23.11.12

Women in Christian servant-leadership, with a look at Rev Angus Macleay's summation speech from General Synod on Tuesday November 20th 2012

Thoughts on Women in the Episcopate 




Women in Christian servant-leadership, with a look at Rev Angus Macleay's summation speech from General Synod on Tuesday November 20th 2012.


(Black type – Rev Macleay's speech, Red – my thoughts)

Primarily some thoughts of my own.

Proverbs 18:17 describes how 'The first to present their case seems right-- till another cross-examines them.' It has been difficult for the church to come to any kind of consensus, as we know, on the issue of women in leadership in the church. Whether it be an appeal to reason, tradition or scripture or a combination of all three, an antithetical conclusion can be drawn.

In raising the theological issue of apostolicity being male throughout time, examples can be found of female deacons, priests and bishops. Where women assert their sense of calling, opponents judge this too concordant with the prevailing culture and the church is charged with succumbing to social pressures. Those who argue that women bishops are the result of a movement of the Holy Spirit face the theological views of the cessationists for whom there is no new revelation.

Perhaps at the very core of the debate is a confusion over the concept of submisson. Christians can not deny that Christianity is about submission: submission to the Godhead, the gospel and the Church which we are called to serve. As regards whether one gender is to submit more than another, this seems an appropriate question to ask when the word seems to have become associated with subordination. In Grudem and Rainey's 'Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood', they describe that the 'Biblical View of Submission ...requires her to submit to him..., while no passage indicates that a husband should be subordinate to his wife' (GRUDEM W & Rainey D (ed.s) Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood, p.203-4). It is in the casual exchange of the word submit for subordinate that significant problems lie. These two words are not synonymous because the former is theological and about 'dying to self', the latter is worldly, denoting inferiority. When a woman's Christian submission is also subordinationism to men, it seems that she is, as a consequence, denied the role of oversight in the Church. However, scholars like E L Mascall, despite being a Conservative, say that 'behind St Paul's thought about the man and the woman... the fundamental relation is not one of inferiority but of mutual perfection and of derived partnership' (MASCALL, E.L., 'Women and the Priesthood of the Church' p.119)

Advocates of women bishops will reassert that Christianity is about servant-hood and not authority to counteract the proponents of male headship. About servant-hood all Christians are agreed but advocates of women bishops will stress this aspect of Christian distinctiveness as they explain that women and men should serve the Body of Christ in the ordained offices because of their spiritual gifts, without it also depending on their gender!


Rev Angus Macleay: As I seek to sum up this important debate concerning the Women Bishops Measure from a conservative evangelical perspective [at the invitation of the Archbishop of York] I wish to look in a number of different directions.

This is from a particular conservative evangelical perspective...I am a conservative evangelical but do not come to the same conclusions.

Rev Angus Macleay:1) Looking at the revised Measure

The key issue relates to the use of the phrase “in a manner that respects.” We cannot interpret it without understanding the broader context.

I make the next point with a bit of a wink...it seems then that the historical context is important when it suits...and yet the historical context in which those very scriptural texts are set, is ignored as they are brought to bear on the argument for women bishops ...however, I am someone who doesn't just argue for women bishops by excusing Paul's words as being those addressing only the context of his day, Paul had things to say, indeed, but was never prohibiting women from leadership as a blanket prohibition.

Rev Angus Macleay: It is hard to hear an institution such as the Synod offer “respect” at the same time as it is preparing to renege on promises made to us 20 years ago supposedly “in perpetuity”.

How can trust flourish when what you currently have is being removed and the proposal that it is to be replaced with is something much weaker? Further how do we understand the word “respect” in the context where female members of Reform are being publicly belittled and insulted in the media by people wishing to support this Measure? “Respect” is an honourable word but within a specifically legal context it is a word which is being asked to bear too great a weight. In legal documents trust is built though the use of clarity in language rather than vague imprecise generalities. “Respect” is a fine word but in this context and with this background it feels slightly hollow.

...so what were those promises made in perpetuity?

Here's what "Bonds of Peace" (produced by the House of Bishops) said in 1992:


Paragraph 3: We now enter a process in which it is desirable that both those in favour and those opposed should be recognised as holding legitimate positions while the whole Church seeks to come to a common mind.

