Thinking Anglicans

Reactions to "headship" bishop

Yesterday I published details of the forthcoming Appointment of a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship. There are already many comments on that article.

Tim Wyatt has written this for the Church Times Ground is laid for a conservative Evangelical bishop.

Kelvin Holdsworth has posed 10 questions arising from the misogyny of a “headship” bishop.

WATCH have issued this response:

WATCH Response to ‘Headship’ Bishop

WATCH is disappointed to read that the Church of England is set to appoint a Bishop based predominantly on a narrow theology of ‘Headship’ (ie. a Conservative Evangelical who believes only men should be in positions of overall leadership).

Evangelicalism has long been a much broader tradition than one defined by its position on the ordination and consecration of women. We believe that to choose a bishop based on one specific view, held by only a small group, can only serve to be divisive. It is likely to lead to the separation of parishes from one another within a local area and diocese, when the whole thrust of the legislative package for women to be bishops was that we would remain together in our work and mission.

In a separate development, we are keen to know whether the Archbishop of York will consecrate the newly appointed Bishop of Burnley, Rev Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women. It would seem to us bizarre if a suffragan bishop declined to be consecrated by his own archbishop and even his own diocesan bishop, because he did not recognise them as bishops.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH says: ‘We have never accepted the appointment of any bishop on the grounds of a particular minority belief: this is distinctly un-Anglican and unorthodox. This goes far beyond disagreement about the ordination of women: it is about bishops recognising each other as bishops. If we lose that, what kind of unity are we demonstrating as a national church?’

Church Society have sent us this:

Church Society statement on the announcement regarding the appointment of a headship evangelical bishop of Maidstone

Church Society welcomes the news that a man who upholds the complementarian view of headship will soon be appointed to the vacant See of Maidstone.

The measure – recently ratified by Synod – allowing women to be appointed to the episcopate, was passed partly on the basis of five guiding principles. These principles enshrine within the legislation a commitment to the flourishing within the Church of those who hold to what we believe is the biblical view of men and women having complementary roles in church leadership, a view held by many throughout the Anglican Communion and by many other churches also.

The imminent appointment of a bishop with this conviction is an important step in realising that commitment and rebuilding trust in the family of the Church. We are particularly encouraged by the recognition that the evangelical complementarian perspective should be represented in the College of Bishops after several years without a spokesman.

We wish to stress that this is but a first step: for flourishing, rather than mere toleration and tokenism, more surely needs to be done. For example, if soon a complementarian suffragan were to be appointed in the province of York also, that would be a further positive expression of the Church’s intent that complementarians can flourish within the structures and life of the Church. There are many excellent and able conservative evangelical ministers who are willing and able to serve in Diocesan and suffragan roles for the health of the whole church. We pray that they will not be discriminated against in any future appointments process if some may be tempted to say “we will soon have one complementarian evangelical and should not have any others.” The large number of lay people in the Church with complementarian convictions evidences the appropriateness of having several more bishops to pastor, lead, and represent them in the House of Bishops.

Despite this and other remaining concerns, we wish sincerely to thank the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues for keeping his promise, and for seeking to serve us in accordance with our conscience in this matter. We would welcome any opportunity to discuss with him how the arrangements regarding the Bishop of Maidstone could work, and how he can further help complementarian evangelicals to flourish within the Church of England.

Rev Dr Lee Gatiss
Director of Church Society
Revd Paul Darlington
Chairman of Church Society Council

53
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
53 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
27 Comment authors
Charles ReadMalcolm DixonHenry DeeFather DavidPerry Butler Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Father David
Guest
Father David

My word, what a Broader Church we are becoming, judging by the two opposing statements from Watch and Reform. It would seem that the consequences of the forthcoming innovations (women bishops, a non-ordaining Suffragan Bishop of Burnley and the appointment of a token Conservative Evangelical peripatetic Bishop of Maidstone) will run and run and will hardly advance Christ’s Gethsemane plea for unity.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Church Society welcomes the news that a man who upholds the complementarian view of headship will soon be appointed to the vacant See of Maidstone”

And what better “compliments” male superiority, than female inferiority! *snark*

AS IF we hadn’t gone through the whole “Separate But Equal” canard decades before?

