Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 30 September 2017

The Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal has been published quarterly since March 2017. Issues can be freely downloaded from here. There is some background information here.
The latest issue includes “Some Insights from Church Planting in the Tower Hamlets Deanery of the Diocese of London” by Carol Latimer.

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News The True God and the Real World

Church Times leader comment Taking a knee

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of speaking

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Speaking as a fool for God

Martyn Percy Christian Today Can the Church of England still afford nuance or ambiguity? Some final thoughts on Sir Philip Mawer’s Sheffield review

Richard Peers Quodcumque De-throning the ego: address to the Diocese of Leicester Catholic Societies, Michaelmas 2017

WATCH Ministry Statistics published September 2017

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Susannah Clark
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Thank you, Paul Bayes. I love the term “scandalously human” which, after all, was what Jesus was. Scandalously human, because we are idiosyncratic, we are diverse, we fit awkwardly, we are complex and sometimes contradictory, we are sexual, or we are not sexual, we are each ‘queer’ in our quirks, our generosities, our meannesses. We are unique, and God loves us in our uniqueness, and capable of being and becoming who each of us, uniquely, can be and become, and much loved by a God who dwells in a deeper calmness, an eternal grace, a love, a compassion, an immersion… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Martyn: “There don’t appear to be any significant theological voices from the public sphere (i.e., universities) who are marshalling arguments in favour of (so-called) ‘traditionalist’ convictions. This in itself is telling, and further underlines a pressing problem for organisations like The Society and Forward in Faith. It would seem that this dissenting minority now lacks an intellectual power that would give it significant weight rooted in any theological salience, and might therefore merit any balancing with other competing convictions.” ‘Significant theological voices’… you mean, advocates of a male priesthood don’t exist anywhere in Roman Catholic theology? Personally, I believe that… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Martyn Percy “gets it” deeply, on many levels. What a theologian. I so appreciate that he called out the false equivalencies in the Mawer Report. And questioned what “minority” status really means, lacking power – which describes women and girls who are not accepted as equals in the eyes of God (Percy sticks with women clergy who would not be regarded as real priests). I appreciate his “outing” the Society and FiF for their lack of intellectual rigor. I would go further and call them out for the utter lack of empathy they exhibit for the harm done to women… Read more »

Martyn Percy
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Martyn Percy

Just a few brief comments in reply to Susannah. First, I am not aware of any Anglican theologians currently occupying university posts who would hold to the (so-called) ‘traditionalist’ line on an exclusively male priesthood and episcopate. Likewise, of prominent ‘public intellectuals’ who self-identify as CofE. If they exist, I think we might have heard from them by now. (Of course there are RC’s who do believe in an all-male priesthood and episcopate – that is the current position of their Church. But it is not the position of the CofE). Second, yes, of course the CofE can support individuals… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Predictably, I’m with Susannah on this one: in excluding women from a job on the basis of their sex, the traditional position’s the definition of sexist; but many of those who hold it aren’t, and shouldn’t be marginalized in a broad church. Like Martyn, I agree that equality’s a fundamental principle, but so too is toleration. When equality’s extended beyond equal treatment to demanding right think, not only does it become oppressive, it undermines the very value being defended: equality’s fundamental ’cause we should all be judged on our actions, not who we are, or what we believe. I’ll not… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“I think there’s too much victim culture going on here. Poor aggrieved female priests, who cannot accommodate a non-ordaining bishop. In this difference of theological views, I don’t think it’s women priests who are the victims – notwithstanding the reality of ongoing sexism” – Susannah – Sad, Susannah, that you have this view of women in the Church who have been ordained as priests. In any diocese where there are men who do not believe they (women) should be ordained, they are, indeed, the victims of an institutional prejudice – in a Church that now embraces women clergy as equal… Read more »

