Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shadow Synod?

As I continue to find it difficult to put together my (cogent? coherent? conservative? charitable?) submission for the new working party re A Way Forward for our church (announcement of the make up of the party on 1 September?), I notice moves abroad. Up Yonder, in the C of E, there is a proposal to form a new synod of conservative English Anglicans.

Thinking Anglicans has a report here.

Archbishop Cranmer has a copy of an address given by Dr Gavin Ashenden to a meeting of the parishes working on forming the new synod.

I personally find addresses such as Gavin Ashenden's a challenge to digest. When he questions where a process of liberalization ends up, he rightly asks of his church whether it knows what it is doing. Although he does not mention it, he might have observed that recently the Dean of Salisbury offered a blessing for a gay pride festival. Is that general blessing to a festival supportive of a range of lifestyles consistent with being a church committed to monogamous, faithful marriage?

On the other hand, I find Ashenden tough on women. Feminism is, in the end, a bad thing. The patriarchal bias of the Bible does women no disservice because the Bible teaches "headship" which is the core and cornerstone of right socialization. All is well when men are in charge. His vision for a male-led church is not my vision for a church which includes Spirit-filled, Spirit-gifted men and women in the ministry of leadership.

Anyway, where will these various moves within the C of E end? What influence will they have on ACANZP?

For myself, as I continue to contemplate the final version of my submission to the working party (by 1 October), my perspective on events Up Yonder and Down Under is that it is a challenge to find the a responsible, biblical ethic for 21st century Western Anglicans which is also a continuation of our heritage through the preceding centuries.

POSTSCRIPT: Another way of looking at this kind of situation in the "big picture" is that the Anglican church is always three potential churches in the making: two "either/or" churches and one "both/and" church.

The two "either/or" churches are the edgesof the church that want things to be either "this" or "that" (e.g. extremely conservative or extremely progressive; "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" and no truc given to "Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer" or "Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer" and never the use of "Father" or "Son").

The "both/and" is the great, broad, middle church that wants (e.g.) everyone to get along, freedom to use either "Father, Son, Holy Spirit" or "Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer" or both, adherence to traditional marriage and blessing of same sex partnerships, use of BCP and modern prayer books.

The shadow synod proposal in Tunbridge Wells via Ashenden's address is - on this perspective - both a prototype for a possible breakaway and an attempt to somehow keep one edge within the CofE fold.

Incidentally, I didn't invent the great, broad, middle Anglican church: it simply exists!

48 comments:

Andrei said...

"On the other hand, I find Ashenden tough on women. Feminism is, in the end, a bad thing"

I'm not sure if I should comment Peter but in your struggles perhaps a useful perspective might be to consider how effeminate the Western Church is when compared to the East - this is true not only for Anglicanism but to a lesser extent for the RCs as well

The Jesus Christ of "suffer the little children" is emphasized and the Jesus Christ who "cleansed the Temple" and who "will come again in Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead" is set aside

You often see this in the imagery.

But the real trap is to see this in terms of temporal power and worldly honor

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:


The Bishop might lead the diocese and the Priest might lead the congregation in celebration of the Liturgy but who is doing important work for the Lord is often all but invisible

According to legend when the Nazis were at the gates of Moscow in 1941 Stalin consulted with St Matrona of Moscow an old blind woman living in poverty - this tale is controversial, it may or may not have happened but the point is obvious.

The woman who "blessed" the gay pride event is a fool, she will receive worldly praise for her actions, good press but in her diocese some unremarkable woman will be doing apparently unremarkable things that serve Christ and help spread the Gospel

As St John Chrysostom said "The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts."

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, I detect from your comments about the new move towards an alternative "Anglican Church in the U.K. that you are not totally in favour of a 'Macho' Church, with men securely in control. an interesting corollary is Jesus choosing a mere woman, Mary of Magdala, to announce his resurrection to the male disciples; and also Pope Francis' new moves to included women in the leadership of the R.C. Church. I think Andrei's remarks about the Eastern Orthodox insistence on 'male only' leadership might be directly contrary to the Jesus initiative.

My own Christchurch parish of St.Michael's is securely in the Pauline model (In Christ, there is neither male nor female...) with both male and female clergy on the staff. We also joyfully celebrate both the BCP and the modern NZ Prayer Book Liturgies. We also believe that the freedom of the Gospel is for all - especially sinners like ourselves. SO, are we Broad Church.? I guess we are.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron and Andrei
Thank you for comments.
I might like the Eastern Orthodox way of being Christian more than you think, Ron! And I don't necessarily think it is the "macho" factor which concerns me about the Ashenden speech: think "patriarchy" more than "macho."
Notwithstanding the role of Mary (Magdalene and Theotokos!), Jesus did choose Twelve male apostles, Ron, just as St Michael's has always chosen a male vicar :)
Yes, St Michael's is inclusive (there have been female clergy on staff) but I scarcely think its dogged commitment to a form of Anglo-Catholicism securely rooted in the 19th century qualifies it as a "Broad Church"!!

Glen Young said...

