Comments: FiF has more TEA

I generally try to stay out of the ordination of women debates because my enemies would argue that I enter out of self interest. So my disclaimer for this posting is that my personal role is not to become entangled within the bureacracy of any particular denomination or faith, so that I am able to act as an "independent" advisor to all.

A core element to the opposition to women is based on an arbitrary decision to continue the precedent that Jesus only had male apostles and therefore women are to be excluded from teaching roles. However, the biblical God of Old Testament has never had a problem using women to take on men's roles. He would prefer men to "do the right thing" but if they abdicate their responsibilities or fail to show up in sufficient numbers, then God will use women instead (the prophetess Deborah is one of the clearest examples).

Before I continue, I apologise to any "higher" souls that might be offended by this posting, but the misogynistic humans really need to be put in their place...

Personally, I have witnessed God re-affirm women in only the last few months. For those of you who were not privy to the details, you might want to check out the Iran thread (and the environment thread) on Ekklesia's discussion board. My posting pseudonym was "wombat". In March, I was being given a really hard time by a couple of members (makes the insults on TA laughable) my favourite insult thrown at me was an "impregnable cloud of words". I loved the imagery because it reminds me of Moses going up the mountain and the closer he got to God the denser the cloud surrounding God.

Anyway, on 17 March I made a posting that I saw that I was running a relay race and that I was trying to do a hand over to Jesus. Backup didn't appear, dialogue degenerated to a level worthy of Habakkuk. Mind you, God got the last laugh.

The Melbourne Commonwealth games were running at the time and there was a series of laughable stuff ups in the relay races. The Aussie boys lost gold in the 100m relay because they failed to handover the baton on the last leg, and the Aussie girls won gold against the English due to a legalistic technicality. Don't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humour, and this article is funny: http://www.smh.com.au/news/sport/losing-grip-on-reality/2006/03/26/1143330932523.html

Plus Australia was hit by Cat 5 cyclone Larry at around the same time. And while we are quoting "meaningless coincidences", the 119 Aussie authors to the 135 signatures on the Lord Carey letter would note that Cyclone Monica dipped below Darwin after their letter was acknowleged on TA with an Oi Oi Oi.

Now these are just three "coincidences", but those of you who are not Erev Rav might want to ponder that God doesn't seem to have a problem in backing up the girls if the boys are not going to do it.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 17 May 2006 at 9:54pm BST

Oh for goodness sake.

If we want to have priests and bishops who exactly mirror Jesus, they should be male [of course!] circumcised [OK] Jews [problem?] who speak Aramaic [really?] and read Hebrew [OK?] and possibly Greek [with me so far?]and seem not to have married [oops for some!] much less be divorced and remarried [BIG no no] ... seems like the idea is that to be a priest or bishop - for some at least - you don't really need to BE like Jesus, as listed above. You just need to be male and ... pee like Jesus.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 18 May 2006 at 4:42am BST

If FiF's response is "frosty" what is then AffCath/WATCH's liberal and revisionist non-negotiable statement? Naive and arrogant?

Posted by Ordinand at Thursday, 18 May 2006 at 9:25am BST

Cheryl,

This is not "opposition to women", and those on the other side of the argument to you are not misogynistic.

The argument against women occupying the role of a bishop is not based on the precedent of Jesus calling male apostles , but on the clear teaching of the apostles in scripture.

1 Timothy 2v12: "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

1 Corinthians 14v34-35: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

1 Timothy 3v1-2: "This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach."

Posted by Andy at Thursday, 18 May 2006 at 1:40pm BST

From FIF: Our difficulty is not that female bishops are women; but that we doubt they are bishops in the historic episcopate. The question, in consequence, is not 'how can I be shielded from the ministry of ordained women?', but rather 'where can I find that unimpaired collegiality of bishops, priests, deacons and faithful laity to which, as a Catholic Christian, I seek to belong?

(That just happens not to have any women fouling it up? Ah, have you thought about just going back to Rome? By the way, FIF, who taught you this clever strategy of writing female on the blackboard, then redefining it via the code phrase ‘unimpaired collegiality’, then erasing female real fast and denying that you are talking about a woman being female? Are we really no longer talking about women, but rather a genderless, sexless unimpaired collegiality? Your ploy is quite a trick, and rather leaves me a bit dizzy. I once had a used car salesman try a similar sleight of hand with me as we discussed a financing deal with a very odd rate of unusually high interest.)

From FIF: Ecclesial relationships derive their authenticity from the 'Being-in-Communion' of the Blessed Trinity itself, from the interpenetration of the divine with the human which is effected through the incarnation, resurrection and return to glory of the Son of the Father. To fracture those ecclesial relationships is thus to impair the very relationship between the individual and God.

From FIF: The proper role of the bishop - to use a word of which we made much use in Consecrated Women? - is that of the paterfamilias, whose symbols of authority include among them, paradoxically, the bowl and towel.

Wow. I admire - from an amused and alarmed distance – what FIF seems to be doing here. Off the cuff, however, I prayerfully urge we take a different path. First, note how FIF affirms an indissoluble communion among believers, based in the doctrine of the Trinity. This mystical communion is, apparently, marked by both sacramental (and it would appear) jurisdictional and administrative signs in the institutional life of the CoE. (Or all Anglicans?)

Current Theology in ECUSA for example, has more or less followed a similar path. ECUSA views now note the ways in which our baptism is the fundamental sign of our indissoluble communion as believers, joining us all to the indissoluble life and power of God in Trinity. The ordering of priests and bishops thus flows from that ground of baptism/resurrection in Christ Jesus our Risen Lord. Before we are ever bishops, we are adopted and joined to Christ. Thus all believers can be understood to be called by Jesus, just as the apostles were called. Thus baptism is the outward and communal sign of our being called, mystically grafting us all into the wondrous life of the God in Trinity. The bishop then is understood to be perceived and ordered from among the peoples, to serve, nourish, and teach the flocks among which his or her vocation exists and is discerned.