Those who for a variety of reasons cannot conscientiously accept that women may be ordained as priests will continue to hold a legitimate and recognised position within the Church of England.


That they would forever be given Alternative Episcopal reassurance is scrutinised by this document which is worth reading.


Rev Angus Macleay: 2) Looking at the future if the Measure were to be passed

There are a number of concerns if the Measure passes. We are told that our solution lies in the Code of Practice. However my previous experience in sitting on the Code of Practice drafting group is not encouraging. Unless there is to be a significant increase in representation of conservative evangelicals and traditional Catholics on the new Code of Practice group it is likely to come to conclusions very similar to the draft illustrative Code that we have already seen and which does not provide us with sufficient provision.

The significant increase in representation of conservative evangelicals of a particular kind, in the house of laity, surely had such a result, the house of laity secured a "No" to women Bishops that was out of keeping with majority feeling.

Rev Angus Macleay: Further if passed we will proceed to being a church which rejoices in greater inclusivity but, the irony, there will be no inclusivity for those with our biblical and theological convictions. The Bishop of Chelmsford promises that we could look forward to the provision of conservative evangelical bishops but such promises seem hollow when there have been no such appointments over the last 15 years. During that period, despite various promises as well as the Pilling Report, there has simply been no appointment of a conservative evangelical bishop which underlines the point that there continues to be no genuine respect for our theological position. Words need to be backed up by actions but few have been evident.

We now have an evangelical future Archbishop!

Rev Angus Macleay: Finally, as I look to the future my great concern is that if this Measure is passed we will follow the trajectory of the Episcopal Church in the USA, where over the last thirty years we have seen growing liberalism and the development of a different gospel. Many of us have received emails declaring that it would be “missional suicide” not to pass this Measure. However genuine “missional suicide” using any indication you wish to use is through embarking on the same trajectory as TEC.

I agree there is a liberal trajectory to the Episcopal church, however this is hinting at the 'slippery slope' argument which does not stack up at all – the idea in some Conservative Evangelical circles that consecrating women is shortly followed by moves to consecrate those in same sex partnerships. I make no comment on my theological convictions here, only to say that these two ideas are treated very differently in the Scriptures. The one does not equate to the other.

Rev Angus Macleay: 3) Looking back to where we’ve come from

As we look at where we have come from we are told that all sides have compromised. However as I look at the sort of provision that was proposed in the early Gloucester or Guildford Reports and compare it to the current proposed provisions it appears that virtually everything which could have been of any assistance has been removed by a process of Synodical subtraction. Everything of any value to us has been systematically squeezed out.

Yet my concern is even greater when I look at the original Rochester Report. It carefully set out the various different views about women’s ministry and on p.179 it proposed a set of questions. However Synod has not wished to discuss the possible answers. The report has not been discussed in the Dioceses, the Revision Committee nor at any point during this or the last quinquennium. A few weeks ago the chairman of that report the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali said:

“The Rochester Report" aimed, as it was asked, to prepare the Church for a theological and ecclesiological debate on the question of women in the ministry and especially in the episcopate. It attempted, therefore, to set out all the arguments about the nature of women’s ministry in the Church and to critique each one from the point of view of the others. It became clear, however, that many were not interested in such a fundamental debate but wished to initiate a process for the appointment of women bishops in the church as soon as possible. This process takes for granted secular assumptions about justice and equality rather than asking what the Bible means by such terms.”

There was from many a drive to really have the debate...listen to Tom Wright here....


Rev Angus Macleay: There has not been the careful public consideration of the biblical material upon which to base our current decision. 

There has been – there is book after book, debate after debate, theological symposium after theological symposium. It is patronising and insulting to think that other evangelicals are not coming to the position that they are coming to, from anything other than submission to scripture. 

Rev Angus Macleay: 4) Looking into the Bible

Along with other conservative evangelicals I rejoice in both male and female ministry and that is evident from the practice of my current parish where women are involved in all sorts of vital ministries. However the witness of the New Testament includes 1 Timothy 2:12 which asserts that the authoritative teaching role should be fulfilled by a man. Last year after a period of illness I was able to write a short commentary on 1 Timothy for preachers and in preparation I was able to read all sorts of different interpretations of that verse. However the question that I kept on asking was: why does Paul earth this teaching in verse 13 in creation rather than any temporary situation? It appears that this teaching is part of God’s ordering of creation.