Revd Dr Charles Clapham
Guest

“For believing in male-only priesthood does not make someone sexist.” Susannah Clark offers a very generous and empathetic set of comments, as always. And I do appreciate her generous spirit, on this and other issues. But I just can’t agree. Believing in a male-only priesthood is intrinsically sexist. It is the very definition of the word. What else does the word sexist describe if not this kind of discrimination? Not allowing women to vote is sexist. Not thinking women can be good drivers is sexist. Not paying women equal pay, not allowing women to become doctors, not allowing women to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Thanks Martyn – lots to think about and pray about. I’m not pretending I sit comfortably with the views I expressed. However, those are my holding positions at this time. A Church made up of people with diverse, conscientious convictions. The catholic wing of the Church of England is incredibly precious in my opinion, and my instincts urge me to believe that with sufficient love, long-marginalised women could both be pastorally cared for within a diocese and the wider Church, and could in turn care for a ‘non-ordaining’ bishop. I just think that the Church of England should be open… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear Susannah. Perhaps is BECAUSE you are a transgender female that I thought your denial of victimhood – on the grounds of sexual difference -was particularly unsatisfactory. Especially for those of us who are longing for equal treatment of all – regardless of gender or sexual-orientation.

Martyn Percy
Guest
Martyn Percy

A few follow-on comments, if I may. In so doing, I thank Susannah for her considered and gracious comments. In response, just five things to note. First, the extensity of impact in doubting the sacramental efficacy of women priests and bishops goes well beyond the women who fall into this category. It affects their congregations. In fact, it impacts everyone and everything they touch: bread, wine, oil, water, couples, the sick, the dying. If women cannot be agents and mediators of God’s sacramental grace, then all the people and things they touch have no sacramental value. Second, this affects all… Read more »

Sam Norton
Guest

Despite broad sympathy with Martyn Percy’s article, I am uncomfortable with his point about the absence of theological voices (Anglican ones) in favour of the traditional position. A consensus does not mean that truth has been discerned; it can simply mean that the power balance has been such that dissident voices have been silenced. Given the way in which an acceptance of gender differences is now enough to make you banished from polite society (see what happened to James Damore at Google) it is hardly surprising that there aren’t any academics giving a traditional view.

crs
Guest
crs

“Where does it end?”

A Brave New World. Laissez-faire generosity and liberalism v Lockian Liberal Truth “all the way down.”

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Like Susannah, I’m not comfortable with my own views. Just the opposite: by instinct, I’d want every person who supports discrimination on the basis of sex to be denied any provision whatsoever.

Since I believe in principles that disallow such actions, either I junk them, or force myself to support a broad church that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of a person’s beliefs. So I shove the instincts down, hard as it is.

No principle worth holding was ever easy.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Susannah and James, the social science shows your empathy and “tolerance” come at the expense of the well-being of women and girls. This is a place where the social science aligns with my experience growing up in the Greek Orthodox Church. At a young age, I realized that going behind the iconostasis was a boys and men only thing. Which prompted the question “what’s wrong with me?” It’s a terrible question for a pre-school child to reckon with. Then in school, I saw the boys favored over girls – making me the aggressive, intellectually competitive feminist I am today… Underemployed… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

I found Martyn’s piece illuminating and will be reflecting on it, I feel, for some time. As so often, the discussion will have moved on by the time I have thought of something worthwhile to say about it, but it has had a profound effect. Susannah, like others I appreciate your emphasis on grace, and the way you are continually reminding us of the need for it. However, I do not think the past suffering of women in the Church of England can be dismissed so lightly. It is simply realistic to acknowledge that such injustice and suffering leaves a… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Even accepting that it’d be desirable to bar traditionalists from diocesan posts as Cynthia says, the cost wouldn’t be paid by them alone: as I’ve said previously, this precedent would be used to advocate a no surrender position by many of those taking a traditional position on sexuality. Unfair as it is, the people paying the price will be LGBT Anglicans.

