes, without doubt.

Gifts men and women .. yes, without doubt.

Leads men and women into all truth .. yes, without doubt.

Calls men and women to be faithful to that truth and to teach that truth .. yes, without doubt.

From then on the question isn't one I can answer. My question would be to women, does God call you to teach men? With the corollary, where is that in Scripture? It's an honest question. I KNOW the Lord calls us into service, ALL of us, but having had no 'call' .. and I'm not sure how that is determined .. to teach men, I can't answer the rest.

Anonymous said...

"Let me address a question to you? Do you believe in a God who creates men and women, redeems men and women, gifts men and women, leads men and women into all truth, calls men and women to be faithful to that truth and to teach that truth, yet determines that on gender and only on gender grounds a gifted, believing, able woman teacher may never teach in the gathering of male and female believers?"

The issue isn't 'teaching' as such, in the sense of the conveying of information, which any informed and instructed person can do, 'lay' or 'ordained', but in the organic relationship between teaching, pastoring and ruling a congregation: spiritual headship, in other words. Does God call women to be spiritual heads over men? Is a woman bishop the spiritual head of her husband?
IOW, do the male-female dimorphism of the human race and the coveannt of marriage have any spiritual significance for congregational life? Many people will find the very idea preposterous today, but is that because we are functionalist and have lost any sense of the particular callings of male and fermale?

Anonymous said...

... and as a corollary of this, let us recall also the notorious words of Ephesians 5.22-33, describing the husband-wife relationship as hardly symmetrical (but profoundly complementary as respecting the differences between males and females within the marriage covenant) and as the image of the relationship between Christ and His Church. This is the principal reason why Catholic and Orthodox Christians understand the ordained minsitry as being the eikon tou Christou.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary and Anonymous

I appreciate very much that you have answered my last question with questions - that keeps conversation open and ongoing.

I read Scripture as open-ended on some matters, including church governance, and the outworking of family life. Presbyterians and Catholics can both claim their governance models are grounded in Scripture! I cannot see that there is a watertight Scriptural case which conjoins headship in marriage to headship in church leadership ... there is a case, but not one which I have confidence in myself. To my mind as a reader of Scripture I am very much in agreement with the letter writer I cited in the post above:

"We are trusted with an emerging pattern not a fixed pattern."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Your comment re Ephesians/ikons/etc came after I made the comment above!

I simply observe (as a consideration, not as the whole response to a Catholic-and-Orthodox understanding of ministry), that (a) Ephesians 5 emphasises the role of Christ as the head of the church, (b) all of us, male and female, as the church are the female counterpart to Christ as husband of the church, (c) any understanding of the priest as the ikon of Christ cannot escape the importance in today's world (i.e. where we do not accept any sense in which women are lesser human beings than men) of the priest as the ikon of Christ the human being, not simply of Christ the male.

If the church includes me as a male as part of the image of the wife of Christ, why can a woman not be included in Christ's earthly ministry as an image of Christ the husband?

Rosemary said...

"We are trusted with an emerging pattern not a fixed pattern."

Hmm, well what that says to me is God didn’t know about the end, so He couldn’t instruct us because it’s ‘emerging.’ What it also says to me is that ‘culture’ beats Scripture. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. And..

why can a woman not be included in Christ's earthly ministry as an image of Christ the husband?

I had a real belly chuckle about this. No good suggesting this to me of course, I LIKE being a woman and have no desire to be a man. But again, a corollary .. why don’t we hear about women deeply concerned for their menfolk. We DO hear about men concerned for the wellbeing of their gender different colleagues, but women talk about .. well women. What’s that about?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary

An emerging pattern could be God's genius! Allowing for the variety and spice of life ...

As for your last question: I understand the question and dare not attempt to answer it!

Anonymous said...

Rosemary here holds the clearly consistent Evangelical position. Either the Bible is the inspired Word of God with its plain meaning permanently valid. Or you have the pick and mix: I don't agree with this but I do with that, and I'll work hard to twist things to justify and rationalise my position. Rosemary is consistent: what is written in the Bible is there for the "whole future history of the church" - otherwise you are presenting a quite un-evangelical understanding of the Bible, valid in itself, but let's be honest about what it is. If the Bible is God's Word to today's church in its plain sense, then what is in it addresses us all as it is. Other theories of the Bible abound, but let's not mix them up. Go Rosemary!

David Ould said...

Peter, I think it's rather inaccurate to describe my article as "taking a swipe".

I laid out a reasoned complaint against the sort of material that Rees and others produced.

If anyone had "taken a swipe" it was Rees - she was the one who inaccurately described those she disagrees with.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David
I have modified my language!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous,
Sorry but you are writing nonsense when you say, "Either the Bible is the inspired Word of God with its plain meaning permanently valid. Or you have the pick and mix: I don't agree with this but I do with that, and I'll work hard to twist things to justify and rationalise my position."

