Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The two faces of WATCH

As readers of this blog (and others) will be aware, there is now a petition online sponsored by WATCH, urging the House of Bishops to think again on their amendment introducing Clause 5 (1) c into the proposed women bishops Measure. (See the widget left or below if you'd like to vote the other way.)
WATCH has roundly condemned the the House of Bishops for this, saying in an early statement (in bold letters) that it has thereby, “de-stabilised the legislative process”.
Others have accused the House of Bishops of flying in the face of dioceses which approved the Measure as submitted to them earlier this year.
However, as readers will also be aware, there were actually two amendments. Yet though there are two amendments, WATCH is only petitioning for the removal of one.
Why is this?
The answer is simple — because WATCH rather likes the first amendment. Clause 8, they say, “seems to be a helpful clarification to many. If the bishops had simply introduced this amendment then the Measure might still be on track for Final Approval in July.”
There is no mention here of the fact that this amendment was also not in the legislation as approved by the dioceses.
In other words, amendments by the House of Bishops are acceptable. It is only ‘unacceptable’ amendments which are, well, unacceptable.

The chair of WATCH, Reverend Rachel Weir, has written on their website, "we hope that there will be a thorough consultation process over the summer so that whatever is presented to General Synod in November keeps faith with the dioceses that voted overwhelmingly for the unamended Measure". Yet only Clause 5 (1) c is being targeted.
I hope this will be clearly understood over the next few months. It is not amendments by the House of Bishops which WATCH objects to in principle — only those which do not support its own position. That is understandable, but it may not be obvious to those following the debate.

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  1. Liberal religion is just liberal politics dressed up in religious clothes.

    There will be no provision for Bible believing Anglicans. We will have to submit on this matter of conscience or leave. If we get "assurances" we will just postpone the requirement to submit.

    Liberal politics takes things step by step. A Female Bishops is just stage one, the next will be Female God/Homosexual Marriage/Abortion a blessing/take your pick.....

    Look at TEC!


  2. As a supporter of women bishops I must say I am looking at the positions taken by WATCH with some amazement.

    Where's the grace?

    Where's the prayer and blessing for the opponent?

    What if a (woman) bishop's way to serve that awkward conservative parish on her patch is to empty herself of all authority over it - you know, a bit like the Son did? Is following his example really unthinkable? REALLY?

    Is "rights" language really appropriate here?

    Are they really so blind that they don't appreciate how vilifying your opponents as bigots plays into the popular perception of a debate widely misunderstood outside the church? Some gospel witness.

    The longer this goes on for, the more I start to wonder whether the whole idea fails the Gamaliel test (Acts 5) after all. Especially if events across the pond are a representative sample of its fruit. And I genuinely hate to say this, because I know so many wonderful godly women in ministry.

  3. I too am in favour of women bishops, but for a long time I have been disgusted by Christina Rees and similarly minded people who have spouted such bile and vitriol that I now wonder if we might be in a wilderness situation now and that the only safe way we can go about getting women bishops to work is if a generation passes away and a new, more gracious generation needs to come through to take their place. Certainly, if this keeps up, I don't think this current bunch deserve to see it come from their efforts.

  4. Don't think any of this is fair! The clause 8 amendment can genuinely be seen as clarification ie: a fulfilment of the bishops' function in this process, but the clause 5 amendment can be seen as having an entirely different nature, a more profound change which is really beyond the ambit of what the bishops' ought to have been up to. That is how WATCH clearly see it, so why should they not respond differently? They ought not to be castigated for drawing distinctions. By all means argue about whether they are right or wrong, but simply saying they ought to treat all proposed amendments in the same way would be daft and lacking in charity - and does not take any debate forwards.