However, rather than this idea of indissoluble Trinitarian communion leading us - yet again - to the New Testament Pauline conclusion that in Christ, there is neither male nor female; we are urged to roundly pledge its opposite. Females are so toxic out of their assigned historic places that they can fracture, undo, contaminate, or otherwise disrupt the mystical communion that should flow from the very godhead.

(2) I suspect the FIF basic idea of paterfamilias includes much that is quite ancient - though, perhaps, rather less compelling to me than to them. For example, I know about the equal DNA contributions of fathers/mothers to the baby's full DNA set, unlike the ancients who presumed fathers carried the whole definition of being human in their very loins. I thus no longer have a biological basis for maintaining male privileges, unchanged, right across the boards. I know about the intelligence and other gifts of women that I see demonstrated to make my daily life better in all sorts of ways. I can readily see that an ancient man might find these gifts and competencies of modern women - at least odd, - and probably uncanny from certain ancient points of view.

Alas. Lord have mercy. My familias is indissolubly male and female, globally speaking.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 18 May 2006 at 5:51pm BST

Andy

I note that all your justifications come from the apostle Paul's writings. Now Paul was one of my favourite apostles - he had vision and the courage to go into the unknown. But he also did this obsessively to the exclusion of having a family or "normal" life. That was required at that time to ensure that Jesus' teachings were not lost and that the new paradigms were given a chance to consolidate into humanity's consciousness. But that does not mean that he was the only or unique definitive word on God or the bible. I often comment to friends that Paul's definition of the "worthy" Christian woman is what Paul would have liked if he had taken a wife. However, it lacks humility and does not acknowledge that different gifts require different temperaments, which in turn affects what they enjoy in a marriage partner. If one reads the whole bible, one sees a huge range of personalities in the souls that God raises up for His purposes at various times. We also see God using women as well as men (and if we do some research it is quite easy to find more examples of women being used and even more damning the evidence of how much of their service to God is hidden or destroyed to protect male domination paradigms). It is my belief that God never wanted women to be abused, and that God has always had intentions at the right point in human development to affirm the strengths that women bring to humanity's understandings. For example, only today a girlfriend and I were discussing the biblical paradigm of being in childbirth or having labour pains when doing pioneering work for God (imagery that the Apostle Paul applies to himself). Now, I don't know if you have ever been in a labour room, but I promise you that no sensible soul would dare tell a women how to talk as she is in the midst of a contraction. Similarly, there are times in history where things are status quo and we don't need that many visionaries. But there are other times where a fundamental shift in how one looks at problems is required if one is going to bypass the roadblocks that are hindering humanity living reverential, sustainable, compassionate and just lives. God also says that when we break covenants (e.g. keeping the sabbath or honouring night and day) then God also has the right to enter into new covenants. Jesus was one such covenant, and what the "liberals" is doing now is not replacing that covenant but extending its scope to cover ALL humanity, which is consistent with God's vision. Finally, if Jesus does not embody the whole personality of the biblical God of the Old Testament, then our understanding of Jesus and/or God is in error. Jesus never said that he replaced the Father, and the only camp that I have heard have the temerity to suggest such an abomination is the misogynistic intolerant "absolutist" "stuff the environment and creation" factions.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 19 May 2006 at 10:21am BST

Cheryl: "But that does not mean that he [Paul] was the only or unique definitive word on God or the bible."

God is the definitive word on God, and in the bible verses I quoted, we see God speaking through Paul.
God clearly spoke through Paul on this specific issue. If it was not unique or definitive, what exactly are you using as your other sources of the word of God on this issue? Does God contradict Himself?

Cheryl: "If one reads the whole bible, one sees a huge range of personalities in the souls that God raises up for His purposes at various times. We also see God using women as well as men..."

Very true.

Cheryl: "But there are other times where a fundamental shift in how one looks at problems is required if one is going to bypass the roadblocks that are hindering humanity living reverential, sustainable, compassionate and just lives."

The commands of God, including those pertaining to women, written through the Apostle Paul, are not "roadblocks" to living reverential, sustainable, compassionate and just lives.

Cheryl: "Jesus was one such covenant, and what the "liberals" is doing now is not replacing that covenant but extending its scope to cover ALL humanity, which is consistent with God's vision."

"Liberals" have the right and authority to "extend" God's covenant??? By ignoring or removing commands given by God through the Apostles??? Are you saying that, until now, the New Covenant in Jesus' blood hasn't included women???

Cheryl: "Finally, if Jesus does not embody the whole personality of the biblical God of the Old Testament, then our understanding of Jesus and/or God is in error."

Jesus does embody the whole personality of the biblical God of the Old Testament. There have been many new commands given by God through the Apostles since the Old Testament, and some of them pertain to women. Those new commands do not make the God of the NT inconsistent with the God of the OT.

Posted by Andy at Friday, 19 May 2006 at 11:41am BST

Sola scriptura was historically used to: (1) read how Ptolemaic Cosmology was written into the scriptures; (2) prohibit autopsies or anatomy studies of the human body; (3) posit a immediate, personal deity who pulls all the strings to make all natural events happen through moments of divine willing of this or that real-time event in nature; (4) read how the subservience or inferiority of people of color was written into scripture; (5) read justifications in scripture for the institutions of 'benevolent' masterhood/ownership and slavery; (6) raise deep doubts or reservations about girls or women entering education, up to and including law or medical schools. And the list goes on today.

The literal, plain reading of particular texts which prohibits women from full participation in all levels of our faith communities is clear (so far as it goes); but the goodness, ethical probity, and justness of the prohibitions is not clear. Who in common sense would deprive us all of the witness and gifts of people like Saint Teresa of Avila, Dorothy Day, Shirin Ebadi, and an open list of great and average women that God works through to better us and nourish us, every single day?

Anglican Communion views have never, ever been limited to Sola scriptura - except perhaps during transient periods of Puritan dominance. That historic leeway has often included the space for some Anglicans to pursue sola scriptura approaches that made sense to them as individual believers without necessarily forcing the issue for the rest of the Anglican Communion provinces.

