Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Look Sydney, here is a model of grace

"We need to say very clearly, that we understand, and deeply regret, the pain, hurt and anger felt on the part of many women clergy and their supporters; that we value the huge contribution of ordained women to the life of the Church of England; and that we recognise the gifts which God has given in and through their ministries."

Thus writes the Bishop of Ebbsfleet who will not ordain women. But the Diocese of Sydney, asked merely to note twenty years of the ordination of women could not bring itself to do so, let alone to 'value the huge contribution of ordained women to the life of [the Anglican Church of Australia].'

I thank God for the grace of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet. I remain amazed that the Sydney synod could resolve in the way it did to effectively deny that women are ordained in the life of the wider national church to which the synod belongs.


39 comments:

Mr. Mcgranor said...

You Calvinists' are rather odd with your convictions.

Kurt said...

Yes, Peter, it is sad,isn't it.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

MichaelA said...

Peter, I really don't think that anyone in Sydney is unaware that some (not all) other dioceses in the Anglican Church of Australia ordain women as priests.

Nor that some (by no means all) other provinces in the Anglican Communion ordain women as priests.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael,
That awareness only makes it weirder that the synod could not approve a motion which noted the fact of which it is aware!

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

It seems that you are possibly implying two things from your post:

1. That the only way that women can contribute to the life of the church is if they ordained and/or that the epitome of service for women is to be ordained.


2. That those (Sydney Anglicans) who don't agree with women's ordination don't believe that women contribute much to the life of the church and therefore don't value women.
This flies in the face of what I have been told. Although I was born and raised in Sydney, as you know I am a Minister in the Newcastle Diocese (across the River next door and very soon are moving to the Armidale diocese) so I am not very privy to the inner (or even the outer) workings of Sydney diocese. But I do know there are more than 130 theologically trained women in significant leadership roles in Sydney diocese; that Moore College encourages woment to study at Moore.

p.s One more thing Peter, I have not heard of any diocese that ordains women to the priesthood passing a motion at a Sydnod that says:

"We need to say very clearly, that we understand, and deeply regret, the pain, hurt and anger felt on the part of those Priests and Deaconesses and lay people who disagree with women's ordination and their supporters; that we value the huge contribution of those ordained who in good conscience cannot endorse the ordination of women to the priesthood of the (insert province here)and that we recognise the gifts which God has given in and through their ministries."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua
I cannot have been very clear.

(1) Women (and men) contribute in many ways in many ministries of the church, and all are worth giving thanks for, both the people and their ministries. I am absolutely not one for thinking that "ministry" equals "ordained ministry."

The epitome of service is service, not ordained ministry. Nevertheless their are women in ordained ministry and they give their lives to it as men who are ordained do. Those ordained women often suffer the indignity of being more scrutinised and more criticised in their ministry than their male counterparts. I think it reasonable and gracious from time to time to "note" their work and to give thanks for it, alongside all other ministries of women.

(2) I do not know how you get your first sentence from my post or the previous one about it: the story makes clear that Sydney passed a motion giving thanks for women in ministries. I need no convincing that Sydney values the ministry of women: there are women ministers all over the shop, some are ordained deacons, one or two are archdeacons, etc. The value placed on such ministries only makes it all the odder why they cannot bring themselves to ordain women as presbyters.

(3) I do not know either of a diocese which has passed such a motion.

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

"Those ordained women often suffer the indignity of being more scrutinised and more criticised in their ministry than their male counterparts."

I am not sure if that is the issue that you were making in your OP and I don't this is the issue. In fact I have never heard of anyone criticising or scrutinising a priest due to their gender. It seems to me in dioceses that endorse and practice WO, the scrutiny and criticism is aimed at those who disagree with WO whether they be ordained, lay or ordination candidates. Such being the case, I don't think this is the issue of your post, (unless of course, it is and in my obtusity I have missed it)

"I do not know how you get your first sentence from my post or the previous one about it"

Well the title of your OP suggests that Sydney diocese lacks grace. And your use of language (i.e. But the Sydney Diocese...could not bring itself to do so)and the previous posts also.