Here's a point of view on this one, courtesy of Tom Wright over at Fulcrum , who says this:

So what is the real argument? The other lie to nail is that people who “believe in the Bible” or who “take it literally” will oppose women’s ordination. Rubbish. Yes, I Timothy ii is usually taken as refusing to allow women to teach men. But serious scholars disagree on the actual meaning, as the key Greek words occur nowhere else. That, in any case, is not where to start.

Tom goes on to say the following

All Christian ministry begins with the announcement that Jesus has been raised from the dead. And Jesus entrusted that task, first of all, not to Peter, James, or John, but to Mary Magdalene. Part of the point of the new creation launched at Easter was the transformation of roles and vocations: from Jews-only to worldwide, from monoglot to multilingual (think of Pentecost), and from male-only leadership to male and female together.

Here's a summary of my thinking on 1 Timothy 2:11-15:

I read 1 Tim 2 9-15 differently to Macleay in his commentary by considering the following:

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, like 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 might be 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.

Whether it is one woman or many is perhaps anyway not something to get too bogged down in, ultimately to cut a long tangle short the passage only prohibits against unauthorised, uninformed people teaching fasely, (because as is the context of the letter and the reason for Paul's writing, they had joined in falsely teaching men that a non-celibate marriage imperilled salvation in this case). Ultimately, the passage does not rule against authorised appointment to servant leadership/teaching offices for women for all time.

It can not prohibit teaching, if it did, it would undo scriptures elsewhere: 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...' I am very glad that Elaine was able to speak at length too during the November Synod debate.

Despite all that hermeeutical subtlety and wrangling we need to consider the fact that we should not begin from “headship,” anyway, we should begin everything from “resurrection.” 


Rev Angus Macleay: I also hold to the teaching found in the Bible about headship. Some bishops have indicated that they wish to look at other parts of the New Testament rather than 1 Corinthians 11 where headship is mentioned.

Here's an explanation on 1 Cor 11 and 14:

Paul does not present a hierarchical sequence of relationships here because he doesn't arrange his sentences to denote this. Instead, God is the source of Christ, Christ the source of mankind and man the source of woman because she was made from his side (rib in English translations). (There is much debate about whether Kephale means source or authority). Adam is unconscious at the moment of his wife's creation and unaware from whence she came, only struck by how perfectly she completes him: 'bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh' and Paul is capturing this idea with his 'the woman is the glory of man.'2 Even though Paul might be exhorting the Corinthian men and women to appear in ways that are appropriate culturally so as not to ihibit the message of the gospel to those who are curious and watching the conduct of Christians carefully, men and women are, nevertheless equal in the Lord as Paul explains: 'in the Lord, however...everything comes from God.' Bilezikian is the proponent of an argument which explains away any ambiguities in this problem passage very simply. Paul is writing to this church because Judaizers are insisting incorrectly that women should be veiled and silenced. 'Paul cites in chapter 11:6-10 the Corinthian Judaizers' legalistic arguments...relative to veils, hair and angels' 3 so that he might correct them. In the Greek there was no such punctuation mark as the quotation mark and this is the reason for the confusion over the passage. There does seem to be a natural change of tone at verse 11. Paul has repeated their Judaic thinking back to them and then gives his answer: that 'in the Lord', this is not to be the case. He exhorts the Corinthians to look to nature. God has seen to it that the women are covered, by their long hair (verse 15). There is no need for any mark of authority on a woman when she is equally able, like a man, to pray and prophesy in public meetings. Similarly, in chapter 14, Paul is quoting a false practice so that he can rebuke the church. He quotes the Corinthians in verses 34 and 35 and then corrects their thinking. They considered it appropriate to silence the women to alleviate the disordered nature of their worship gatherings.This is not a suitable recourse and their appeal to the law does not fool Paul who knew his scriptures. There is nothing in Mosaic law requiring the silence of women. The correction begins at verse 36 and was originally introduced with an exclamation like 'What?!' but this has been lost in translation. The change in tone now signals the correction with Paul shocked that this church dares to think itself more spiritual than any other and create its own rules, when the guidance that he has for their church supersedes anything that they might glean from the law because it is 'of the Lord'. He warns them that if they fail to recognise this, they too will be unrecognised.