So, how come, all of a sudden, there is no authority but Sola scriptura? Exactly what is the evil against which we are shutting our doors?

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 19 May 2006 at 4:26pm BST

drdanfee wrote: "Anglican Communion views have never, ever been limited to Sola scriptura - except perhaps during transient periods of Puritan dominance."

Dear drdanfee, Sola Scriptura may have been a somewhat politicised slogan in history, but it does capture one serious issue... that the Bible contains the most authentic and authoritative Christian writings.

The Anglican Communion has always held until very recently, and since only changes in a few countries, that the priests/presbyters and bishops are male-only roles - based on what Scripture and Tradition teach. This is still what ALL the other historical-catholic churches do!

Now, while I personally think that Scripture can be reasonably interpreted to be relating to the particular conditions prevaling in Corinth etc in 1st Century (when Paul and others wrote that leaders should be male) I can understand why other Christians might not (the majority of Christians in the world today, and throughout history!) Therefore people who believe this have my sympathies and support.

Posted by Dave at Friday, 19 May 2006 at 7:22pm BST

Thanks drdanfee

Some of Paul's writings were not commands but recommendations. For example, if possible be celibate but if you find your sex drive too high take a wife e.g. 1 Corinthians 7. I also have to say that Paul, like the prophets of the Old Testament was only human, and therefore his writings should be read as such. One pattern in Paul's writngs was that he generally put faith in Christ before the letter of the law, except where it came to sexuality (maybe he was too frustrated and should have taken a spouse?). Nor was sexuality an impediment to Old Testament characters, King David had several wives, King Solomon had... (after the meaningless comment in Ecclesiastes need we say more?), Abraham fathered children to two women (as did Jacob), Isaiah had sex with a temple prostitute (cough, prophetess) and sired a son, Hosea took back an adulterous wife. Further, God has never required perfection from His servants, and loves them irregardless of their flaws (so much for legalistic puritanism to redeem our souls before God).

Andy commented that God is the definitive word on God and God spoke clearly through Paul. Yes, and both Paul and Jesus took comfort that God would send the Spirit of Truth or the Holy Spirit to expose the deceiver's distortions (including absolutist legalism) e.g. John 14 and Hebrews 10. Nor did Jesus deny the teachings of the other prophets, even after his resurrection (see Luke 24:25-27). If there is only one God, then it is the God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, Solomon, Ruth, Esther, Ephraim, Moses, Noah, Jesus. If anyone tries to claim that any of these souls were acknowledging a different God then they are guilty of insulting God by trying to diminish God. If they try to claim that the biblical God of the Torah was replaced by Jesus, then they are guity of idolatory.

What I see are souls who hate, who are no better than Cain who effectively when God asks "Where are my daugthers' voices?" respond "Are we our sisters' keepers?". Or Joseph's brothers who schemed his murder but instead assigned him to captivity with the Egyptians. Like Rueben, most women's righteousness is proved because the men refuse to involve them in the active collusion of their sin (parallels to the constructing of the Baal idol at Mt Sinai here too). Another parallel, like Joseph, women are forgiving their brothers for their attempted murder or sale into slavery but like Joseph are seeking direct comforting and acknowledgement from their Father. They have learnt that their brothers' love is clouded by jealousy and greed. Plus I saw an abomination the church newspaper that God's covenant with Jesus replaced His covenant with the Jews, that is completely inconsistent with both Jesus and Pauls' understanding see Romans 11:25-29. Any attempt to deny that God has plans for the Jews is simply souls who hate trying to disrupt their siblings access to their common Father.

Nor will the deceiver's attempt to bind Jesus to a series of atoning sacrifices come to fruition. Through direct intervention in history, God has proven beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus' original sacrifice still stands and another one is not required. Through God's authority and overwhelming love for Jesus; the power of Jesus' atoning sacrifice did not just cover the souls of one generation, but all souls for all time (including his rabbinic responsibilities as his own spiritual "children" committed atrocities in his and/or Gods' name). Thus the Spirit of Jesus is not required to repeat that perfect existence each and every lifetime. He is free to choose to be whatever is required for any generation when and where he chooses to directly intervene.

The liberals have the right to read the Holy bible and see the words of God, they have the right to bring forth that which the absolutists have ignored or dismissed. If people want to argue against this, then they should not be part of a protestant denomination, that is a key tenent of Luther's reformation.

On extending the covenant to ALL humanity do some bible word searches on footstool and Jacob. God's inclusive vision is not unique to the Old Testament, it is clear in Jesus' easy acceptance of all who came to trust that God had anointed him (including women, lepers, Jews, Samaritans) and in Paul's controversial reaching out to the gentiles including Greeks and Romans (remember the disciples initially left Paul kicking his heels in Tarsus for seven years). Just a few passages: John 15, Hebrews 10:15, Isaiah 66:1-2, Micah 4:1, Daniel 11:40-45, Obadiah 1:10-18, Amos 9:8-15, Ezekiel 39:21-29.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 19 May 2006 at 11:27pm BST

drdanfee: "The literal, plain reading of particular texts which prohibits women from full participation in all levels of our faith communities is clear (so far as it goes);"

Then we agree. God has spoken on this issue in a clear way.

drdanfee: "but the goodness, ethical probity, and justness of the prohibitions is not clear."

Who are you to judge the goodness, ethical probity or justness of God's commands?

drdanfee: "Exactly what is the evil against which we are shutting our doors?"

Open rebellion against God's clearly stated commands.

Posted by Andy at Friday, 19 May 2006 at 11:42pm BST

None of the 3 "proofs" signature "Andy" provides has anything to do with the Apostle Paul.

Instead they were written much later by the circle of the Pastoral letters, probably old Polycarp's boys at Smyrna.

This includes 1 Kor 14:34-35, see The New Jerome page 811.