The meaning of the Bible is not always plain and it is not always valid. If it was we would be stoning adulterers and not eating shellfish. We do not have to work hard to justify not stoning adulterers but we do have to work hard at issues like whether it is ever just to kill someone (e.g. in war, or for certain crimes). On such matters the Bible is not clear and Christian through the centuries have had honourable disagreements with one another on such matters.

"Pick and mix" is a taunt and not worthy of a Christian to make against another Christian. You can go, for example, to many evangelical, Bible-belieiving churches and not find one woman wearing a head scarf, nor one man raising his hands when praying, nor evidence of a scheme for enrolling widows. I do not call that 'pick and mix'. I call that common sense application of the Bible in today's world.

Anonymous said...

OK, now the conversation takes a more interesting turn (and a comparatively new - even 'emerging'! - one for me, as I've usually thought in functionalist terms for years).

"I simply observe (as a consideration, not as the whole response to a Catholic-and-Orthodox understanding of ministry), that (a) Ephesians 5 emphasises the role of Christ as the head of the church,"
- yes, but note that it is cast in the ancient, highly intimate covenantal terms of Yahweh and his wife. Husband-wife are not interchangeable terms (for Christians, anyweay).
"(b) all of us, male and female, as the church are the female counterpart to Christ as husband of the church,"
- agreed - so what does it mean that Christ is the husband and not the wife? There is a real distinction to be teased out here. How do you understand this, Peter?
"(c) any understanding of the priest as the ikon of Christ cannot escape the importance in today's world (i.e. where we do not accept any sense in which women are lesser human beings than men) of the priest as the ikon of Christ the human being, not simply of Christ the male."
- actually "today's world" (= the secular west) is in the process of abolishing gender distinctions in marriage itself, hence same sex 'marriage', 'civil unions' etc - things that Paul would have found bizarre and reprobate (but OK for Anglican clergy). Nothing in the NT says women are 'any lesser human beings' than men, even if misogyny appeared in some later monastic writings and the absurd ideas of Aristotle on gender influenced Aquinas. Appeal to 'today's world' means culture and history trump apostolic practice.

"If the church includes me as a male as part of the image of the wife of Christ, why can a woman not be included in Christ's earthly ministry as an image of Christ the husband?"
- If I understand Paul aright, because that's how the sovereign Lord disposed things, through the metaphor of marriage with the complementary union of opposites, and the inescapable fact that all the pronouns for God and the overwhelming representations of God in the Bible are in male terms (King, Warrior, Husband, Shepherd - with occasional avian, leonine or petrological exceptions). Again, this fact offends modern feminist-influenced thought.
(It's interesting to compare here how the Virgin Mary functions iconographically and ideologically in Catholic thinking, as Queen, Mother, Theotokos etc.)

Kurt said...

Well, Fr. Carrell, this only confirms what many of us “Up Over” in North America have been saying for a long time. Homophobia and misogyny are just two sides of the same right-wing coin. The alliance of convenience composed of con-evos and anglo-papalists have felt free to violate our canons in the New World, and now (as we said they would) they seem ready to bring their circus to the UK (and next, to NZ?)

They feel that since they have “the numbers” the future belongs to them. We know, however, that the future belongs to God; that the Holy One is in charge, not us human beings. A lot can happen in three years, let alone in 30 or 300, or 3000 years.

Kurt Hill
In (still snowy) Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
If Christians through the centuries had a better grasp of maleness and femaleness in the presence of God Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life the 'need' for the cult of the Virgin Mary etc might never have arisen ... to that end it is important that we get these things right as part of our honour of God and understanding of the doctrine of God!

My point about a woman imaging Christ, God taking on human flesh, has nothing to do with modern gender blurring, and everything to do with the full force of the text of Scripture. Whether we read Ephesians in 80 AD, or 1480 AD, or 2080 AD, male and female readers are invited in Ephesians 5 to consider that together, as the church, within the husband/wife, groom/bride imagery of God/Israel and then Christ/church, we constitute the wife or bride. If you wish to call that gender blurring then please give either God or Isaiah, Hosea and Paul the credit ... not 21st century westernism!

Conversely, given that nothing in the Bible requires us to think of presbyters of the church as eikons of Christ, we have freedom to explore what this might mean, and I am suggesting that it is right and proper that the imaging (if we choose that understanding of presbyteral/priestly ministry) is not of Christ the husband/groom per se but of Christ the divine in human flesh.

I am also suggesting that we live in an age in which we do not treat women as second class citizens, so we rightly explore what it means that we have re-appropriated the teaching of the Bible that men and women are equal before God, created in God's image and redeemed by the blood of Christ. This equality has nothing to do with late Western notions of egalitarianism and rights and everything to do with the core theology of the Bible. Given that we have woken up to the fact that it was wrong to permit men to vote and not women, to admit men to universities and not women, etc, it is appropriate to wake up to the full humanity of Christ as presented in Scripture and to the implications of that for the ministry of Christ in the church.

