Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Whitby: Another Fine Mess

I doubt whether he realized it at the time, but John Secker, the Churchwarden at St Oswald’s Lythe who organized the petition which led the Revd Philip North to stand down from his appointment as Bishop of Whitby, is urging others to break church rules and indeed may be in transgression of those rules himself.
The 1993 Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod, which is of course still in force, states as its first principle the following:
Ordinations and Appointments
1. There will be no discrimination against candidates either for ordination or for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views about the ordination of women to the priesthood.
Although Mr Secker and other signatories might not themselves be covered by the Act (they are not, after all, involved in the appointments process), the pressure they are exerting is, in fact, encouraging others to do just that.
Any appointment at Whitby which took their request into account would be a violation of the Act of Synod.
However, such violations have already taken place, most explicitly in the appointment of the latest Bishop of Salisbury, where the diocesan statement of needs said that “The Bishop will have to be prepared to ordain men and women without discrimination”. This, of course, was itself clearly in breach of the Act.
Unfortunately, no one picked it up at the time (which seems extraordinary, but is the case) and the appointment went through. But clearly, given the lack of ‘traditionalist’ appointments at every level, such discrimination has been going on for some time.
The situation is confused, however, by the fact that the abortive appointment of Fr North may itself have been in breach of the Act.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the succession of traditionalist catholic bishops at Whitby has been part of ‘an informal arrangement’. And informal arrangements do not seem to be envisaged by the Act.
According to the Act of Synod, a diocesan bishop should ‘make arrangements so far as possible within his own diocese for appropriate care and oversight for clergy and parishes’. Similarly, bishops in a region ‘acting jointly shall from time to time nominate from within their region for the purpose of this Act of Synod one or more bishops who are opposed to the ordination of women to the priesthood.’ And of course the Archbishops may operate the scheme of PEVs (Flying Bishops).
So in London, for example, the post of the Bishop of Fulham was more formally linked with the oversight of traditionalist parishes and clergy, in keeping with the first provision of the Act.
The problem in Whitby seems to be that there was no such formal ‘designation’ – hence, presumably, the disappointment of some of those in the Cleveland area who would have expected at least a chance of having a bishop who did support the ordination of women.
The thing to bear in mind — which is often forgotten — is that both those in support of, and those opposed to, the ordination and consecration of women, are faithful Anglicans. In principle, therefore, the good people of Whitby should have been prepared to take what they were given, provided everyone stuck to the rules. And it  may be that the signatories of the Cleveland petition are unaware of the nuances of Anglicanism and of the formal provisions still in place, in which case they acted out of ignorance, not in defiance of those rules.
Nevertheless, they have created a doubtless-unforeseen difficulty over Fr North’s replacement, for if the process still follows the rules, the views of his ‘successor’ must be disregarded, in which case they could find themselves back in the same situation as before. However, precisely because Fr North has stood down on the grounds that his views (in his opinion) would make it difficult for him to be a ‘focus of unity’, it is hard to see how his replacement’s views could simply be ignored as the rules actually require. Yet if his replacement does not share his views, it will be hard to avoid the suggestion that the rules have again been broken, this time in the other direction.
Meanwhile, ironically, the action of the Cleveland petitioners contradicts the demand of many supporters of women bishops that people ought not to be able to choose their bishop on the basis of his or her views. In this case, the supporters of women’s ordination are doing exactly that — although one suspects (given the theological position of some of those in support of women bishops) that this  demand has at least partly in view the next flashpoint, which will be over bishops’ views on homosexuality.
Of course, one could say the objectors ought not to be allowed to get away with it. Alternatively, one could argue instead that the introduction of one innovation (women bishops) opens the door to others (bishops whose sphere of influence is defined theologically as well as geographically).
Either way, it is ‘another fine mess’.
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  1. It's a really interesting mess, and thank you for your take on it.

    What interested me was why this has arisen now, and, so far as I am aware anyway, not earlier. There do seem to be a number of these informal arrangements, where particular suffragan posts have informally been set aside for traditionalist Anglo-Catholics, and I think have been filled more than once. So why no objections before, but this one now?

    It could be that everyone (except in the Salisbury diocese case) has until now been loyally following the non-discrimination law you highlight, and it is as simple as that, but I doubt it! Rather, I think that we may be witnessing a change in communal psyche, probably with several elements.