The Pastoral letters are dated in the first 50 or 60 years of the 2nd Century. They are considered identical in philosophy, language & c. to the so called Letters of Polycarp (perhaps not by Polycarp himself).

Also it would be helpful, if signature "Andy" told us which translation he is using; that is; that signature "Andy" showed an awarness of the great philosophical/theological/ecclesiological/socio-political liberties taken by translators - not least late-modern ones.

Only ideologically/politically un-interesting passages are still correctly translated in the West, unchanged from the very reliable Old Latin translation from 2nd Century North Africa (in part older than the Pastoral/Polycarp letters).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 7:05am BST

“The literal, plain reading of particular texts which prohibits women from full participation in all levels of our faith communities is clear (so far as it goes)”

Oh, now it isn’t! It’s neither “literal”, “plain” nor “clear”, only superficial, shallow and distorting, reading in what isn’t there.

The Bible is a pre-modern collection of writings from a pre-modern culture. Patriarchal; limiting the scope of action of women’s lives, but it is n o t Hierarchical as the Indo-European Philosophy of Alexandria.

It does not de-value hierarchically.

In the Bible there is certainly an un-called for division into different social roles for women and men, but there is no rejection of God’s Good Creation as in Alexandrian Philosophy.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 7:07am BST

The Calvinist take on the “Sola scriptura” of the Reformers, is – as always – quite strange and distorted. NOT sola scriptura.

Sola scriptura in it self means what Dr Hooker wrote in his XXXIX Articles, which is what Paul wrote in 1 Cor 4:6:

Nothing beyond what is written is to be required of anybody.

Which is precisely what is being done today by the anti-modern malcontents.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 7:07am BST

Dear Dave, WE are the Church Catholic. Much more than Rome who invented strange things in the 1054 Schizm, the 1073 Dictatus papae, the 1139, 1179 adn 1215 Lateran councils, the Corpus iuris canonici and so on...

We are even the Church Catholic more than the Anglican churches, because they accpted the Roman inventions and we did so only in part (no mandatory celibacy, no canonical testament & c.).

We have women priests and lady bishops. And we are proud of them.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 7:11am BST

Many of Paul's letters were written to women leaders. There are numerous studies that indicate that women were shunted to one side as the formal church structures developed. (At the same time that the churches being sponsored by the state authority figures?)

Also, not all of God's promises were fulfilled at the time, but the promise of their being fulfilled in the future were reaffirmed by Jesus' incarnation and atoning sacrifice. For example, it was impossible for the gospel to be available to all the peoples of all the nations because it took time for information to be disseminated (there was no internet).

One contemplation is" Does God continue to clear roadblocks to His reconciliation plan since Jesus death and resurrection?" An obvious example that God is still intervening is in the raising of the Apostle Paul. The disciples were stalled and a driven visionary was required to move them past the hump of limiting their preaching to Jews and around Jerusalem.

Similarly, other shifts to enable the church to survive or evolve have occurred. The Protestant Reformation is one example, some churches allowing their male priests to marry and raise families is another.

Finally, I wouldn't have a problem having only male priests if the male priests protected the churches' women and other vulnerables. But I have seen too many examples of women being abused by church leaders, or church leaders being accomplices to keep women in abusive circumstances. In that sense, the male priestly castes have failed to keep their covenant with God to protect women. If men are not going to protect women then they have no right to deny them legal recourse or their own voice.

Once again, the reforms will probably occur around the churches. The sad thing is that for many churches they will be shamed into doing something about the mistreatment of women as it becomes clearer that hateful bullies who can no longer bully in the workplace or public venues now vent their anger behind closed doors with their wives and children. God knows, as more and more examples are aired of the broken abused women who sought help from their church but were dismissed as being neurotic come up, then the churches' reputations will continue to sink as agents of the last bastions of misogynistic violence (physical, psychological, emotional and/or spiritual).

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 11:47am BST

Göran wrote: "Dear Dave, WE are the Church Catholic" (he means the Svenska kyrkan - Church of Sweden)

Dear Göran, that is your own opinion. Most churches in the Apostolic Catholic tradition, and most Christians, would disagree if they knew about your church's beliefs, politics and practices.

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 12:04pm BST

As another aside on "sola scripture".

That camp has absolutely no credibility with me. In early 2005 some people on Sydney Anglicans tried to tell me that what I was doing was biblically incorrect. I then quoted some passages to prove that the sharing of private experiences has biblical precedent. There then ensued a remarkable dialogue where several souls started discussing removing the offending passages (at least from being taught in theological lessons)!

That line rapidly closed when I posited that if we were to remove the writings of authors who shared visions or dreams we would have to take out Moses' writings because of the voice by the bush and on the mountain (so that takes out Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy). Then Paul had that road to Damascus experience, so that takes out most of the New Testament. John penned Revelation so we should take out that book and his writings. Daniel had the end times vision, so that takes out his book. Obviously the prophets must have had had "issues", so that takes out most of the Old Testament.

Plus there are all the books that were removed during the Reformation or dismissed by the early church...

Sola scripture stands as an argument only when the texts are not edited. Proof of willingness to edit the bible or tailor studies to avoid vexatious issues that might undermine one's credibility void the sola scripture position. And the proof of editing exists, and so therefore the "sola scripture" position has no credibility.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 6:32pm BST

I disobey in good conscience – and with a grateful good heart, giving thanks to Jesus - these plain readings of anti-women rules or commandments in the New Testament. (Or the Old Testament.)

Why?

Well I have good common sense reasons for doing so. I do not easily lay upon any woman a definition or a burden that involves denying her a citizen’s access to equal resources and opportunities. I’m a brother citizen in a modern democracy. That is a blessing of my fate and my calling. I accept democracy as God’s gift to me an a citizen, and thus I should be careful not to use it to abuse any others. I do not easily lay upon any woman any reading of scripture which common sense discernment and good science informs me is probably more ancient near eastern misunderstanding of women, than it is empirically true and final. This means that I doubt any reading of any scripture which otherwise counsels me to do something untoward to any other human, no matter how plainly that reading seems to be written from a certain point of view. I cannot discern one piece of scripture apart from the rest, and the fact is that all readings of scripture end up having to choose – as prayerfully and ethically as possible – between rival rules and commandments, between legalisms and spirit, between Mosaic Law and Prophets, between treating my neighbor as myself and having some allegedly God-given advantage over them in housing, work, economics, and so forth. I cannot discern the place and role of women without listening seriously to any and all women involved in how it might go, this way or that.

