Thinking Anglicans

WATCH

As the intensive facilitated discussions on legislation to allow women to be bishops start today WATCH has published these two articles, from which I have extracted a few key paragraphs.

John Gladwin: Some comments on where we go from here on the legislation for opening the episcopate to women

The issue in front of us is not primarily doctrinal. That hurdle was jumped in the 1970’s and the church has not retreated from its clear commitment that there are no theological principles in our understanding of the tradition preventing women entering holy orders.

The issue is, therefore, fundamentally about the order of the church. The order of the Church of England is that if you are ordained deacon you may be ordained priest after one year and if you are ordained priest you may be ordained Bishop after 6 years and if you are over 30 years of age. Canon C2 sets out the refinements of this. Driving a permanent wedge between the priesthood and the episcopate is destructive of our tradition and order.

That is one of the reasons why the language of reception was used when women were admitted to the priesthood. The experience of this ministry would seal the issue. There can be no doubt that the period is reception is long passed. When the Archbishop Rowan suggested that, in theory, it was possible for the church to reverse its decision to ordain women into the priesthood, he very quickly had to retract. There is no doubt reception time is done.

Jane Charman: Gender discrimination in the Church of England – why it matters and our response

Within the Church of England defending the rights of some individuals and groups to discriminate against women currently has a high priority and is connected in many minds with upholding freedom and diversity. By contrast witnessing to the equal dignity and worth of women in society has a low priority. It is not a moral imperative for us. Opponents of women’s ministry have worked hard to alter our perceptions in this way, to present gender discrimination as a respectable alternative position within the life of the Church and themselves as victims of intolerance. This reversal of values seems perverse and incomprehensible, even morally repugnant, to those outside the Church.

I voted for the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure last November, having persuaded myself that it was the best of the options available to us. I wanted to respect the views of others and make gracious provision for those who tell us they are struggling with this issue for theological reasons. I particularly wanted to find a way for the Church of England to break out of the current impasse and move forward with the pressing missional task that is before us.

I have come to understand that what I did was wrong. I was supporting a lesser good at the expense of a greater good. We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. We cannot achieve our goal of having women in the House of Bishops on such terms.

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Father David
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Father David

I’m scratching my head to think when General Synod voted to decide in Bishop Gladwin’s phrase that “the period of reception is long passed”?

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The article by Jane Charman is brilliant. Thanks so much.

“We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. We cannot achieve our goal of having women in the House of Bishops on such terms.”

Here (ought to ) endeth the lesson.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

I agree strongly with Jane Charman: We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. Time is up for the discriminators. The theology for discrimination was laid to rest 2 decades ago. Now they just sound like whiney, angry, entitled people, “but we WANT our boys club, we’re ENTITLED to it.” And why enshrine hateful policies when this view is decidedly time limited to an older generation. If CoE makes provisions for the bigots, it should be time limited.… Read more »

Stephen
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Stephen

Thanks to John Gladwin and Jane Charman. I am not an academic of some standing otherwise I would say I could not have put it better myself.

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

Reverend Canon Jane Charman’s opening paragraph in the quoted text above is spot on. Is fantastic! For decades, people (primarily men, IMHO) opposed to women bishops have portrayed themselves as the victims. Have portrayed themselves as the persecuted and oppressed true vessels of the Faith. The result is that people who support women bishops bend over backwards to assure opponents that they are respected — and then the demands for concessions to show how much the opponents are respected never seem to stop. Not only do opponents of women bishops demand special male bishops, they demand special male bishops untainted… Read more »

John
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John

As the academic of some standing in question (merely so designating myself in response to Miranda’s self-designation ‘as an historian’), I invite fellow-liberals to consider the possibility that there might be some incompatibility – even absurdity, even moral offensiveness – in apparently grounding 100% across-the-board imposition of women bishops in ‘loyalty’ to ‘the Crown’, that antediluvian, anti-egalitarian, ripe-for-the chop (guillotine?) institution. Let me make myself clear: I have absolutely no objection to fellow-Anglicans registering their loyalty to the Queen (not my queen): I do most violently object to this being some sort of criterion of Anglican loyalty, and suggest that… Read more »

Counterlight
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Counterlight

Kudos to Jane Charman.