    One may be the demand for a bishop of "our" choosing - essentially the traditionalist demand, but one that can clearly be taken up by anyone! Another may be a sort of tit-for-tat approach, a sort of "you-blocked-our-legislation-so-we-are-not-going-to-play-nicely-anymore" approach. Whatever it is, if there is some change in psyche, it is going to be interesting - and probably a little uncomfortable, not to say distressing - to watch it play out.

  2. Simon, I think you're right on just about everything there.

  3. John,

    I’ve recently said something similar to Julian Mann, but let me repeat it to you.

    About 70% of evangelicals believe that all forms of ministry should be open to men and women equally.

    You, as conservative evangelicals, have a choice. You can either accept the majority viewpoint, or you can continue insisting on your minority position.

    What I know is this: the question of women in leadership has no bearing on the essential doctrines of Christianity, and the gospel is not being advanced one iota by your present dispute with people like me.

    It would be far better for you to join with the rest of the evangelical world, and together we can devote our energies to reaching people with the gospel rather than squabbling over a secondary matter.

    I have the greatest of respect for conservative evangelicals, and you have much to offer both other evangelicals and the wider church. But your current approach simply serves to isolate you.

    And let me add that theological basis for gender equality in ministry is firm, coming from sound historical-grammatical exegesis.

  4. Ian

    With such love and humility flowing out of every word you speak we just have to take you seriously Ian



  5. Ian: ‎'Truth is still the truth even when no one believes it. Error is still error even if everyone believes it.' (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

    1. Jill, I agree, but how does that help us solve a disagreement between Christians over what the Bible teaches?

    2. You don't solve it by telling just one side to shut up.


  6. Ian, yes, let's get on and proclaim the gospel. We have not stopped! But will we conservative evangelicals be able to keep teaching that women should not have overall leadership of churches as presbyters and bishops? Bob Marsden

    1. Bob, I'm afraid my answer is no. I'm suggesting that conservative evangelicals should accept that their views on women in leadership are not shared by the majority of (1) the church and (2) evangelicals. You should therefore either change your views or just hold them in private but not express them publicly.

      In other words, please put your convictions (on this secondary matter) aside for the sake of the gospel and the unity of the church. You may find this difficult, but think of the benefits.

    2. And why exactly should one side be muzzled like this while the other side isn't? Would you care to apply the same rule to other issues that have long divided evangelicals, e.g. baptismal policy?

      BTW your first point is definitely not true, and I wonder whether on a worldwide basis the second is true either. Not that that makes a jot of difference to the breathtaking onesidedness of your proposal.

      In particular the last sentence of your first para sounds JUST like what the PC fanatics in government keep telling Christians.



    3. Dan, Anglicans are agreed on baptismal policy so it's not an issue.

      The reason I'm suggesting that the minority position should stop making women in authority an issue is because the incessant arguing is proving highly destructive and is not advancing the gospel.

  7. Ian if female presbyter/bishops are a secondary matter why should conservative evangelicals have to accept them?

    1. Nigel, Because their failure to do so is a significant cause of division and disunity in the church and amongst evangelicals.

    2. As I've said before, what of the decades-long feminist campaign in the church (while that movement was a minority) - how come THAT apparently didn't cause division in your eyes?!

      How shall I put this delicately? - Ian, your counsel on this thread is completely contrary to that of Paul in Romans 14.



  8. Ian,
    Would you say that your version of the gospel is the same as conservative evangelicals?

    Are all evangelical gospels alike?

    Chris Bishop

    1. Chris, Yes, absolutely, if my understanding of the essentials of the gospel isn't the same as other evangelicals (including conservatives) then I would be very worried. I said "essentials" because there has always been a range of views (including amongst conservative evangelicals) on theological details. And I do not regard gender roles as being part of the gospel and I'd hope you don't either.

      You also asked "Are all evangelical gospels alike?". Again, I would say yes, as far as the mainstream of evangelicalism is concerned. Over the years, I've heard anglicans, baptists, methodists, pentecostals and a fair few others preach the gospel, and the message is the same.

  9. Ian

    I'm glad you have the greatest of respect for conservative evangelicals. But do you think this feeling is shared by your fellow supporters of women bishops? And if it is, why does this 'respect' not translate into evangelical-wide support for fair provision for those who are against? Why were those who think like you on Synod not supporting their fellow evangelicals, especially as you say it is secondary issue.

