From Mark (13/13/12, 6.13 pm, re WO): "If the Son’s equality is compatible with his subordination (not my preferred term, but seeing you’ve chosen it) to the Father, then a case has to be made to show why the two are incompatible for human beings.
The argument from the Godhead does not establish women’s subordination to men - which would be a direct application from the Son to women and from the Father to men.
Rather, it works indirectly. It counters the heart of the WO case – that women (or any other class of human being) are not fully equal if they are in any sense subordinate to somebody else. That liberal democratic assumption is not biblical or Christian but cultural, and the compatibility of equality and subordination in the Godhead demonstrates its unbiblical provenance.
That doesn't prove that women are subordinate to men, or that any other class of human beings are subordinate to any other class. What it does do is cut off this highly damaging argument that if people are subordinate then they are not really human beings, and if people have authority then they are some kind of super-person - an argument that makes authority and submission highly problematic for loving relationships between free equals and offers us only friendships or servility as our models of human relationships, but never the free submission of an equal, or the loving authority of someone whose authority is ordered to the end of the other's good and not their own."
Reply:I am happy to accept that in my contributions here I have been less clear than I would ideally like to be. I shall try again! Two observations (only, many more could be made):
(1) The argument I am attempting to make (insofar as it attends to equality v subordination, Trinitarian relations v male/female relations) is not that if human beings are subordinate then they are not real human beings. That would be absurd. If I am a slave, or an employee, or even a licensed clergyperson beholden by canonical law to submit to the authority of General Synod and of my bishop I am a subordinate human being who is no less equal to my master or employer or bishop in regard to our humanity. The argument I am attempting to make is that if we regard one group of human beings (e.g. women) as always subordinate to another group (e.g. men) then we raise questions about the possibility of experiencing elements of our humanity fully.
In your comment above you rightly speak about the importance of 'free submission of an equal.'
If I am a slave and you are the master, we are both human beings. But if you always have opportunity to exercise a freedom to choose how to be a master while I have no freedom except to submit to your authority (whether or not it is exercised lovingly) then our experience of being human is differentiated and you have an unequal opportunity to exercise choice compared to me. I cannot be, in short, as fully human, as you can be. (I suggest, in passing, that it is this inequality which Christianity exposed, and thus (to pick up something below) a cultural time bomb was planted by the gospel which eventually exploded and led to the banishment of slavery).
In respect to ordination women and men are unequal in respect of experiencing their humanity fully. A (gifted, called, equipped) man may choose to be ordained or not, and once ordained may choose to freely submit as an equal to his bishop or not. No bounds, re ordering, are placed on their engaging with the full expression of their humanity in the exercise of that ordered ministry. By contrast a woman has no choice in a church without WO: they can only submit to the authority of men, whether they freely choose to or not. Further, a gifted, called, equipped woman who might in a specific ministry situation be better gifted and equipped than a man (or even than a non-existent man, i.e. a lack of men applying for the situation) is denied service in God's church solely on the grounds of being a woman. I am suggesting that in such ways, women are denied the possibility of experiencing elements of their humanity fully, such as experiencing the joy of serving a congregation through the utilisation of their God-given gifts.
All this, on my part, re seeking that women (equal with men in status) might be equal with men in opportunity to serve God's people is founded on our being one humanity in Christ, and, secondly, does not ask of any of us that we be not submitted or subordinate, as we should be, to one another, to God, and, in Anglican settings, to our ecclesial authorities.
(2) I want to challenge you (and other commenters recently here) who invoke 'liberal democracy' as a kind of bad thing, a cultural construction which distorts our view of God and the Trinitarian relations within the Godhead. First, all language is expressed in a culture in which elements reflect orthodox theology and other elements do not. The language of the Bible and the language of the fourth and fifth century fathers is no more or less good as a language in which to express truth about God. Insight is possible in 'liberal democracies' which were denied to our forbears in the faith. In particular, I suggest, within liberal democracies we are better able to appreciate the mutuality of the Three Persons in their unity and their indwelling of one another than in cultures marked by imperialism and hierarchy.
Secondly, I think we should ask whether liberal democracies mark a certain stage in the growth of the kingdom of God - a kingdom which Christ said would grow and flourish like a tiny seed becoming a big tree. Where is the kingdom of God today? Is it in Assad's Syria or Mugabe's Zimbabwe? Or is it in countries to which the oppressed of those countries flee? Countries where a fuller expression of humanity is possible, because in liberal democracies people can more fully enter into the human experience of making choices, utilising God-given gifts and so forth. To relate this to women: is a woman entering into the fullness of humanity when bound to cover her face and thus not to engage in face to face social intercourse with fellow human beings? I suggest not. And I thank God for liberal democracies. As our forbears rightly decided, liberal democracies were worth fighting for in 1939-45.
In other words, or another perspective: the submission of Son to Father models the submission of humanity to God. The question WO raises, within the context of being one humanity in Christ (and that itself incurs our submission with Christ as Son to the Father) why one part of humanity is then asked to submit to the other part. If we are one humanity, why should that be so?
From Susan (13/12/12, 8.38 am, re WO in relation to SSM): "Peter, I was looking for a translation of Bryden not Malcolm. I had thought Rosemary was also.