Dr Edward Prebble
Guest
Dr Edward Prebble

I have a question that is prompted by an earlier thread, “Opinion, 17 September”, and the exchange of articles by Scott Cowdell and Tony Payne. I hope I can be permitted to ask it here, because (i) that thread is now sufficiently buried by subsequent material that few are likely to read it, (ii) this thread is clearly being read by people with acknowledged theological expertise, and (iii) it is of direct relevance to the issues being discussed here. I have no pretentions as a First Testament Scholar, and my knowledge of Hebrew is worse than negligible; my PhD on… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

The Hebrew cannot be made to rule out either interpretation. As you note, like a lot of things, theology flows from the wider sense of a thing than etymology, in any case. Order, sequence, harmony, scope, flow, hypothesis — these are the terms the Fathers use when fighting opponents. But in respect of this verse, both-and and not either-or.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Edward Prebble: “…it [Gen.1:27]has direct relevance to the matters being discussed by Martyn Percy and others. Does it I wonder? Noam Chomsky recently noted, “One can contrive a religious motivation for virtually any choice of action, from commitment to the highest ideals to support for the most horrendous atrocities. In the sacred texts, we can find uplifting calls for peace, justice and mercy, along with the most genocidal passages in the literary canon. Conscience is our guide, whatever trappings we might choose to clothe it in. ” (George Yancy with Noam Chomsky NYT July 5, 2017). Along these lines… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

It is probably well to recall that God did not create “us” — the accounts record that God created the primeval pair, and they went about the work of multiplication. In the verse in question, the words for male and female are nouns. We have Jesus’ reading on this as an interpretation, as he refers to “the two” who become one “in the beginning” in his defense of the perpetuity of union. As to the divine image, multiple interpretations are indeed possible. Paul seemed to think (in 1 Cor) that the male is the image of God and the female… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Tobias Haller, “It is probably well to recall that God did not create “us” — the accounts record that God created the primeval pair, and they went about the work of multiplication”

Sure thing, and that is an interesting observation to put in juxtaposition with the following point made by Martyn Percy:

“Second, the presumed essentialism of gender binaries currently faces serious scrutiny. Across the Anglican Communion, there are now several cases where male priests are transiting to become women; and some involving clergy women transiting to become men.”

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thanks, Rod. The text does serve as a corrective to the assertion that male and female are exclusive distinct categories rather than original individual instances. This has the advantage of preserving the mythic as mythic, and allowing the reality of intersex and trans people to be acknowledged and respected.

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

Many thanks, crs, Rod, and Tobias.
No, I certainly would not seek to build an argument solely (or maybe not at all) on this one text. I was simply seeking clarification for occasions when I find myself in discussion with those who seem to be basing their case on one interpretation of it.
Your responses are very helpful.
Thanks again

Martyn Percy
Guest
Martyn Percy

A final comment on Susannah’s question – “where does it [all] end?”. Good question. The Church incorporates a broad range of people who hold a wide range of opinions and convictions – e.g., pro/anti-abortion; pro/anti-death penalty, etc. The Church has never sought – in its preferment system – to privilege every shade of opinion with a representative person in senior leadership. Our equality in Christ lies in in our mutual belonging: we are “very members” – everyone of us, equal – in that Body of Christ. Equality is one thing. Leadership is another. We surely do not seek to have… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Unfair as it is, the people paying the price will be LGBT Anglicans”

As an LGBTQI Anglican, I can only say that I don’t want our justice to be built on the shameful and unjust treatment of others.

crs
Guest
crs

You are very welcome Mr Prebble. I did not assume you were doing theology as etymology. Your question made sense to me.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I don’t want that either, Cynthia, but it’s what’s already happened in England, where LGBT equality’s been parked for decades, and where the leaders of the campaign for equal ordination have been (with some notable exceptions) silent on equality for others, especially those consecrated bishop. If I believed that the compromise was unjust, I’d oppose it regardless, but I don’t: it doesn’t deny female priests position or preferment; and since ordination is supposed to be God’s will, whatever negative message it sends is sent by the church ordaining anyone with the traditional beliefs. Is this really so unbearable that LGBT… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Is this really so unbearable that LGBT equality must remain stalled for who-knows how long?” Justice isn’t either/or. When CoE is ready to confront its own injustice, it will be good for women and LGBTQI people. In the meantime, I’m speaking up for girls AND LGBTQI suicidal teens. It isn’t two different problems, it’s only one. Is everyone created in the Image of God or not? Is the Good News for everyone, or is it particularly good for straight and mostly white men in the West? Does God need gatekeepers to keep out the wrong sort? The compromise is horrible,… Read more »