    And you must have noticed that a conservative evangelical hasn't been made a bishop for 15 years. If there is so much respect why hasn't there been any protest about this by those who are not conservatives?

    Sometimes 'respect' can be too easy a word to say. And until it translates into action mistrust can only continue.

    Steven Pascoe

    1. Steven, the whole "proper provision" thing seems to be the cause of many problems. We don't expect labour voters to receive special treatment from a conservative government, for example. How can there be unity in a church when some people are allowed to have a different set of rules?

      I don't follow episcopal politics and appointments so I don't know about other conservative evangelical bishops. I do find myself asking why an open or charismatic evangelical bishop isn't good enough for you.

    2. Ian

      "How can there be unity in a church when some people are allowed to have a different set of rules?"

      Out of respect for theological differences? Because as you say this is a secondary issue?

      This isn't or shouldn't be like party politics. We are talking about the church - described as a body or a building in the NT - every part is necessary and to be valued. With that in mind surely unity requires that differences over secondary issues should lead to provision for those who disagree with the majority?

      Steven Pascoe

  10. To this veritable volley of well-aimed replies to Ian, I shall add one more consideration.

    Ian, all you say about putting the gospel first sounds very reasonable. So do tell the rest of us: how come it wasn't put into practice by the revisionist party when THEY were the minority 40 years ago or so? I.e. why didn't they desist from this "dispute" with the conservative evangelical then-MAJORITY and concentrate on working side by side with them for the conversion of England?

    Had they acted in this reasonable fashion, the entire church landscape today would be starkly different.

    In any case determinations of majorities and minorities is fraught with pitfalls. Pretty obviously, the great majority of Christian churches worldwide do not allow women pastors or bishops. And if you ask how much doctrinal congruence there is between CEs and RCs, I'd say considerably more than between revisionist evangelicals and the theological modernists with whom they are currently allied on this issue. Worth a think, isn't it?

    Dan Baynes
    Barton Seagrave

  11. Ian Smith, I wonder if I may make a response at this point. One of the things a bishop does (at least in the church of England) is to call together and constitute a 'college' of presbyters.

    Now one of the things the bishop does is to decide who should be in this college (and who should gather when he calls a gathering) and on what basis.

    The bishop who accepts women's ordination will gather and call women as well as men (naturally). But in that gathering there will (under the present arrangements) be those who think the women should not be there and should not have been called on the basis the bishop has called them. This also, of course, means there will be women presbyters present who know that some of the male presbyters present think they shouldn't really be there.

    There is thus a dissonance, both amongst the presbyters and between the presbyters and the bishop.

    It creates much more coherent situation, and a better environment, to have a presbyteral college where all are agreed that all should be there and are in harmony with the bishop on the issue of whom is called.

    This is why it would make good pastoral and ecclesial sense to have a mixed economy of bishops under the present circumstances where there is a theological difference with such practical implications.

    I hope this may at least help you to understand why, though we may all get along, we may need different arrangements.

    1. John, as I said in my reply to Bob Marsden, I'm suggesting that, for the sake of unity and the gospel, conservative evangelicals should stop making an issue over the question of female presbyters. There are far more important matters to devote your energies on, and the evangelical theological basis for women in leadership is sound. Such an approach would bring huge benefits.

      I do wonder, though, why you don't mention the question of liberals and anglo-catholics. Surely it creates dissonance in a presbyteral college if those who deny the inspiration of the Bible or who believe that salvation is through the sacraments of the church are present? The fact that women are being singled out like this suggests a degree of prejudice that goes beyond theology.

  12. Ian, thanks for your reply. I am simply trying to point out why this (too) is an issue. Part of the reason why it is such an issue is, of course, that there is a certain objectivity to being male or female that doesn't quite apply with theological opinion.

    But you are absolutely right about the theology. The gender issue is simple and straightforward. The theology issue is, however, the one that everyone will have to tackle (and indeed ought to be tackling now). So what we would want to see is evangelicals seeking to change the theological focus of both the bishops and the clergy.

    Having been around for a while, I can tell you this won't be easy so if you've got any ideas, let us know! (I have a few of my own - see my book in the right hand column on 'A Strategy that Changes the Denomination').