"For God is not the author of confusion,but of peace,as in all Churches of the saints.Let your women keep silence in the churches:for it is not permitted unto them to speak;but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.And if they will learn anything,let them ask their husbands at home:for it is a shame for women to speak in the church".1 Cor.14:33/35.

Andrei said...

...a 'Macho' Church, with men securely in control. an interesting corollary is Jesus choosing a mere woman,"

You entirely missed the point of my comment Fr Ron

Who should be "in control"?

It is not about power!

I looked up the woman who did that (to me blasphemous) thing and found archived News stories full of phrases like "the glass ceiling" - the language of secular progressivism not the language of the Church

And I wondered how my kids would react to one such as her and to put it diplomatically, they'd probably relate better with a creature from Mars

It's what prompted my initial comment

I say it again it is not about "who is in control", it is about how the Lord's will be done

And Jesus often chose to reveal himself through women, usually humble women

Brian Kelly said...

I met Gavin Ashenden a good few years ago when this alumnus of Oak Hill and scholar of Lewi and Charles Williams was moving in a fairly liberal direction, the outlook that is 'optimistic' and 'open' to the modern world; so it is interesting to see the orthodox, traditional (re-)turn he took in his career as a chaplain in a very secular university, where every secular-leftist shibboleth about human "nature" and "autonomy" is taken as read.
Certainly Ashenden understands Orthodoxy better than most Anglicans do. (I suspect he was taught by Gerald Bray, and to this day, with Michael Ovey at the helm, you still won't find a better place to study Patristics within Anglican colleges.) The point he makes (citing the most prescient Lewis) about how language we use about God shapes the way we conceive of Him is permanently valid, as are the comments about so-called 'divine motherhood' and creation. It is quite simply an aspect of the modern feminist project to change the way Christians think about God by de-gendering Him and the careful censorship of language that eliminates all male or masculine pronouns and language, supposedly on the basis that such language is "untrue" or "misleading" when used about God (in which case, Jesus was profoundly misled and misleading). One of the occasional contributors to this blog is very careful to avoid using 'he' and 'him' when talking about God, supposedly on the assumption that 'God doesn't have gender', and that modern circumlocutions provide a 'truer' and 'purer' way of talking about God than do Christ and His Apostles.
Again, Lewis foresaw these directions in thought, and in 'Perelandra' presents a fascinating narrative discussion on the difference between "gender" and "sex".
Certain trends have certainly appeared in England which have parallels in New Zealand,
First, no woman has yet been chosen as vicar or rector of a large evangelical church, where the preference is consistently for a family man and father figure to lead family-based congregations.
Second, theologically liberal women are being appointed (through the state Crown Appointments Commission) as deans of cathedral - where the ethos is generally liberal in any case. So "blessing" "gay pride" parades in the name of some benevolent god (not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) goes on in York as well as Salisbury - because it is always the sociological character of English Anglicanism to belatedly affirm the regnant political attitude, not to challenge it. It is no secret - and no slander to say - that cathedrals have a significant homosexual element within them, either among the clergy or in the choir - that wouldn't be accepted in parish churches. Ashenden's description of this modern religiosity as "therapeutic ethical deism" is entirely correct. Kierkegaard would have seen very much the same thing in 19th century State Lutheranism in Denmark.

The stubborn fact remains, however much the modern liberal rails against them, that men must be led by men, otherwise they will opt out of church and Christian practice. The evolution of liberal Anglicanism into a kind of modern Gnosticism is probably irreversible in the United States. Whether Justin Welby - a most pragmatic and untheological of men - has the brains and the courage to stop this happening in the UK remains to be seen.


Father Ron said...

Yes, Brian. I suppose that's why the British changed the rules about who is entitled to succeed in the monarchy - the primogeniture factor - where the gender of the first-born no longer has any no effect on the succession. I'm afraid, Brian, your plan to remain in the the middle-ages just doesn't work anymore. Even Saint Paul was able to say that "In Christ, there is neither male nor female". Sadly, the Sola Scriptura people can't swallow that bit of biblical wisdom. It must be annoying to realise that the Holy Spirit may also be considered a 'feminine' attribute of the Divine.

And, Peter, I'm amused that you shoud say that St. Michael's Anglo-Catholc ethos is 'SECURELY ROOTED IN THE 19TH CENTURY'. While it is true that our liturgical use is secured by long-established catholic worship principles, still maintained - on a daily basis - in the (majority of) Catholic and Apostolic Churches of both East and West (you won't find 'civvies' being worn by celebrants, or a single overhead projector in sight in its sanctuary); the pastoral praxis of Saint Michael's is way out front of many an Evengelicasl congregation, in its inclusivity of ALL God's children, not only the 'pious, the great and the good'. It maintains the Gospel principle; that "Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners" - that's everyone. "Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father' and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Amen!"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
A comment on the roots of a church is not a comment on the growth of the trunk or an observation about the qualities of the branches and leaves!

Father Ron said...

The quaity of growth from the roots is often perceptibe, Peter, in ts continuing aroma. I've always contended for the use of only the best quaity incense & SMAA.

