As far as the east is from the west but what about North and South?

We are reminded today that the See of Burnley will appoint London's Philip North.

Christian Today reports on this imminent event.

Philip North had turned down a previous appointment because of the theological integrity he holds in favour of an all-male priesthood. This would have been compromised by the previous see offered.

He said: 
"It was a great honour to be chosen for this role, and I had been very much looking forward to taking up the position. However, in the light of the recent vote in the General Synod, and having listened to the views of people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland, I have concluded that it is not possible for me, at this difficult time for our Church, to be a focus for unity. I have therefore decided that it is better to step aside at this stage.

"I have reached this decision after a time of deep reflection and feel sure that it is for the best. I now look forward to refocusing my energies on the pastoral needs of my parish."
It is important that Bishops can hold together people of various theological persuasions and so this was an honourable and brave decision to have come to. 

It wasn't long afterwards that another see came his way. 

For his consecration as Bishop of Burnley, (a Bishop appointed for traditionalists) he will need the laying on of hands, a very biblical way of appointing someone into the role of overseer (Episcopoi). 
What that will mean, though, is that a lot of thought and consideration will need to be taken regarding the people chosen to perform such a prayerful act.

In fact, the whole process rather makes the mind boggle because it will require responses to many questions. Traditionalists will have to go through the kind of investigative system below to ensure the purity of those in oversight:

(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! 

You can see why I say it rather makes the mind boggle!

I wonder what it means for Christians in the Church of England as they think through such a process. 

How does it impact their faith? 

Does it provide reassurances for those of a particular theological integrity? 

What does it say about the faith being modelled to a younger generation? Does this matter? 

What does it say about a church that is generous and lives with difference? 

How are we modelling 'living with difference' for the world that we live in, which finds its people so at odds with one another? 

Much to think about... 

Following on for me too after a time away where I learnt that indeed we can sit together, reason together and pray together for the advancement of the gospel, despite differences of opinion over secondary issues.

48 hours away with the reformed and refreshed CEEC (new website coming soon) proved that much can be achieved when we concentrate on the primary issues and really make room for one another (1 Cor 11:33). 

1 comment:

liturgy said...


You may be interested in my response here:




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