There is actually quite a deep truth in the cliche that we do not require our priests to be Jewish in order to image Christ and neither should we require them to be male.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt
I appreciate what you are saying but cannot agree with you on a couple of things - homophobia and misogyny may be related in some people, but there is no necessity. Indeed I have heard complaints from some women about some misogynistic homosexuals!!

I also do not agree that it is an alliance of convenience between 'con-evos' and 'anglo-papalists'. In some instances that may be the case, but at the core 'con-evos' and 'anglo-papalists' share a deep, non-convenient commitment to ancient truths as they understand them.

Finally, numbers do matter at least in this sense, when no one goes to church there is no one to argue in the church!

Anonymous said...

With a few non-significant changes of words your 6:57AM comment today would translate to a strong argument for accepting and blessing same-sex couples. Can only non-Christians challenge Christians if their beliefs are “pick and mix”? Rosemary is consistent in following the plain meaning of the Bible. To bring the need for “a scheme for enrolling widows” into a discussion about women’s headship is akin to bringing shrimp into a discussion about homosexuality. Yes, women clearly image God and Christ in the plain understanding of the Bible, but not Christ’s headship as that is Biblically integral to his masculinity. The maleness of Christ is not Biblically irrelevant in the overall teaching of the Bible, not merely in picking and choosing verses. Your introduction of the place of Jesus’ mother is merely a further distraction. Why is accepting women bishops and presbyters “common sense application of the Bible in today's world” and accepting the blessing of same-sex couples not “common sense application of the Bible in today's world”?

Anonymous said...

"Given that we have woken up to the fact that it was wrong to permit men to vote and not women,"
- royal and aristocratic women always had more power than male commoners; have you never heard of Elizabeth I? Anne? Victoria? even the Empress Matilda? Social class and the blood royal were much more significant in the past than gender;
"to admit men to universities and not women, etc, it is appropriate to wake up to the full humanity of Christ as presented in Scripture"
- I am not sure what this means; the 'full humanity' of Christ was male, not androgynous;
"and to the implications of that for the ministry of Christ in the church"
- which are what? They seem to have escaped the selection of the apostles and the presbuteroi/episkopoi in the apostolic church and in subsequent centuries.

"There is actually quite a deep truth in the cliche that we do not require our priests to be Jewish in order to image Christ and neither should we require them to be male."
Paul already understood that presbyters didn't have to be Jewish. Why did he fail to follow through on female presbyters? As Kurt and Tec might tell us, for the same reason that he failed to follow though in affirming homosexual relations (a man of his time who distorted Jesus' message).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
If a Christian is 'picking and mixing' then let another Christian challenge him or her. But 'pick and mix' is a taunt in so much as it is charged against Christians sincerely trying to find a way forward in how we live our lives in the world - a world which is different in important ways to the world in which Scripture was first written.

Perhaps with some changes my argument could also be an argument for same sex partnerships. I have not thought that through. But I sincerely hope that no argument for greater appreciation of women in Christ's ministry is inhibited by anxieties over what the argument might mean for other issues. That could be, once again, to make men's issues trump women's concerns.

When you say "To bring the need for “a scheme for enrolling widows” into a discussion about women’s headship is akin to bringing shrimp into a discussion about homosexuality" I am at loss to understand how you consistently interpret Scripture. If we set aside the Bible on one matter but not on another matter logic suggests, if not demands, that we have consistent reasoning for doing so. I cannot detect your consistent reasoning behind the words I have cited.

Finally, it may yet prove that it is a common sense application of the Bible to accept same sex partnerships. In the midst of our great Anglican debate on human sexuality can we rule out the possibility that committed same sex partnerships are a more reasonable alternative to asking people either to hide their sexuality or to suppress it or to fulfil it in promiscuity. To close out that possibility may appear to be demanded by Scripture, but love of our neighbour (treating the other as we would treat ourselves) suggests we take extraordinary care in thinking through what it means to be human, including the integrity of sexuality in our lives.

Peter Carrell said...

Help, how many Anonymice are commenting? The One or the Many?

My comment above was responding to 7.38 am. This is a response to 7.54 am (and last response for a while as I must attend to other things).

Briefly, (1) Paul was not consistent re presbyters. In 1 Timothy 3 he calls them episcopoi. Rightly we can understand Paul across his writings to be setting out general themes on church governance not one watertight scheme. (2) It is possible that in Romans 16 he is deeming Junia (female) to be an apostle. (3) We might do more considering of the significance of calling Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 'co-labourers'. (4) All this is in line with Jesus' own treatment of women, as disciples, as witnesses of the resurrection. (5) If maleness is so important to apostles-succeeded by bishops/presbyters, why is it not also important to deacons? Yet the male deacons of Acts 6 by Romans 16 has incorporated a female deacon, Phoebe. Can you be certain that the NT era knew no women presbyters?