Glen Young said...

Talk of the roots,trunk,branches and leaves;but what about the FRUIT:"Either make the tree,and his fruit good;or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt:for the tree is known by his fruit".Matt 12:33.

tachesterton said...

'The stubborn fact remains, however much the modern liberal rails against them, that men must be led by men, otherwise they will opt out of church and Christian practice.'

Doesn't seem to be any evidence to support this 'stubborn fact' in our Diocese of Edmonton, which is now under the leadership of its second female bishop. The male presence in the clergy community and in the lay leadership seems just as strong as ever.

Tim Chesterton

Brian Kelly said...

"It must be annoying to realise that the Holy Spirit may also be considered a 'feminine' attribute of the Divine."

- maybe in pantheistic Gnosticism and its modern reflex, Ron, but I'm only interested in orthodox Catholic Trinitarianism. For Catholics, the Holy Spirit is not "an attribute" but God Himself. Read the Cappadocians!

Brian Kelly said...

As Aristotle said, 'One swallow doesn't make a spring', Tim.
Canadian Anglicanism is sliding ever deeper into schism over sexuality and the meaning of marriage. Sadly, what happened in New Westminster will recur across the land, until the money runs out.

Glen Young said...

Come on,get with it;be modern and swing along;this is all part of the MOTHERHOOD OF GOD,being espoused by TEC. It is what the Orthodox in NZ face when the ACANZP follows them down that slippery slope.

"Because we live indifferent cultural situations,not all biblical commandments or proscriptions apply simply or in the same way to any one person or situation".-- The Episcopal Church Center,"To set our hopes on Christ"2005-authored at the invitation of the Presiding Bishop,by 6 theology professors from 4 theological seminaries and a Bishop.

"You don't all have to profess exactly the same understanding of the central tenets of faith.What's important is to worship together." Presiding Bishop (TEC),April 5th 2008.

And then the liberals accuse the solar Scripturalists of theological"pick and mix". LOL.

Jean said...

A few comments on this thread sound a bit too much like Adam blaming Eve for making him take a bite of the apple. I didn't realise the moral relativism that was introduced into mainstream thinking by theorists of the 60's, and led to a falling away of people from Churches was a female construction? You will also notice the number of women being ordained is highly disproportionate to the number of women who attend church compared to men - women are obviously not clamouring for a takeover.

As a woman, I am comfortable with the use of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. I acknowledge Jesus often used the feminine characteristics to describe his feelings such as 'gathering the children of Jerusalem under his wings like a mother hen does her chicks' or comparing his love to be even greater than the love of a mother for her child. However, I still see him as a man who because his Father was God so too can we call God Father. And this was necessary for the blood of a child comes from his Father so to be sinless Jesus needed to be begotten of God - a sinless bloodline, yet fully human also through his mother Mary, in order for salvation to come.

I see God as Father yet perceive him to have attributes of both genders being both were created by him and carry his image: 'In the image of God he made them, male and female he made them'.

In respect to women holding specific roles. I agree with the comments regarding how God's Kingdom is not one of power but of love and therefore heirachy does not denote worth. However, I also note with the fulfillment of the law and the sending of the Holy Spirit to all believers, men and women, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters are considered co-heirs of Christ. There appears little basis for a distinction for roles by gender in God's Kingdom for those who are justified by faith -
28And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac
Although the re-entry of women into leadership may be relatively new to the last two centuries or so, my understanding is in the early church is was quite common to find women in positions of leadership. And a little unlikely that they were leaders who were forbidden from speaking. It wasn't until the 20th century that Junia became Junias in the bible because having a woman named his predecessor in Christ by Paul probably didn't sit well with the cultural mores of the day. As for serving the Eucharist, to say the one blessing and distributing should be male because Jesus was a male needs an extension to remain logical, that is forbidding women to partake of it because Jesus only served it to his disciples and they were all men.

In respect to headship. Jesus is the head of the church as the bible says man is to be the head of the woman in marriage. Yet Jesus, being head, does not discourage those in his body from using the gifts they have been given, in fact he encourages them to desire even more. May every husband have the same attitude towards his wife as Christ himself has towards his church.

Nevertheless, I do not like the use of gender nuetral words - unless they are the accurate translation. I am happy to read man in the wider generic sense of mankind after all man is in man and woman. I do not agree with moral relativism and can see how it makes everything justifiable. I would not bless a Madi-gras because they are pretty out there in the showing off flesh department - yet I would not expect anyone who is not a Christian to hold the same opinion. I still can't get to the appoint of agreeing with the blessing of homosexual relationships because my thinking remains at the impass of same sex activity falling into the category of 'sexual immorality' biblically and this is not what I have the authority to alter, and because I am wary of the can of worms it opens up in terms of children.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Jean
I agree with you.
I am always concerned when some of our biblical talk somewhat too easily blames Eve and other women for the plight of humanity in the process!

Rosemary Behan said...