"The second half shows an ignorance of the recent revival of the doctrine of the Trinity these past 50 years. Take for example Karl Rahner (although it was that other Karl, Barth, who humanly speaking kicked off the revival). As he wisely sought to pay close attention to the actual shape and content of the economy of salvation as enacted by the triune God, he gives this summary among others: “Grace gives rise to not-appropriated relations of divine persons to man [sic].” (The Trinity, p.25) What this is implying is this.
Each of the divine ‘persons’ has their own specific identity, each their own proprium in the Latin scheme, their idiotēs in the Greek. That is, they are uniquely differentiated, one from the other, so that, in Athanasius’ language (for example), the Father is the Father of the Son and the Son is the Son of the Father. These non-interchangeable relations are what distinguishes them as their very identities, marking them off from one another. In addition, it is this that then enables us to categorically say: the Son is ever the Incarnate One; and the Spirit specifically the One who, in a “quasi-formal” as opposed to “efficient” way, causes humans to participate in the very life of God. Or again, noting a key feature of the entire NT, the Holy Spirit is the eschatological gift of the Messianic Age.
The upshot is crucial when we NB human being in the Image of this God. As Rowan Williams once remarked, the Christian Gospel has planted cultural time bombs in our midst, and the doctrine of the Trinity and its corollary, Imago Dei, is just such a thing: that Ultimate Reality is personal and relational (or, Beyond Personality, as CS Lewis once put it, referencing explicitly the Trinity), and human being is uniquely endowed with the quality of personhood are gifts of the Christian faith to the world. One fruit of which is the sense, not at all obvious from other perspectives, of human rights.
A tragic irony however occurs when we try to extrapolate from all of this and conclude - try to conclude - “same-sex marriage” and all the rest is a good idea and most to be desired. For the reality is same gender relations indeed parody the genuine image of God; there is quite simply not the mirror of adequate differentiation when we compare this to traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Rather, the premise here is classically modern and postmodern, where human being is now viewed to be a self-positing autonomous personal subject. Here ethics have become a function of self-creating subjectivity, a veritable social construction.
The tragedy is highlighted when such a view tries to counter the likes of a Mahathir, who claims “civil rights are but a western social construct”. For what criteria are we to use to discern between such a western social construction and an Asian one?! Move away from the sheer ontological depth of the created order, Susan, derived from the Bible’s Grand Narrative and the Christian Tradition, and we are literally doomed - in the long run.""
Reply: I understand the above citation to mean, the distinctive Persons of the Trinity, the significance of which we grow in our appreciation of through time, generates an understanding of humanity (of each human being) as personal and relational beings who are most fully human when acting and being in the image of God (who is Trinity, three distinctive Persons in One being). The personhood ascribed in this way to our understanding of humanity on the one hand undergirds human rights (e.g. to be treated with dignity and equality) as integral to being human (and not something which a society might or might not construct); and on the other hand places limits on what is ethical behaviour. In respect of the former, we can genuinely protest at (say) Assad's treatment of civilians in Syria - to do so is not merely to act out a construction of Western culture and society. In respect of the latter, we can geuninely disagree with same-sex 'marriage' as a matter deemed to be good, or even a human right, because the ascribing of 'marriage' to a relationship between two same gendered human beings falls short of a proper reflection of the image of God which is an imaging of the distinctive Persons who are also One being, diversity in unity.
From Mark (13/12/12, 11.36 am re Sydney's synodical grace) "I suppose the stronger analogy to the motion would be you supporting a motion along the lines of:
Noting that it is the anniversary of deacons officiating at Communion and giving thanks for the ministry of deacons in all areas of the church's life.
You personally might well support that motion, but lots of Anglicans throughout the world would not, I think, for the way it implies some support of the practice being noted. Sydney Synod's practice of not supporting motions that could be read as giving thanks for a practice they think is wrong is hardly unique here."
Reply: Hi Mark, the question of grace here includes the question of gracious participation in the body of Christ, not just grace about an 'issue.' The Diocese of Sydney has not seceded from the Anglican Church of Australia: it remains involved with and committed to that greater body, even as it is also in severe disagreement with the larger church on some matters. The motion put to the Synod of Sydney asked it to note an important anniversary in the larger church while also giving thanks for all ministry of women. The refusal to countenance even a 'note' of that anniversary was an ungracious acknowledgement of the life of the wider church to which Sydney belongs and remains thoroughly involved with. I still find it extraordinarily ungracious, despite your and other protestations here. I think for example of my friends and colleagues in my own NZ church who disagree with WO: I cannot imagine for a moment that they would share in a similar lack of grace towards the ordained women they work with, support and cherish. (Just to be clear, by 'similar' I mean in relation to the motion and its treatment, I am not making here any implied imputations about any Sydney Anglicans re their general attitude to ordained Anglican women in ACA).
On the matter of your analogy re deacons presiding (which, indeed, I heartily disagree with), you have failed to offer a strict analogy because you continue not to acknowledge the matter involves the fellowship of the diocese with the larger church. The strict analogy would be if ACANZP authorised deacons presiding at the eucharist (say, twenty years ago) and the diocese I were in maintained a steadfast opposition to that authorisation, refusing to permit it to be so in my diocese, even as it permitted deacons to minister in other ways traditionally associated with diaconal ministry. In that context I would not blink in voting for a motion along the lines brought to the Sydney synod recently.