    And nor are the other criticisms fair. Have you considered that from a woman's perspective it might not look like theological difference that is preventing women becoming bishops, but actually males clinging onto entrenched historical dominance. Some might think, for example, that since the coalition against women's preferment has (at least) two completely different and incompatible theological bases the validity of both is called into question. What is going on, if that is so, begins to look like the erection of arguments designed to protect the status quo rather than some more concrete eternal truth-seeking. Not saying that is a conscious process by the FiF/Reform camp, but it is what it might look like. Where there has been historical oppression - and in the male/female relationship there clearly has been - those of us in the group with historical power, however well-motivated we personally believe ourselves to be, need to work really hard to look through the eyes of the oppressed group. From that perspective, WATCH, and all that it says, looks gracious to me.

    1. Thanks, Simon, for expressing what it does look like to me. It looks like 'Yes, we are willing to have change, and even let women led churches and be bishops, but let's do everything we possibly can to prevent them from changing anything for us, or the wider church. Let's shift the locus of Anglican theology to the PCC, that way we can continue as we are. But there is an ecclesiological problem here. Incorporating cluse 5 amendment into law would change the way we think ecclesiologically. It needs thinking through. Better to wait a generation alongside each other as we currently are than go this route - better to stop the Measure right now before we do any more damage in our rush to try to accommodate everyone. If we do this sort of legislating with the women bishops' issue what issue will be the next?

  5. Simon... really?
    Do you know any of these guys? The sort of pre-Christian backgrounds they're from, i.e. highly educated, working along side bright able women. Or the fact many opposed are in fact bright young women, in fact I've found them the most outspoken. As for the blokes, they tend to be married to highly able women & have highly able women in their ministry teams.

    What's most worrying about Simon's post is that this becomes the gospel. I think that FiF/Reform etc. are trying to find a way through. Bare this in mind. They think women bishops are a bad idea, period. BUT are willing to accept that they hold a minority view in this denomination, so just ask for proper provision. Evangelicals outside the C of E, by & large think they're being too generous!

    I'm glad to see youthpasta & Peter get it. But this is what I keep finding; there are reasonable pro-women-bishop people out there. But, there are a good number, who when we say, "can we have some protection here?", reply, "no". When we say, "people will feel at best marginalized, at worst people will leave/not get ordained", there reply is, "no, you can still be in... trust us".

    This just doesn't square. If they think traditionalists are making a fuss as if it was choice of hymns, or even what Simon said, I'd get it. But clearly that isn't the case. If they think it is, then they need to hone their listening skills. WATCH etc. have failed to convince a large minority & that minority believe that to submit to a woman bishop, or have a woman incumbent would be wrong. FiF/Reform, acknowledge that they have failed to convince too & are asking for a compromise where they are by far giving up the most.

    What's particularly funny, is that I've been told, "well leave then". I'm now moving, as it happens, to a non-Anglican church & the very same people look all hurt & injured & ask, "why are you going?"

  6. Simon, the point is you can't argue one way for the bishops to 'keep faith' with 'unamended Measure', and then argue the other way to accept an amendment because, in one's own view, it is 'genuinely ... seen as clarification'.

    Actually, I think both amendments are genuine and necessary 'clarifications'. But if, on principle, the Synod should vote on the unamended Measure approved by the dioceses, then that principle ought to apply to all amendments by the House of Bishops (though of course that is not how Synod governance actually works, which is why the bishops were able to act as they did).

  7. The key words from WATCH that are telling are "... keeps faith with the dioceses that voted...", as if the Christian faith is a humanist club. Personally, I don't put my faith in man, but in the Lord Jesus Christ. To use the argument that man's vote is right and therefore man is infallible, as they have now done, is to clearly demonstrate that this is not God's bidding and they are pushing a human and politicised agenda.

  8. (My comment @10:03 about "the words from WATCH" shouldn't be confused as coming from the other Simon @09:20. Apologies to the other Simon if there was.)

  9. I can't agree with Simon that the positions of FiF and Reform (and their respective ilks) are incompatible - both are looking at what Tradition/Scripture say about the position of male and female in the Oeconomy of Salvation. If anything, the fact that they arrive at the same place from differing starting points lends extra credibility to their position.

