Wales to give only limited protection

I can remember reading during Lambeth 08 about how awkward it would become for traditionalists to ensure that they were protected in conscience from the ministry of women.

To test the purity of a church for a traditionalist, he would need to ask the priest:

(1) - have you ever received communion from a woman?
(2) - were you confirmed by a female bishop?
(3) - were you confirmed by a male bishop who:-
(a) - was confirmed by a female bishop?
(b) - was ordained by a female bishop?
(c) - was ordained at a service where women were also being ordained?
(d) - was consecrated at a service where a female bishop was present or laying hands?
(e) - has ever received communion from a female priest or bishop?
(f) - has ever ordained a female priest?
(g) – has ever participated in the consecration of a female bishop?
(4) -If you answered 'no' to (3(a) to (3)(g)) above, repeat each step (a) to (g) in relation to:-
(i) the bishop who consecrated the bishop who confirmed you
(ii) the bishop who ordained the bishop who confirmed you
(iii) the bishop who confirmed the bishop who confirmed you

This was only half of the process, I got a bit lost after point 4, it's more thorough even than this!

Barry Morgan seems to be stamping down on some of this by withdrawing the means by which such a process could be offered. I think he is right to do so - just imagine how neurotic you would have to be to go through that whole procedure above and then what happens when you remind yourself that the Queen has quite an important role too.


David Ould said...

You are, of course, referring to Anglo-Catholic traditionalists. Evangelicals have a whole other set of issues.

So basically what Barry Morgan is going for is a position where we say that the Scriptures are not wholly clear on the subject of women bishops and yet we're going to utterly fail to protect (and, indeed, "stamp down on") those who, in good conscience, come down on an opposite side over this issue.

Plus your use of the term "neurotic" is, at best, misguided and probably downright prejorative. It does no good to portray those we disagree with in this way.

Rachel said...

I didn't mean to offend :).

In terms of the idea of neurosis - it's just that I imagine the lengths one has to go to i.e. the chart, which I didn't draw up and I understand to be rather 'tongue in cheek', and it just all seems to distract surely from the real business of mission.


David Ould said...

well, you could at least take them seriously. I don't agree at all with their definition of Apostolic succession but that doesn't mean I have to use such a perjorative term to express that disagreement.

If you think their understanding results in neurosis then perhaps the answer is to understand their theology a bit better rather than simply dismissing them as crackpots.

Yes, I'm a tiny bit irritated. :-(

Rachel said...

Crackpots - no. I never meant to imply this.

I think it's the idea that somehow there is a contamination that would need to be rooted out by the imaginary person who follows through each step of the check-list - I'm assuming this is an imaginary person! Oh heck, this reveals a lot, doesn't it (understanding my own psychology moment by moment, as I write this).

Perhaps in making that assumption, you are right, I am failing to take seriously enough the counter-arguments, which if I understood them better would render the character less imaginary and more real.

You might be on to something, no matter how much I think I am able to accept and understand the 'integrity', I suspect that my own bias and sinfulness does persuade me to believe that my interpretation is the better one - that women should preach to mixed congregations and not be forbidden from doing so. I try very hard to make myself neutral and inclusive. Only last night I was engaged in conversation with someone who believes in male headship and that an ordained woman is a legitimate expression for a woman married to an ordained man but not otherwise. Our conversation was a very stimulating one. There was grace on both sides. However, when the ordination of women was presented as a precursor to the ordination of gay clergy, it was with some relief that our conversation was interrupted at that point with the clearing of plates and we forgot to pick up the point again. Each time, I engage in the discussion, it always ends up going off into all sorts of other trajectories.

Don't be too irritated David, I'm sure you have heard far worse things.


David Ould said...

excuse my frustration but YOU JUST DID IT AGAIN!!!
Have you ever, EVER, heard an Anglo-Catholic speak of their issue as being one of "contamination" by women?

Ever? Even once? Of course not for that is nothing like their complaint!

Look, I don't agree with these guys but at least I make an effort to represent them fairly. It strikes me that there is far too much misrepresentation going on in this area. Even "throw-away" comments reveal much about a lack of desire to actually properly engage.