Jean and Peter,

I completely agree with you both about the ‘blame’ being put on women. IT IS WRONG. God created women to be helpmeet, and we cannot be that if we are not fully appreciated. I must take issue Jean, with your comment about the numbers of women. There is a BIG shortage of men attending our churches throughout New Zealand, have you discovered why?

Andrei said...

Who is putting "the blame" on women Rosemary?

Time and time again in Scripture and in Church Tradition we see the important role women have played in the Church

The Faith was imparted to me with my mother's milk

Too much emphasis is place upon who should lead Sunday Worship and I feel that is a male prerogative, the Apostles were all males despite the fact that Christ was surrounded by worthy females - women who played a major role in evangelization in their own ways - Peter acknowledged this further up this thread I think

Adam did try and shift the blame for the fall onto Eve and God did not accept this as an excuse au contraire. Adam was held accountable for his choices as was Eve

"There is a BIG shortage of men attending our churches throughout New Zealand, have you discovered why?"

I suggested on my first comment on this thread my feeling that Western Christianity has become feminized - for example a lot of modern "worship songs" almost seem like secular love songs sung by a woman to her love interest

Whereas the Hymn "Jerusalem" is inspiring is it not? A man could sing that with gusto,

Maybe you disagree

Rosemary Behan said...

You should never 'assume' Andrei. Hmm, I used to enjoy singing Jerusalem too until I learned how bad the theology is.

Andrei said...

"I used to enjoy singing Jerusalem too until I learned how bad the theology is."

Explain?

I only chose "Jerusalem" as an example because of its familiarity as an exemplar of English Hymnology.

You asked a question - I provided what I believe may be part of the answer

We live in a post Christian society but the collapse of the Faith has occurred far more recently than most people credit

And its restoration is our task.

I try and look at things through the eyes of my kids, who are young adults now and one thing I know for certain is trying to enter their world by doing what is unnatural to me comes across as fake because it is fake and they see through it

And what that means for the Church is adapting to the zeitgeist of the age is a loosing proposition - it must remain true to itself

Father Ron said...

Andrei, haver you never thought that perhaps Jesus recruited his disciples, first, among men - because that was the Jewish Tradition. Nobody at that time would have listened to a woman's teaching or advice. That's why Mary Magdalene's Resurrection story was ignored by the male disciples - even though it was Jesus' commission.

Interestingly, there are women in today's Church who deny the role of women in leadership, and yet, they themselves continue to 'tell the Church' what it ought to be doing about this 'problem'. - Confusing?

Brian Kelly said...

Andrei: "I used to enjoy singing Jerusalem too until I learned how bad the theology is."

Explain?'

- Because the answer to every question in it is 'No!'

Jean said...

I agree Rosemary there is a big shortage of men attending church nationwide. I am just not convinced this is the result, as a few have alluded to, of the feminisation of the church or the increase of women leadership in the church. Mostly because the number of women in leadership is less than what is often insinuated, and the main loss of men attending church in terms of numbers came prior to the ordination of women. Interestingly though the decline does co-relate to the moral relativism which arose during the flower power hippie years. For some reason more women than men remained or returned to the Church.

Definitely Andrei, there has been a change from the focus of God as omnipotent and Creator to more personal/relationship centred worship over the course of the last century, although many of the latter songs are composed by men. I agree wholeheartedly with your acknowledgement of the Biblical example of God using seemly insignifacant women. It is difficult to discern re the Apostles being all men and specific roles; as the Jewish law was still around during Jesus's lifetime it would have been inappropriate and almost impossible to appoint women Apostles. Notwithstanding even following his death and resurrection the newly formed Chrst-ones had to be gracious to one another in regards to keeping the peace by finding a middle ground in practising aspects of the Jewish law to smooth the way for co-operation between new Jewish and new Gentile. No doubt the same tension existed for women considering their standing at the time reflected in the Jewish prayer, "Thank you God that I was not born a woman!" I think the three divisions Paul referred to, there is no longer Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free but all are one in Christ Jesus, was pointed out because of the traditional places these groups held compared to each other.

It would be good for men to work on ways of reaching more men. I know a number do, and many men find promise keepers conferences to be a time of solidarity. I was blessed enough in my previous parish to experience an equal number of men and women in the congregation. There didn't seem to be a formula to it though - some had come from Christian backgrounds, others came for their wives and later found God or were found by Him, others became christians through outreach services or courses. What was significant was the effort made by the men who did go to continually reach out to the husbands of the wives who came to church alone or with their children had a huge impact.

Brian Kelly said...

