Thinking Anglicans

Appointment of a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship

The arrangements to allow the appointment of a Church of England bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship have just been announced in this press release:

Suffragan See of Maidstone

At its meeting on 4 December the Dioceses Commission unanimously agreed with a proposal received from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the vacant see of Maidstone. The see, which had been vacant since 2009, had been identified by the Archbishop as one that should be filled by a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.

This flows from the public commitment given by the Archbishops and the House of Bishops, in the run up to the final approval by the General Synod of the legislation to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate in July 2014 (see paragraph 30 of House of Bishops Declaration and the Archbishops’ note of June 2013 — GS Misc 1079).

In agreeing with the proposal to fill the see the Commission was conscious of the needs of the national church for a member of the College of Bishops to be able to act as an advocate for those who hold a conservative position on headship.

It made its decision on the understanding that the bishop would foster vocations from those taking this position; that he would undertake episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and that he would be available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.

While available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral, the Commission understood that — given his potentially wide geographical remit — the bishop would not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.

The necessary steps to make the appointment will now begin.

ENDS

Notes for Editors

Part of the normal statutory process for filling suffragan sees is for the Dioceses Commission to consider, on behalf of the national church, whether to agree to a proposal from a diocesan bishop to fill such a see.

Suffragan sees are normally filled within a short time frame but the See of Maidstone was left vacant following a diocesan decision to appoint an additional archdeacon.

This conservative evangelical view on headship is summarised on pp 149-151 of Women Bishops in the Church of England? The Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women In the Episcopate 2004: [GS 1557].

The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests of 19 May 2014 [GS Misc 1076], which includes the five guiding principles can be read in full at GS Misc 1076.

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Kelvin Holdsworth
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I rest my case.

Charles Read
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Charles Read

But who will it be? Creating the post is one thing, finding a candidate quite another. Given that many leaders in REFORM have begun to espouse the belief that Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father and that this belief lies outside the bounds of Chalcedonian / Nicean orthodoxy, (which means they cannot be bishops as they are not defending the historic faith) – the possible pool of candidates acceptable to this constituency is quite small.

John Clifford
Guest
John Clifford

It would have to be at *Maid*stone, for a thorough nose-rubbing.

sally Barnes
Guest
sally Barnes

So we have yet another flying bishop!!

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Any chance that a see with “potentially wide geographical remit” will be set aside for a bishop who takes the liberal view on same-sex marriage?

Or are these sees set aside for conservatives only?

Bob Marsden
Guest
Bob Marsden

Charles, Wow … that is a quite a thing to claim. That the eternal subordination of the Son lies outside the bounds of Chalcedonian / Nicene orthodoxy. Perhaps you ought to take some time and read something like this by Peter Adam before you make such an allegation about Reform leaders … with all its serious implications. http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/churchman/119-01_035.pdf
Grace and peace to you all.

NJ
Guest
NJ

Keep burning that straw man Charles! Define subordinate: if you mean of a lesser nature or somehow different in status to the Father (so denying homoousious), nothing would get you kicked off the council of Reform quicker. If you mean he always does his Father’s will, there’s no denial of the creeds there. The analogy with complementarian views of men and women (let’s not start the debate here again) only works for Reform precisely because the Son is equal with the Father, homoousios, same nature and status etc, but has some different roles. As an aside, surely denying Nicene orthodoxy… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Absolutely right Charles. Thank you. They need to sort out their theology.

Tom Carpenter
Guest
Tom Carpenter

Isn’t their point that subordination doesn’t imply inferiority.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

I think this is a seriously misconceived step. I’m with Kelvin Holdsworth on this one.

James
Guest
James

Sounds like you need to sort out your own theology first ! I think you are reading caricatures.

Christopher Hall
Guest
Christopher Hall

Once appointed is he allowed to change his mind on male headship as the Bishop of Dorchester testified in the July debate he had done since he was first ordained ? If he does change his mind, does he have to resign from his post ?

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

I’ll reply to Bob Marsden and NJ in more detail later, but for now: There is no doctrinal problem with saying Jesus was temporarily and functionally subordinate to the Father. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is an indication of this. However, what I am scrutinizing here is the idea of eternal ontological subordination. That is what homoousios rules out. I will say though to Bob that since I teach doctrine on degree courses I have read quite a bit on this, including the Adam article. I’ll explain later why I am unconvinced. And to NJ – your cynical… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

I wait w/ bated breath the appointment of a Church of England bishop who takes the view that black people are forever subordinate due to the Curse of Ham (someone for everyone!). }-X

Kyrie eleison…

Andrew B
Guest
Andrew B

Sounds like a low flying bishop

Pluralist
Guest

Seems to me that the head of the pin on which the theological angels dance has become somewhat thinner, indeed more like the sharp end. There’s a kind of mental entertainment in conversations about nothing.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

There are several types as well. Some headship evangelicals believe women can be priests and others won’t even allow women deacons to preach.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Haven’t the commentators on this new thread read the Athanasian Creed aka the Quicunque Vult in the Book of Common Prayer where this sort of thing is explained clearly and succinctly?