    Actually, one of the reasons why we are in this 'fine mess' is the failure of earlier generations of Anglican evangelicals, my own and the one before in particular, to effect such change. Despite decades since Keele, the CofE is generally a non-evangelizing, theologically liberal body which likes dressing up for church. Evangelism simply doesn't happen in many parishes.

    However, I remain unconvinced by the 'evangelical theological basis' for women presbyters (not the same as 'in leadership') and do feel that the theological tools used to reach at least some of the conclusions in this area have actually undermined the necessary theology for the evangelistic endevour.

    1. John, I only have time for a quick reply...

      I'm not sure about your claim that "Despite decades since Keele, the CofE is generally a non-evangelizing, theologically liberal body which likes dressing up for church. Evangelism simply doesn't happen in many parishes."

      Whilst this is true, I think it places a negative spin on recent history. My instincts are that the policy of engagement (which Keele confirmed) has produced much fruit. Back in 1967, evangelicals were a tiny minority in the CofE. Now, we are acknowledged as one of the three main Anglican traditions. I have never seen any statistics (and would dearly like to) but I reckon that the number of parishes and clergy identifying as evangelical has increased hugely in the past 45 years. And all these parishes do engage in outreach and evangelism.

      Yes, it's probably the case that something like 35% of the CofE is evangelical and the rest is liberal. That's not good and it grieves me. But I'm sure the figures for 1967 would be far worse. So, whilst there's plenty of work to do (remember the flop that was the "decade of evangelism"?), we shouldn't think that the last 45 years have been wasted.

      This is why I want to see Anglican evangelicals uniting around the work of the gospel. And it seems that the biggest barrier at the moment is the failure of conservative evangelicals to accept the theology for women presbyters and bishops (this is what I mean by women in leadership). The disagreements are distracting us all from the important stuff. You may find the theology unconvincing, but there are far more who take the opposite view.

  13. "35% of the CofE is evangelical and the rest is liberal."
    Aren't you missing something?

    1. One would certainly think so. It would seem that Ian regards the WB process as effectively wiping Anglo-Catholicism out of the CoE....


  14. Ian,

    I have no problem with female Bishops but, as you say, this is a secondary matter to the Gospel which is causing disunity. Shouldn’t Romans 14 apply and we accept the Con Evo position as their conscience won’t allow them to submit to female Bishops and their is nothing that compels us to have female Bishops.


  15. Ian
    If female presbyter/bishops are a second order issue then why all the division and disunity over them? Why can't those in favour life and let live??

  16. Ian,
    I really see your point!
    It's a small thing, for the sake of the bigger thing, drop it. In fairness to conservative evangelicals, I think that's what they've been trying to do with this proper provision stuff.

    But, in a conservative evangelicals ears, they are hearing, "it's OK to sin a little bit, it's a secondary sin". I.e. if they aren't convinced by the arguments out there, then you are asking them to go against God's word. Then of course they are reasonably concerned about the knock on effects.

    Sorry to sound like a broken record, but, when you say Church, you mean, the C of E, from the late 1980s, to present, not all Christians around the world, across all denominations since Pentecost - right? Or otherwise we'd have had women bishops etc. 2,000 years ago. Also, following the same logic, you'd have to follow that at some point in the future, Synods might vote for all male clergy again & that would be OK if a big enough majority wanted it? (or all female?) Why are things only "decided" in one direction?

    Darren Moore

  17. Dear Ian,

    Thanks for your reply. Can I clarify a couple of points? First I am a Church of England clergyman. After Christmas I start a new preaching series in the church I serve working our way through 1 Timothy. As the pastor of the church am I free to explain and apply 1 Timothy or should I remain silent? Secondly do you think that prospective ordinands from a conservative evangelical church should not be discriminated against in any way because of their views that women should not be in overall leadership of churches as presbyters and bishops?

    Grace and peace to you!

    Bob Marsden

    1. Hi Bob,

      From the way you phrase your first question, I assume you are particularly thinking of 1 Tim 2:12 and thereabouts, and you believe that this passage prohibits women from teaching.

      I would suggest, respectfully, that your beliefs in this regard represent a total misunderstanding of this passage.

      I would refer you, for example, to the following study by Jon Zens, which presents an alternative exegesis:


      I would also recommend some books, such as "What's with Paul and Women", again by Jon Zens, "Women in the Church's Ministry: A Test Case for Biblical Interpretation" by RT France, or a small booklet "Women and Authority: The Key Biblical Texts" by Ian Paul. All of these authors are evangelicals - Zens and France would probably be happy to be labelled conservative as well.