The blessing simply is: I do not have to keep women down, in their traditional historic place, because their place is in Christ just like my own is as a man. We are all baptized with the same baptism, and we are all joint heirs with Christ of the great riches of God.

The majority of the believing communities is no more automatically right about keeping women down, than it has turned out to be in connection with flat earth theory and a Ptolemaic Cosmos, or about slavery and the subjegation of people of color to Anglos/Euros, or about any number of other things in which the majority traditional views were eventually proved unwise, and just wrong. What a mistake to pledge that anatomy and physiology somehow condition the sacrament of Baptism. The same God who blesses women who serve in altar guilds also blesses (and calls) women who serve somewhere else in either the world or the churches.

When I test this approach a bit in church and world, it yields much nourishment. And it gracefully sidesteps the corners into which your approach so quickly paints my thinking. You will pledge as you see best, of course. I have left your paradigm, because it promises me to do bad things to other people - just because they are women, or because they are people of color, or because they are unbelievers, or because they - well fill in the blank with anything you like, actually. This approach to following Jesus looks way too much like Wahabbi Islam for me to accept its claims that it alone possesses the final take on simply everything possible in church or world.

The same women who regularly make such good mothers and good life partners, also make wonderful priests or bishops or even archbishops. Just as they have made good attorneys, doctors, professors, scientists, and friends – for so many good years now. Thank goodness. Thank God.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 8:07pm BST

Göran Koch-Swahne: "None of the 3 "proofs" signature "Andy" provides has anything to do with the Apostle Paul.
Instead they were written much later by the circle of the Pastoral letters, probably old Polycarp's boys at Smyrna."

If you don't accept Paul's authorship and the canonicity of 1Corinthians or 1 Timothy, then its not surprising that you view things that are not written about elsewhere in scripture as a matter of liberty.

Of course, that does mean you deny at least one of the 39 articles, Article VI:

"...In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
...
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical."

Please also read the Wikipedia article on 1Corinthians at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1_Corinthians

To quote: "It is one of the core group of Pauline epistles whose authenticity has never seriously been questioned."


Göran Koch-Swahne: "Also it would be helpful, if signature "Andy" told us which translation he is using; that is; that signature "Andy" showed an awarness of the great philosophical/theological/ecclesiological/socio-political liberties taken by translators - not least late-modern ones."

It was either KJV or ASV(1901). But why should it matter to you? You don't accept that any of the verses were written by Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Posted by Andy at Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 10:34pm BST

drdanfee: "I disobey in good conscience – and with a grateful good heart, giving thanks to Jesus - these plain readings of anti-women rules or commandments in the New Testament. (Or the Old Testament.)"

1John 2v3-4 (ASV 1901): "[3] And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. [4] He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

There are no "anti-women" commandments in the NT. Prohibiting women from certain roles in the church is no more "anti-women" than prohibiting adultery is "anti-hetrosexual".

drdanfee: "Why? Well I have good common sense reasons for doing so. [...] I do not easily lay upon any woman any reading of scripture which common sense discernment and good science informs me is probably more ancient near eastern misunderstanding of women, than it is empirically true and final. [...]"

That's a very interesting hermenutic you have: Your judgement on what in the bible was "ancient near eastern misunderstanding" rather than the Word Of God tells you how to interpret scripture. Perhaps what God really meant, when He gave us 1John4 was "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments (unless you judge that My Apostles are just speaking for themselves and showing their 'ancient near eastern misunderstanding'), is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

drdanfee: "...I do not have to keep women down...The majority of the believing communities is no more automatically right about keeping women down..."

Keeping the commandments of God is not "keeping women down". It is raising them up.

drdanfee: "The same women who regularly make such good mothers and good life partners, also make wonderful priests or bishops or even archbishops."

They cannot for me, since it would mean that by taking up those positions, they have broken, and habitually, unrepentantly continue to break the commandments of God.

1John 2v3-4 (ASV 1901): "[3] And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. [4] He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

Posted by Andy at Sunday, 21 May 2006 at 1:32pm BST

Dear Andy,

As a Lutheran I am not "bound" by the XXXIX articles. Most of them are very good, some of them are far too Calvinist to be considered ;=)

Lutherans do not adhere to the Indo-European error of a Sufficiency and Harmony of a Holy Scripture fallen from the skies.

The Good Book consists of holy scriptures in the plural: the writs of the holy Prophets, the holy Evangelists and the holy Apostles.

""...In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church."

Oh, dear, oh dear... Taken seriously, this would leave out most everything in the New Testament, apart from the 4 Gospels and the authentic letters of Paul ;=)

Hebrews would go, the Pastorals would go, the Catholic letters of Alexandria would go, the Johannine corpus would go...

But do check The New Jerome, page 811!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 21 May 2006 at 3:25pm BST

Hebrews 9:25-26 Nor did Christ "... enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself."

I loved dradanfee's postings because he demonstrates that he seeks to apply the intent of the law through faith and trusting in the grace of God for compassion and forgiveness. Faith existed and was affirmed by God before the Law (see Hebrews 11) and Jesus' sacrifice was to re-affirm and restore the role of faith (See Hebrews 7). For living by the Law alone is an unbearable burden for all but the self-righteous, who then stand comdemned by their complacency (e.g. Luke 11:39-54, Proverbs 1, Zechariah 1:10-16).