Rev Angus Macleay: However what we need to do is hold all the different scriptures together in tension, rather than dismissing “difficult” verses, in order to discover the richness of the pattern of ministry in the New Testament. I was even more concerned to hear a Bishop boldly state at a public fringe meeting in July “I don’t believe in headship”. Yet “the head of Christ is God” indicates that headship is part of the ordering of the Godhead within the Trinity.

Ordering in the Godhead – here are the problems with that one. What Macleay talks about easily runs into the Eternal Subordination of the Son. This suggestion of McLeay's that different functions represent order just does not stack up, the Bible itself in Revelation is very interesting on this matter: 'as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne' (3:21). There is here the 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), unity is certainly demonstrated.


Just to take a break from the more serious theologians and scholars for a minute, consider The Shack on this, which many Christians in the pews have read:

On page 121, "Papa" says,

"...we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or 'great chain of being' as your ancestors termed it. What you're seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don't need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us. Actually, this is your problem, not ours. (my emphasis)"

Just in case, you think I don't think that the incarnate Christ was submissive, I do. Christ says that the Father has sent him; Jesus states that he does not know when the end will come, and that only the Father knows this. Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane for the Father to allow the cup to pass, but submits to his will and goes to the cross. However, this hierarchy only exists on earth and not in Heaven where we see in Revelation that the Son and the Father share the throne.



Rev Angus Macleay: There is both full equality between the persons of the Trinity and also difference at the same time. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Father. There is order within the Persons of the Trinity. They are equal and different – these qualities are not mutually exclusive. This means that headship in itself cannot be an intrinsically bad thing.

Further, since male and female are created in the image of God the Trinity it would not be surprising for headship to be evident in the relations between men and women both within the family and marriage (see Ephesians 5) and also in ministry within the church family. Full equality can exist alongside difference in roles.

But it depends then what you do with it – something exclusive to the trinity is not to be mapped onto the relations between men and women, whatever way we try to do it, it does not work...we are instead creating God in our image. Applying Trinitarian relations to human relations is misguided and inappropriate. As for the reading from Ephesians 5, it does nothing to add to his argument. In fact on the contrary it tells us to, "
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Eph 5:21

Read this about the founder of a church of which you might have heard:

"I am not a feminist," Bilezikian says. "Feminism is about power, and I am about servanthood. I'm not pursuing equality for its own sake; there is no mandate in the Bible to pursue equality. But there is a mandate to establish community. An authentic community necessarily implies full participation of women and men on the basis of spiritual gifts, not on the basis of sex."

Bilezikian is a proponent of mutual submission: "Mutual submission is a biblical concept," he says. "The words are used specifically in a number of texts but especially in Ephesians 5:21, where it says be mutually submitted to each other." The wife submits to the husband just as the church does to Christ, but there is a reciprocity, he says: "Christ submits himself in-depth to the church, and the church submits itself in service to Christ. But then the husband is also under submission because he has to love his wife as he loves himself, even to the point of self-sacrifice as Christ loved the church."

Both men and women, then, desire to serve the other rather than to control the other, Bilezikian says.

"Our natural tendency is to compete or take advantage of," he says. "The Bible says lay down your arms and instead extend your hands toward each other to help each other and to support each other; and for the relationship to be one of partnership and mutuality rather than one of hierarchy." 


Bilezikian says he tries to live out these principles in his marriage, and they are also evident at his church. Not everyone at Willow Creek initially agreed with Bilezikian's position on women's ministry: among others, Hybels himself taught the traditional view of male headship. After months of study and debate, the church decided that it would support women in any position of leadership
.
Rev Angus Macleay: Yet if we join the Bishop in saying “we don’t believe in headship” we pull an important strand out of the fabric of our theology. If we reject headship we reject being equal and different and replace it with being equal and the same. If we reject headship it will lead to the redefinition of episcopal ministry so that women can be bishops.
 

...no because Christ is the head – the source of all that is created...men and women.