I think, if you will allow me to get into a rant (and, as I do so let me stop and appreciate that your blog is a safe place to do so - see, even that mellowed me out a little bit) I think part of the problem is poor academic process in some quarters. For all the anti-intellectualism that conservative evangelicals are charged with my experience of 4 years in such a college is that I was taught rigorous academic process.

The primary thing drilled into us is that if you don't engage with what someone is actually saying and represent them fairly then you might as well sign up for a semester of F's. I read widely amongst liberals and anglo-catholics and got slammed on essays if I didn't engage with them.

On the flip-side I know plenty of people graduated from liberal seminaries who don't know who Don Carson is. Something is badly amiss there.

OK, rant over. Don't mind me.

Rachel said...

Reform are one such voice who imply that a real threat can come from women's ministry. They are on the offensive and talk of a battle. They say that 'we find that biblical leadership ... is based on an order within the Trinity of God himself.'

Order in the trinity - isn't this almost an Arian heresy? If the Father and the Son are homoousios, without 'an iota' of difference, then why the constant insistence on 'order' and why when it is insisted, should man be to God as Christ is to woman - isn't this adding to scripture?

Reform fear that the ordination of women is tantamount to the dismissal of the authority of scripture, but ordained women sit under the authority of scripture - Christ is their Lord and the Word does not prohibit their ministries.

I think ultimately, it all boils down to the exegesis of a few key passages - 1 Corinthians 11:2-12 and 14:34-38; Ephesians 5:21-33 and 1 Timothy 2:9-15. These passages rest in a particular interpretation of Genesis 1-3.

I perhaps read 1 Tim 2 9-15 differently to a traditionalist:

Interestingly, there is an inclusion of an NIV footnote explaining that the reference to 'women' (1 Tim 2:15) is to 'she'. Paul doesn't mention her by name because he doesn't want to shame her. Eve had been in error because, lik this woman, she did not have an opportunity to learn. In Eve's case, she did not learn of God's prohibition, first-hand, unlike her husband. In Paul's letter to Timothy, a woman is not intentionally deceiving others. She lacks appropriate education because of her limited first century opportunities and Paul is very counter-cultural with his 'Let her learn'. Her submission should be to the gospel and God. She must learn with a humble spirit but has been 'lording it over' her husband (aner - husband in Greek). The word 'authenthein' has more the sense of a 'usurping' or bullying authority'and for this she should be rebuked. As Christians, we should not lord it over each other when we only have one Lord: Christ.

I think a faulty hermeneutic renders Paul's words here as a blanket prohibition on women in ordained ministries for all time. These verses are about just one particular person. Her fault is not that she is teaching but that she is teaching falsely (didasko) and Paul is keen not to punish this woman as he did Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom he turned over to Satan for false teaching. The particular woman, in these verses, didn't intend to teach falsely. Paul, himself, had been originally in error, persecuting Christians until he received the Lord's mercy. This woman will receive the same mercy as Paul himself, who was 'the worst of sinners' (1 Timothy 1:16).'She' (this wife) is assured of her salvation as they (the married couple) continue ' in faith, love and holiness with propriety' . She will be saved (sozo) not through her own bearing of children, which should not be taken as the 'plain meaning' but through the teknogonia (noun: childbearing) which means the ultimate childbearing; the birth of Christ, which has come about through Eve's descendants.

Carrie Sandom writes 'when it comes to teaching gifts, there are differences in how these gifts are to be used.' Is scripture really so clear in its prohibitions against women teachers or leaders? I see many ambiguities. The ministry of a prophet is second only to that of apostle and is esteemed above that of teacher. In the Old and New Testament, we have women functioning as prophets. Miriam is “one to whom the Lord spoke”(Numbers 12) and is called a prophet in Exodus 15:20. Deborah, in Judges 4 & 5, is a prophet and she leads Israel. Huldah, in 2 Kings, was a prophet communicating God's truths to the King. The New Testament reveals several women in ministry, fulfilling Joel's prophesy (Joel 2:28,29) . Anna was a prophet who spoke publicly about Jesus (Luke 2:36-38) and Mary Magdalene proclaimed the message of the resurrection (Luke 24:10), Junia was an apostle (and it is widely accepted now that Junia was a woman and not a man) and Phoebe functioned in an office described with the same Greek word as Paul and Timothy's office: diakonons, translated “servant” when referring to Phoebe, but “minister” when applied to Paul and Apollos (I Corinthians 3:5)! Elaine Storkey describes how 'Our translations deprive us of the full impact of what Paul says...'