      So yes, please do preach through 1 Timothy next year. And, when it comes to chapter 2 verses 11-15, I would be absolutely delighted if you would present what I, and many other evangelicals, believe to be the correct understanding of this passage, namely that it absolutely does not amount to a prohibition of women teaching men, or being presbyters or bishops.

      At the very least, out of integrity and honesty, you should present both views to your congregation (giving equal time to each) and make it clear that this topic is NOT a case of evangelicals and liberals, but a difference between evangelicals over what the Bible teaches. Perhaps you should even invite an ordained lady to do the teaching (I'm sure I could find you one, evangelical of course).

      Regarding your second point, I don't believe prospective conservative evangelical ordinands should be discriminated against because of their views about women in leadership.

      Let me explain:

      Almost 30 years ago the CofE decided "there are no theological objections to the ordination of women". This is our official doctrine. If someone personally disagrees with it (and its implication, that women can be in overall leadership of churches), then they should keep their view to themselves. Provided that they are prepared to teach and practice gender equality in ministry then I'm not really worried about their personal views on the subject. In other words, they should lay their convictions aside for the sake of unity and the sake of the gospel.

      Now, as it's the season of giving presents, if you would like, I'd be happy to buy you one of the books I suggested above.

      Merry Christmas!


    2. Ian

      Your evidence isn't very convincing.

      Haven't got much time at the moment, but France's use of trajectory hermeneutics does not endear him to me as a conservative however he might have labelled himself. Both France and Zens are relying on an understanding of supposed female domination in the Artemis cult (the work by the Kroegers) which is largely dismissed in academic circles.

      The Zens article is heavily influenced by his presuppositions e.g.

      "..then are we not warranted to suggest that there must have been a problem with some women, or a woman, which accounts for why Paul would issue this special directive?"

      "..must have been rooted in problems faced in the Ephesian congregation. Some women, or a woman, were involved in false teaching and needed to be in a learning posture at that time."

      You still do not respect that we should teach what we consider to be the clear biblical position. Not following God's word has consequences, we simply do not have the option to do what you suggest.

      Steven Pascoe

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  19. Ian

    Carl sums it up really well on Cranmer. You clearly don't subscribe to point one because you clearly believe that bible believing evangelicals should accept what the majority believe for the good of the church. (Rather like the Lutheran Church in the 1930s,---- Bonhoeffer was such a radical, why could he just shut up and get into bed with Hitler like the rest of us)

    Anyway I leave it to Carl to demolish your argument.

    "There are three separate aspects to this argument that must be kept separate.

    1. The Honest Disagreement between Believers. This can be managed by separate authority structures on the theory that 'good fences make good neighbors.' You can't have two different views within the same organization. But these two groups can coexist and work together in much the same way the Baptists can work with Presbyterians.

    2. The Scriptural Compromise that attends the pro-WO side of the honest disagreement. To legitimize women's ordination, the affirmative side in the honest disagreement must norm an imperative of Scripture according to an external standard - in this case the modern presupposition of egalitarianism. This is a dangerous precedent that can easily spin into other more destructive errors. Once you establish the principle that Scripture can be normed, you will find it easy to apply that principle in other areas.

    3. Women's Ordination as a stalking horse for liberal religion. This is the case in the CoE. It is why approving this measure will seal the fate of the established church. The advent of women bishops will solidify the control of liberals over the church hierarchy and thus trigger the inevitable outflow of conservatives from the CoE. It will become a self-reinforcing dynamic. As more conservatives leave, the liberal agenda will become easier to enact - thus driving out more conservatives. There are plenty of liberals who want to see this happen but most of them won't join let alone contribute towards the resulting church. They are only interested in removing an opponent of the post-modern worldview. Within 20 years the CoE will be either deserted, bankrupt, and disestablished, or deserted and funded by the Gov't."

    Lets be clear here Ian the liberal agenda includes not just women priests but accepting homosexual marriage, abortion as a blessing, female God, the dismantling of the family, the worship of idols, the denial of need for Jesus to die (or even his divinity) and of course this requires the removal or downgrading of huge chunks of "outdated" scripture.

    You want to take the another step down this road Ian?