Further, if the parties who refuse to countenance tolerance to women's voices or homosexuals or support forms of repression insist that what they do is through the full letter of the law then the must live by the full letter of the law. That means they must renounce usury, reinstate the return of property every seven years, with a jubilee year every 50 years where all souls are set free to return to their own. If they are not prepared to live by the full letter of the Law, then they have no right to impose on others what they are not prepared to do themselves.

Finally, at one point someone commented about how many Christians agreed with their interpretation. Blessed are those who do not know what they do and trust in their teachers. Condemned are their teachers who abuse the law to garnish kudos for themselves and support unjust systems with no vision or hope of reforms (see Obadiah and Luke 11:39-54). Protests based on quantities are irrelevant, as we saw in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, it mattered not that most citizens were comfortable with their conduct.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 22 May 2006 at 10:04am BST

I doubt that my views are convincing to many conservatives who more or less share Andy's views. Any more than his proof texting approach convinces me.

I am really nonplussed by the ways that conformed, tone-deaf absolutes and fervent, heartfelt conviction is supposed to trump carefulness in our discussion of so many different topics. Saying that the scriptures contain all things we need to get started in following Jesus - a la revered Anglican divine Richard Hooker - is in no way saying that scriptures overtly or even implicitly contain all modern biology, psychology, sociology, or cosmology. (Or else scriptures cannot be true? Or else scriptures cannot be a reliable witness to Jesus as Risen Lord?) Yet this is the package intellectual deal we are basically offered in too many conservative approaches to following Jesus. It is much, much more many-sided and complicated that this frame allows. So we constantly inquire together. So we discuss. So we try to remain provisional and open-ended.

At the very least, God is as much at work nowadays through new data in science as God is at work through scripture. God is as much at work nowadays in how we may correct this or that error of past unjust belief or practice (in housing, economics, political life, and other domains), as God was at work in the life and writings of Saint Paul or Dr. Aquinas. The position which claims that I have to find my modern biology, psychology, sociology, or cosmology written into my scriptures is actually urging a very small view of God upon me. Trying to find everything important in scripture actually mistakes scripture. Even trivializes scripture.

Typically, the Either/Or framework we get offered in these sorts of new conservative package deals is false from its start. In between making scripture an absolute, final authority of just the sort that modern conservatives are now urging upon us all without exception, and having no scriptural authority whatsoever - ??? is ??? - the plural, multiple efforts of complex discernment now going on inside various Christian communities across the spectrums of life and understanding. The intellectual problems that stem from always starting with mistaken conservative Either/Or frames are obvious to common sense. I don't put up with this sort of marketing Either/Or when I buy things in the modern consumer marketplace. I know this Either/Or as a modern clue to the marketing pressures that are about to be applied to me, so that I will get all hyped up and buy somebody's product before I have had much of a chance to read the consumer reports from people who tried to use it in daily life. So I know what is happening, do I not? Why am I supposed to be so completely bowled over when a conservative believers adopts this same, pressured buy-it-now-or-else Either/Or as a final, absolute framework for following Jesus?

We are farther removed from the ancient near east than we may realize in the 21st century. To get a starting sense of these differences, all that's needed is a glance at the sorts of things Michael Joseph Brown discusses in his intro book on Bible studies (Westminster John Knox Press, 2000) or that Bruce J. Malina & Richard Rohrback discuss in their books on social science and the scriptures ( Westminster John Knox, and Fortress Presses.)

Maybe our way forward is for us to maybe agree to disagree, and see whether we might have undiscovered common, provisional grounds in at least three other areas. (1) common grounds in another area of belief or doctrine. (2) common grounds in a domain of service to heal the planet. (3) common grounds in being challenged together by joining seriously in the life of the oppressed.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 22 May 2006 at 5:25pm BST

Dear drdanfee, I think I agree with nearly every statement you made in your last post about things being complex, times having changed,knowledge having advanced etc etc. Despite being in the evangelical wing, and affirming the "divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God—fully trustworthy for faith and conduct" I certainly don't think that "Scripture is verbally God-given and without error or fault".

I hope that all Thinking Anglicans know that both the New and Old Testaments were formed over a period of time, that certain books were included or excluded in the Canon after much debate, and that the contents of many books appears to have been edited before arriving at the versions that we have today. However, to me that does not undermine the unique authoritative position of the Scriptures and the New Testament in particular. In fact it strengthens it's position as a true and studied reflection of the best historical and spiritual documentation of original Christianity.

Now as my aim is to know and trust in Jesus Christ, and follow His teachings, I am pretty well compelled to base my faith and conduct on the New Testament ! What can be more authoritative ?

The Gospels, Epistles etc were written in and to a context, so that allows me some flexibility where the circumstances are not the same (as I would argue regarding women in leadership, the interest Cheryl recieves on her savings, and my favourite seafood meals) but where they are the same (eg people sexually desiring people of the same sex) it becomes very difficult to just say that the NT writings are "wrong" on issue that touch faith and conduct.. However, "Meaning something different from what we mean today" would justify a change, so then evangelical TA's start looking to see what the general understanding of the surrounding issues, and similar teachings, in the Bible to see what the "consistent witness of Scripture" is. That is where the women leaders issue and the same-sex sex issue differ - women having been Judges, Prophets and church leaders in Bible times.

Of course, there are even more important issues (but one issue does not completely set aside any other). For instance if it were proved that Jesus Christ was not divine, or that He did not die and rise again, or even that people are not actually sinful and in need of sacrificial redemption, then it would not just alter Christianity for me, it would destroy it. Such alternative propositions are virtually impossible to prove of course! However, I think that many "liberals" have accepted them and this has lead them into a sort of faith-death, ending up at plain old humanist universalism, the rejection of any absolute concept of "God".

Posted by Dave at Monday, 22 May 2006 at 10:13pm BST

drdanfee

I agree with you that we are making absolutely no inroads with the conservatives. Even the Lambeth commitment to listening has no hope of gaining reconciliation; for when these people hear the stories of abuse to homosexuals or women, they hear proof that God is punishing us for our sinfulness. The greater our suffering simply proves how angry their God is with us.