As for my hyperthetical third point, perhaps you missed my point?

The criticism aimed at a diocese/bishop/clergy that don't believe that women should be ordained to the Priesthood (and of course Sydney diocese always seems to cop it even though it is not the only one) seems rather (for the want of a better term...) luxuriant in light of the fact that there seems to be a strong coercive pull to ensure that when it comes to WO that everyone toes the line. History I think has shown this. For example within the Kirk (Church of Scotland) the progression has been clear to see over the decades:
When it comes to women being ordained:
"We could"

Then:
When it comes to women being ordained:
"We should"

Then:

When it comes to women being ordained:
"We must!"

Which is why I think the hyperthetical motion from a hyperthetical is well and truly hyperthetical.

David Ould said...

I do not know either of a diocese which has passed such a motion

That's what Joshua said. That was his point. He was observing the double-standard (which you are sadly reinforcing here too).

David Ould said...

The value placed on such ministries only makes it all the odder why they cannot bring themselves to ordain women as presbyters.

Only when one insists that value must be measured by rank or office.

When one realises that such an approach is utterly wordly, then we are freed from this divisive pursuit of rank and office.

Joshua is right. There are far more women here in Sydney working away in ministry, being highly valued for the work they do, and then being utterly demeaned by others (such as yourself) who imply they have less value just because they don't have an extra title.

Jesus Christ, though God, considered equality with God not something to be grasped at yet made himself nothing. If some proponents of women's consecration were to be believed, He was "undervalued" and treated with contempt by the Father which only serves to demonstrate how flawed some of the argument is.

David Ould said...

... effectively deny that women are ordained in the life of the wider national church ...

The motion did no such thing. It noted the ordination. Many contributors to the discussion in Synod also noted that the initial ordinations were entirely illegal and carried out by the Archbishop of Perth before he had canonical authority to do so.

The original motion, as framed, was left open to endorse that initial divisive action. It also made no mention (as noted) of the many many lay women in ministry positions in Sydney and elsewhere. It was, any objective observer would agree, as political a motion as any other.

So Synod ended up noting the ordinations and then recognising and affirming the ministry of all women. A far more comprehensively gracious response.

carl jacobs said...

Gracious? You might call it ingratiating. You might call it appeasement. You might call it a good tactic to say something nice about the opposition so they might perhaps stop and listen. But gracious? They minority doesn't have the standing to be gracious. They are more isolated and vulnerable now than they were before the vote. There are people openly boiling tar in pots and thinking thoughts of vengeance, and you think the minority is in a position to extend grace to a defeated foe?

The minority wants the proponents of WO to discuss new more robust provisions. It won't get that discussion by antagonizing an angry majority. This isn't grace. It's blindingly obvious self-interest. And it won't work. There is simply no appetite to strengthen the provisions for traditionalists. There is instead plenty of appetite to reverse this result one way or another as soon as possible. Besides, there is no 'robust' provision that will reconcile the need for protection with the demand of submission. What was offered was the best that will ever be offered. What's coming is the naked imposition of raw power.

You have lifted a statement out of its context and offered it to Sydney as an example. But there is no commonality between the cases. A supplicant with his head on the block is in no position to be gracious to his executioner. Except to forgive him for what he is about to do.

carl

MichaelA said...

Hi Peter, going back to your earlier response to me, I think most people in Sydney wouldn't regard the ordination of women as having done anything positive for women's ministry. Obviously others have a different view, but that may give an indication as to why they saw the inclusion of a reference to it in the motion as implying a connection that they actively disagree with.

I have to be circumspect here because I am not a synod rep, I didn't hear the debates, and I am not a member of the clergy. However, the motion has been the subject of some discussion outside of Synod.

MichaelA said...

Josh, moving to Armidale - wow, I hope you survive the change in weather! The new bishop Rick Lewers was our parish priest for a while - he is very missionary minded, a real heart for the gospel ... also a good batsman (cricket)!

Anyway, wherever you and your family go, I am sure the Lord will bless your ministry.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
If I have demeaned any woman in Sydney by implication then I apologise profusely for that.