"Andrei, haver you never thought that perhaps Jesus recruited his disciples, first, among men - because that was the Jewish Tradition. Nobody at that time would have listened to a woman's teaching or advice. That's why Mary Magdalene's Resurrection story was ignored by the male disciples - even though it was Jesus' commission"

- Hyperbolic nonsense. There are many stories in the Old Testament alone of wise women instructing and advising: the woman of Tekoa, the woman of Abel, Bathsheba interceding with David, Lemuel's mother, the wife of Proverbs 31.
Do you really think the incarnate Son of God was incapable of standing against cultural mores if he wanted to - such as speaking with a Samaritan woman of dubious reputation or healing a woman on the Sabbath or allowing a woman of 'bad reputation' to wash his feet and dry them with her hair? If Jesus wished to break a received cultural practice, he evidently did.
As for Mary Magdalene and the other women: please read carefully! The disciples didn't believe at first what they were told but they did *not ignore the women: they went to the tomb themselves to find out (Matt 28.9; Luke 24.12; John 20.3-10). (As an aside, the whole business of the women's visits - plural - to the tomb is very complicated (how many visits? who went when and saw what?), and John Wenham, for one, has attempted a reconstruction of these movements.)
It was a nice homilietical touch in the Middle Ages to call Mary of Magdala 'the apostle to the apostles' (but why she alone? why not also Johanna and Mary?), but this has nothing to do with how Jesus ordered his church.
The trouble with all liberal religion is that it is so culture-bound: like the Bishop in hell in 'The Great Divorce', it spends its time imagining what Jesus would have become or taught if he hadn't died so young! In other words, religious liberalism is just another form of naturalism.

Rosemary Behan said...

Chuckle .. “an exemplar of English hymnology.” Oh yes, it certainly glorifies England!!!!! It’s a British Israelite hymn Andrei.

I agree with much that you say, especially that it’s restoration is our task, my husband and I have worked hard for that for many, many years.

I have four sons, three of whom are Christians, the third who THINKS he’s a Bhuddist says he can’t quite throw out the Christian faith because of his parents. So I’m with you there too.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

By way of clarification,I am not per se against woman leading Churches.My stance is simply, the quality of their leadership. In fact,the best of them would be much preferable to many men who hold positions in the ACANZP.

My posting on 31/8/2016 related to what I thought was a bit of pick and mix theology by another commenter:".......is securely in the Pauline model(Gal 3/28).I was not for a moment suggesting that women should not speak in Church.

And,again my post on Sept 1 was in relation to posted comment ,"It must be annoying to realize that the Holy Spirit may also be considered a "feminine"
attribute of God." My understanding is that the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Godhead.Him being considered,merely an" Attribute of God" sounds a mite close to Arianism for my liking.Also,thinking in gender terminology, in this regards,is a bit close to Pantheism and "God the mother of life" teaching; emulating out of TEC. It has led to some shocking outcomes there,which I would rather not spell out on your site.

Regards,Glen.

Father Ron said...

Tell me Brian, are you being serious? Do you really think that Jesus' choice of only male Apostles was entirely uninfluenced by the Jewish culture of that day (which still seems to be the 'Sola Scriptura' culture, today - despite scriptural evidence to the contrary).

In any event, many in the Church today believe that Mary Magdalene was specially chosen by Jesus - post-Resurrection - to be the first (counter-cutural) female Apostle. And, again, in common with many conservative males in today's Church, the male disciples - because of their cultural presuppositions - obviously had a problem with that, and had to prove for themselves that Jesus had risen!

Brian Kelly said...

"Tell me Brian, are you being serious? Do you really think that Jesus' choice of only male Apostles was entirely uninfluenced by the Jewish culture of that day"
- yes, I am quite serious as I am a Catholic Christian (not a liberal Protestant) who takes the deity of Christ and his sinlessness very seriously. "Cultural influence" cuts in several directions. It can mean 'going with the flow because you never think about it, or because you fear to oppose it, or because you agree with it'. I do not believe Jesus ever did anything he disagreed with out of fear of public opinion or because he didn't think clearly enough. I do not know what you believe about our Lord's sinlessness or knowledge (Charles Gore expounded his theory of kenoticism, of course, which I reject), but my view is biblical-patristic. There are cultural factors which are mere inheritances (such as our native language) which are ethically and religiously neutral, but we are not talking about this kind of "cultural influence". You seem to think Jesus can be explained as the cultural product of his time, but I take his Incarnation very seriously, and I have already pointed out several instances where his actions and words were notably counter-cultural. Jesus could easily, and often did, reject the "cultural" outlook of is time and place.

"(which still seems to be the 'Sola Scriptura' culture, today - despite scriptural evidence to the contrary)."

- Not at all. It is a universal Catholic Christian position and has been uniformly so from the First Century. Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians understand exactly what I am saying. It is you who reject the historical Catholic consensus on the ministry, not I. But that's a perfectly understandable reflex of your theological liberalism. It has always seemed to me that "liberal Catholicism" takes its cue from a Neo-Hegelian view of history and progress - but I will take my stand with Kierkegaard against Hegel any day.

"In any event, many in the Church today believe that Mary Magdalene was specially chosen by Jesus - post-Resurrection - to be the first (counter-cutural) female Apostle."