Rev Angus Macleay: It will also lead to the redefinition of marriage opening it up to those who are equal and the same. Ultimately it will lead to a redefinition of how we view the Godhead so that we simply see each person of the Trinity as equal and the same with no difference in roles. This is a dangerous route to travel. Things unravel when we pull out “headship” from our Bibles.

This is a massive leap to make. Women bishops will lead to a redefinition of marriage...? 


It will take more than that. 

As I said before, the relations in the Trinity are governed by love and mutual submission. Christian men and women are called to mutual submission...they are equal, they are different, God calls us to uniqueness and partnership.

Rev Angus Macleay: Conclusion

At the beginning of the Synod we heard a report from the Bishop of Harare of victory. But today whichever way the forthcoming vote goes there is no victory. Instead we face a train crash. I have sought, as invited by the Archbishop, to give my conservative evangelical perspective on the Measure. Whilst wholly supportive of women’s ministry we hold to a biblical complementarian vision out of genuine conviction and therefore in good conscience we have to vote against it.

Complementary – exactly!!... and that complementarity is best expressed when men and women work together in all spheres to represent the glorious community that is the Trinity of love and mutual submission. This is the way to run the home and the family and this is the very best way that we reflect the trinity. With men and women sharing, working together, we better represent humanity and relate to humanity...men and women. We need women in the house of bishops to reflect this!

Rev Angus Macleay: Having said that, if the Measure is not passed I know that Reform would be prepared to respond to the invitation of the Archbishop designate and make ourselves available to meet with WATCH and any other groups which would enable us to find a better way forward that provides us with appropriate and proper provision.

Well at least we agree on that....let's hope that dialogue continues to happen, indeed.


Rev Angus Macleay: The Rev Angus Macleay is vicar of St Nicholas' Church Sevenoaks and a member of General Synod for Rochester Diocese. He is also chair of the Trustees of Reform. He is married to Sue with two children, Rachel and Jamie. Before ordination he worked as a solicitor in London for a few years. Since ordination he has served a curacy in Manchester at Holy Trinity Platt before 9 years as a vicar on the outskirts of Carlisle. Currently rector of St. Nicholas, Sevenoaks and on General Synod.


Rachel Marszalek is just a struggling curate, trying to get her head around it all. :-D

16 comments:

Telfs said...

Thanks Rachel. It's refreshing for me to read a pro-women bishops argument which seriously interacts with scripture - and I know it's probably my fault that I haven't come across much because I haven't been looking in the right places.

I still don't think I agree with you though - sorry! I'm particularly confused by your understanding of trinity/men& women/mutual submission. I know you don't want to map trinitarian relationships onto human relationships too much, but do you think there is mutual submission within the trinity? ie Father sometimes submits to the Son or the Holy Spirit? I'm not trying to pick holes, just trying to understand properly.

I agree with you that women bishops don't logically lead to same sex marriage. It probably sounds paranoid to suggest so. However, I think the fear is that there is an intolerant liberal agenda to impose same sex marriage on the CofE and some people are using women bishops as a trojan horse. I know that sounds crazy. It comes from hearing only the 'equality' argument for women bishops and not the exegetical argument. The fear is the fear of this logic: 1. It's unfair that women can't be bishops on the grounds of a secular-humanist understanding of equality, 2. When women bishops have been 'imposed' on everyone in the name of equality moves will be made to allow same sex weddings to take place in churches, 3. Women bishops will have been imposed on everyone and so next everyone will be forced to conduct same sex weddings.

Does that sound crazy? It's how we've learned to think, which is why we desperately need talks and we need to build up real trust. Unfortunately there are some on both sides of the debate who have a history of trying to undermine trust.

I sincerely hope together4ward can help build those bridges we need so much so that we can get on with sharing the gospel with a lost nation.

John

Telfs said...

Thanks Rachel. It's refreshing for me to read a pro-women bishops argument which seriously interacts with scripture - and I know it's probably my fault that I haven't come across much because I haven't been looking in the right places.

I still don't think I agree with you though - sorry! I'm particularly confused by your understanding of trinity/men& women/mutual submission. I know you don't want to map trinitarian relationships onto human relationships too much, but do you think there is mutual submission within the trinity? ie Father sometimes submits to the Son or the Holy Spirit? I'm not trying to pick holes, just trying to understand properly.