I am simply asking why, when women are so highly valued for their ministry, they cannot be ordained presbyters, like men, whom I presume are ordained because their ministry is valued and the ordination is an appropriate recognition of that ministry. (There are, of course, many ministries of men and women which do not need any recognition via ordination).

I am very sorry that things have come to such a pass that an ordained man asking why women cannot be ordained too is by implication demaning non-ordained women. Perhaps you could guide me as to an appropriate way to put the case for women being ordained as well as men without anyone being demeaned.

Also, man to man, do you think that by being ordained we have unwittingly demeaned lay brothers in ministry?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David
Re the motion

I am now confused by your version of the motion and the report in the post below (Sad if true). Did the final wording of the motion include reference to the ordination of women or not?

David Ould said...

Peter, my apologies. Typed too quickly.
I meant to say that the discussion (I was there) noted the ordination of women but when on to cover the issues I raised.

The rationale was as I reported - to "note" the anniversary was a not so clandestine way to affirm what was, at the time, illegal.

David Ould said...

I am simply asking why, when women are so highly valued for their ministry, they cannot be ordained presbyters, like men, whom I presume are ordained because their ministry is valued and the ordination is an appropriate recognition of that ministry.

I already gave the answer in my comment. Here it is again,

Only when one insists that value must be measured by rank or office.

David Ould said...

Also, man to man, do you think that by being ordained we have unwittingly demeaned lay brothers in ministry?

No, of course not. But I do think it ridiculous to say that if you do not ordain a man you are demeaning his ministry because, once again, I don't go around judging people's worth by the label we put on them.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,

(1) Re the synod discussion/resolution: thank you - I now have a coherent understanding (albeit from afar) of the relationship between the proposed motion, the discussion and the eventual resolution.

(2) I am not insisting that value must be measured by rank or office. I am insisting that a church which recognises ministry through ordination for men has no intrinsic reason for withholding ordination from women. What, precisely, is the reason for not ordaining women in a church which ordains men?

(3) Agreed. If we do not unwittingly demean lay male ministers by being ordained men then we do not demean lay female ministers by ordaining women.

liturgy said...

I don’t want to derail your excellent thread, Peter, but as an aside, responding to your question:

“Also, man to man, do you think that by being ordained we have unwittingly demeaned lay brothers in ministry?”

my answer would be that yes, sadly, this has too often been the case. The use of ordination in our province has often not only devalued lay ministry, but also devalued ordained ministry.

A little more attention to 1 Tim 5:22-like thoughts would have helped.

An inevitable consequence has been the diminishing of quality younger people discerning their call, and an overall lessening in the mission and ministry of the church.

To return to your thread – have you seen this? http://ncronline.org/news/people/jesuit-penalized-after-eucharistic-liturgy-woman-priest

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
Thanks for the link (now added into today's post).

Yes, demeaning is a consequence of ordination in too many cases. My plea of course is both that we find a way to ordain which is not demeaning while working out how to ordain both men and women without diminution to other men and women.

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Originally i read something about discerning by God -- in relation to women clergy and the like. Now i do not see it. So my original comment is out of place. Was the article edited?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mr M,
I am not sure what you are referring to. There may have been some changes.

Mr. Mcgranor said...

My impression was that discerning should not be that difficult; especially to the Calvinist.

MichaelA said...

"I am simply asking why, when women are so highly valued for their ministry, they cannot be ordained presbyters, like men, whom I presume are ordained because their ministry is valued and the ordination is an appropriate recognition of that ministry."

Because 'value' has nothing to do with it. People don't get ordained to add value or show recognition to their ministry. Its not 'all about them'. Rather, they get ordained because God has set them apart for a particular ministry.

Christ and his apostles taught that only men can be set aside for the offices of presbyteros and episkopos. The sub-apostolic church and the patristic church followed their teaching. Who are we to change it?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael,
I think it worth not dividing "value" too much from "setting apart" in our understanding of ordination.

Ordination as a setting apart is a recognition of ministry taking place in and through the one being ordained - that is, the recognition is a manner of 'valuing' the ministry.

I accept that 'value' could be a distracting word in such discussions.