Many people also believe they have been kidnapped by aliens, others believe in the Loch Ness monster. Millions more believe the Dan Brown novels and think that Mary of Magdala was married to Jesus and they sired the Royal House of France. Do you agree with them? If not, why not? Because these notions are fictional fancy? Just read the Bible for yourself: Mary of Magdala was NOT chosen by Jesus to be an "Apostle". As I said, it is simply medieval homiletics to call her 'the apostle of the apostles' - at the same time, in the High Middle Ages that a cult of the Magdalene began to sweep northern Europe. Like most medieval adventures in speculative thought - most especially in the Marianism of the High Middle Ages that we see in Dun Scotus and the invention of the Immaculate Conception - it has no or next to no biblical foundation at all. After John's Gospel we hear nothing at all of her in the post-Pentecost mission of the Church - which is what the Apostles were appointed to carry out. Why not? Er, because she wasn't an apostle. The only person Jesus directly chose to be an apostle after his earthly ministry was St Paul.

Father Ron said...

Dear Brian as a (Roman) Catholic, have you not heard that the status of Mary Magdalene has fairly recently been overhauled by your Church, giving her a dignity she had not heretofore been given by Roman Catholics. Perhaps you should check up on the situation with your diocesan office.

And, by the way; M.M. is not considered to be 'the Apostle OF the Apostles' but, because of the circumstances of her calling by Jesus, she is known as "The Apostle TO the Apostles. Agape.

By the way, I was shocked in Cairns recently, to find that Mary, the mother of Jesus was not mentioned esspecially on the Sunday nearest to her 'Assumption' Feast day in St. Monica's R.C. Cathedral there. At the Main Sunday Mass, the only person at the altar, sans chasuble, was the local bishop. No incense, no Sung Responses by the Celebrant - nothing that we at SMAA, Christchurch, associate with the principle Mass on Sundays. What's happening to the Solemnity of the Catholic Faith in Australia, Brian?

Andrei said...

FWIW Fr Ron;

Both St Mary Magdalene and St Photini, the Samaritan woman (her name means the enlightened one) are given the title ἰσαπόστολος, (isapóstolos) or равноапостольный, (ravnoapostol'ny) in the Eastern Church - that is Ëqual to the Apostles.

Are such matters central to our Christian Faith, not at all - they are part of Christian tradition and heritage - how much value you place upon them is up to you and has no bearing upon your eventual fate on the Day of Judgment

And nor are the liturgical practices of the Catholic Cathedral in Cairns

The Liturgy is there to guide us in our worship, as well to grow us in the Faith but for many reasons it may not be possible to celebrate it strictly according to the rubrics and to focus on doing so is to miss the point entirely

We work with what we have using it to the best of our abilities

Brian Kelly said...

Ron, I am not a Roman Catholic but an Anglican priest. What Australian RCs do is not my concern. By Catholicism I mean my agreement with Athanasius, Nicene orthodoxy, the Cappadocians, and the Chalcedonian Symbol. The authority and normativity of Scripture as God's Word Written is an ancient Catholic doctrine. A 'low' view of Scripture is not a Catholic doctrine: trust me, I have twice read through Athanasius (De Verbi Incarnatione) in Greek and you couldn't put a tissue paper between his view of Scripture and Calvin's. 'Sola Scriptura' isn't a Protestant idea at all.
As for Mary Magdalene, I was correct in what I stated: the expression "apostolorum apostola" ("female apostle of the apostles" - 'apostolorum' is genitive masc. plural, not dative - yes, I teach Latin) comes from Thomas Aquinas, as Benedict XVI observed in this address:
http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070214.html

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters,
The catholic/Catholic tradition is both firm, apparently immutable and capable of development through deeper insight.

As I understand that tradition the claim that development through deeper insight is possible has led to (e.g.) teachings such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption/Dormition of Mary.

My question to those who hold fast to the immutability of the tradition re male episcopacy/priesthood as continuation of male apostles is this: can you guarantee that development through deeper insight will not - albeit over the next 200 hundred years - not yield to the inclusion of women in that continuation?

the deeper insight would be that the calling of God and gifting of God through the Spirit is to men and women (so Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 12, etc);
the development would reach back into the tradition even as it promoted change by re-finding and re-evaluating the significance of the apostleship of Mary and of Junia.

If so, then Anglo-Catholics will simply have reached that insight chronologically ahead of their Roman counterparts. I accept that such development might never take place in the span of human history within Eastern Orthodoxy.

Glen Young said...

Hi Brian,

Your summation is spot on.Commenting on the influence Hegel had on Protestant theology, Bertram Russel wrote:"Hegel thought that if enough was known about a thing to distinguish it from other things,then all of it's properties could be inferred by logic.This was a mistake,and from that mistake arose the whole imposing edifice of his system.This illustrates an important truth,namely,that the worse your logic,the more interesting the consequences to which it gives rise."

Cheers,Glen.

Andrei said...

... can you guarantee that development through deeper insight will not - albeit over the next 200 hundred years - not yield to the inclusion of women in that continuation?

The only thing we can guarantee is that the Church will persist until Christ's return because he told us so - and much else besides. There are some fairly heavy duty warnings about apostasy and false prophets in the Bible

But this denial of gender thing is a post Christian heresy that only afflicts North America and North Western Europe and those places whose culture is derived from them - most of the world sees things differently.

