18.9.09

Whose victory?


This is all good in many ways but I think that the language used is unhelpful. Primarily, if women priests are now able to administer the Lord's Supper at Blackburn Cathedral, it isn't that they have 'won a victory over Balckburn Cathedral'. I am sure that this is not how they would have described it. Why does the media always employ the rhetoric of conquest and defeat or victory? These women have had their theological convictions recognised. I am pretty sure that they are Christ-like enough to also love the brothers and sisters in Christ who do not feel as though they should be administering the eucharist, they should certainly feel this more than the emotions of victory. 

That the Blackburn Cathedral clerical hierarchy listened to the voices of the people it serves is a sign that they are listening and that they can also recognise their place in a Church which recognises two integrities and that sometimes we must wait for one another and sacrifice our own feelings for the sake of the gospel, something which Dr Penfold had done for many years.

I do not think that their behaviour before their apology was discriminatory and offensive. This is the language of the world and misses the whole point of the debate. The reason why women are able to administer the eucharist is not to do with our human rights or the latest anti-discrimination policy, it is because a woman is called by God, as many have been throughout Biblical times and history, to preach and teach the Bible, to shepherd the flock and to share in celebrating Holy Communion. She simply follows in the footsteps of Junia, Mary, Lydia, Euodia, Syntyche and Priscilla and many more, more recently known to us. A woman administering the eucharist, like a man is but the vessel in which lives the Holy Spirit and Holy Communion is everything to do with Jesus and not  the person who passes you the bread and wine. Afterall, as that most famous of article number 26 declares: 

...they do not ... in their own name, but in Christ's, ...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 ... 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

At the end of the article it is thought that deep divisions will continue but perhaps there might be more of a chance for reconciliation if we changed the language that we use.

3 comments:

SueM said...

I do think that there is more than enough justification in scripture for women administering the sacraments. I do also think that Blackburn Cathedral were offensive and discriminatory in their former policy. At the heart of the gospel is a valuing of all and a revelation of God's love for all, male, female, slave and free, gentile and Jew, rich and poor. I think the gospel teaches us not to discriminate long before our 20th and 21st century concepts about inclusion and prejudice were articulated. I think the difference between the secular concept of equality and the gospel concept of equality,is tht secular values preach that we are all equal by virtue of our humanity alone. Gospel that we are equal by virtue of God's love for us (as humanity) and his grace freely available for all.

David Ould said...

It is, nevertheless, a victory - a victory for lack of tolerance for those of a differing persuasion.

There was never a moment when women were not allowed to consecrate at the cathedral. But now those who, in good conscience, cannot take communion from her are effectively ostracised.

Frankly, I think it's a silly stand to take but the cathedral's policy was a generous accommodation.

But organisations like WATCH don't want generous and gracious accommodation - they want to force everyone to agree with them. And I'm sure they call us close-minded too.

David Ould said...

SueM, does it not strike you that the Cathedral is now not valuing those who, in good conscience, can't take communion from a woman?

I don't personally agree with that stance but I understand that some, particular more Anglo-Catholic minded people, find it a real struggle.

The Cathedral has effectively told them that their position is not valid - which is not our official position in the CofE. Are these people to be valued or not?

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.