High church and the articles

...a reflection because I have been thinking about the 39 articles of late. Recently I was in conversation with someone about that most marvellous of articles - 26

Article 26: 26. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments. Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men. Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty, by just judgment be

I have a friend who will visit father somebody or other of an Anglo-Catholic Church for some experience of clerical and congregational life there. I have been thinking about how if, and perhaps when, I have to do the same, I will probably be okay with that. This is an indication, I think, of just how far I have come and how much I have mellowed. I still pay more attention, instinctively, when article 26 is discussed and I am reminded of Edward Norman, who said in 1987, in The Times, that 'If unworthiness in men does not, the divine distribution of sexual attributes certainly should not,' in relation to women administering the eucharist.

I still feel a call to women's ministry online and that I should engage with my sisters, in America, in particular, for there seem to be a great number of women there, living within a very stultifying patriarchal rigid expression of discipleship. But face-to-face, I think I am getting better at letting it go now. The other day I asked the organiser of a new mission initiative if there might be an opportunity for me to shadow him and understand what is really happening at the grass roots, where he is being called, but he suggested that it would be appropriate for me to shadow the mums and toddlers group because there are strong gender demarcations. I smiled and accepted what he said and even wondered, for the first time, whether God was perhaps smiling, saying to me, you know, you're going to have to travel into your discomfort zones and this might be one of yours because it's so acute, this gendered experience for you. So I am in a much better place than I was a year ago and I am excited about the future. I am grateful to Bilezikian, NT Wright and Kenneth Baker for educating me through my difficulties but I am far more able now than I ever was to also consider John Piper for an evening read. Who knows, maybe one day, you'll even catch me reading Wayne Grudem... then again...;)....don't hold your breath...


poppy tupper said...

Hi Rachel, apologies if I have misunderstood this post to think that you imagine that all catholic parishes and clergy in the C of E are agaist the ordination of women. Not so. Look at this www.scp.org.uk. Forward in Faith is unrepresentative of the catholic movement of the C of E and it will wither on the vine. You could use the contact button the on SCP website to find where there is a priest near to you who will be able share insights about that tradition at the same time as honouring your vocation.

Rachel said...

Thank you, Poppy. I'll look into it. And yes, I appreciate what you are saying. The priest my friend will see does not believe in women being ordained but I know there are movements even within the Catholic church with a capital C working towards the ordination of women priests and I am regularly updated by womenpriests.org as regards the progress they are making. They quote Pope Benedict XVI who said in earlier days:

“What the Church needs today, as always, are not adulators to extol the status quo, but people whose humility and obedience are no less than their passion for truth; people who brave every misunderstanding and attack as they bear witness; people who, in a word, love the Church more than ease and the unruffled course of their personal destiny.”

I guess they want to hold him to this. :)

love Rachel

Anonymous said...

I just wrote out a whole thing of questions cos I didn't understand your juxtaposition of Article 26 and AngCath priests - were you saying they were " evil"/wrong, or that sacraments don' " do" anything anyway, and I wondered what you "probably might" be ok with visiting an AngCath parish! then blogger lost the lot - and now your exch with poppy has helped a bit - I hadn't made the gender connection - most AngCaths I know are pretty inclusive :-)
Can you expand your thought process a bit though - would be interesting!
Hey if you're free tonight find a Corpus Christi service & go :-)!!

Rachel said...

Hi Fibrefairy
"I didn't understand your juxtaposition of Article 26 and AngCath priests - were you saying they were " evil"/wrong, or that sacraments don' " do" anything anyway"

Certainly not on both counts.
What article 26 does is highlight the fact that the priest administering the eucharist cannot corrupt it. It raises interesting questions for those who will not accept the Lord's Supper from women and also it raises the same questions for those who won't accept the eucharist from the likes of Gene Robinson, for example, something I thought about a lot last year around the time of Lambeth when the issue of his consecration was debated a lot in the press.

My friend will visit a priest who does not believe that she should be pursuing ordination and I was reflecting upon how I now feel I would be in a healthier position psychologically to handle a situation like that, than I was a couple of years ago, or even a year ago.

Article 26 reminds us helpfully, I think, that the eucharist is all about our Lord Jesus.


Anonymous said...

thanks Rachel, I just hadn't made the leap!! ( and I didn't think for a moment you actually thought either of those two props! which is why I asked!!)

I agree about purpose of article 26 - as we've just sung tonight " Thou art here, we ask not how"

Rachel said...

No problems fibrefairy. Glad to clear that one up.

Cranmer's Curate blog has posted on just my thoughts above today - re Gene Robinson and article 26. He is very confident about the decision he has reached. I have much more thinking to do. It's a good job the Church doesn't require us to make up our minds about everything in this life. :)


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