The Christians of the Middle East and North Africa have much more pressing concerns than the provision of transgender toilets, for example. But for now they persist in the full life of the Church.

There are nearly 2000 listed protestant denominations, new ones appear weekly while others fade away

But you know the places where the Church. (whether it be Roman Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox in flavour) is robust, dynamic and growing and you know where it is in trouble and that might give you a hint to where your priorities should lie and where blind alleys have been gone down


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
It is not a denial of gender to ask whether gender is crucial to a ministry, nor if, in the end, we conclude that gender is not crucial to a role.
There are many roles for which gender is not crucial!

On the question of priorities: I live in the Western world, God's life in me and in my church is incarnate in that same Western world. I am happy to work with God on being the church and sharing the gospel in that Western world where women and men relate differently to other worlds.

Andrei said...

It is not a denial of gender to ask whether gender is crucial to a ministry,

Here you conflate "ministry" with ordained Priesthood - the two are not synonymous

Throughout the history of the Church women have been heavily involved in the ministry

The title "Ëqual to the Apostles"has been applied to many women - some will be on your Anglican Calendar perhaps other not - Nino baptizer of the Georgians is on the RC Calendar so maybe the Anglican one for example.

I think that when the Priest consecrates the Eucharist he stands in the place of Christ who was unequivocally a man

And I don't think men and women are interchangeable - I think they are complementary - Some things men do better than women and vice versa and some things are impossible for a man that a woman can do. This is undeniable

The Bible is full of gender symbolism "Christ the Bridegroom of the Church" for example.

"On the question of priorities: I live in the Western world, God's life in me and in my church is incarnate in that same Western world. I am happy to work with God on being the church and sharing the gospel in that Western world where women and men relate differently to other worlds."

I wonder if that is really true outside the Parnell bubble - I see no sign of it in my kids or their friends - there are some troubled people that's for sure and the Church needs to minister to them, that's for sure as well but focussing on a particular issue at the expense of the vast majority...

My eldest daughter rang me for Father's day last night. About now she is going into the MCG with her Husband to cheer Collingwood against Melbourne - she is really excited because for her birthday a couple of weeks back her husband bought her tickets for the Ballet - its a Ballet about Nijinsky performed by the Royal Australian Ballet - this is what she told me in our conversation and this is true love on display as men relate to women and accommodate themselves to each other :)

Brian Kelly said...

"And I don't think men and women are interchangeable - I think they are complementary - Some things men do better than women and vice versa and some things are impossible for a man that a woman can do. This is undeniable."

This is the key point which Peter is at pains to deny. If function takes precedence over created identity, then gender (actually: sex) doesn't matter (and even personal Christian faith isn't necessary provided 'the job is done'). It is only one step from this to declare that divinely-created maleness or femaleness is of no significance in itself - and only one step from this to deny that marriage is a divine institution of male-female relatedness but a volitional affection of any kind (and we are back in the pagan world of Plato's 'Symposium').

The logic of the modern secular, post-Christian world is easy to follow, even if the rapidity with which it happened came as a surprise to many of us.

Jean said...

Fr Ron & Brian re Jewish law playing a part in the choosing of the 12 - I suppose one cannot ever know for sure except by divine revelation, however, both the yes they were and the no they weren't could be correct. While Jesus opposed some of the cultural laws or I like to think of it as re-configuring them in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom, there are also many examples whereby he was loyal to Jewish laws such as observing feast days.

So the reason for choosing the twelve apostles could be due to Jesus's adherence to Jewish law at the time, and representative of the 12 tribes of Israel, or it could be Jesus intentionally choosing men to model the leadership pattern of his church from this time forth.

Andrei, I agree with complementarism in principle - men are indeed a different breed altogether, always looking for the easiest way to acheive something! However, experience dictates to me gender traits while sometimes they do, they do not aways co-relate with roles or hobbies. Say my brother cooks for his family and enjoys it more than his wife. And my female accountant friend loves car racing.

In truth, while I have been led to the realisation of the transformation wrought through the coming of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of the law, and an understanding of the priesthood of all believers; the strongest conviction on this issue for me has being the witnessing the Ministry of a few women, called to leadership through direct encounters with the Holy Spirit, and the subsequent fruit produced through their service to Christ. One being the Rev'd Junko Preston, a Japanese Kiwi. Her story is one of being called into her role for a very specific purpose.

In all things if I am concerned about a trend in the church en-mass or false teaching it is when I encounter viewpoints denying the ressurrection of Christ or belief's of all religions leading to God or denying the divinity of Jesus.

Re the actual article reference to this post and the use of equality. Sometimes I think the moral relativism that has developed in certain societies creates confusion around the application and understanding of ideas. Whereas oringinally the application of equality held a moral quality, it is now often applied while ignoring any moral understanding; such as prostitution as a profession should be as equally valid as any other (e.g. a denial of their being anything potentially harmful in the practice of prostitution itself either to the women involved or society in general). What seems to be increasingly lost is the moral or value or ethical based compass, and why not if people believe there is no higher point of reference than what they think is right. Such relativity may be less likely to develop in non-Christian communities where the sense of family duties and expectations are more engrained than in the current western world.