Making accommodation in the name of acceptance and diversity for those whose doctrine prohibits both always struck me as a bit perverse.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Jane Charman’s admission that she ‘was wrong’, in presuming that there ought to be special provision for those who objected to Women in the Episcopate, is both gracious and understandable. In the light of subsequent discussion and a time of pragmatic adjustment, it can clearly be seen that appeasement is no way to accommodate in enshrined legislation the ongoing praxis of ‘accommodation’ to dissident understandings against the need for a single-clause Measure, that allows for Women Bishops to be treated in exactly the same way as their male counterparts, in the exercise of their ministry. There is no room in… Read more »

Benedict
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Benedict

Some of the commentators on this thread are akin to the Orwellian Thought Police, demanding that the only theological thought or language permissible is that which they believe or dictate. Heaven help the Church of England.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Kudos to Jane Charman. Making accommodation in the name of acceptance and diversity for those whose doctrine prohibits both always struck me as a bit perverse. Posted by: Counterlight on Tuesday, 5 February 2013 at 8:43. This is it really. I have long felt this in my bones, but in my inarticulate way, could not find words for it. You have both given expression to it, wonderfully. Clearly. I hope the PEVs and FiF are taking note. I do not wish to see the fifth column antics of the recent past continued under the new PEVs. They need line-managing. I… Read more »

Helen
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Helen

Benedict
No one on this thread has indicated that they want to make windows into men’s souls, or that thought is anything but free. Language can be offensive, and that’s as true within the church as it is without. Your beliefs are your own affair, but do accept that they may not necessarily affect the way the church is ordered in the future. So do stop sounding so victimised!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Heaven help the Church of England.” – Beneidct –

A pious thought, Benedict. This may already be in God’s mind with the advent of Women Bishops!

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“Orwellian Thought Police” Is that in reference to the current liberation of women and LGBT persons? If that’s what one calls “Orwellian Thought Police,” what is it when the church actually does oppress people? Be it LGBT people in Uganda, Cromwell’s people oppressing RC’s, or RC’s oppressing reformers? The Irish, etc…. This blog seems to reflect the broad and overwhelming majority view that women are called by God and it is time for the church to stop oppressing them. People who don’t like that have not expressed themselves well theologically (I think it’s actually untenable), they are in a very… Read more »

William
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William

“they are mostly in an age group that probably shouldn’t be dictating to the next generation”

I’m rather disturbed by this idea that someone’s views are somehow less valid becuase of their age. I don’t think older people want to “dictate” to anyone – they simply want to feel that their opinions are as valid as anyone elses. Doesn’t the accumulated wisdom of experience stand for anything?

Benedict
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Benedict

Cynthia, traditionalists like myself will not be coerced into acting against our conscience. And is it not a kind of oppression you are engaging in, when you seek to force us to do so? Furthermore, arguments for women bishops are pretty thin theologically themselves. All I ever seem to hear is that we need to catch up with society. We need to “get with the programme” to quote David Cameron. What about complementarity, what about 2000 years of unbroken tradition, what about millions and millions of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians throughout the world who are still members of Churches… Read more »

John Blake
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John Blake

I am appalled at the Jane Charman comments. “I particularly wanted to find a way for the Church of England to break out of the current impasse and move forward “. Clearly not, surely any one reading her comment can see that she despises those that do not see things her way. She has not responded to anyone’s genuine concerns, but just labels them bigots “individuals and groups who discriminate against women” . I read much of the debate on the vote and I was shocked at the rather bullying rhetoric that was coming for the pro women Bishops camp.… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Benedict, I was raised into the Greek Orthodox church of my father and embraced TEC of my mother as an adult. I hold the liturgy and learnings of 2000 years in high regard. But I’m afraid I am keenly aware of the oppression that has also been a part of the church, most notably the Western church. And I’m afraid my view is that “traditionalists” seem to me to be upholding the traditional oppression against women. I’m keenly aware that the oppressors have written most of the history and enshrined their view. When I look to Jesus and his treatment… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

There is not a lot that needs to be added to Jane Charman’s engaging article. The article lays out the issues clearly. I find the paragraph cited below is thematic. Some comments posted here defending tradtionalists as victims simply prove her point. “By contrast witnessing to the equal dignity and worth of women in society has a low priority. It is not a moral imperative for us. Opponents of women’s ministry have worked hard to alter our perceptions in this way, to present gender discrimination as a respectable alternative position within the life of the Church and themselves as victims… Read more »

Helen
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Helen

“Oppression, coerce, force, bullying”- the usual inflated language. The Anglican church in England and many other provinces has accepted women priests, Benedict, so get used to it! I’m sure you’ll be able to avoid them in the future as successfully as you have in the past. I’m afraid I’m with Jane Charman on this, at least partly because of the wilful blindness you exhibit to the theological reasons for women in the episcopate which have been expounded time and again. They are NOT reducible to “catching up with society” as I am sure you well know. And she didn’t call… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Furthermore, arguments for women bishops are pretty thin theologically themselves” – Benedict – Oh really, Benedict? So St. Paul’s injunction that “In Christ, there is neither male nor female” is not ‘theological enough’ for you? Or do you think that Jesus did not have to battle for female emancipation himself? A mere reading of the Gospels should convince you that Jesus was in favour of Women taking part in apostolic activity. Mary Magdalene, after all, was commissioned by Jesus to bring the Gospel story of his resurrection to the male disciples. Yes, I know, they didn’t believe her. And why… Read more »

Flora Alexander
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Flora Alexander

Benedict, can you explain what you mean by ‘complementarity’? I know the House of Bishops makes use of the term, but I have not yet seen an adequate explanation of this notion, or any basis for relying on it to exclude women from roles they appear to most of us to be capable of occupying.

