Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where there is a will, there is a way

News from England of an historic deal which paves the way for women bishops in the C of E seems to overlook the 'Down Under' source of the paving! The idea that the church might not divide over women bishops because those who wish access to a male bishop will be able to do so originated in the recent Australian Anglican bishops' decision to accept women bishops providing each diocese with a female bishop also had a male bishop. Not to worry: we in the colonies are nothing if not humble!!

The relevance of this news to ACANZP is that we are reminded that on a good day, Anglicans can muster the will to find the way to honour diverse theological integrities. Much as I personally am unconvinced by arguments against women becoming presbyters and bishops, there is theological integrity to some such arguments.* The deals in Australia and in England (though still subject to the agreement of its General Synod) is recognition of that integrity. Whether differences within our church over the ordination of women are of such magnitude that we should seek a similar deal to the C of E is a matter for reflection - our history on the matter is different to Australia and England. But the issue in our church on which, at some point, we will need to muster the will to find a way forward, concerns homosexuality: currently we are in a limbo land. The potential in 2009 is for schismatic cracks elsewhere in the Communion to confront our church with a 'choose this day' scenario re international allegiances which concomitantly wrenches us out of limbo on homosexuality.

*By 'integrity' I mean arguments that incorporate Scripture, reason, and tradition coherently and are properly grounded in Anglican theological presuppositions, whether of an anglo-catholic or evangelical kind; by 'some' I do mean to imply that while some arguments have theological integrity, there are other arguments against women becoming presbyters and bishops which lack integrity, e.g. those which are a thin cover for the preservation of male power, and those which begin with a dodgy understanding of subordination within the Godhead ... the latter running the particularly grave risk of renewing the power of Arianism in the church.

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