It is the voice of Reform with which I am most familiar and feel as though they really do treat women as contaminants if they lead.

Excuse the length.


David Ould said...

Rachel, the phrase you used was "contamination" and I addressed your use of that phrase. So yes, Reform argue that the introduction of women priests is very detrimental and I agree with them on that issue...

...but it's a red herring. You raised the language of "contamination" and I have challenged you, in fairness to those you oppose, to show even ONE of them using those concepts.

If you can't do so then please have the integrity to state so and concede that you were unfair in representing them so.

otherwise it simply looks like you're not really wanting to engage fairly and charitably.

Let's leave questions of submission for another day, shall we? I've already laid out for you the distinction between role and nature. If you are still unwilling to actually engage with that argument but simply restate your own then that will, again, be very unproductive.

I've also made some detailed points on the original language in a number of texts that you raised which you've also not engaged with. Frankly, it's beginning to feel like you won't actually do the detailed engagement.

As you yourself note, this is not a simplistic issue. There are many prominent women in Scripture who need to be understood correctly. But this is not the way to go about it.

Frankly, I'm disappointed.

Rachel said...

Hi David

The word 'contamination' is mine. It is how I am left feeling - ie that the presence of women priests is felt thus by organisations like 'Reform'. It is not, of course, a word that they use. But they do use phrases like 'women priests and their supporters will have a mainly destructive influence in the church' and so how can women not feel the difficulties of this. The most wounding is the implication that women priests who are orthodox are few and far between and women priests will lead to a liberal church - how has gender got any bearing here? There are liberal men and liberal women. Why because I am a woman am I more likely to compromise gospel truths than a man, because he is a man - I think it is insulting.

Please do not take any of this personally, I am not sure I know you well enough to establish what your position might be on these issues. I do want to engage with the issues here and understand better why some Christians feel that the Church will suffer under the ministry of women, of course I do, I am interested in anything which people may suspect to be a cause of damage to an institution I love so much and feel protective about.


David Ould said...

thanks Rachel. It's helpful to note that that wasn't the actual language used.

And also helpful to articulate how you're responding to what groups like "Reform" are writing.

Perhaps a couple of observations:
1. Reform are a long way theologically from the initial target of your blog post. Almost apples and oranges, I think you'll find. Lumping everyone in the same basket (as you yourself have just noted) is never helpful.

2. Their position, as I understand it, is not that women will ruin the church but that women priests will. Now, personally, I think that's put clumsily but you should still note the distinction.

3. Sadly, although not all women priests are libheral it is a movement that has been championed by the theological liberals. The grassroots arguments themselves are, of course, not even really theological. Perhaps a very helpful insight on this is Bishop Wallace Benn's reflection upon the original debates. You will, I think, be particularly interested in his third point. It is a question which, with the greatest respect, you have yet been unable to address.

You are very, very keen to do the right thing, this I am aware of. You are also right to call others to task on unhelpful language and I would join you in that. This debate needs to be had free of the cloud of both misrepresentation and plain unpleasantness.

But I still think you need to reconsider. And, perhaps, you need to reconsider how joyfully the Lord Jesus Christ submitted to His Father. How that submission in no way demeaned His deity but, rather, further enhances our understanding of who God is inside Himself.

Here's a couple of questions that may help explore that issue:

Could the Father have become incarnate?

Does the Father reveal the Son?

Why is the Son the Son and the Father the Father? Why does Jesus Himself use those terms?

Stepping back from this discussion, I hope this finds you well. Again, please don't confuse disagreement with dislike. The former certainly does not imply the latter.

Rachel said...