    But of course the Holy Spirit can lead us in new ways and into new places (and in the past has) . If women feel a sense of vocation, we need to take hat seriously, for presumably it's the Holy Spirit at work. And if it isn't vocation to ordination, that what is it? Has anyone done any work on that?

    And yet ordination isn't a "right" for anyone, no matter what their sense of vocation might be. And that for me is where WATCH sound ungracious - but then FiF/Reform aren't great at sounding gracious to women in this conundrum. I tend to agree with Youthpasta about the idea of delaying a good deal longer - there's too much anger and pain on both sides.

    But I don't remember Jesus ever saying following him would be painless.

  10. Bernard, that can't be right can it. Just extend that a bit more. For e.g. the (practising) homosexual who feels a calling/vocation. The heterodox person. In the Pastoral epistles we're told what "qualifies" a person to the role of bishop/elder/shepherd. The church is then to discern & lay hands on.

    When we talk about the spirit moves us off on new routes, it becomes pretty arbitrary when some Christians then say, "Oh, but not there... obviously".

    Reform being ungracious? Any specific publications in mind, or just that they've raised the issue? The most pointed comments from Reform have been by women, who have talked about ways women can express vocation & do within the Reform network.

  11. Thought of another E.g. Someone feeling "called", but family is not in order - a better e.g.

    1. Darren, my "And if it isn't vocation to ordination, then what is it?" (sorry for typo) was a genuine question. If we say it isn't a genuine vocation to ordination, because we don't believe that God would call someone whose sex, sexual orientation, family situation or whatever disqualifies them, then we are still left to work out what to do with this sense of vocation. Is it simply false, or is it just that the Church is not very good at identifying the other possible directions in which vocation can work.

      I think we need to take these vocations seriously, but that doesn't in itself entail ordaining everyone who feels them. Not all vocations are vocations to ordained ministry. Are we good enough at telling them apart?

      And as for the Holy Spirit leading the Church - it's not always easy to discern, and there may be false-starts and dead-ends along the way, it may take generations for us to work out what's going on, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening. look at Church history - e.g. the Arian heresy, or the Reformation.

  12. There is no hypocrisy. The bishops were asked by Synod not to make any 'substantial' amendments. The bishops felt that the amendments that they made were clarifications; WATCH agreed in the first case, but have argued that the ramifications of the second amendment make it substantial.

  13. ffwesh, on the contrary. If you read the piece above and the quote from the WATCH spokesperson above, the House of Bihops is accused of 'de-stabilisng the legislative process' and is called on to keep faith "with the dioceses that voted overwhelmingly for the unamended Measure", but their intervention is welcomed where it agrees with the opinions of WATCH, though not where the bishops, according to their own opinion, have acted reasonably.

    It is the 'high dudgeon' of WATCH in the one case, but not the other, which represents the two faces.

  14. Andrew Godsall12 July 2012 at 07:28

    John: I rather fear you are clutching at straws. You might just as well say that evangelicals are two faced. Some - the minority - do not welcome women in ordained ministry. The vast majority of evangelicals do.
    Clause 8 is a clarification. Clause 5.1c is an unhelpful amendment. Synod - and the House of Bishops - have recognised that it needs looking at again. You are simply trying to force disunity rather than seek unity. The bishops want to seek unity.That is their role. That is why they want to look at this again. WATCH supports them in doing so.

  15. mmmm Andrew, how does some people in one group think one thing and others think something else make them hypocrites.

    Again, caveats, you mean Evangelicals in the C of E, born between 1940-1970, not the majority of Evangelicals, globally though time.

    Even so, following the same logic, the British are hypocrites because some voted Labour, but we have a Tory led coalition.