Alastair Newman
Guest

Brilliant!

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

I’m with Pluralist on this one. I’m sure the good people of Maidstone are all ferevently discussing ontological subordination and are relieved that women can’t speak in Church because of it.

Peter Owen
Guest

For those interested, the text of the Athanasian Creed from the BCP is online here.

https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/worship/book-of-common-prayer/the-creed-of-s-athanasius.aspx

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

‘Succinct’ certainly – but ‘explained clearly’? Come on. But was that ever the task of the creeds in the first place?

Father David
Guest
Father David

As my namesake points out, apparently the talk is of nothing else in Maidstone. Takes me back to Byzantium of old when the Greens versus the Blues and the Empire was rocked to its very foundations.

John
Guest
John

I do dislike it when liberals interrogate the orthodoxy of those whom they want to exclude from a (small) share in power. This constitutency, however much one dislikes it (and I do), represents a legitimate strand within the C of E, and they should be given appropriate representation. As for Trinitarian orthodoxy, the doctrine of the Trinity is – to put it mildly – a difficult one and is the reason why Jews and Muslims (who have their own very good theologians) don’t regard Christianity as properly monotheist. I recall my reaction to a debate at a NT conference a… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

I have commented a bit on this on my blog (which I am hopeless at maintaining!) by referring to a review of a book I found very helpful.

https://charleswread.wordpress.com/

[ed: link now corrected]

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

I think that is the first time, Father David, that I have ever heard the Athanasian Creed described as succinct! And, as for being clear, I note that it at one point states that ‘none is greater, or less than another’, but later goes on to state that the Son is ‘Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood’. What is one to make of that? As a Chartered Engineer rather than a theologian, I think I prefer the description of the Trinity contained in the confirmation class scene in Alan… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

John: for the record I am a charismatic evangelical. I have always supported the ordination of women because of the Bible and not despite it. I do not recognize some current versions of conservative evangelicalism as being like the conservative evangelicalism in which I came to a living faith in Jesus and in which my discipleship and vocation to ministry (lay and ordained) was nurtured. (That is not to say they are not real evangelicalism, but just saying, things seem to me to have changed.) Anyway, I am not a liberal. I post here mainly to keep the liberals in… Read more »

Chris Griffiths
Guest
Chris Griffiths

Can we also have a token liberation theologian in the College of Bishops?

Matthew Duckett
Guest
Matthew Duckett

The question that the appointee will need to deal with is how belief in Male Headship fits with the Five Guiding Principles, which all candidates for all orders must now subscribe to. The last bit of the first Guiding Principle would seem to raise a difficulty: “The Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy *and thus deserve due respect and… Read more »

Geoff
Guest
Geoff

It seems that the CoE is committed to appointing bishops for every theological constituency and niche except an openly gay (even celibate) bishop! Perhaps the MCU should petition for their own flying bishop?

Father David
Guest
Father David

As my namesake points out, apparently the talk is of nothing else in Maidstone. Takes me back to Byzantium of old when the Greens versus the Blues and the Empire was rocked to its very foundations.

Jean Mayland (Revd)
Guest
Jean Mayland (Revd)

Now an extreme Evangelical Flying Bishop. I thought they were all meant to fly away!

Christopher Hall
Guest
Christopher Hall

When the Council of Jerusalem decided that Gentiles must be welcome as full members of the Church without first being circumcised, the Circumcision party were not provided with pastoral support to enable them to continue to flourish within the Church even though they could legitimately claim that their stance had the backing of tradition and scripture. If such provision had been made, Gentile Christians could reasonably have felt that their full-hearted reception into membership was in some doubt.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I can barely believe that CoE is institutionalizing the heresy of “male headship” and the heresy of taint. What novelties! The “traditionalists” and/or “conservatives” haven’t a leg to stand on when they talk about “novelties,” such as equality for women and LGBT people. Of course, “traditionalists” have always been dismissive of the novel and innovative way in which Jesus treated women… At the end of the day, one cherry picks one’s “tradition” in the same way we all seem to cherry pick from Scripture. I’m just sad that CoE did not claim the moral high ground and better position itself… Read more »

Alastair Newman
Guest
Alastair Newman

Errr, my post somehow got truncated! I don’t think this is brilliant. The joke about the low flying bish was brilliant.

DBD
Guest

To those asking whether liberals or moderates get their own bishops, I would point out that the creation of flying Sees specifically marks out particular views as being minority or niche – they are, by that course of action, designated as being inside the Church but outside the Mainstream (forgive the pun.)

Richard Marshall
Guest
Richard Marshall

Press Release Notes for Editors gives incorrect reference for the conservative evangelical view on headship in GS1557 via the link provided – it is on pp 127-134 NOT pp 149-151!