I understand submission in the triniy and ontological equality. I understand submission in marriages and ontological equality. Christians submit to one another as they do to the Lord (Eph. 5:21).What I am having trouble grasping is why it is thought by some Christians that men can not listen to Bible teaching from women. If someone could just give me some definite evidence that God does not want women to preach to mixed congregations, I will wrestle with it, I already do engage with the idea that some people hold that this might be true. What do we think are the consequences for these men and these women? I have many male friends in the congregation where I work and worship, who listen to a woman preach and teach them on a Sunday morning and at other points in the week.

I read Wallace Benn's response, He lives near me in Buxton, I'm quite familiar with his ideas. Christina Baxter is, of course, my principal. She has just written my reference for my Bishops Advisory Panel in July. So I am presenting myself at a panel with a calling to ordained stipendiary ministry. I am only human and want desperately to understand better those who do not believe I should be doing such a thing. If this is my weakness, to be affected by the thoughts and opinions of my brothers and sisters in Christ, then I ackowledge my own weakness - it is glaringly apparent. What do I do when there are also so many voices of support and encouragement? - pray to see what my father's will in Heaven is. I am so close to presenting myself before this panel, I wonder why I am even engaging in the debate again - I think again this is less a theological wrestle for me - my mind is made up - and more a trying to come to terms with the reality that there will be opposition if I do satisfy the panel and begin training. I hope that I am strong enough to deal with the opposition - I have a heart which quests for unity and peace, perhaps in part prompted by a fear of conflict, but there is this strong desire for unity, nevertheless. I want to go into this with my eyes open and fixed on the Lord.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi David and Rachel,

Your discussion is fascinating; Wallace Benn's reflection is disturbing (on several counts); and might I raise a question or two?

What might life within the Trinity look like if we do not ask whether there is mutual submission but ask whether there is mutual coinherence (perichoresis)?

Agreed that the Son is not the Father and vice versa, especially in the context of the earth-bound ministry of the Son in which it makes perfect sense for Jesus to speak about the Father sending me, and me doing the Father's will. But what is life like now for the risen and exalted Jesus? Revelation is very interesting on this matter: 'as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne' (3:21). Here is a vision of the sharing in the identity of God which raises a question not only about ontological equality but of functional unity (i.e. in ruling). When later the exalted Jesus says 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last' (22:13) this unity is impressively demonstrated (to my mind, at least).

In our everyday 21st century speech I suggest Revelation offers a vision of the inner life of the Trinity as one of 'sharing' rather than 'submission'. Further, the vision in respect of the church is that we get caught up into that sharing, a kind of 'fourth person' of the Trinity (back to 3:21 if you want a verse).

The sharing of ministry, women and men together, is a living image of the inner being of the Trinity (as, of course, also is the 'one fleshness' of marriage).

(BTW, Rachel, I think you are completely wrong re 1 Timothy 2:12 being addressed to one woman only in the Ephesian church ...)

That's probably enough for now :)

Rachel said...

Thank you for your interest Peter. I am fascinated by the theology of the trinity and want to understand further ideas about the perichoretic life therein. I have not had enough time to explore the theory of ESS although it is one of the site's key areas of interest.(See sample posts ESS and consequences). I remain unconvinced about eternal subordination and look at the shared throne in Revelation with interest. 'The Shack' has generated a lot of heat in some of the American mega-churches - Mars Hill etc for its presentation of the mutual submission in the trinity.

Peter, give me your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2. My first thoughts are a product mainly of the teachings of Cheryl Schatz at 'Women in ministry' but I am open to other interpretations. This would be interesting. Sometimes I find that people (not you) are quick to refute, but less ready to present their own interpretations. We should feel free to explore, I think even the Lord Jesus is generous to us in our unbelief, just as he was happy to meet Thomas in his doubting. Our God is such a big God, I think he loves us even for our questions.

God bless Peter and David
Enlightening journeying with you.


Rachel said...

I must also add, David, that I do come to anything written under the heading CBMW with suspicions because I have real trouble with The Danvers Statement and do not trust that it has scriptural accuracy. It is difficult for me to read Wallace Benn and CBMW with a neutrality (only human - just admitting this to be the case).