  16. Just a thought, but could the Bishops’ amendment not work in the reverse? For example, if a Conservative Evangelical or traditional Anglo-Catholic we’re to be appointed as a diocesan bishop, would it not be fair for those churches who are very much in favour of women in leadership to reject their ministry on theological grounds?
    I know that this could make things very complicated and would potentially start to look like a third province exists in all but name (but given that PEVs will be likely required for most A-C and CE on ecclesiology grounds this would be the case anyway) but it would show that male bishops were as open as women bishops would beto the rejection that has been claimed to be the issue.

  17. Youthpasta, to some extent the legislation already covers that eventuality, and this is another reason why the problems seem so intractable.

    Paragraph 2 (5), Duty of diocesan bishop to make arrangements, states,

    "Where a scheme made under this section includes a statement by the bishop that he will not ordain women to the office of priest, the scheme shall make provision —

    (a) for the ordination of female candidates for the office of priest, and

    (b) for the support of the ministry of clergy who are women and their pastoral care."

    It is (b) which I think is most relevant. In an earlier submission, which was considered seriously by some of the bishops, I argued that 2(5)b suggested in principle that where such a divergence existed between the views of the bishop and the women in his diocese, extra support was necessary and that it would (presumably) not be sufficient for this to come simply from the bishop himself.

    That being the case, though, I suggested that the same must apply to parishes or clergy where the bishop did ordain women. The ministry they received ought, similarly, to be 'sympathetic'.

    It is this which seems to be envisaged by Clause 5(1)c, and I would have thought that if it is not admissible in the latter case, it ought not to be admissible in the former.

  18. Andrew Godsall12 July 2012 at 18:11

    I did not use the word hypocrites at all. Read my post carefully.

    If you think women in ministry is a recent innovation then I suggest Diarmiad MacCulloch's article here:


    1. You said, "2 faced" - the comments above still stand. Hypocrite means "wearing a mask", so the difference is subtle.

      OK, are British people 2 faced, because they vote differently to each other?

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  21. Play nicely, Phil (though since I once allowed this comment to stand about me, I think I'll allow yours unless Andrew requests its removal.

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  23. Andrew, the article in the the guardian (that well know theological journal), that's a spoof, right?

    There was a mixture of, "so what"... women in ministry well I never, we must stop it... mmm, that's exactly what we're NOT saying. Women as Deacons... yes please. Bit of straw men, "women in absolute silence"... absolute?

    If this was so evident & widely practised, could you name the council where the controversy of stopping women Elders/Bishops happened?

    Then of course Junia(s). Bit of textual variant top trumps.

    Andrew, haven't you engaged/listened to what people have said on these things? For a start the NT uses Apostles in more than one way, see Acts 1 & Revelation. But even so, Evangelicals make zip of Apostolic Succession (at least in that sense).

    I think you need to put down the straw men, read something like the Grudem/Piper book, which deals with everything thrown at the traditional view. Then come back with some more challenging questions. (Or Sharon James' book, where she outlines a positive role for women & reviews revisionists arguments showing that they all mutually contradictory, but it doesn't seem to trouble anyone)

    1. Andrew Godsall12 July 2012 at 23:33

      Darren : The C of E did this theology a long time ago. Really. It isn't going to change its mind about women in ordained ministry. Lambeth 1998 was clear that we were both loyal Anglicans.

    2. As I remember there wasn't much theology other than, "is it fair", & a few proof texts.

      But this is a point before. How can you say it's now done, yet before 1992 it wasn't done? Surely Women Bishops then is "done". Why is it that things are only done once they've move in a revisionist direction?

    3. Andrew Godsall13 July 2012 at 11:41

      Darren: the Lambeth Conference of 1998 made it clear that both those who supported the ordination of women and those who did not were loyal anglicans. We now ordain more women than men in the C of E. The majority of C of E provinces ordain women as priests. How can you suggest it is not done?

