Comments: Rod Thomas to be Bishop of Maidstone

I am rather surprised to see that someone who appears to be on the Executive Committee of the Anglican Mission in England has been appointed as a bishop. AMiE's focus includes 'Providing support for God’s people standing for the Christian faith in their diocese, especially where many within the institution have abandoned biblical and revealed truth' and 'Providing faithful leadership to God’s people in promoting and defending the Christian faith, especially where bishops who preside over doctrinal disorder lose the confidence of orthodox clergy and congregations.' However if he is willing to pledge loyalty to the Church of England and work with, rather than undermine, fellow-bishops, this is to be welcomed.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 10:49am BST

So the mantle of Wallace falls upon Rod.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 11:21am BST

Lest anyone doubt the AMiE connection it is on this page

https://anglicanmissioninengland.org/about/executive-committee

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 12:07pm BST

Another nail in the coffin of the Church of England's credibility. I am ashamed to belong to a Church which embraces such ludicrous notions as male headship which adds to us being a laughing-stock.

Posted by FrDavidH at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 12:51pm BST

We do see a lot of 'typical church madness', but this is so far beyond that. Unless Rod intends to renounce AMiE/GAFCON?

Posted by DBD at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 2:00pm BST

Can we, therefore, assume that in his desire to make the declarations of canonical obedience in good faith, Rod Thomas will be resigning all links with AMiE - and be made to do so by the Archbishop of Canterbury? Otherwise, we can only infer that AMiE is being afforded full legitimacy from the top.

By the way (and at the risk of speaking too soon), things are very quiet in the Bishopthorpe direction these days. Any idea why? It is rather unsettling - even if it is welcome.

Posted by James A at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 2:03pm BST

What?!

Posted by Jonathan Jennings at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 2:05pm BST

"...given his potentially wide geographical remit, he will not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury." Well, there's a surprise! I couldn't see Rod Thomas and +Trevor Dover being easy bed-fellows - let alone wide acceptance for his views among the majority of parishes in the Diocese. This is not like Burnley, where the Diocese of Blackburn actively petitioned for a traditionalist suffragan.

Posted by Will Richards at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 2:11pm BST

Maybe it is an attempt to get AMiE back on board the good ship C of E and the Anglican Communion's flotilla?

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 2:24pm BST

Maybe it is an attempt to get AMiE back on board the good ship C of E and the Anglican Communion's flotilla?

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 2:24pm BST

might this actually be a subtle move, forcing him and his friends to choose? Just speculating.

Posted by iain mclean at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 2:30pm BST

Many prayers for him and his parish as he prepares for ordination and consecration as a bishop in the Church of God.

Posted by Richard at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 3:01pm BST

FrDavidH: male headship is hardly an implausible interpretation of several New Testament passages. If you don’t find the New Testament ‘ludicrous’, then surely you shouldn’t think of male headship as ludicrous (even if you do think that it’s incorrect and causes unnecessary offence).

Posted by Ronald Collinson at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 3:06pm BST

Those of us who believed, on theological and scriptural grounds, that the exercise of ministry at all levels should include women and men have got what we longed for and prayed for. This has been done (despite the 2012 difficulties) in a way which preserved a remarkable degree of unity.

There is still of course a way to go, particularly in encouraging and preparing the right people of both genders to consider senior posts. But to achieve the twin goal of an gender-open episcopate and the greatest degree of unity possible, the presence of 4 out of 110-odd bishops who disagree with the consecration of women to care for those clergy and congregations who similarly disagree doesn't seem disproportionate. The selection of these 4 on the basis that the whole range of theological positions in the church (even though these are views I deeply disagree with) should be reflected in its episcopate doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Posted by Philip Hobday at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 4:00pm BST

Rod Thomas’s specific duties as Bishop of Maidstone will include: fostering vocations from those taking a conservative evangelical position on headship; undertaking 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 being available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.

I honestly don't understand how this helps anyone. The ConEvos' (as I understand it) objection is to any woman occupying a position of leadership over men. A bishop presumably exercises leadership over their diocese all the time - deciding areas for mission, direction of church growth, fostering vocations, deciding how to spend funds, voting in the House of Lords, voting at Synod, etc. not just at specific occasions.

