A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Women Bishops - A letter too far!

Just what Rowan and Justin were waiting for!
Yesterday there was a letter published in the Independent, a national newspaper noted for its devotion to secular themes. It was signed by 1000, mostly female, clerics. It read -

"We, as clergy of the Church of England, stand alongside Rowan Williams, Justin Welby, and the dioceses of the Church of England, in hoping that the General Synod will vote on Tuesday to allow women to become bishops in our church.

We believe wholeheartedly that this is the right thing to do, and that the time is now right to do it. There are many reasons for this belief, and we highlight just some here.

First, because the Bible teaches that “in Christ there is no male or female”, but all people are equal before God. Just as the churches have repented of our historic antisemitism and endorsement of slavery, so we believe that we must now show clearly that we no longer believe women to be inferior to men.

Secondly, Jesus treated women radically equally. He encouraged them as disciples, and chose a woman as the first witness to His resurrection, at a time when women’s testimony was inadmissible in law.

Thirdly, we have promised as clergy to “proclaim the faith afresh in every generation”. We fear that failing to take this step would do the opposite, proclaiming instead that the church is more interested in the past than the future.

The legislation to be voted on represents enormous compromise from all sides. Those who wish to avoid the ministry of women will still be able legally to do so.

We hope and pray that all will feel able to work together in the future with the trust and respect that should characterise our church."

The first point is often used to support this case. However, St Paul is speaking of Christ in Glory and in that sense there is no human distinction at all. Jesus said quite clearly that his Kingdom was not of this Earth.He also pointed out that He is timeless. Before Abraham was, I am".  To suggest that some would "believe women to be inferior to men" is extremely insulting.

Jesus did not treat women "radically equally". He chose to reveal Himself through a woman, his Mother and reveal his divinity to a woman (at the well). The first person to see him after the resurrection was a woman. St Joseph was merely a bystander at the Incarnation. The only equality is that of the Holy Trinity.

For clergy to “proclaim the faith afresh in every generation” does not mean to re-invent the Gospel or say something different.

Finally, it is disingenuous  to suggest that those who no not wish to have sacramental ministry from a female cleric are still legally able to. As the proposed legislation stands an oath of canonical obedience will still be required towards female prelates and any episcopal ministry is on a "respect" basis. That might mean someone of the mindset of John Shelby Spong, who claimed he respected others.


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