    4. But we currently don't consecrate women as bishops. Why isn't that done?
      Rather you're pushing for change. Once there is change suddenly, "it's done". A number of us have thought it's been done for the past 2,000 years. Same with revisionism on homosexuality. Anglican change only happens in one direction

      (Viewing someone as a loyal Anglican & someone as having valid orders are different)

    5. Andrew Godsall14 July 2012 at 00:00

      Nonsense, they have valid orders because they are loyal Anglicans.

  24. I think John is right, Phil, as there is very rarely an excuse for foul language to be directed at an individual or their actions.
    But, as he says, since he's allowed one in the past he is only being fair to leave it unless the intended recipient requests otherwise.

    John, regarding the clause on bishops against women priests, would it be worth pointing out that those against women bishops have no problem with this clause that could be described as discriminating against CE/AC bishops, but how do they feel about it?

  25. Youthpasta

    Bottom line. (Probably another unfortunate phrase)Andrew and co are making up another Gospel.

    People will die because of his false teaching. Do we not care about this?

    People trust him to lead them to salvation…. However, the route is not via the message of the scriptures.

    Do you really believe that it is possible to be saved by what Charles Raven describes as “the shadow Gospel” taught by most of the liberal CofE?


  26. Youthpasta

    Sorry I don't think we disagree on the content.

    However, I feel that the liberals have used the fact that we were accommodating and respected their interpretation of scripture.

    They are now (nearly) in power and have no intention of being accommodating, or as they like to call it "inclusive" in return.

    Look at Canada and the US. This is the road we are going down....do we want our Church to go down this road?

    We need to stop being so nice!


  27. Hi Phil. Don't think I was disputing your point - just have to think of others as well.

    When I do finally get back to blogging on the subject of reaching the nation (wait til next week) please do keep an eye on the blog and chip in. (Watch out for my address from the second Anglican Evangelical Junior Clergy Conference.)

  28. Andrew Godsall12 July 2012 at 23:21


    I think Phil's comments reflect more oh him and your blog than on me, don't you? It's encouraging to see the conservative evangelical nature at its truest.

  29. Oh give over, Andrew! That cheap comment is as worthless as the majority at pmqs! John has never posted anything insulting towards you because of your views, has he? Why tar him and any others with the same brush?

  30. Andrew Godsall12 July 2012 at 23:43

    Fine. Then let me say it more clearly about Phil's comments - I would prefer their removal.

  31. Andrew, as you'll see, I have removed the posts Phil made with the over-strong language. I am sure he can make the points he wishes to without being intemperate.

  32. So now you maybe wondering. What did I say that upset the liberal spokesman (sorry spokesperson) so much?

    24 hours later (and a full day at work in the real world) the truth is I cannot exactly remember!

    The point that to me that the liberal position taken by people such as Andrew is really untruthful and just at best a misrepresentation of their real position.

    I seem to remember it was said much better with the American language I used. (That you hear on most movies for age 12). And for much of today at work I heard much worse. I for one would much rather someone’s honest opinion, however they chose to say it rather than b_______ dressed up to impress and mislead.

    “Liberals don't live in the real world, of course. That's why they are liberals.” Carl Jacobs


    I am of course sorry if I genuinely upset Andrew.
    However, I have observed that liberals love using crocodile tears when it suits them and to deflect away from points made.

    1. [wind up engaged]
      Interesting that you take a heavy line on liberal theology and yet you are quite liberal with language that is in no way edifying or wholesome.

      Ephesians 4:29
      Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

      [wind up disengaged]

    2. No wind up here..

      I think we read this and forget the few verses earlier that talk about the need to express anger.

      I am angry at the dismissal of God's word. I am angry at the attack on families by the Church by the proposed perversion of leadership. I am angry at the Church's silence over the murder of innocents. This will do for now!

      Thanks for the comment.


  33. Real world crossword puzzle......

    b__________ faeces of male cows 8 letters. Often associated with liberal clergy in the CofE.