I agree with you that women bishops don't logically lead to same sex marriage. It probably sounds paranoid to suggest so. However, I think the fear is that there is an intolerant liberal agenda to impose same sex marriage on the CofE and some people are using women bishops as a trojan horse. I know that sounds crazy. It comes from hearing only the 'equality' argument for women bishops and not the exegetical argument. The fear is the fear of this logic: 1. It's unfair that women can't be bishops on the grounds of a secular-humanist understanding of equality, 2. When women bishops have been 'imposed' on everyone in the name of equality moves will be made to allow same sex weddings to take place in churches, 3. Women bishops will have been imposed on everyone and so next everyone will be forced to conduct same sex weddings.

Does that sound crazy? It's how we've learned to think, which is why we desperately need talks and we need to build up real trust. Unfortunately there are some on both sides of the debate who have a history of trying to undermine trust.

I sincerely hope together4ward can help build those bridges we need so much so that we can get on with sharing the gospel with a lost nation.

John

Rach Marszalek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rach Marszalek said...

It might be my lack of subtlety that is difficult. When we begin to map gender relations onto the Trinity we are always going to run into trouble because either way we are separating the works of the Godhead too much.

Hope this helps:

Nyssa:
We do not learn that the Father does something on his own, in which the Son does not co-operate. Or again, that the Son acts on his own without the Spirit. Rather does every operation which extends from God to creation and is designated according to our differing conceptions of it have its origin in the Father, proceed through the Son, and reach its completion by the Holy Spirit. It is for this reason that the word for the operation is not divided among the persons involved. For the action of each in any matter is not separate and individualized. But whatever occurs, whether in reference to God’s providence for us or the government and constitution of the universe, occurs through the three Persons, and is not three separate things. (Gregory of Nyssa, “An Answer to Ablabius: That We Should Not Think of Saying There Are Three Gods,” in Christology of the Later Fathers (ed. Edward R. Hardy; LCC; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1954), 261–62.)

Athanasius:

[The Trinity] is consistent in itself, indivisible in nature, and its activity is one. The Father does all things through the Word in the Holy Spirit; and thus the unity of the Holy Trinity is preserved; and thus there is preached in the Church one God, “who is over all, and through all, and in all.” He is over all as Father, as beginning, as source; and through all, through the Word; and in all, in the Holy Spirit. (Athanasius, Letters to Serapion I.28 in The Faith of the Early Fathers: A Source Book of Theological and Historical Passages from the Christian Writings of the Pre-Nicene and Nicene Eras (ed. William A. Jurgens; Collegeville: Liturgical, 1970), 1:336.)

Note the emphasis there on source...if we just began from the correct translation of "Kephale" many of the problems could be averted - you need to engage with Grudem and Bilezikian as a starting place on this debate.

Ian Paul said...

Thanks for this Rachel. Did you see my reflection at www.psephizo.com?

Rach Marszalek said...

Hi Ian, I did, yes...what has happened this week is reverberating everywhere and in various ways... social media offers a vast array of opinion that would not have played any influence in women's ordination to the presbyterate... this movement in itself for the sharing of opinion proves to be an interesting one... it is how to harness all it has for moving forward peaceably that is probably going to be the challenge.

Anita @ Dreaming Beneath the Spires said...

I was so stunned and upset as I watched Sentamu read the news that I actually cried. I have tried to write about it, but everything comes out as as so intemperate and angry that I've given up. You've done a really good job at sorting out your thoughts, feelings and theology here.

On another matter, I have recently moved to wordpress, leaving behind half my readers alas!! Please would you be able to update your blogroll for Dreaming Beneath the Spires to http://anitamathias.com/. Thanks so much.

Rach Marszalek said...

Hi Anita - thanks - and I will amend the blogroll.

I now just need to learn to express it all more concisely!! :-D x

Chris Kilgour said...

Thanks Rachel, it's interesting to see your viewpoint. There's loads I'd like to talk to you about (maybe the next AEJCC?). This paragraph, in particular, caught my eye:

"Just in case, you think I don't think that the incarnate Christ was submissive, I do. Christ says that the Father has sent him; Jesus states that he does not know when the end will come, and that only the Father knows this. Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane for the Father to allow the cup to pass, but submits to his will and goes to the cross. However, this hierarchy only exists on earth and not in Heaven where we see in Revelation that the Son and the Father share the throne."