How on earth can having a special pro-female-submission bishop step in at key points help with that?

I understand it (though I disagree) when it's a question of valid sacraments, because you just have to have a valid bishop there to celebrate. When it's not a question of sacraments but of church order, you can't have an 'alternative' bishop, can you?

Posted by @mellowdramatic at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 4:42pm BST

One human owning another human as property is also "hardly an implausible interpretation of several New Testament passages" (e.g., 1 Cor. 7:21, Eph. 6:5, Col. 3:22, Tit. 2:9, 1 Pet. 2:18).

If one doesn't "find the New Testament ‘ludicrous,'" does that mean that "surely [one] shouldn't think of [slavery] as ludicrous" as well?

But I really can't imagine any Christian today justifying slavery as acceptable under Christian doctrine today. But as recently as 150 years ago, books were published justifying slavery on those grounds, even arguing that slavery was a good, even mandatory, institution under Biblical interpretation.

Why is one view "ludicrous" now and the other not? And how does one draw the difference?

If people want to justify male headship, they're going to have to do a lot better than simply arguing that there are passages in the New Testament that justify that position.

Posted by r.primrose at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 5:37pm BST

The statement by the Chairman of AMiE, Justin Mote, elsewhere on Thinking Anglicans is not reassuring. This states that 'AMiE exists to promote gospel growth by supporting Anglican churches and individuals both within and outside present Church of England structures. No one is more committed to that task than Rod Thomas.' This seems to point to a ministry based on the notion that 'Anglicans' in England should be free to disregard their own diocesan bishops, deny the legitimacy of clergy and congregations with more inclusive views and set up alternative structures if others do not bow to their will. This is a novel interpretation of the role of a bishop.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 6:52pm BST

What's quite interesting is to observe the body language in the two photos I've seen of Justin and Rod (on the Lambeth Palace PR and the Telegraph article). Says a lot more than words.

Posted by DBD at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 7:25pm BST

"Maybe it is an attempt to get AMiE back on board the good ship C of E and the Anglican Communion's flotilla?"

It does rather depend on whether the new ship is joining the flotilla or firing on it...

Posted by Richard at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 8:24pm BST

Thank you, r.primrose!!!

As I understand recent changes to British law on royal succession, at some future point, a woman could become Queen of England, without waiting for the men ahead of her to die off, be defenestrated, abdicate, etc. She can simply step into the role. The English monarchy has been in existence, more or less, for 1,000 years or so. If the people of England, through their representatives, chucked male headship overboard for the monarchy, why is it still fit for the CofE to even consider?
It's positively medieval. I don't think preserving Middle Ages cathedrals means we have to preserve the Middle Ages mindset as well.
The late former PM Margaret Thatcher had to fight "good ol' boys" throughout her political career, just to be able to pursue that career. I didn't like her politics, but there was no doubt about her competency to perform the job.
To paraphrase the book of Genesis, "And God created humans in God's own image. In the image of God, God created them. Male and female God created them."
I think the logical progression is absolute.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 8:31pm BST

This is an expected appointment and, although many might wish that it had not been necessary, it does honour the arrangements and is consonant with the Bishops' Declaration et al so far as this part of the Church is concerned. Having ConEvos in the tent is much to be preferred. Unity, of the CofE kind, matters. However, the issue going forward now is not 'headship' but how the Church might respond to the outcome of the Shared Conversations. The status quo (in terms of the Church's understanding of issues in sexuality) is unlikely to prevail for more than a few years. The next test is how we keep the ConEvos (and some Catholics) in the tent at that point and wrestle with the status quo modified. The experience to be derived through this appointment can only assist.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 10:25pm BST

Well pointed out DBD. ABC looks somewhat unchuffed.

Posted by ExRevd at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 10:53pm BST

As a non-conservative evangelical, I do wish people would stop using the phrase 'ConEvos'.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 12:00am BST

I'm inclined to say that preserving unity with the members of the CofE who despair at these repeated endorsements of misogyny and homophobia is more important than preserving unity with the bigots. The former won't flounce out in the same way as the latter, but the CofE will be greatly harmed as people slowly drift away. You cannot have, in the long term, a church that both endorses and condemns female leadership. You cannot have, in the long term, a church that both endorses and condemns equal marriage.