  34. Hi Phil. I'm still waiting for Andrew's acknowledgement of his request, which I trust will be forthcoming.

  35. Hi John

    It is interesting that the first objection to comments made by me was aimed at you John for hosting the comments.

    When liberals come to power the first casualty is always free speech.

    If priestesses (Or Gay priests) become Bishops then blogs like yours or articles by conservative clergy will be first censored then ended.

    Liberals love meeting to draw up codes of conduct, regulation of behavior etc etc.

    We should not be surprised a new Religion with a different God is now being worshiped. I say again look at TEC.

    All revolutions need some cleansing casualties.


  36. Andrew Godsall14 July 2012 at 12:04

    Actually John simply said 'don't think I was disputing your point' - in other words he agreed with you Phil.
    Thank for looking at it all John but I think you have left in some vastly generalising personal comments which are by way of ad hominem. If that kind of thing is what you want on your blog then that's entirely up to you but I can never see the need for personal attacks. There is plenty to discuss without that.

  37. Andrew

    My comments are are ad hominem only in so far as what you blog represents the liberal (Non Christian) "argument"

    There are plently more with your views in the CofE.. Too many in fact and my comments are directed towards this broader viewpoint. You are the convienient recipient simply because you chose to comment here.

    Bye the way you are ptetty good at dishing out the old "ad hominem" when it suits you.

    Crocodile tears again?



    I told you the establishment in the CofE would soon try to close you down. Sooner rather than later it would seem!


  38. Andrew Godsall14 July 2012 at 18:22

    So Phil have I got this right - you think that conservatives need an honoured place in the C of E but that people who hold views like me should all be thrown out because we are endangering people's lives?

  39. Andrew.

    I am just a regular guy from the pew. I have a very normal job where I am responsible for a few people in a small town.

    The problem I have with you/WATCH/other liberals is that I do not trust you. I also have no respect for you as leaders of the Church. It saddens me to say this to another Brother in Christ but the bottom line is that this is my main problem with the liberal Church.

    Last week I vicar from out of town said in his sermon that he did not agree with Isaiah. I have heard liberal priests trash the writings of Paul and some even question what Jesus achieved for us.

    Back to your question which was..

    “you think that conservatives need an honoured place in the C of E but that people who hold views like me should all be thrown out because we are endangering people's lives?”

    I think you endanger my family’s salvation rather than lives but broadly yes, is the answer to your question. I do respect leaders like John, (I can go into some detail on why this is if you want) but think that clergy with your views should be removed from office.


    PS However, we could make you “Bishop of Helmand”.

    Risking your life everyday to spread the message for Jesus, trusting God for your salvation, despite your liberal views and lifestyle would make me respect you, if not follow you.

    The trouble is I do not respect you nor will I follow you. I suspect a lot of others feel this way, hence perhaps much of the problems with the C of E.

    Before you get all uptight and get upset with John for ad hominem posts. You asked for my views. If you don’t like what I write, don’t ask..

    So yes you have got it about right...

  40. Andrew Godsall15 July 2012 at 08:04

    Well Phil you don't know my views on a whole range of things but you do know them on women bishops. In that respect I am, like you, a loyal Anglican. Lambeth 1998 was clear about that. So it is rather amusing that you want provision for yourself but want to have me thrown out.
    You would be most welcome here in Exeter. I can offer you food and drink and we can talk in a way that is not possible on here. We can begin with areas where we do agree - the Creeds for example - and then perhaps begin to understand each other better. The offer is there. I would love to meet you. Until then, warm greetings as today we celebrate the resurrection.

  41. Thank you Andrew

    You never know I might take you up on it.

    In a year or two we can discuss the split in Anglicansim. What could have been done to prevent the split and where we still have common ground now that the leadership of the liberal branch is in New York and the conservative branch is in Africa or Asia.

    Thank you for the offer. However, I will be working abroad for a couple of years or so we will not be able to meet any time soon