As regarding Anglo-Catholics, whom you assume I am thinking about from the outset. As far as I can understand it, Anglo-catholic opposition to female incumbents is often built around ideas from tradition. This I can appreciate. I find it less easy to engage with Conservative evangelicals who present arguments that female incumbents are actually doing something which is scripturally disobedient. Some recognise two integrities but others make it their mission like Reform and CBMW to promote only their own interpretation of scripture and present only what they imagine to be the problems with egalitarianism. As a passionate disciple of the Lord Jesus, the charge of disobedience is bound to affect me, how could it not?


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rachel

On the particular matter of whether 1 Timothy 2:12-15 applies to a specific, unnamed Ephesian woman or to women in the life of the congregation, I would simply observe that the larger context of the verses is a series of instructions concerning worship, addressed to men and to women. Noting that Paul is more than capable of addressing individual people in his letters (e.g. Philippians 4:2-3), it is an imposition of a predetermined view on the text to conclude 'Paul was really addressing a particular individual in 1 Tim 2:12'.

Below I offer some postings I have made in the past, but here is my summary:

(a) The complementarian view requires the universal application of 1 T 2:12 as a prohibition of women teaching or leading a mixed gender congregation. That is, there are no circumstances in which any woman, whether otherwise gifted, trained, equipped and called, may teach or lead a mixed gender congregation. Logically this raises the question whether or not 1 T 2:12 can sustain the weight of universal application.

(b) Other passages in the NT relating to Priscilla, Phoebe, Junia, Lydia, Nympha and co, raise the question whether 1 T 2:12 represents a universal rule in the life of the early church. (For instance, one might note that in the series of greetings in Romans 16, to men and women in leadership of the Roman house churches, there is not a hint of anxiety that any woman is stepping out of bounds. That could be because all were perfectly obedient to a 1 T 2:12 rule ... but it could also be because there was no such universal rule).

(c) These first two observations lead to a renewed close examination of the text of 1 T 2:12-15, which (I suggest) highlights the question of whether (1) we understand 'authentein' in 1 T 2:12; and (2) whether the peculiarity of 1 T 2:15 properly raises the question of an oddball teaching endemic in the Ephesian church at this time re sex and marriage (see 1 T 4:3).

(d) Cutting a longer exegetical story short, 1 T 2:12 is a prohibition of unauthorised women teaching and leading men, (possibly provoked because they joined false teaching men in suggesting that a non-celibate marriage imperilled salvation).

Will stop short there - much more needs to be said, especially about 1 T 2:13-14 - but the gist of it all is that 1 T 2:12 rules against unauthorised women taking up office in the church as teachers and leaders but does not rule against authorised appointment to these offices.

(I do not expect David to respond to this - he and I have canvassed it thoroughly on his website!!)






Rachel said...

Thank you for your time, Peter. Very helpful. I followed the links which were illuminating. Much to consider but most encouraging.

Rachel said...

Oops mistake - it isn't Wallace Benn who lives near me in Buxton, it's Rev Bob Marsden - I have confused one Reform, Danvers statement signatory with another. They have the same theology about women in ministry which is why I made the error - sorry about that.

Rachel said...

Just to say the next comment coming in was one of Iconoclast's jokes - he has this funny way of always cutting into the seriousness with a joke - just when we are in fear of taking ourselves too seriously. However, I couldn't bring myself to publish it - it was rather rude (blushing) ;)

Thanks Iconoclast

I've been trying to work out who you are - are you 'itinerant iconoclast blog' ?- maybe you don't have a blog - I dunno!

Anonymous said...

I do not have a blog Rachel. I don't have the time to write one and and I'm amazed how you find the time either!

You might bear in mind a comment that I think was once attributed to CS Lewis when he stated that one of the ways we could tell that God has a sense of humour was that he invented sex. I certainly think if Lewis had a blog he would have published it.

You could of course, forward it to Jody... ;)

I hope it made you laugh.


Rachel said...

Laugh - yes and raise eyebrows!

I think you should take up blogging, Iconoclast, it just involves giving something else up - for me - it was TV, apart from Eastenders, which is a habit I took up as a teenager when it first hit the airwaves.

I'm curious about you. Things I know about you:
Over 50
Reads my blog, Jody's, Ugley vicar's etc

If you have time to read them, you surely have the time to put a few ideas across on a blog of your own too ;)

Rachel X

Anonymous said...