Posted by Jo at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 6:27am BST

I'm wondering what exactly DBD is reading into the body language of the ABC and the Bishop designate of Maidstone. I find the setting of the Press Conference announcing the appointment in the Telegraph photograph to be most intriguing as it resembles nothing more than a prison cell.
Presumably the new bishop will have to pay homage to Her Majesty the Queen as she has for the past 63 years been a superb Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, by Law Established.
What does that have to say to us about Headship?

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 7:52am BST

"You cannot have, in the long term, a church that both endorses and condemns female leadership. You cannot have, in the long term, a church that both endorses and condemns equal marriage."

Well said, and it bears repeating.

Conservatives are fighting a rearguard action.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 12:18pm BST

None of the passages you cite mandate or commend slavery; they merely acknowledge that the institution existed, and that even under these conditions slaves should be striving to commend themselves to God. If they have an opportunity to free themselves, they should take it, but otherwise they are not to be troubled by their slave status (1 Corinthians 7:21). Why? Because ‘the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord's freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ's slave.’ (1 Corinthians 7:22). It is far better to be a Christian slave than it is to be a non-Christian at liberty. That doesn’t mean that slavery doesn’t involve terrible hardship, but all suffering is ‘light and momentary’ compared with the ‘eternal weight of glory’ which Christians are to inherit (2 Corinthians 4:17). This is extremely tough, although it’s the same attitude that all Christians are to have – not to love our lives and our comfort, but rather emulate Jesus, who himself submitted to horrific suffering and to death for the sake of all those who trust in him. But nowhere does the New Testament say anything remotely approbatory about slavery (indeed, I think Philemon is being asked – albeit a little coyly – to free Onesimus).

The passages dealing with male headship are of a very different character, and are (at least in English translation) most naturally read as commanding and mandating this practice in all the churches. That doesn’t mean that this is the *correct* interpretation (I have not been able to come to a firm position on this point, myself), and that does matter. But it is certainly not a ludicrous interpretation. And, to the evangelical, that’s ultimately what matters – what does the Word of God say in this situation?

Posted by Ronald Collinson at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 1:21pm BST

"It is far better to be a Christian slave than it is to be a non-Christian at liberty."

St. Paul could be really silly at times.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 3:53pm BST

Re Ronald Collinson, New Testament writers did not have to "mandate or commend" slavery. NT writers accepted slavery, patriarchy, and other social arrangements as normative. As a marginal social group all they did was massage the variables with piety. Slaves obey your masters, wives be subject to your husbands etc. The scripture may be helpful to us to the extent that one is able to distill from the social and cultural context of antiquity values, such as justice, that allow us to bridge the Christian view with that of other people of good will; but if one is looking to build a thoughtful framework in response to oppression then specific passages as proof texts are of no use whatsoever. Even a saying attributed to Jesus has to be critically evaluated. What may have been an applicable insight from Jesus in his context does not resolve the problem of our own integrity in the here and now. Social conservatives go in the opposite direction, attempting to fill their hand with so called "bible truth" in order to shut out evidence based analysis. Evangelicals are caught in a catch-22 of their own making. The notion of "what does the word of God say?" has a flip side. The flip side is the inability to recognize and resource moral and ethical problems that are not found within the horizon of NT writers. Evangelical is an interesting moniker, no? Evangelicals are billed as bearers of good-news. Why is it then that the news that evangelicals in church land carry about usually ends up being bad news for women, gays, Jews, Muslims and the poor?
So often Evangelicals, to pun a children's book, are just the bad news bears.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 5:01pm BST

Ronald Collinson's view on Headship is similar to that which pertains in Saudi Arabia where women are oppressed under Wahhabism. This is also claimed to be God's Word. Although, as Jeremy states, St Paul can be really silly, he was probably correct to state there is no "male or female in Christ". To claim, as Mr Collinson does, that the culture of the First Century must apply to women today is utterly ludicrous.