Please ponder again the implications for women's full humanity in Christ as redeemed creations of God if you persist in standing by your statement, " the 'full humanity' of Christ was male"!!

Anonymous said...

Peter, the Seven in Acts 6 are not called 'diakonoi'. In any case, 'diakonos' and 'presbuteros' were quite separate offices. Sydney ordains women deacons.

"Can you be certain that the NT era knew no women presbyters?"
Trying to prove a negative is near well impossible. Of an unrecoverable past we can only go by the clear evidence - and not by special pleading.

Anonymous said...

"Please ponder again the implications for women's full humanity in Christ as redeemed creations of God if you persist in standing by your statement, " the 'full humanity' of Christ was male""

It is fascinating that on your blog you put so much energy into deprecating the blessing of same-sex couples, but are now prepared to say you haven't thought through the connection between that and your position on ordaining women!

The Bible's position on gender difference and equality is plain, and Rosemary holds to it consistently.

Christ's maleness is not accidental or incidental within the Bible's teaching. In the Bible Christ redeems men AND women AS A MAN. Following your approach, Christ could just as well have been a woman. In the Bible a man can redeem a woman, but a woman could not redeem a man.

Your position leads logically to that of TEC - you just have not thought your position through to its logical conclusion yet.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous

(a) "The Bible's position on gender difference and equality is plain". Really? Again, just two simple questions, if it is also plain sailing, why do churches today not insist on women wearing a head covering, and why are there no enrolment schemes for widows?

(b) "In the Bible a man can redeem a woman, but a woman could not redeem a man." Really? A woman could play no part in the salvation of a man? Th salvation of humanity is dependent on a man. That wouldn't be because woman are being blamed for sin, would it?

(c) " Following your approach, Christ could just as well have been a woman." Indeed (though the history of Israel would have needed to have been different).

(d) I accept that you do not see it, but I see considerable difference between grappling with the reality of the salvation of humanity, both male and female, and the requirements for preaching the gospel to humanity, a task for which both men and women can be equipped by God; and the question of whether two men or two women can be married, the intrinsic definition of which normally requires that one party be equipped as a man and the other as a woman.

Rosemary said...

John Richardson mentioned Carrie Sandom in his post. He also mentioned just how marginalised women who believe as she does and I do .. are marginalised by you Peter, [you refer to this as a pamphet asking women to submit to men, when it is MUCH more than that] and EVERYONE else, including women. Please read this link of Carrie's ..

http://www.reform.org.uk/pages/bb/womens-ministry.php

Kurt said...

“...homophobia and misogyny may be related in some people, but there is no necessity. Indeed I have heard complaints from some women about some misogynistic homosexuals!!_--Fr. Carrell

That’s quite true; I’ve (unfortunately) witnessed it myself in some gay men. Not all gay men (or lesbians) are theologically or politically progressive. Some folks, regardless of sexual orientation, can be quite reactionary on most issues

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

PS:

Peter, I suggest that you institute a policy whereby people cannot sign-off as Anonymous. Require all posters to at least use a web nickname when commenting on your sight if they can't work up the guts to use their real names.--kh

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,

I am sorry that you and others feels marginalized by anything I say or write because that is the last intention on my mind. My intention is to seek clarity as an evangelical on the controversial question within evangelicalism concerning whether women may be ordained as presbyters or bishops. Arguing that the answer is, "They may", actually says nothing about all the other things women may do (and should do) in ministry in the church. Most of the women I am close to as family and friends are not ordained and not seeking ordination. They contribute awesomely in the church. I am at a loss as to why and how the pursuit of the above question means any kind of marginalization of their ministry, let alone devaluation is involved.

As for Carrie Sandom's writings, I have posted separately on that!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt
Accepting Anonymous comments is a policy under constant review!

Rosemary said...

Sigh .. we're back where we started Peter. Will the Anglican Church in the province of New Zealand, WELCOME churches and ministers who believe as Carrie and I believe. You admit in your new post that such churches are 'successful' .. although 'success' can only be determined through God's eyes, and not the worlds .. but are they WELCOME members. Are they treasured, supported, encouraged, given space to articulate their views. My over 20 years of experience says loudly .. NO.

But that is what is necessary, we must redress the balance or you will lose those 'successful' churches. Is that what you want?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I am trying, in my own small, possibly insignificant way, to redress that balance. I do so on the basis that an inclusive Anglican church should be as inclusive of the right as of the left, of the liberal as of the conservative, of the evangelical as of the anglo-catholic, with the proviso that the canons and constitution of our church should be observed, and, one day I hope, the spirit and intention of the Covenant.