    Not me


  20. I am astounded, as a priest of the Diocese where Victoria Matthews used to be the bishop, to discover from Phil that her episcopal ministry leads inevitably to a denial of the need for Jesus to die and of his divinity. Victoria was the bishop who insisted we use the Apostles' Creed at ordinations - even though our 1985 BAS does not make provision for it - and also insisted that clergy at their inductions repeat their assent to the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the word of God containing all things necessary to salvation.

    Can I also point out to Phil that in the twentieth century the C of E has experienced the ministry of many liberal bishops who have espoused some or all of the trends you note - and they have all without exception been men?

  21. Ian

    Your argument amounts to:

    "We won. You Lost. So shut up already, and quit making us look bad."

    That isn't much of an argument for several reasons.

    1. It amounts to special pleading. If this argument was applied consistently, the issue of WO would never have been broached in the first place. So all you are saying is that your position should be untouchable once it has achieved prominence. In fact, you are denying your opponents the same opportunity you once demanded for yourselves.

    2. While the issue of WO may be a secondary issue, the conflict over the hermeneutic behind WO is not. You may assert that the "theological basis for gender equality in ministry is firm, coming from sound historical-grammatical exegesis." Your opponents simply don't agree. Your opponents consider your position to be a forced conclusion based upon a prior philosophical commitment. They say you are reading into Scripture what you want it to say. Your opponents cannot merely surrender to that logic and stay consistent to their Scriptural position.

    3. Truth is worth the defense. Your opponents personally don't much care if they are a minority on this issue. Truth is not decided by majority vote - and certainly not by a majority of those who exist in a relatively small slice of time. If your opponents are convinced of the rightness of their position, then they have a moral obligation to defend it. Retreating into silence would be a moral failure.

    4. Truth should not be shaped to fit the opinions and tastes of the unbelieving world. The fact that complementarianism offends the modern mindset is neither here nor there. The Gospel is far more offensive to natural man. It won't be made less so by pandering to modern opinions about egalitarianism.


    1. Carl,

      On point 2: I believe that the "leadership is male" position is, to use your phrase, a "forced conclusion based upon a prior philosophical commitment". Society has marginalised and oppressed women for centuries. Do some research - it's quite shocking. I believe that theologians (men of course) have followed the way of the world and interpreted the Bible likewise - namely to restrict the role of women. It's no different to the way the Dutch Reformed church in South Africa interpreted the Bible to justify apartheid. I'm sorry, but your argument cuts both ways.

      On points 3 & 4: I have to ask "what is truth?" What we believe is the truth depends upon our understanding of the Bible. Anglicans and Baptists have markedly different views about the truth regarding baptism. Who is right? I don't know, and neither do I know who is right over women in authority. My view is simply my opinion, as is yours. Both of us can quote the Bible (and evangelical theologians) in support. We'll probably never know the correct answer this side of heaven, unless new scholarship emerges which convinces everyone (and even then we may all be wrong). We are deadlocked over whose version of "truth" is correct, and we are not going to get anywhere. So this is why I'm saying that an immediate solution to the problem would be for the conservatives to accept that the majority don't support them and give up the fight. The end result of this would be vastly beneficial for the gospel.

    2. Ian

      If the 'vast majority' accept the legitimization of homosexuality, why shouldn't we give up the fight? The logic of your argument would be exactly parallel. Indeed, what of the great Creedal fights where the orthodox position was not the majority position? Your argument is fundamentally a liberal argument. "Scripture is incomprehensible. Let's find another authority - in this case power."

      It does not surprise me that limited finite creatures disagree about things. That conflict should drive us back to the source of common authority, and constantly force us to search the Scripture. We won't necessarily ever agree and that is why we have separate structures for issues like these. We can find unity across those organizational boundaries. But if you force conformity on this issue, then you will drive people out. Your "Just give up" plan primarily benefits those who wish to secure their victory. It does nothing for the conscience of the vanquished. The answer to your plea is therefore going to be "No" because those who give that answer will feel they have no other choice.

      That's why conservative don't have to (and should not) give up the fight. We can agree to disagree. You have given me no reason to fall into silence other than 1) you would prefer not to be challenged on the issue anymore and 2) the unbelieving world doesn't like what I say. Neither is an acceptable reason.