I certainly don't mean that we 'value' someone when we ordain them so that we 'devalue' another person by not ordaining them. I am meaning that the value of someone's ministry, especially in teaching and authority may be recognised through ordination as a permanent setting apart of the person to continue in that ministry.

Shawn said...

Hi Michael,

Can you show me where that teaching is? Where does Jesus address the issue? Where do the Apostles?

And the practice if the early, pre-Patristic Church is not anywhere near that clear cut, although as an Evangelical I tend to dismiss arguments based on tradition anyway.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Christ and his apostles taught that only men can be set aside for the offices of presbyteros and episkopos. The sub-apostolic church and the patristic church followed their teaching. Who are we to change it?"


When and where did this supposed 'teaching' by Jesus occur? Did He ever specifically deny ministry to women? If so, where is his precise instruction in the Scriptures. Did Jesus tell them they could minister to Him but not minister as clergy.

When Jesus presided at the Last Supper, do you think his instructions "Do this to remember me" was meant only for male clergy?

(I ask this only because some people only believe what they actually read in the scriptures).

Peter Carrell said...

As I understand it, Ron, (at least on eucharist and ordination) you do believe what you read in Scripture but are not prepared to believe what you do not read in Scripture!

David Ould said...

What, precisely, is the reason for not ordaining women in a church which ordains men?

I'll assume there is a level of witty irony in this question, Peter, since I have no doubt you are well aware of the arguments.

David Ould said...

When Jesus presided at the Last Supper, do you think his instructions "Do this to remember me" was meant only for male clergy?

No. Everyone is entitled to eat the bread and drink the cup - not just male clergy. I don't know one single conservative who would argue otherwise.

Readers will note that Jesus' "do this, in remembrance of me" refers to his prior command of "eat this" and "drink this" and has nothing directly to do with the question of ordination or otherwise.

David Ould said...

but are not prepared to believe what you do not read in Scripture!

Not true. Ron and others and indignantly insistent that only "ordained priests" can administer communion. He's more than "prepared to believe" it despite not reading it in Scripture.

David Ould said...

A little more attention to 1 Tim 5:22-like thoughts would have helped.

no more than 1Tim 2:12, surely? Unless we're being inconsistent about what is a local instruction and what is universal.

I propose that what Paul actually intended Timothy to be aware of was being hasty of laying on hands on some very specific people in Ephesus. Apart from that, we really can't make such sweeping claims, can we?

MichaelA said...

Shawn,

I am not sure what you mean by "clear-cut" – the doctrine of the trinity is not "clear-cut" (in the sense of the word being used) but it is nevertheless found in its entirety in scripture.

Anyway, I will provide a brief summary of the evangelical case against ordination of women, although I suspect the points are pretty well known by all sides (and probably already better expressed by others than I can manage!)

I will first follow the issue in chronological order through the NT: Jesus appointed only men to head the church, and commissioned only men to wield authority in it (see numerous references re the Twelve). The great commission was given initially only to men, i.e. the Eleven (Matt 28:16-20). When it came time to choose a new member of the Twelve, the apostles under inspiration of the Holy Spirit considered only men (Acts 1:21). At Pentecost, all the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit, but only Peter and the Eleven preached to the crowd (Acts 2:14). The new church then devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:42). When deacons were required, all those chosen were men (Acts 6:3, 5-6). The scriptures later give us specific permission for female deacons (Romans 16:1, 1 Timothy 3:11) but they never give any such provision for female priests or bishops.

We then get to the specific teaching on this issue: In 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Paul says that he does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man. Immediately after that (1 Timothy 3:2) Paul says that an episkopos must be "a man with one woman", i.e. a husband with only one wife. In 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul refers to the "elders who direct the affairs of the church", and they are male. In Titus 1:5, Paul gives a similar list of qualifications for an elder (presbyteros) which includes the same qualification: he must be "a man of one woman".

There are thus several passages in scripture where we are taught that elders (presbyteroi) and bishops (episkopoi) must be men, and nowhere that we are taught that they may be women.