Benedict
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Benedict

Helen and Cynthia, could you briefly outline to me the theological and ecclesiological foundations supporting the ordination of women to the episcopate and the biblical hermeneutic offering weight to the same?

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Benedict
you don’t need Cynthia and Helen to do your research for you. This topic has been discussed extensively at the time women were admitted to the priesthood. With a little bit of googling you should be able to access all the theology yourself.

You don’t have to agree with it. But to pretend it doesn’t exist, or even to admit that you haven’t read any of it, does not strengthen your case.

johnny may
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johnny may

Benedict, I am sure the you are no ingenue in these things but I was helped by reading the report of the Rochester Commission in its setting out of the stances and reasoning of the different sides of the debate. Given the tone of many of the comments on this blog I was struck by the Commission’s affirmation that from an Anglican point of view the different perspectives are held with “equal integrity and godliness”. I don’t know why that finding keeps being ignored amidst all the name calling,

johnny

Flora Alexander
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Flora Alexander

Benedict, remember that the General Synod decided a long time ago that there are no theological objections that should prevent women from becoming bishops. How is it useful, if you are in the Church of England, to revisit this now?

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Kudos to Jane Charman.

No “honoured place” for discrimination.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re Benedict, ” …outline to me the theological and ecclesiological foundations supporting the ordination of women to the episcopate and the biblical hermeneutic offering weight to the same?” Interesting how oppossing sides in an issue frame the quesiton from one’s own perspective. You might find the article below of interest. Its written by a catholic in favor of ordaining women. I posted a link to this some time ago, but thought that it might be useful to do so again. It is not exhaustive, but merely typical, of a vast amount of scholarhip that punches holes in patriarchal assumptions and… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“I was struck by the Commission’s affirmation that from an Anglican point of view the different perspectives are held with “equal integrity and godliness”. I don’t know why that finding keeps being ignored amidst all the name calling” That does not mean that the church itself believes two different things before breakfast. It is simply saying that the views of those who cannot agree with the now stated position of the church can be held with integrity. It does not say that respecting those views includes setting up a hermetically sealed church within a church in order to express that… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Benedict, You should listen to us. It is the Holy Spirit on the move. Rod provided a great link and others have referred you to the arguments long past. My books are put away in my basement, I have given you the summary, Jesus’s own teachings, and the fruits of oppression vs. the fruits of inclusion. Surely you can’t deny that the church has been responsible for a wide variety of oppression through the centuries. How do you justify the oppression of women as being OK when we no longer use the the church to support slavery, colonialism, anti-semitism, war… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

‘I was struck by the Commission’s affirmation that from an Anglican point of view the different perspectives are held with “equal integrity and godliness”. I don’t know why that finding keeps being ignored amidst all the name calling.’

Because it’s wrong.

How can discrimination be godly?

Johnny may
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Johnny may

I don’t see how I can ‘speak’ for those, especially women who desire not to have a female bishop. It is not my call to make but I imagine that the answer would be any of those options which were rejected along the way- transferred oversight, flying bishops, third province, the archbishops’ amendment. Yes, I do understand they were rejected but so was a ‘single clause’ and the latter seems to be firmly up for reconsideration so presumably the former can be. As I understand it any of those solutions but particularly the archbishops’ amendment would have been acceptable to… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Jeremy nails it again with “how can discrimination be Godly.”

I have yet to see a single argument for discrimination that makes any sense. Centuries of oppression is not going to cut it. Therefore I can’t see a good reason for institutional “provisions” to continue to humiliate women.

Radical equality is the way to go. One woman and one male bishop for each diocese. In less than 10 years this will be a non issue anyway, so institutionalizing humiliation really doesn’t make sense.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Johnny,
the tide of history moves toward less discrimination not more. That is why those options were rejected and that’s why they will not get a second hearing.

Wishful thinking will not solve this question, only a realistic assessment of the reality and some genuine compromising will.

I am still not hearing any constructive alternative proposal from those here who have so far done nothing but shoot Jane Charman down in flames.

