Comments: Women bishops - further reactions to Monday's vote

How interesting that one of the letters in the Telegraph asks, "How is it if the Holy Spirit made HIS mind up in 2012 "he" now appears to have changed it this week". In my Church many of the Nigerian women commented after the failed vote in 2012 that it was the working of the Holy Spirit because the legislation was so discriminatory(something they know a great deal about) and that something far better will come along next time. Which it has. Also I thought the Holy Spirit was usually referred to as SHE - Sophia, Wisdom - for example.

Posted by sally Barnes at Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 11:25am BST

John Spence's speech is the only sermon that will be used in my churches this sunday.

Does anyone have a transcript?

Posted by andrew Dotchin at Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 11:46am BST

To Ruth McCurry I would say we have all had to compromise on this one, some more than others. The organisation she chairs should now be kicked into the long grass! There is no further need for it, after the Church of England has reached a degree of compromise and consensus.

Posted by Benedict at Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 1:26pm BST

I was very torn about the last vote - because it seemed to be a question of 'accept inequality for female bishops or nothing'. I think. like many ordained women, the distress I felt after that vote was not so much about the motion falling as the awful tone of the debate when speaker after speaker stood up to assert their belief that women couldn't be ordained at any level. It felt as if the debate on a particular piece of enabling legislation had been allowed to become an attack on my existence as an ordained person - I say "my" because it felt so personal, and I know it did to many other people as well.

After the event, I did feel that it would have been a mis-step to pass yet more laws which legitimised the unequal treatment of women. Maybe this was a case of "God hardening Pharaoh's heart" to propel Synod into what was clearly a painful and costly reconsideration not just of the issue in hand but of the way the decision had been made?

Posted by Pam Smith at Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 1:37pm BST

Sally, the Holy Spirit is 'usually' referred to as she only on Thinking Anglicans. The church globally, historically and cross-denominationally has always followed Jesus' lead in John 14 and 16 by calling the Spirit he. The fact wisdom and spirit are both feminine nouns in Greek and Hebrew doesn't make the thing described a she. After all, the German word for girl is a neuter noun!

Posted by NJ at Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 7:19pm BST

I avoid the whole gender problem by simply never using pronouns when discussing the Holy Spirit.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 10:09pm BST

"The church globally, historically and cross-denominationally has always followed Jesus' lead in John 14 and 16 by calling the Spirit he."

Sure that's actually what Jesus said? After translations of translations of notes from remembered conversations? Messianic Jews don't understand it that way. Aramaic doesn't understand it that way. Your still trying to make God male, in the image of Man, huh? If God has only male principal, then He would be barren.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 8:14am BST

The simple fact is, you no longer have the argument on your side, Church!

"Always and everywhere" may've been fine when first pronounced, but we know, now, that "always and everywhere" can be "always and everywhere wrong and bigoted." We *know* this. So, if you want to advance traditionalist arguments, you've got to do better. The massive abuses of traditionalist religion for centuries means that it only has credibility for those who profit from it, in some way. The weak, angry cry of "following the secular culture!" is rendered foolish by the realities of the church having been wrong again and again and again and again, and trying to dismiss past wrong-doing as inapplicable by ridiculous and self-parodying feats of mental gymnastics with the label "theology" slapped on it.

Traditionalists have to do better, or simply accept the label of mere prejudice. The whole church has to do better and stop worrying about its internal dynamic, because it's failing from navel-gazing. At this point, cries for "doing the theology" are laughable, a clear sign that the "church" wants to make itself special, apart from humanity, better, faster, blah, blah, blah - which is the surest way to be nothing by trying to become greater than the Master. Worse, it shows a desperate attempt to appease (and keep their numbers, physically and financially) a group of people who, whatever their claims or even their reality, are not viewed by most as good people of conviction but as fearful, hateful, and selfish.

There's the realities of the modern church for you. We aren't special, anymore. Praise God for that!

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 8:26am BST

"Sally, the Holy Spirit is 'usually' referred to as she only on Thinking Anglicans."

Not true. There's a lot of reference to the Holy Spirit as she in TEC. I believe I heard it elsewhere too, like on Iona. I'm wondering about the NZ Prayer Book?

It isn't just Thinking Anglicans. In the US, when we're reciting the Creed, you will hear plenty of people replace "he" with "she." It is a grassroots movement of conscience.

There is a fair amount of feminine imagery for God in the OT and it is well worth including.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 10:15am BST

No the Church has not universally used male pronouns for the Holy Spirit - the East Syrian tradition used female pronouns etc for some time in antiquity.

Posted by Charles Read at Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 11:12am BST

Mark Brunson's tirade of abuse is most unhelpful. I am still trying to work out what he is actually saying?

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 5:26pm BST

"rushed through to *ameliorate* those who were opposed"??

In what way, precisely, would the Act of Synod be imagined to *improve* opponents to women's ordination?

Posted by Alan T Perry at Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 7:43pm BST

Whether or not one wishes to use a feminine pronoun for the God the Holy Spirit, it is important to note that Sophia, Wisdom, is not a name for the God the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, but rather for the Second, God the Son. Hebrew Hokmah and Greek Sophia are both involved in the conceptual package of Logos, and the great church of Haghia Sophia was dedicated to Christ as the Incarnate Holy Wisdom of God: its patronal festival was December 25.

Posted by 4 May 1535 at Friday, 18 July 2014 at 10:54am BST
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