Joe
Guest

I suspect that our reluctance to rule out the use of the word ‘obey’ in the marriage vows means that we are not and never have been officially or univocally committed to equality. That this ongoing contradiction gets expressed now in setting up this suffragan post cannot be surprising. It does rather imply that we are not really committed to the idea that a bishop ought to be a focus of unity. Indeed, it seems to suggest that bishops represent different constituencies who are not in effective full communion with their diocesan bishops, and those bishops are then tasked with… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Charles, sorry. I had you down as an Open Evangelical (liberal to some) on the basis of your former membership (I think) of St John’s, Nevilles Cross, and your occasional cebebrating at St Margaret’s (where I go). Sticking to my main point, though.

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
Guest

Bob Marsden is upset because using someone here has used the word heresy to describe headship evangelicals’ Christological views. If heresy is a strong word, requiring care in use, I take it he will also rebuke Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream for saying that people who support LGBT inclusion “promote heresy” http://anglicanmainstream.org/trajectory-of-the-c-of-e-suggestions-for-confessing-anglicans/ (What a nasty little piece this is, by the way, with innuendo about an unnamed diocese where there are too many of these faggots have been allowed to have jobs… next thing you know, they’ll be allowed to have RIGHTS as well…) Maybe he’ll also criticise Peter Mullen… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I can barely believe that the clear Scriptural teaching on Male headship is being described by a commentator on this thread as a “heresy”. Not so much Cherry picking Scripture, more like pruning and discarding Scripture.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

This was much anticipated and is not the big deal that people think. The fact that the see being used is a dormant suffragan see and not a specially created PEV one is of no consequence. He will play no part in the life of the diocese of Canterbury. This is ++ Welby pragmatism. I have little time either for the traditionalists who hold to representation or ConEvos whose reading of scripture arrives at the strange notion of headship, but it makes little sense to drive them out of the church. We have lived with PEVs since 1993 and this… Read more »

James Church
Guest
James Church

I suppose I’d just like to respond to Charles’ suggestion that eternal functional subordination lies outside the bounds of Chalcedon orthodoxy. And that this impacts many Reform Anglicans (I confess I’m not a Reform Anglican) and places them outside the historic orthodoxy of the church. From what I can tell he appears to be mistaking onotological subordinationism and eternal functional subordination in his argument with others. Surely, he’d be correct if any ontological difference were asserted between the Father and the Son then they would be outside not just Anglican orthodoxy but Christian orthodoxy. Yet, what almost all proponents of… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“clear Scriptural teaching on Male headship”

???!!!???

Jesus broke massive taboos when he spoke with, healed, and hung out with women. Women were the first Witnesses to the Resurrection. You lift 2 sentences of Paul above Jesus to insist on headship!!! And it’s quite possible that those passages related to those particular churches, not “the church” universal — especially seeing as there were female heads of churches back then.

You have to cherry pick deep to ignore the equality passages (and reality of female early church leaders) and adopt headship. It is a heresy.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Well no wonder we are in the mess we are in when Holy Scripture is described by some liberals as “heresy”. Thankfully, Archbishop Justin in his attempt to keep the Church of England united is to appoint the first Conservative Evangelical bishop to the Suffragan See of Maidstone. Mercifully the person to be appointed will take a more sensible and serious view of Holy Scripture and not sit light to its clear teachings.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Chalcedonean orthodoxy……also includes the chant of the bishops at Chalcedon, ” Peter has spoken through Leo.”

It will be interesting to see whether the ” headship bishop” will ordain women as presbyters and accept women deacons.There is no consistency even amongst conservative evangelicals.

Father David
Guest
Father David

I’d be extremely surprised if the next Bishop of Maidstone (whoever he may be) will actually ordain women into the priesthood for if he does wouldn’t that rather stand the Headship doctrine on its head?

The Very Revd. Prof. Martyn Percy
Guest
The Very Revd. Prof. Martyn Percy

This has some resonance with the Archbishops trying to smooth the passage of women bishops through Synod in November 2012. The proposed fudge failed, of course. This new initiative, if implemented, will do similarly incalculable damage to our church polity. As an initiative, it represents the triumph of weak managerial pragmatism over and against strong theological leadership. That the issue at hand is all tied up with elite group of people – in a nexus of concerns over class, gender, money and power -is all the more regrettable. This initiative will undermine the currency and quality of any future statements… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

As I always knew it would the introduction of women into the episcopate would cause turmoil, disharmony and disunity. The current debate on this thread shews the strength of feeling which this innovation has ignited. I can’t help wondering what the Holy Spirit is telling us as a newly disordered Church when we seriously veer away from that which has been handed down to us from the Apostles and the Early Church Fathers.

John
Guest
John

Some reactions: (1) The continuing wrangling is almost unbelievably stupid. (2) I completely agree with Tim Chesterton (elsewhere) that all this emphasis on bishops is extremely lop-sided. Personally, if I were a bishop, of any hue, I would be keeping a sharp ear out for the sounds of tumbrils outside the front door of my palace … (3) ‘Institutionalising disunity’ (Joe) sounds a damning criticism. But it isn’t: if there isn’t ‘unity’ on this particular issue and never will be, then the task is to negotiate those disagreements in ways that don’t undermine overall unity. (4) ‘Weak managerial pragmatism’ seems… Read more »