Would you be able to expand on that a bit? I'd like to understand how you see the Father/Son relationship changing between heaven and earth.

Thanks

Chris

Rach Marszalek said...

Philippians 2:5-11??? :-D

Chris Kilgour said...

I don't see how that explains a change in relationship, it looks as though the same relationships are maintained in heaven:

God [Father] does the exalting (v9), so that he receives the glory (v11). There is still a hierarchy in heaven, I don't see it being lost after the ascension. Am I missing something?

Rach Marszalek said...

Possibly you are yes...but that's between you and God and your church, I guess....we are all missing something...ie Now I know in part etc.... but I suspect there's a little thing going on around hierarchy and that's what's messing with your understanding of the glorious trinity. If it is hierarchical...I guess the Holy Spirit gets place three, yes?

Rach Marszalek said...

...to put it another way...excuse me getting a little impatient...."And the Gold medal goes to God the Father, the bronze medal goes to God the Son...and ladies and gentlemen...not forgetting God the Holy Spirit... such a valiant effort....coming in third...put your hands together...the Holy Spirit takes the bronze.
Oh brother!

Chris Kilgour said...

I'm not sure that the competitive analogy is entirely applicable here! There is a clear unity of will and purpose in the Trinity. I guess I'm trying to understand how you end up at the position of there being no hierarchy in the Trinity, as the biblical data seems clear that there is.

With respect to the Son, Jesus says that we see his love for the Father in his obedience to the Father (John 14:31, cf v28), if there is no hierarchy, how can there be obedience? Lest this be thought of as temporary situation, 1 Corinthians 15 discussed what happens when the end comes: God the Father puts everything (apart from himself) in submission to the Son (v 27), then the Son is made subject to the Father (v 28).

With respect to the Holy Spirit, then, sent by the Father and the Son (John 15:26), he, too, must part of a hierarchical relationship. If there is no hierarchy, how is he sent?

If there is no hierarchy, the three persons of the Trinity start to become indistinguishable from each other, and the names they chose to reveal themselves to us by (Father, Son, Spirit) become labels, rather than allowing us to be "accurately informed as to fact and meaning."(Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 1:21)

Note that this is not a reflection of value, but of role. The Son (and Spirit) is still "God of God, light from light, true God from true God ... of one Being with the Father".

Incidentally, could you point me to your Revelation reference, the only 'shared throne' idea I could find was Rev 3:21, that particular throne would get quite full, as victorious Christians would also be sharing it!

Chris

Chris Kilgour said...

I'm not sure that the competitive analogy is entirely applicable here! There is a clear unity of will and purpose in the Trinity. I guess I'm trying to understand how you end up at the position of there being no hierarchy in the Trinity, as the biblical data seems clear that there is.

With respect to the Son, Jesus says that we see his love for the Father in his obedience to the Father (John 14:31, cf v28), if there is no hierarchy, how can there be obedience? Lest this be thought of as temporary situation, 1 Corinthians 15 discussed what happens when the end comes: God the Father puts everything (apart from himself) in submission to the Son (v 27), then the Son is made subject to the Father (v 28).

With respect to the Holy Spirit, then, sent by the Father and the Son (John 15:26), he, too, must part of a hierarchical relationship. If there is no hierarchy, how is he sent?

If there is no hierarchy, the three persons of the Trinity start to become indistinguishable from each other, and the names they chose to reveal themselves to us by (Father, Son, Spirit) become labels, rather than allowing us to be "accurately informed as to fact and meaning."(Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 1:21)

Note that this is not a reflection of value, but of role. The Son (and Spirit) is still "God of God, light from light, true God from true God ... of one Being with the Father".

Incidentally, could you point me to your Revelation reference, the only 'shared throne' idea I could find was Rev 3:21, that particular throne would get quite full, as victorious Christians would also be sharing it!

Chris

Rach Marszalek said...

Hi Chris,

Some attempt at a response here http://hrht-revisingreform.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/eternal-functional-subordination-and.html

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

.

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