If women aren’t equally called to “headship”, they’re not equally made in the Image of God: you can’t have it both ways.

June Butler
Guest

Good to know that misogyny is enshrined “within the legislation” to allow women bishops and will be allowed to continue to “flourish” without discrimination. Too bad about discrimination against women.

Father David
Guest
Father David

The House of Bishops say that “at least one” conservative Evangelical bishop should be appointed. Carlisle and Newcastle are a long way from Maidstone, why should the Northern Province miss out on this exciting new development? I note that within the diocese of York the suffragan see of Hull is currently vacant, surely an ideal location in which to place a second conservative Evangelical bishop who upholds the Headship position? At long last and after much pleading Evangelicals are to receive their own PEVs. I wonder upon whom the mantle of Bishop Wallace Benn will fall?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I had initially hoped that there would be flying bishops rather than bishops responsible for whole dioceses to cater for those who cannot accept women priests and bishops. This is a recipe for continuing problems, as each time an area bishop is appointed who does not ordain women or recognise their ministry, all pro-women people in his diocese feel affected by it. It will perpetuate the negativity and the sense of injustice in the CoE into the future much more than a flying bishop would have done. And alternative episcopal oversight only ever made sense for those who believe that… Read more »

John UK
Guest
John UK

“In a separate development, we are keen to know whether the Archbishop of York will consecrate the newly appointed Bishop of Burnley, Rev Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women. It would seem to us bizarre if a suffragan bishop declined to be consecrated by his own archbishop and even his own diocesan bishop, because he did not recognise them as bishops.” – WATCH Why is WATCH suggesting that Fr.North is declining to be consecrated by his diocesan & ++Ebor and that he does not recognize them as Bishops? Surely either there should be evidence of the imputations, or… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Unusually, I agree with Erika. However, pace JCF, I wonder if there are many evos who actually believe in ‘male superiority’? Isn’t their problem (as with their position on gay people) that they are trying to follow Biblical teaching – as they see it?

Jo
Guest
Jo

My guess is that WATCH are alluding to a potential future situation in which the Bishop of Blackburn and Archbishop of York are both women, and how the appointment and consecration of someone of similar convictions to Fr. North would be undertaken.

Father David
Guest
Father David

In today’s Times the Archbishop of Canterbury is quoted as saying- “I think realistically, we’ve got to say that despite all efforts there is a possibility that we will not hold together, or not hold together for a while.”
He was speaking of the Anglican Communion but judging by the contrasting views being expressed above he might well have been talking about the Church of England. Surely, we have got to ask ourselves what have we done to bring about this seemingly inevitable sense of disintegration?

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

I agree with my namesake in his call for a northern equivalent to the new Maidstone bishop. It’s not fair that only women in the South of England should be regarded as inferior. There are plenty of women in the North for an evangelical bishop to tell them how stupid they are.

Anon
Guest
Anon

As the previous PEV’s were consecrated by +Rowan & +Justin (who as far as I know both ordain women to the priesthood) it seems unlikely they’d suddenly object to +Sentamu.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Once again, WAY too much emphasis on bishops, from all sides.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

It would be so nice to hear Church Society express a commitment to the flourishing and respect of all in ordained ministry rather than just expecting provision for their own needs. Something ‘beyond toleration and tokenism’ makes demands on them too surely? Once again the ‘two integrities’ language here is wholly focused on the convictions and conscience of one group.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The churches are quickly becoming the last western institutions to give space and sanction to sexism. In church, conservatives, usually male conservatives in holy orders, are cut a lot of slack because they are, after all, male. Basically the situation is a kind of subterfuge, with sexism dressed up as “theology”. Anglicans are especially vulnerable on this one because the mantra of “unity in diversity” or the “via media” is trotted out. While these notions may be useful in parsing competing ecclesiologies, they are inappropriate for dealing with justice issues in the church. Whether someone else believes in seven sacraments… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

Anybody in that camp holding out for a creationist bishop?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

It is interesting that of all the possible interpretations of scripture, the one that the Church of England is now catering to, and is making a permanent institutional accommodation for, is the interpretation that discriminates against women.

“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

CharlieS
Guest
CharlieS

Daniel Berry – very few of ‘that camp’ are creationists so I doubt it. (I’m told it’s an interesting historic difference between North American & English evangelicals)

Charlie

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

USA folk don’t get the nuances of conservative evangelicals in the UK. They aren’t six day creationists, nor are they necessarily religious right in politics, nor are they vehement on the issues of “right to life” in the way US evangelicals are (though most would be concerned about abortion/euthanasia issues). They tend not to believe in bishops at all, seeing the presbyter/bishop NT blurring in the Pastoral Epistles as normative (a 2 fold ministry really). Having one of their kind as a bishop is more about representation (an iconic irony, as far as catholics are concerned) and about having a… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Pete Broadbent, re the UK evangelicals that are said to be so enigmatic to outsiders, I think we do understand the politics of patriarchy.

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Pete Broadbent. You wrote (about UK Conservative Evangelicals) “their position is not theologically tenable. But we have agreed (for better or worse) to give them space and a bishop who believes what they do. So we’re going to do it. It was part of the deal. And we’ll try to make it work.” That was part of the deal, and Archbishop Justin is moving with great speed to make it happen. But what goes around comes around. As part of that same deal should those of us who support equal/gay marriage as a Christian institution, (almost a majority of church-going… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Usually I agree with Pete Broadbent a a matter of principle…. But I don’t think in GS we agreed to anything about subordination in the Trinity, ontological, functional or otherwise. We agreed (some of us reluctantly) to let the House of Bishops find a way for the ‘headship’ voice to be heard in the college of bishops. Questions were asked about what if such a person changed their mind – that is always the danger of appointing someone just because they hold one view on one issue. Nevertheless we offered this to try to keep the conevos on board, knowing… Read more »

Laurie
Guest
Laurie

It is quite a shock to hear it said / alleged that some Evangelicals do not hold to the orthodox view of the Trinity and the Person of Christ.

Hard to take from Evangelicals in the Church of England.

Laurie
Guest
Laurie

Perhaps this bishops Chair could be left in position but empty ?

I think the symbol is what really counts here.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Looks as though anti-discriminatory pressure will have to come from Parliament again.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Simon, “That was part of the deal…”

What a great deal, a bargain, a Faustian bargain.

Bob Marsden
Guest
Bob Marsden

In the light of the above comments ironically some conservative evangelicals think that other evangelicals have lost their way on the Trinity! Let’s be careful not to misrepresent each other, to understand each other properly, not to call each other names … and not to boo! Here is a fuller discussion of these issues.

http://chelmsfordanglicanmainstream.blogspot.co.uk/2008/01/bishop-benn-how-egalitarian-tactics.html

Grace and peace to you all.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I’m confused again. All these comments about what GS might think, Kelvin’s question to Parliament, questions whether the Government will accept institutionalised discrimination… Isn’t Pete Broadbent right – this is what has been agreed? By General Synod and accepted by Parliament? There are to be institutionalised provisions for Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals who cannot accept women priests? If so, what are we discussing now? If we’re just sighing “I wish it wasn’t like that, we don’t like the theology”… ok… but as John said somewhere, that’s not really terribly helpful, seeing it’s what Synod agreed. And agreed for the very good… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

I think what you are missing is that it a question of what grounds are used to support the headship line. If the grounds are to do with subordination in the trinity, then we may well be in serious doctrinal trouble and GS certainly did not agree to this detail. In any case, the five principles we agreed to rule out saying women have not been ordained so there are issues about how the appointee will handle the brief to represent headship people while not crossing this line.

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

The position is surely this. There have historically been those in the CofE who hold beliefs about tactile apostolic succession, sacramental assurance and headship which are not required to be believed by Anglicans (and indeed which many of us think are untenable because of our understanding of scripture – I am unconvinced by all three doctrines). How people arrive at those understandings will arise from a mixture of motives (following Roman Catholic teaching, reading what they believe scripture to teach, desiring ecclesial clarity about who is or is not a priest). As Charles says, there are some of the headship… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Once again, WAY too much emphasis on bishops, from all sides.” – Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Sunday”.

It would seem, Tim, that on this matter at least you have right on your side. Especially when we hear that the Bishops of the Church of England take up 31% of the resources available for ministry (Oxford Debate)!

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Charles, throughout the debate conservative headship evangelicals have located their belief in subordination in the trinity as well as in St Paul’s writings. Some in one, some in the other. I’m not aware that Synod considered the grounds of evangelical objections to women priests but that it simply dealt with the reality of them. And if I thought I had understood anything about this debate, it was that conservative Anglo-Catholics believe that women “have not been” ordained because it is an ontological impossibility, whereas conservative evangelicals have always accepted that women have been ordained, they just wish they hadn’t because… Read more »

James A
Guest
James A

I’m torn on this one, as a supporter of equal ordination (in all respects) because I find WATCH’s reaction extraordinary: both in terms of its lack of generosity; and for its theologically sloppiness. I am left wondering whether this is just sour grapes, having finally achieved the realisation of women bishops, over how much had to be conceded to do so. I also think, along with WATCH, that some contributors to this thread need to do some homework on the nature of the Elizabethan Settlement as a founding characteristic of the Church of England. Unity never was uniformity for English… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

To Erika: Yes, you are right. It is FinF types who have to wrestle with the issue of whether women have been ordained or not, though I can see how some headship evangelicals might have a version of this about whether women are in leadership or not. In GS debates, though, evangelical opposition has focused on headship in general terms. We have had maybe one speech per debate that raised the Trinity issue as a basis for male only headship. We have not therefore taken this view seriously in explaining why some of us don’t buy into headship. I can… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Charles, thank you. The debate where the Trinity issue was raised was the first one that was lost, wasn’t it? There was a stream of articles and blog posts afterwards engaging with the issue. One that sticks in my mind was a post by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes (http://mirandathrelfallholmes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/my-reaction-incredulity-hurt.html) Most people rightly dismissed it as unorthodox and a fringe view. It is still an unorthodox fringe view, that hasn’t changed. I’m not sure what WATCH could have done about it. The provisions were a thoroughly practical arrangement in order to get women bishops through GS. And it wasn’t up to WATCH to… Read more »

Jeremy (non P)
Guest
Jeremy (non P)

“[H]e has shown himself to be a focus of unity by keeping his promises to all shades of theological conviction and giving us all an equal place at the table.”

Pardon me while I burst out laughing.

Equal marriage, anyone?

I seriously doubt that Jeremy Pemberton thinks he has an “equal place at the table.”

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ James A, “some contributors to this thread need to do some homework on the nature of the Elizabethan Settlement as a founding characteristic of the Church of England …” Actually, a good understanding of The Elizabethan Settlement and the via media could lead one to conclude that its application with regard to gender equality is completely inappropriate. Its subsequent application to new problems has been controversial in the past. For example, when the Tractarians tried to read the thirty-nine articles in contradiction to their original meaning, rather than make a case for their revision or abolition, they were soundly… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

In reply to James, who wrote: “It’s something of an irony that while FinF are now committed to channelling all their energy in to mission and outreach, WATCH are beginning to appear like an un-inclusive rump who seem to resent the diversity which has always been the hallmark of the C of E. Isn’t it time that WATCH recognised that the battle – which they won – is over, disband and focus their energy on supporting projects which enable the Church to be a positive presence in the public square?” 1. Women as bishops has only ever been one of… Read more »

James A
Guest
James A

@Charles Read: perhaps FinF are still busy saying that “women are not really ordained.” It’s a point of view (and one that would be shared by the majority of the world’s Christians). I don’t agree with them one bit; but they are entitled to their opinion. My question remains, therefore: why is it, having won the argument over women bishops, WATCH is continuing to pick over old wounds, and seems unable to live with difference and diversity? The manner of Philip North’s ordination and the appointment of the Bishop of Maidstone is not going to impact on the episcopal ministry… Read more »

Henry Dee
Guest
Henry Dee

A few thoughts. The WB measure passed, and the Trad Caths have generally accepted it and are moving on. Hopefully with Philip North there will be some dynamism and push for mission – we know that we need it. The ConEvo’s and CarisEvo’s will have their bishop, and strengthen their evangelism, and we all know that they are a growing section of the CoE. I think a concern for the LiberalCaths / ModernCaths or whatever name we call ourselves will be the first WB. Will she be a worthy or someone with get up and go? Over the years I’ve… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Henry Dee, “the relationship by the RC church to our orders the same as the Trad Caths to female clergy. Not recognized but respected.” Which means, in both instances, there is a measure of chauvinism. At least, that has on occasion been my experience, when welcomed to ecumenical events as one of the “separated brethren”.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Doesn’t this appointment undermine the theology of episcopacy which undergirds the Porvoo Agreement? I hope we may hear what our Nordic brothers and sisters make of it

Father Ron Smith
Guest

This question remains – for the Church of England: “When is a bishop not a bishop?”

God forbid the answer should be: When she’s a woman

Father David
Guest
Father David

Fr. Ron, I think Our Lord’s choice of the all male Apostolic Twelve, 2000 years of Christian Tradition and currently the Great Churches of East and West would arrive at your God forbidden answer.

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

Good point, Perry, but I fear our leaders’ eyes are turned more to the (global) south rather than to the north and east. As others have said, this was part of the deal which has been approved by GS and Parliament. Those of us who don’t like it much will have to accept that it was a necessary compromise to achieve the greater good of allowing women bishops. And we will have to hope that the person chosen does not take us further down the road to heresy. What matters now is how the new arrangements are handled, particularly with… Read more »

cryptgram
Guest
cryptgram

The flaw in Malcolm Dixon’s plea is that the new bishop of St Edmundsbury will be consecrated in Canterbury province, but the new bishop of Burnley in York. But if the nominators of Southwell & Nottingham choose a woman, then game on.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

I think we can be fairly certain the headship bishop wont be celebrating a chrism mass for his constituency,Martin. But seriously I wonder why the C of E bothers with ecumenical dialogue since their fruits don’t seem either to inform or reform C of E practice.

Henry Dee
Guest
Henry Dee

Any bishop deserving his job would want to get working rather than sit on his backside waiting for the appointment of a WB, which will be God only knows when. Makes you wonder how committed the new Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich is then to his new flock if thats really his attitude. There’s a lot that needs doing out in the real world and Successful Mission needs leaders. Hopefully after his consecration in February, Fr Philip North will do this as there’s a lot of work to be done in Lancashire in the towns ( Burnley, Blackburn, Preston,… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

To suggest that Fr. Philip North be consecrated at the same time as the first woman bishop is simply mischief making and it most certainly won’t happen.

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

I don’t think that the new Bishop of St E & I was suggesting for a moment that his consecration should be delayed (and I certainly wasn’t). I took it that he was just hoping that the first WB would be appointed quickly, in time to be consecrated at the same time as him (province permitting of course).

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

My comment may seem mischievous to you at present, Fr David, and I see that you are to get the separate consecration you desire at Candlemas, but it will quickly become a very real issue. As WBs are appointed, using positive discrimination to move us towards equality within 10 years as has been suggested, there will, sooner rather than later, arise an occasion where it would be expedient to consecrate a WB at the same time as a traditionalist bishop. How that is handled will be a litmus test of how the new measure is working. If traditionalists were to… Read more »