Finally, the early church. Like you, I am evangelical, but I do not therefore disregard the witness of the early church. They were not apostles, but they were putting the apostolic teaching (scripture) into practice before we were, and we can learn from them. The fact that the patristic church (and the later church) overwhelmingly held that the offices of elder and bishop were reserved for men is not conclusive, but it is significant. If someone today is going to say that other Christians have been wrong for 2,000 years, the onus is on them to provide strong evidence for their assertion.

MichaelA said...

Father Ron,

My response to part of your questions are set out in my preceding response to Shawn. However, note that the word "ministry" in scripture is not restricted to what we call ordained ministry – some of your questions appear to be based on that premise. All believers are called to ministry, whereas only a few are called to lead congregations, and that particular office is reserved to men.

Re Jesus at the Last Supper, I think his instruction was given to anyone who was present. Mark 14:17, 20 indicate that only the Twelve were present. But in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 the Apostle Paul indicate that he received the teaching directly from Jesus that all Christians should do this, and Paul now passes that teaching onto the whole Church.

Anonymous said...

David writes: "Readers will note that Jesus' "do this, in remembrance of me" refers to his prior command of "eat this" and "drink this" and has nothing directly to do with the question of ordination or otherwise."

Very astute - I hadn't noticed that before but will never miss it now! The NT shows NO interest in who "presides at the Lord's supper" at all. A strong argument for lay presidency if I ever saw one!
Full disclosure: I've received communion over the years in Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal churches. I guess none of these "count"?
Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin,
In my view all "ordered" communions "count" where order is the event being undertaken according to the order of such things within the tradition which has developed in that church (i.e. denomination) - providing that church's larger theological narrative has developed according to the creeds and Scripture (I know little about Jehovah's Witnesses, but if they had communion then that wouldn't "count" ...).

I don't believe in "lay presidency" within the ordering of Anglicanism: it is not part of our ordering of communion which is via presbyteral/priestly or episcopal ministry. Our choice within the freedom of the NT re presidency has been to work with the role of elder and overseer as president.

Could it be changed (as, e.g. we have changed presidency [in some Anglican regions] to include women as well as men]? Yes. But it should be changed by the whole of an Anglican church not by one diocese or parish or congregation or vicar.

Anonymous said...

That's just an argument for tradition for tradition's sake, Peter - 'we do it because we've always done it.' A good reason for burning Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley etc, I would have thought.

"Could it be changed (as, e.g. we have changed presidency [in some Anglican regions] to include women as well as men]? Yes. But it should be changed by the whole of an Anglican church not by one diocese or parish or congregation or vicar."

I'm glad you agree it's not a law of the Medes and the Persians. I don'r advocate anarchy either. It is simply the case that if authorised lay preaching and lay leadership of worship is ok, as well as baptism by lay people, then authorised lay presidency should follow as well. Ecclesia semper reformanda est.

If anyone replies: 'But tradition doesn't allow this', neither does it allow WO. In all probability, 'lay presidency' (to speak anachronistically) probably existed in NT times.

Martin

MichaelA said...

"That's just an argument for tradition for tradition's sake, Peter - 'we do it because we've always done it.' A good reason for burning Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley etc, I would have thought."

I don't think that's right Martin. I don't know if you are Anglican or not so pardon me if this may not be relevant to you, but as an Anglican I have an obligation to understand the system of church government that I share with 80 million other Anglicans the world over (no-one forces me to be Anglican - it is my choice).

Cranmer's concept which is fundamental to Anglican church governance, is that the whole congregation should gather for Holy Communion once per week, under its properly constituted leaders. The chief leader of the congregation is the elder (in Greek 'presbyteros' or in Middle English, the 'priest'). Therefore, as an expression of the biblical principle of good order, the priest must preside over Holy Communion which, among other things, is the fullest expression of the unity of God's people.

Could that be changed? Quite possibly, but not unilaterally by me or by any single diocese or province. 'Good order' demands that such a step only be taken after due consultation across all Anglican churches.

You wrote:
"If anyone replies: 'But tradition doesn't allow this', neither does it allow WO."

Sure, but that is a negative reason, not a positive reason. In the end, the error (as I see it) of allowing WO does not permit me to wilfully commit a second error, of allowing lay presidency.