Jean said...

What if Brian function doesn't take precedent over created identity.

In Dr Suess's words, "What if, just maybe.." Esther being born for 'such a time and role as was hers' as leader for and hope of the Jewish people, was beneficial because of her created identity as a woman of character?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian and Andrei
You say gender matters for some ministries but not for others.
Fair enough because you have some weighty arguments and history on your side.
But if you accept that gender does not matter for some ministries then you are so far apart from me when I say it does not matter for any ministry: the Spirit of God is poured out on men and women!
Gender distinction matters in a number of important matters of human life which I firmly uphold: men to be husbands and fathers, women to be wives and mothers. But I do not see that gender distinction matters in the church of God.
Nor do I see that the argument for gender distinction mattering stands up to much scrutiny when it distinguishes "priesthood" from "ministry" or "representing Christ the male" from "representing Christ".
Yes, Christ came as a male and not as a female but his disciples were both male and female and to none of the women did he say that they might not represent him to others. Such as the Samaritan woman at the well did to her own people!
It seems odd on the day of the canonization of Mother Teresa (which, of course, I do not believe in!) that in catholic thinking a woman can be a canonized saint but not a canonical priest. Dare anyone say that Mother Teresa was not Christ to those to whom she ministered?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei at 2.35 pm

AFL? Collingwood?

A world without All Blacks?

And, ballet?

Does any right thinking bloke want to live in this world?

:)

Father Ron said...

Dear Brian, I hope you miight look at my blog, in order to read tonight's sermon at SMAA by an English Anglican theologian and the Precentor of Christ Church, Oxford, The Revd. John Paton. In it he speaks about the root meaning of the Greek word 'Apostello', virtually 'Being Sent or Commissioned'.

Do you not, then, believe that Mary Magdalene was actually sent or commissioned by Jesus to tell the male Apostles that He was now risen from the dead? A pretty important sending and commissioning of M.M. - right there in the Scriptures? Or is that one bit of the Scriptures you just can't believe to be authentic? One of the most important messages of the Gospel is that of Jesus, Risen from the dead. And Mary was its first proclaimer - sent by Jesus Himself.

Anonymous said...

Peter; a small point for Fr Ron which I have pointed out on an earlier thread. The Assumption ( a holy day of obligation for Romans not some random feast day) was on a Monday. Fr Ron went to a Cathedral in Cairns the day before and was surprised the holy day of obligation was not celebrated. Had he gone to mass on the Monday (the proper day), he would not have been surprised. Sometimes I wonder how Catholic Anglo Catholics really are when any baptist could search our calendar on the net.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, I recall that point, Nick.
I wonder if we Kiwis inherently think Aussies might be a bit slack?

PS I think "baptist"s like to be spelled "Baptist"

:)

Father Ron said...

Andrei, do you believe that Jesus - biologically male - represented only the male of the species at his Incarnation. Would that not preclude his redemption of the female of the species? My (simple but logical) belief, is that Jesus represented the whole of humanity in his Incarnate presence in this world, This leads to a much larger and more inclusive understanding of human redemption by Christ, who represents ALL humanity, not just the male of the species. This may explain his desire - like a mother hen - to gather her chicks under her wings.

Anonymous said...

Peter; it's we who are slack. The NZ bishops (as they can under canon law) transferred the assumption to the Sunday.

No offence to Baptists; I think Romans have more in common with them than Anglo-Catholics.

Nick

Brian Kelly said...

"Do you not, then, believe that Mary Magdalene was actually sent or commissioned by Jesus to tell the male Apostles that He was now risen from the dead? A pretty important sending and commissioning of M.M. - right there in the Scriptures?"

Why should I doubt that? It's there in the Gospels, which I believe are historically trustworthy.

"Or is that one bit of the Scriptures you just can't believe to be authentic?"

Why do ask that? Have I ever indicated I hold a liberal, Jesus-Seminar-like view of the Gospels?

"One of the most important messages of the Gospel is that of Jesus, Risen from the dead. And Mary was its first proclaimer - sent by Jesus Himself."

Yes - but what follows in the days and weeks ahead? Does she take Judas's place among the Twelve? No. That calling went to Matthias.

Father Ron said...

Now, for a bit of light relief. No, Nick,. I do not believe that Roman Catholics in general have more in common with the Baptists that with Anglo-Catholics. Their theology of the Eucharist, and of Adult-only Baptism, is very different. But, perhaps you don't know either enough Anglo-Catholics or even Baptists, Agape!

Brian, your answer to my question - as to the veracity of M.M.'s calling to be an Apostle - is not adequately dealt with by your muddying of the waters with the calling of Matthias as a replacement for Judas. M.M. didn't just replace someone, she was directly called and commissioned by Jesus during one of his post-Resurrection appearances.

I feel that you may still be resisting the possibility/probability that Jesus intended - post Resurrectiuon - to INLCLUDE a WOMAN among his Apostles.