Posted by FrDavidH at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 5:21pm BST

“None of the passages you cite mandate or commend slavery; they merely acknowledge that the institution existed.” Really? Let’s see if the actual texts support that interpretation:

1 Cor. 7:21 & 24: “Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it.…In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.”

Eph. 6:5: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling.”

Col. 3:22: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.”

Tit. 2:9-10: “Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity.”

1 Pet. 2:18: “Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh.”

These passages don’t “merely acknowledge” slavery. They support it. There’s nothing there that says that slavery is evil, that masters should free their slaves, or that a Christian’s ownership of another human being is an abomination.

Yes, Paul asks Philemon, a Christian slave owner, to free Onesimus, a Christian slave. But that’s because Onesimus has become a “dear brother” to both Paul and Philemon. Paul seeks the freedom of one slave from one master. He does not seek the abolition of slavery as an institution because one Christian owning another Christian as property was evil.

These verses (among others) were used to justify slavery as a divine institution - http://www.kingscollege.net/gbrodie/The%20religious%20justification%20of%20slavery%20before%201830.pdf . And this was not just an American issue. Church of England bishops and institutions owned slaves, a fact that required the General Synod to issue an apology a decade ago - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4694896.stm . Not to mention the fact that in the 18th century, there were 15,000 enslaved Africans in England, who were being publicly bought and sold in the public markets in London - http://archive.churchsociety.org/crossway/documents/Cway_104_AfricanSlavery.pdf .

Posted by dr.primrose at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 6:53pm BST

This decision simply reinforces the Church's irrelevance for most people. That the Church of England is prepared to consecrate misogyny and homophobia makes me ashamed.

Posted by John-Francis Friendship at Wednesday, 6 May 2015 at 6:57pm BST

What a hypocrite!
How can anyone who, we're told, seriously and genuinely believes in Headship agree to being any kind of minister in a church whose Supreme Governor is a woman.
By their fruits...

Posted by J Gibbs at Thursday, 7 May 2015 at 3:06pm BST

Fr David

Only Diocesans do homage

Posted by Simon Bravery at Thursday, 7 May 2015 at 7:59pm BST

Nevertheless, Simon Bravery, as J Gibbs points out, Rod Thomas will be a bishop in an Established Church with a female Head of State, a female Defender of the Faith and a female Supreme Governor of the Church of England. You can't really top that as far as Headship is concerned. No escaping the fact that the Lord's Anointed is a woman, homage or nay,

Posted by Father David at Friday, 8 May 2015 at 12:01pm BST

"Nevertheless, Simon Bravery, as J Gibbs points out, Rod Thomas will be a bishop in an Established Church with a female Head of State, a female Defender of the Faith and a female Supreme Governor of the Church of England. You can't really top that as far as Headship is concerned. No escaping the fact that the Lord's Anointed is a woman, homage or nay".
- Father David -

And there you are, chaps. That's how the Church gets around that problem; by making 'Reform's' Rod Thomas a 'suffragan' - not a diocesan bishop - thereby bypassing the need to swear allegiance to H.M. The Queen, Supreme Governor!

"There are more ways of killing a cat than..."
(Apologies to the RSPCA)

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 11 May 2015 at 10:19am BST

Whilst respecting the positive comments about Rod Thomas made by my good and holy bishop, James Roffen, I too feel that it is wholly unacceptable that he should become a member of the College of Bishops whilst remaining in the senior leadership of AMiE. The fact that no mention has been made of this in the announcements is deeply worrying, and reinforces my fear that our Abps are going to break the Church of England on the wheel of trying to satisfy the GAFCON primates.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Monday, 11 May 2015 at 10:39am BST

Father Ron, I think we need to bear in mind the distinction between paying homage and swearing allegiance to H.M. The Queen. Personally I had not appreciated that only Diocesan and not Suffragan Bishops pay homage on appointment but all clergy of the Established Church swear allegiance to Elizabeth II, Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor. So the Bishop Designate of Maidstone in swearing allegiance to the Queen will in reality be acknowledging Her Majesty"s Headship, under Christ, over the National Church.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 11 May 2015 at 1:54pm BST
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