  22. I'm about to close this thread down, so if you've got any more comments, now is the time to post them.

    Before I do, I want to say a word for Ian's position (and incidentally, I do wish people would make more of a distinction in debate between the position and the person. I think Baptists are wrong about baptism, but I haven't got anything against Baptists personally).

    At one level, what Ian says is right. The gospel is what matters. This is why, I'm sure, there are people (in our local Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans group, for example) with whom I can work perfectly well, who want women bishops. I think they are mistaken, they think I am, but it really does not get in the way.

    However, there are others, some of whom call themselves evangelical, with whom it is very difficult to get on because of the attitude they have to my attitude on women bishops. Something about it seems to make them very cross, for want of a better word, and our 'shared' gospel doesn't seem to overcome that.

    Now this is clearly a matter for further thought and investigation. Meanwhile, I'm about to write a piece on 'believing bishops' to raise some of these issues.

  23. Tim Chesterton

    I am sure that Victoria Matthews is wonderful. The exception does not prove the rule.

    Anyone want to rush off to be under Katharine Jefferts Schori's authority?

    I thought not


  24. Tim Chesterton

    OK I have now read about Victoria Matthews. In 2007 she stated that "the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada"

    OK......Not exactly what I would call bible believing (or should be in a leadership position in a church, never mind a Bishop!)


  25. Anyone want to rush off to be under Gene Robinson's authority? Or Michael Ingham's? Or John A.T. Robinson's? Or David Jenkins (the 'resurrection is not a conjuring trick with bones' bishop)?

    I'm sorry, but to imply that all female bishops are rampant liberals is simply unwarranted. I know two really well (which, I suspect, is more than most people here) and they're both quite theologically orthodox. Also good pastors and preachers. Victoria was far more orthodox than both her predecessors, Ken Genge and Kent Clark.

    Tim Chesterton (happy to serve in the Diocese of Edmonton which four years ago elected its second female diocesan).

  26. Phil:

    Do your research. At the General Synod at which that motion was approved, it was defined as 'in the sense of being creedal' (which it's not).

  27. Tim,

    I'm not sure ANYONE is saying that. But, let's ask the question the other way. In your list of heretical bishops, do ANY of them not support women bishops?

    Victoria may well be more orthodox. That's not the point. The point(s) are; 1st if it's wrong, it's wrong, 2nd it does start a drift where the methodology allows other stuff. So your grim list that believe all sorts of strange things, also fully approve in women bishops, there is some sort of connection. 3rd (minor point), but when all clergy were surveyed, the female clergy came out more liberal... obviously women aren't! But a higher % of female clergy are. But frankly, the 3rd point is just a matter of stats, not really the important thing, as we'll all find exceptions.

  28. This is interesting from Bishop Michael Nazir-ali

    and relevant



  29. Darren:

    I find the argument that 'all these liberal bishops supported the ordination of women, therefore it must be wrong' rather weak. Do they all wear robes and go to church on Sundays too?

    Donald Coggan also supported the ordination of women. Was he heterodox? So did General Booth, by the way (although the Sally Ann has a slightly different view of ordination!). And Pentecostals have been ordaining women as pastors for decades - are they heterodox?

    As for clergy being surveyed and being more liberal - I don't know, where was that? I haven't heard of it in Canada. My observation here is that liberal/conservative is a divide that pays no respect to gender. And 'liberal' is sometimes a highly subjective thing. Carl Jacobs thinks people are liberal because they support the ordination of women. If he had gone to church in Rome in the days of Hippolytus (third century) he'd have been considered a raving liberal because he supports the right to bear arms and defends the use of violence, and he would have been refused admittance to the catechumenate because of it (see Hippolytus 'Apostolic Tradition ch. 16).

    Personally I don't care whether or not people call me liberal or conservative; I don't find those words very useful (I'm sure the Judaizers thought Paul was a raving liberal). I do care about being faithful to Christ and his gospel, though - and so does Bishop Victoria.

    1. Tim Chesterton

      Carl Jacobs thinks people are liberal because they support the ordination of women.

      And where exactly did I say this? I do not think this. Liberalism is to me a separate distinct religion. Believers can be wrong about things. Believers can hold heterodox opinions. That is not the same thing as having a separate distinct religion. What I believe is that WO is a dangerous position for a believer because the hermeneutic employed to justify it can easily be extended to other more essential areas.