Ah, you gather intelligence! OK, so here's a bit more about me for your file.

I am a theological conservative.
I work for the military (Royal Navy)
I am an astrophysicist by training.
I am a church leader in a Baptist Church (unlike Anglicans, we Baptists are wet all over).
I preach in my church once a month.
I help run a youth group called Rock Solid.
I have been a Christian for over 30 years.
I have two children who I nickname WW1 and WWII.
I did attend an Anglican church for a while and although I am a Baptist, I find the Anglican liturgy spiritually uplifting.

What do I like?
Electric Folk. Especially Maddy Prior who I had a crush on when I was 14. She has the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. Steeleye Span's rendering of Gaudete never fails to get me into an attitude of worship. Very much into progressive rock.

Regarding the question of women's ordination.I am still making my mind up on this. That is one reason while I visit your blog to find out more. Like John Richardson's, Custardy, Peter Kirk's and less so Fulcrum, it is one of the few blogs in the Christian blogosphere where arguments like these can be discussed with graciousness and civility. For maintaining this you are to be commended.

As for starting a blog -well I'll promise you I'll think about it..:)

And my jokes well -we conservatives are not all as stuffy as some people think. After 30 years with the Lord I'm convinced He has a sense of humour. (I've got some even ruder ones..... ;)


Janice said...

I think again this is less a theological wrestle for me - my mind is made up - and more a trying to come to terms with the reality that there will be opposition if I do satisfy the panel and begin training.Yes. Confrontation is not fun. But, given your interaction with David Ould, I think you can handle it. He was shouting at you and castigating you. I would even go so far as to say that he seemed to be almost wilfully misunderstanding your use of the word 'neurotic', but you responded graciously.

At the church where I go we have a woman who has been priested. She runs an evening service in Kriol for indigenous folk, occasionally preaches and/or presides at the morning service and stands in for the rector if he's away. She's the first woman I've ever heard preach and she's as competent at it as most of the male preachers I've heard. She's also a lovely person but she's had to put up with a certain degree of nasty rudeness from at least one woman who is ideologically opposed to women priests and, I presume, thinks well of herself because of it. But J keeps on doing the work she was called to and if God wants you where you feel called to be then it will happen and you, too, will find the grace to cope whatever adversities come your way.

Numbers 6:24-26

David Ould said...

" But, given your interaction with David Ould, I think you can handle it. He was shouting at you and castigating you. I would even go so far as to say that he seemed to be almost wilfully misunderstanding your use of the word 'neurotic', but you responded graciously."

That is, simply, unfair of you. There was no shouting or castigation. I made every effort, as I trust Rachel will affirm, to step back from any emotional engagement to, rather, address the issues.

Indeed, there is a certain wise safety to Rachel's debating this. She has made her decision and, in some terms, that gives her a helpful distance from the issue.

I think it is you who have misunderstood, and even deliberately misread, me.

Rachel, apologies for not keeping up the discussion. Things have been very busy here for the past few days.

I read the response to the Danvers Statement and was, frankly, disappointed with how it entirely failed to understand what was being written. I'll be trying to get something substantial up on my blog in the next few days about it.

Thanks again for choosing to continue to have this discussion. I certainly appreciate it even if others seem determined to view any disagreement on this issue as intending injury.

Rachel said...

Hi David
I don't think Janet is deliberate in her misreading of you because this implies some degree of negative motivation on her part, which I do not think is there. I found her words encouraging in as much as they speak into my situation and the difficulties that one can sometimes feel one is encountering. As regards your correspondance with me. I try to read your words with a gentler tone than perhaps, at times, others are warrant to do. I find that you are often disappointed with my views which I find interesting. I am not disappointed by your views because you hold them sincerely and I think that you engage intelligently with the scriptures. I do find the Danvers Statement particularly unsettling because I think that it does add to scripture and its practical outworkings can be very compromising for women in a way that God's word is not. I am trying to engage intelligently with it, however there is something about its tone which does rather race the adrenal gland and so I must admit, as Shakespeare taught, there is rather a battle going on between my passion and my reason when I encounter teaching which is 'inspired' by the Danvers Statement.

Yours in fellowship


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions