Thursday, 4 December 2014

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 4:24pm GMT | TrackBack
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I rest my case.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 4:58pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Charles Read on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 5:34pm GMT

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

Posted by: John Clifford on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 5:47pm GMT

So we have yet another flying bishop!!

Posted by: sally Barnes on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 5:49pm GMT

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?

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 6:39pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Bob Marsden on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 6:42pm GMT

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 has always been a successful route to Anglican preferment anyway :)

Posted by: NJ on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 8:24pm GMT

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

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 8:55pm GMT

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

Posted by: Tom Carpenter on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 9:06pm GMT

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

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 10:14pm GMT

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

Posted by: James on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 10:49pm GMT

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 ?

Posted by: Christopher Hall on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 11:16pm GMT

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 view of what you term 'preferment' is thankfully far from the truth in the CofE.

Posted by: Charles Read on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 11:40pm GMT

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...

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 12:41am GMT

Sounds like a low flying bishop

Posted by: Andrew B on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 2:06am GMT

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.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 2:45am GMT

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

Posted by: robert ian williams on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 6:21am GMT

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?

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 6:44am GMT

Brilliant!

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 8:19am GMT

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.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 8:54am GMT

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

Posted by: Peter Owen on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 9:21am GMT

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

Posted by: David Runcorn on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 9:53am GMT

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.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 10:13am GMT

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 few years ago between Jimmy Dunn and Larry Hurtado, who have also taught on degree courses and both of whom, as it happens are practising Anglicans. The debate concerned Jesus as God in early Christianity. In a way it wasn't very illuminating, because their respective positions on this are very well known and the difference between thir positions is not great. Anyway, my reaction was: neither of these believing Christians and major NT scholars holds a credal view of the matter. And I didn't - and don't - care.

Posted by: John on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 10:35am GMT

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]

Posted by: Charles Read on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 10:55am GMT

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 Bennett's play 'Forty Years On':-
'Candidate: I'm still a bit hazy about the Trinity, sir.
Schoolmaster: Three in one, one in three, perfectly straightforward. Any doubts about that, see your maths master.'!

As to the appointment in question, I suspect a likely candidate resides just a few miles west of the titular See in Sevenoaks, and he propounded the heresy Charles Read describes at GS in 2012 during the debate on Women Bishops, as Charles pointed out in these columns at the time.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 11:38am GMT

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 line. (That was a joke btw) However, some liberals do seem to me to be more credally orthodox than some evangelicals today! (That wasn't a joke, sadly) In the 1970s things were so much simpler...)

Posted by: Charles Read on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 11:59am GMT

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

Posted by: Chris Griffiths on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 1:06pm GMT

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 canonical obedience*."

For Catholics opposed to the ordination of women the crunch question was one of sacramental recognition, and so came when women were ordained as priests. Catholic OOWs have had twenty years to reach the present and I think settled accomodation, and while some have considered their position and left others have made the positive decision to stay and engage with the Church of England as it actually is.

In that time, it seems to me, Evangelicals who hold a Male Headship view have not really been pressed in the same way, as they are not concerned about sacramental recognition and the resolutions have protected them from having to deal with women exercising authority. For them, I think, women as bishops will be the crunch issue, and the testing time is about to begin. Whether an accommodation can be reached I think remains to be seen. A Catholic can accept canonical obedience while having reservations on the question of whether a woman bishop is ontologically a bishop in the same sense as a man. But for conservative evangelicals the problem will be simply that she is a woman, and there doesn't seem to be the same wriggle room around that.

Posted by: Matthew Duckett on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 1:15pm GMT

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?

Posted by: Geoff on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 3:11pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 3:12pm GMT

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

Posted by: Jean Mayland (Revd) on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 5:39pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Christopher Hall on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 5:58pm GMT

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 to deal with the major theological issue of our time: can we include the Good News of Jesus to all in our institutional and economic systems?

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 6:06pm GMT

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

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 6:59pm GMT

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.)

Posted by: DBD on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 8:24pm GMT

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!

Posted by: Richard Marshall on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 9:17pm GMT

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 maintaining some level of communion with others in the house of bishops. This seems to misunderstand the notion of communion, focussing it on relations between bishops rather than on relations between people, which is to say between sees -- but this is not an isolated problem. It seems to me that we are institutionalising disunity and are glossing over dissent -- which ought to be honourable in its own right (and is often a catalyst for change), but to co-opt dissent by institutionalising it does no one any favours. It is certainly no victory for dissenters and has the look and feel of a pacification plan. But that seems to be how we do things....

Posted by: Joe on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 5:55am GMT

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.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 9:32am GMT

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 for calling Richard Harries an apostate? http://www.revpetermullen.com/harries-the-apostate/

Posted by: The Rev'd Mervyn Noote on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 10:37am GMT

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.

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 6:54pm GMT

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 is more of the same. In the Diocese of St Albans there are fewer resolution A and B parishes and we expect the number to reduce further under the new Measure. However, if I may be permitted to speculate, I think we may be surprised when we learn of the candidate for Maidstone. I think it unlikely that the person is a currently serving member of the General Synod.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 7:23pm GMT

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 eternal functional subordination seem to be saying is that God is eternally commander and commanded with no change to God's ontological substance. Thus, it would appear that this belief is within the bounds of historic orthodoxy. I personally have little interest in linking it with gender roles right now, but it certainly seems to me to be reflected in the creeds, the Son being the only begotten of the Father the unbegotten. And many of the Church Fathers point to the asymmetrical eternally equal relationship between the Father and the Son when they write of Jesus as eternal begotten and the Father being eternal begetter (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Lactantius, Cyril of Jerusalem). I found this quote from Lactantius (307 A.D.) most helpful: "When we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate them, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father, since the name of ‘Father’ cannot be given without the Son, nor can the Son be begotten without the Father. . . . They both have one mind, one spirit, one substance; but the former [the Father] is as it were an overflowing fountain, the latter [the Son] as a stream flowing forth from it." In the same way the Bible talks about Jesus as the eternal Word with God and being God, and that the Son being subject to the Father appears to continue into eternity in verses such as 1 Corinthians 15: 28 "When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all." Most of all I wonder why we object so firmly to this idea, and suspect this has something to do with our own rebellious hearts and our unwillingness to be subjects ourselves. Liberating the Son (as though He needed liberation) therefore reveals more about us than about Him. Better we learn that in God's command there is perfect freedom.

Posted by: James Church on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 1:37am GMT

"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.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 5:14am GMT

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.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 12:40pm GMT

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.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 1:04pm GMT

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?

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 4:47pm GMT

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 that our Archbishops may want to make on justice and equality.

On the matter of Christian doctrine, and the subordination of the Son to the Father, the church of course teaches that whatever Jesus rendered to God (e.g., obedience), or asked of God (e.g., help), any temporal subordination could not be of any eternal significance, as Christ, God and the Holy Spirit are simply one - and in all respects, equal. This was why the early church could proclaim with such brazen confidence that '...there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal. 3: 28). But with this new initiative from the Archbishops, we'll now have a situation in which inequality is (literally) consecrated into our church. It is a highly regrettable move that shows no theological nous - but that is perhaps the least surprising aspect of this debacle.

Posted by: The Very Revd. Prof. Martyn Percy on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 4:53pm GMT

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.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 8:29pm GMT

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 a highly prejudicial and unChristian description of attempts to accommodate legitimate differences of view.

(5) I do wish senior figures in this church and others would stop parading their titles. Hard to imagine anything less Jesus-like.

Posted by: John on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 8:48pm GMT

1 Cor 15.28 might also be thought relevant to those who claim that 'the church of course teaches' (etc.) Let me make it clear: I have no personal brief for 1 Cor 15.28 (or other such passages): I do not, however, think that those who rely on them (however naively etc.) should be excluded from the C of E episcopate.

Posted by: John on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 9:21pm GMT

Conservative evangelicals don't see the issue like Anglo catholic traditionalists. Donald Allister a Reform member became bishop of Peterbrough and agreed to ordain women.

headship is separate from any idea of tactile apostolic succession, which they regard as rubbish.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 7 December 2014 at 9:23pm GMT

I cannot understand John.

He welcomes the idea that there are to be bishops whose purpose is solely to appease deeply held theological views of some in the CofE yet he does not seem to honour the fact that many see these views as repugnant and hateful. Does he think that by giving a few men these token roles people are then going to feel less passionately about their sincere convictions?
My view remains that by formalising these divisions the passions are more likely to be inflamed than appeased.
If anything is "stupid" then what has been highlighted by Geoff and R I Williams must surely qualify.
Indeed Robert Williams makes a very cogent point. Must the new bishop of Maidstone be such a man who does not accept women presbyters and sees female deacons as laywomen? Must he, to appease all this constituency, be the lowest of the low? I am told that even so, the divisions within this grouping (often fiercely debated) cannot be satisfied by one man. The Church Society seems to agree.
I do not think a bright new day has dawned where the lion can lie down with the lamb.
I believe this will have a bitter, long lasting legacy.
The diversity that was once the crowning glory of the CofE has been transformed into its crown of thorns.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 1:29am GMT

What Martyn said. It is additionally problematic that some of the churches who are seeking this provision are wealthy and as such bishops are reluctant to challenge them over anything. Most members of the congregations would not follow their leaders on this (or other matters) though.

To Tim and John - well no, I agree bishops are not everything but this is a thread about bishops so it not surprising that we are talking a lot about bishops! Plus, we are an episcopal church, so who gets to be a bishop and how we do episcopacy is quite important.

James posted a long and important comment which I can't do justice to here, but I will say this: it seems to me that some people are advocating eternal ontological subordination of the Son to the Father - that is the issue. Indeed, for this to work as undergirding women submitting to men, it has to be eternal and ontological. If it were temporary and /or functional, then women could not be required to submit to men as a mark of their Christian identity except in limited circumstances and voluntarily. Padgett (in the book I reviewed) is helpfully clear on this. But I feel the need to write more extensively about this to try to sort out the various issues we are raising here. Not sure when that will be...

Posted by: Charles Read on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 10:37am GMT

Anthony,
I'm interested in your comment that the see being used is a dormant suffragan see and not a specially created PEV one is of no consequence.

Will this bishop be responsible for all AB parishes in the whole of the CoE and have no function for other parishes in the diocese of Maidstone?
Or will he be a proper area bishop responsible for all the parishes in Maidstone diocese?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 10:47am GMT

The ministry of Jesus also caused "turmoil, disharmony and disunity", Fr David. He himself said that he came "not to bring peace but a sword" Mt 10.34. Many of those in his own faith were keen to get rid of him - " it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." (Jn 11.50)Challenging injustice is usually not universally popular, and the Bible has stern words for those who cry "Peace, peace" when there is no peace. Of course, "turmoil, disharmony and disunity" are not necessarily signs that one is doing the will of God, but nor are they signs that one isn't, unless you think that Jesus should have kept quiet and behaved himself...

Posted by: Anne2 on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 10:47am GMT

Erika, Maidstone is not a diocese. This is a suffragan bishopric in Canterbury diocese. Canterbury does not have area bishops.

And I don't think you mean "AB parishes in the whole of the CofE" either. There are three PEVs already, two for the Southern province, and one for the Northern. Not to mention the Bishop of Fulham. I think it is intended that he might give pastoral care to conservative evangelical parishes in both provinces, but these are a small proportion of the total number of parishes cared for by the PEVs etc.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 12:24pm GMT

Erika: there is no 'diocese of Maidstone' and there is no 'episcopal area of Maidstone'. Maidstone is a titular suffragan see in the diocese of Canterbury. It therefore falls to the bishop of the see of Canterbury to propose a name to the see of Maidstone, and it falls to the bishop of the see of Canterbury to define the extent of episcopal 'power' that he will delegate to the bishop of Maidstone within his diocese.

The legalities of this are no different from any other titular suffragan see, and in particular are no different from the suffragan sees of Richborough and Ebbsfleet which are similarly suffragan sees whose titles come from places within the diocese of Canterbury. The see of Dover is also a titular see taking its name from a place in the diocese of Canerbury -- but to that see the Archbishop of Canterbury delegates almost all his episcopal role within the diocese.

The intention, it would seem, with Maidstone is to allow it to be used to prefer a 'conservative evangelical' cleric who would exercise some form of leadership of parishes and clergy that lean towards that view, saving them from the embarrassment of having to ask for an Anglo-Catholic flying bishop.

The old Act of Synod is gone, and there is no longer the same formal framework for the flying bishops. However, their ministry continues.

As others have suggested, we need to be careful not to entrench positions in this way, and to try and avoid the danger of ever more extreme positions being taken. I'm not sure we have a particularly good track record in these regards. But this was part of the compromise for getting the women bishops legislation through the General Synod, and it is pretty clear that no diocese is likely to want to nominate such a cleric as its diocesan bishop -- and that no diocesan bishop and no diocese is particularly likely to nominate such a cleric as a regular working suffrgan bishop either. Hence the choice of Maidstone, conveniently vacant, as a titular see at the disposal of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 12:26pm GMT

Thank you Simon S and Simon K, that is most helpful!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 2:26pm GMT

A very practical question: does anyone know where the money to pay for this post is coming from? Church Commissioners? See of Canterbury?

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 11:06pm GMT

A very practical answer.to the question who will pay the stipend of the Bishop of Maidstone - Same source as pays for the Flying Bishops and the soon to be women bishops and every other bishop within the Church of England i.e. The Church Commissioners. Were Mr. Osborne in charge of the Commissioners budget, then I'm sure his well honed axe would be hovering over the bishops' expenses claims which runs into many millions.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 4:22am GMT

"Chalcedonean orthodoxy......also includes the chant of the bishops at Chalcedon, "Peter has spoken through Leo". - Robert I Williams -

Surely, Robert, it rather depends on what Peter is heard to be saying. Obviously not the words: "I know not the man (Jesus)".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 11:35pm GMT
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