I also agree with your last posting that there is misrepresentation of the bible, especially when one claims that all one needs to know can be found in the bible. My favourite refutation example is the construction of Noah's Ark (Genesis 6:14-16). The bible tells you the dimensions of the ark and what it is to be made out of, but it doesn't tell you where or how to source the materials. Nor does it tell you what tools or techniques to use. I could not construct an ark out of the words in the bible.

My understanding is that the bible is a handbook for helping humanity (as individuals and collectively) to reconcile our consciousnesses back to God. The rewards are loving and compassionate lives in just and sustainable communities that cohabitate and cooperate with their neighbours. In this understanding the bible is timeless; for our human needs for food, shelter, reproduction, companionship and actualisation have not changed; merely the methods and understandings of how that might be possible have evolved.

I can not help but contemplate that those who live by the Law will die by the Law (see Galations 1-3).

As an aside, while God might have hardened the conservative Anglicans' hearts to the degree of the Pharoah, I can not help but delight that God is still moving outside the communion (e.g. recent initiatives including interfaith dialogues by WCC, OIC, Christian Aid agencies, Catholics and others). It is like God is undertaking heart bypass surgery. While some souls have sought to block the only doorway to Zion (thus discrediting their ministry 2 Corinthians 6:3); God is raising up highways and turning wastelands into pasture so that souls can find alternative routes back to God.

Souls would be wise to remember how jealous God is for Zion and Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:14-17), and God can and will dissolve the walls to Zion (Zechariah 2:1-5). Entrance will not come through the hating priestly castes but souls with love and compassion will find their way, bypassing hateful obstacles like water flowing around or over stones in a river. Nor will the walls collapse suddenly, but it will be a gentle diffusion to allow souls to find the light of Zion as their consciousnesses evolve in love and compassion.

All of this comes from the Father, so if any have issue they should take it up with the Father. The one thing they can not change is that we must all shed our earthly vessels at some point. Winning the victory through suppression and misrepresentation does not change who sent us and there will be an accounting for all who refuse to recognise God's servants, either in this lifetime or in the next.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 22 May 2006 at 10:42pm BST

Translations, Dave, translations.

Take half a dozen of them and compare! Carefully.

The 6 NT clobber verses on women (1 Cor 11:4-7, 10, 13-16, 1 Cor 14:34-35, Eph 5:1-20, 24, 31, Col 3:18-4:1, 1 Tim 2:8-3:15, Tit 2:1-10, 1 Peter 2:11-3:9) are both absolutely "univocal" and "consistent" - but they are also 2nd century pseudo-epigrapha, witnessing to the influence of Indo-European philosophy on Alexandrian academics, Heathen or no.

The other 6 2nd Millennium clobber verses are consistent and univocal only in some "translations" post 1965.

It takes time to "harmonize".

Also, and not least, in their un-manipulated selves they adress o t h e r issues ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 23 May 2006 at 9:51am BST

Dear Dave,
I think we significantly disagree on religious authority. Duh. Forgive me for stating the obvious.

I cannot see that scripture is any sort of sole authority, as indispensable as sciprture is. I obviously include empirical data as a second indispensable authority, because the Copernicus Lesson teaches me, not only that the solar system exists, but that I probably cannot find my modern biology, psychology, sociology, and even all possible aspects of my ethics, written exactly and clearly in scripture. Loosely taken, the classic Anglican three-legged stool is a good start, requiring me to read scripture, attend to traditions ancient and modern, and always apply reason.

None of these proximate religious authorities is capable of making my views infallible, and thus I must ever be willing to learn from my mistakes.

I understand something of your alternative view, especially as regards offering scripture a high and singular position that sounds like it becomes the sole authority, really. But I disagree with that approach for many more reasons that I can discuss in a blog post.

Again, your remarks seem to presume just the controlling and definitive Either/Or frame that I find inadequate.

So far as your brief contrasts between being able to change your views of women in leadership, and gays; I would disagree, too. If you are going to admit the key role that a contextual reading of scripture plays in discerning womens' places in world and church, you probably have to be equally consistent in admitting context when you read about same sex acts in scripture. Crucially, the contexts within which scripture mentions same sex acts are almost universally negative: cult sex worship in pagan religions mainly, and some sexual assaults. Clearly, although we are much removed from knowing all the details, same sex acts in these passages are being used to humiliate and demean people (typically subjegated males who are being made just like women). I find it curious to insist that the notion, just like inferior women, can be rethought because the ancient context presumes a truth we find in error; while the rest of the notion, subjegated/violated males, cannot be rethought, too. None of these scriptural contexts for same sex acts is all that relevant to any ethical discernment of same sex acts in our era. It you test your strategy to temporarily shifting it to opposite sexed acts, then you would conclude that all heterosexuals are rapists, and define heterosexuality accordingly.

The fact remains: No heterosexual person expects to find the core meanings of their sexual orientation authoritatively derived from any text which is about either pagan sex worship, or sexual assaults. Okay, ditto for gay sex, then. By and large, it is as good or bad as straight sex.

That does not answer all our ethical or discernment questions, but it pretty much overturns the received negative notion you still read in your scriptures.

Now we are just starting to get clear that sexual orientation variance exists in human nature; despite culture records having known about same sex acts for many past centuries. Yet our provisional grounds for rethinking will probably shift again, soon, as new news about sexuality and human nature shifts things again when the New Biology trickles down. The rollercoaster of data is off and running.

Another place we probably disagree in your mention of an exclusively Penal Model for understanding Jesus and Atonement. I'm not finished rethinking my own views of Atonement, but I am pretty clear so far that I disagree almost completely with all aspects of the Penal Model that is being urged these days as the sole meaning of Jesus' incarnation and ministry. The alternatives? Well, we can start, just start, looking at atonement in other perspectives, maybe using Father James Alison's remarks (plus). See: http://jamesalison.co.uk/eng11.html

The point of discernment, then, is not to discern some final, absolute understanding of what God wants, once and for all. That would be entirely too easy. Our data is changing too fast to build holy temples of final glory to anything we currently understand - about ourselves, about our cosmos. Our own real history presents me with way too many examples of just how Not to read scripture - and what all of those readings have in common is that they claimed to be final, absolute religious revelation - enacting just the model of scriptural authority you seem to still prize as the royal road to infallible faith. Ah, no thanks, way too sure of itself and likely to get proven wrong just when it is most sure of itself. Why should I define following Jesus as just the sort of pledge that requires me to ignore any mistakes I might make in reading scripture, and commands me to refuse to change for the better?