What do you think should be done?

johnny may
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johnny may

Erika, thank you for your comment but I thought the whole point was that we are trying to going back in history to a first century church without gender and racial discrimination, “no male/female, Jew/Greek” rather than moving from that point inexorably towards an ever more non-discriminatory world. Cynthia,thank you too for your contibution- I think I could address the same point to you, the “centuries of oppresssion” presumably do not include first century Galatia? Or do they? I have to say that the arguments against women bishops in the Rochester Report make perfect “sense”, whether or not we agree… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

‘I am still not hearing any constructive alternative proposal from those here who have so far done nothing but shoot Jane Charman down in flames. What do you think should be done?’ (Erika Baker) dear Erika I do hope you are not holding your breath ? Otherwise I would fear for your health ! I too, am continuing to breath as usual. Alas, no ‘constructive thinking from those against the ordination of women. FiF and other bodies against the ordination of women have not done so over the lsat twenty years; but have used the time, as we now know… Read more »

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Dear Erika and others, we try to honour your questions with responses but are in the hands of our beloved moderator,

johnny

ED your last response had gone into the spam filter.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Johnny,
I’m afraid, I don’t understand your comment.
We are precisely trying to get to a point where there is no male nor female, Jew nor Greek. That is whole basis of non discrimination.

Currently, people are being selected for specific roles depending on whether they are male or female, and that is exactly what we’re not meant to be doing.

johnny may
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johnny may

Erika, my point was, if “the tide of history moves toward less discrimination” that suggests that even the equality described in Galatians 3 needed to be improved upon or are you saying that what is said in Galatians 3 has never happened in history and is an, as yet unrealised, aspiration. I rather take it that Paul is describing exactly the condition of the believers in Galatia rather than some theoretical future possibility. Do you disagree? By the way I haave never understood the interpretation of Galatians 3 that obliterates difference. I have not become less male since coming to… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Johnny, my point is that we are not living according to Galatians 3 but that we have turned the obvious biological difference between male and female into something that has spiritual significance. But just as Peter and Paul discovered that the obvious difference between Jews and Gentiles did not mean that Gentiles could not be Christians on exactly the same terms as Jews, so we ought to accept that the obvious biological difference between male and female does not mean that either has to be assigned any separate roles in life. Especially not when they do not want to be… Read more »

johnny may
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johnny may

Erika, thanks again for replying, I understand that you do not think that we are currently living according to Galatians 3. The question I am interested in is do you think the Galatians were? Therefore do we need to get back to that or are we instead on some inexorable path to improvement- ie which way is the tide running? Given that we agree that we remain in our distinct genders after coming to Christ do we not in fact have to ask three questions- first a simple “why”- if God intends to obliterate difference post-salvation why retain gender? Secondly,… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Johnny I certainly don’t think that anyone has ever been living according to the principles Jesus set as new standards. Although with regard to female Christian ministry we do know that women were much more powerful and involved in the early stages of Christianity than the patriarchy surrounding them allowed them to continue later, subsequently elevating the less involved status to “tradition” that somehow becomes unshakeable. But even if the Galatians had been living 100% according to their interpretation of Jesus’s Ministry, that does not mean that we cannot incorporate new insights about human anthropology later. Our faith is not… Read more »

johnny may
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johnny may

How very disappointing. Without engagement in theological discussion it is impossible to weigh the value of people’s comments. If we can’t weigh value then these threads are just pointless sloganizing. I thought I posed a series of pertinent questions about things that are far more important to human identity than simply the issue of women bishops. Is there really nobody on a “liberal” (and therefore I assume open minded) blog willing to engage with those issues? I am aware that there is excellent theology out there and I am trying to read as much as possible. But there is excellent… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Johnny, I have spent a long time trying to understand the theological difficulties people have with women priests. Evangelicals cannot accept them because t hey believe in male headship which, at the extreme end, means that women must not “teach” men anything in the religious sphere, and Anglo Catholics need sacramental assurance, which means that their priests and bishops must be men who have been ordained deacon and priest by other validly ordained male priests. It is not complicated to understand the objections (although it is impossible to understand why we had a PEV scheme for the last 20 years… Read more »

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Erika, thanks very much for your comment- it is simple and helpful. As I understand it therefore you see an impossible impasse- the church has got itself into a fix by saying both that it will have female bishops and saying that it will make “provision” for those who disagree. The fix arises because those things are essentially contradictory- the female bishops are unacceptable to the opponents and the provision is unacceptable to the proponents. I see that you suggest compromise but I think you imply that in reality that it is impossible-neither side can say “ok, but only a… Read more »