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 23 May 2006 at 3:27pm BST

So, to summarize:

drdanfee agrees that the commandments on women are clear and plain, but he chooses to disobey them.

Göran Koch-Swahne, thinks that at least parts of 1Cor, Eph, Col, 1Tim, Tit & 1Pet are "2nd century pseudo-epigrapha, witnessing to the influence of Indo-European philosophy on Alexandrian academics" and hence sees fit to ignore those commandments.

Cheryl says that liberals are extending God's covenant and so disolving those commandments.

Dave thinks that those commandments can be "interpreted" specifically in relation to the 1st century, but accepts that there are others who interpret them differently.

Posted by Andy at Tuesday, 23 May 2006 at 4:30pm BST

Andy

I am taking Jesus' teachings to their logical conclusion, and my guilt is no more than Jesus who taught to us look at the intent of the Mosaic law.

Nor do I rely on aboslute sciptural authority and then delete books and passages to suit my theological arguments. For example the NIV version has a counting problem and is missing Acts 8:37.

And examples of bald statements without reference to the relevant scriptural passages include the bishop in charge of my parish announcing February 2005 that souls who claim to hear words from God through the Holy Spirit are delusional and/or insane, con artists, or an agent for the "evil one". Or my minister who less than two months announced in a sermon that no one in my parish has ever met Jesus in the flesh, nor will they ever meet Jesus in the flesh, because Jesus only now works through Spirit. So anyone who says they have met Jesus in the flesh is an outright liar... (I'd like to know which scriptural passage records Jesus' edict that he would or could no longer appear in the flesh after demonstrating this ability to doubting Thomas!) But when one is part of the correct sola scriptural authority, references to actual biblical text aren't required, are they?

Goran, I loved your last posting and felt guilty that I was going to add to it (however, praise be to God other souls jumped in and saved me that precedent).

Three curve balls thrown via the internet in the last day.

Firstly, the Catholic Pope commenting that the vow of chastity or consecrated virginity, "is the most 'unreasonable' of the Christian paradoxes, and not everyone is able to understand it and live it." See: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0602954.htm

Just because the irony is delightful, Irene Khan from Sydney Amnesty International (AI) has just been awarded the Sydney Peace prize (the only peace prize currently available within Australia) and the latest AI report comments that the level of violence against women in Australia (particularly indiginous women) is still unacceptably high. See: http://www.amnesty.org.au/about/amnesty_international_report_2006 For those trying to convince those of Eastern traditions that the bible is worth a read, this is a lovely case study. The irony of these things happening in Sydney would be an "I told you so" for those who believe in consequence. One of my humorous ponderings in the last few days is that God probably understands dynamic of action-reaction, which is probably why major spiritual breakthroughs happen in particularly difficult times. Biblical passages that would support this theory include: Ecclesiastes 7:8 "...The man who fears God will avoid all extremes". Psalm 110 (ruling in the midst of one's enemies counterbalances the two extremes).

This gem came up on Algemeiner overnight http://www.algemeiner.com/generic.asp?ID=288 and alludes to imagery of wasteland/desert and pastures, and why God had the Torah written in exile in a desert to give the bible a sublime transcendance because: "A desert is not associated with any particular culture or form of living." Some of the biblical imagery and implications were new to me so I thought others might find it interesting too, and they linked into some of the earlier imagery on this thread.

And on a personal note, in the late 1980s when God told me that I had to twiddle my thumbs for decade or so, He used the threat that if I did not move with as much force to the best of my abilities then He would remove my children and all their descendants from His Book of Life. No soul apart from God can add or subract from that book, so I bow to no one but God. My hatred of those who have tried to suffocate these works to preserve their power base is intense, because I know how much God has done to help me and there is no way that a meeker soul without that kind of backup could have stood against these bullies. Thus I have nicknamed the bullies the bungling midwives - who fail to recognise the signs of prophetic pregnancy, are useless during the delivery process, attempt to suffocate the baby at birth, try to "break" the mother and deny the existence of the child, and then attempt to whitewash over their sins.

If I was in suitable publicity packaging and a weak willed woman they would be parading me to rubber stamp their paradigms. But I am not. Further, I made a decision early last year that if God was going to back me up that I was not going to do an "Imelda Marcos" and seek to save myself and brag over God's rewards. If God had chosen to do this for me, then I was not prepared to accept redemption unless hope was also offered to my fellow "unworthies". I was grateful that God was using someone who was not particularly attractive, rich, powerful, influential, intelligent and who had suffered her share of rejection, fallabilities, illnesses and abuse; because it gave hope for the "average" and not just those who could use their "specialness" leaving behind their less fortunate brothers and sisters.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 24 May 2006 at 8:30am BST

I've found myself contemplating the question of passing judgment & questioning God's fairness. I think Ezekiel must have had to deal with this issue too. See Ezekiel 18 and God's comment "I will judge you, each one according to his ways" (Eze 18:30).

To extrapolate: if a soul lives by the Law, it is judged by the Law. If a soul lives by faith, it is judged by faith. If a soul judges without compassion it will be judged without compassion. If a soul offers grace and hospitality, a soul will be offered grace and hospitality.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 24 May 2006 at 11:22am BST

Acts 8:37 is a Byzantine gloss and was removed from the translation here in 1917.

The 2000 translation doesn't even comment on this, as did the 2 previous ones (1917 and 1981).

I think they should.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 24 May 2006 at 4:39pm BST
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