Skip to comments.Alice Linsley: Q & A
Posted on 03/09/2006 8:56:51 AM PST by sionnsar
[For those who may not have kept up, Alice Linsley is a former ECUSA priest who recently renounced her orders, have come to the conclusion that women should not be priests. Some earlier posts to FR:
Again, For the Record, Alice Linsley, 2/28/2006
Womens Ordination and Catholic Orders, Alice C. Linsley, 2/25/2006
Alice Linsley - Letter Renouncing Holy Orders, Alice C. Linsley, 2/22/2006
For the Record (Alice Linsley on women in the priesthood), Alice C. Linsley, 2/21/2006
There is more material in the FR Traditional Anglican Older Articles Archive.
Alice Linsley answers questions put to her by Wim Houtman:
Question: When and how did you come to realize that women should not be priests? Was it a sudden stroke of insight, a gradual process, a conscious decision of the will?
Response: Throughout my 18 years as a priest in the Episcopal Church USA I have had nagging and periodic doubts about women and the priesthood. I never felt free to discuss my doubts openly because dialogue in ECUSA on questions of gender and catholic orders has been difficult and unfruitful. I began to reconsider the question of gender and the Episcopal Churchs claim to have catholic orders after the consecration of V. Gene Robinson, the first partnered homosexual to become bishop in the United States. It was apparent that ECUSA is not catholic because it has departed from the most fundamental principles of the historic catholic faith. Of the 3 churches that stand in the catholic tradition: Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, only the Episcopal Church USA ordains women and homosexuals to the priesthood.
My doubts are not about the ability of women to function in the priestly office. I have friends who are women priests and they are more conscientious in the performance of their duties than many male priests. So the issue for me is not the ability of women, but rather Gods design for the sexes and how, as a faithful Christian, I am to understand that design and its boundaries.
Question: You mention the importance of Tradition, but ultimately Tradition is rooted in Scripture, so how do you read Scripture on this matter?
Response: The 2 male priests who helped me discern my call to ordination in the mid-1980s were both godly men and students of the Bible. They concluded that Pauls instructions concerning women are prescriptive. In those days I agreed with this view that Paul restricted womens leadership because he wanted order in the churches. Today, after 25 years of research on Genesis, I have come to a different conclusion. Pauls thoughts on gender are formed by his biblical Tradition. He recognized that the Hebrew Scriptures teach a permanent binary distinction between men and women. This binary distinction is fixed by God as much as the distinctions of east and west, night and day, and hot and cold. When we ignore the binary distinctions established by the Creator for our benefit, there is disorder in our thoughts and actions, and humans become lost. This suggests strongly that Pauls teaching on gender was not merely to address a social problem limited to that time and place. Paul wanted gender roles in the Church to reflect Gods order in creation as a way of honoring the Sovereign Creator. After all, does mankind have the power to change night to day, or east to west? Choosing to have sexual relations with a same sex partner is defiance of Gods sovereign order of creation. It is not a new thing. It is as old as the first rebellion.
Question: You say that the Church has for almost 2000 years refused to ordain women. Equally it could be said that it has taken the Church that long to gain insight, same as it has taken a long time in matters of racial equality and slavery.
Response: The larger question is why ECUSA began ordaining women as priests? The bishops who encouraged this innovation were children of the rights movement of the 1970s. This movement took the 1960s Civil Rights Movement for racial equality to a more radical position by attempting to impose a legalistic insistence on unlimited individual rights. The question of divinely set boundaries was not thoughtfully addressed in the rush to tear them down. In the ECUSA a new Prayer Book (1979) reinforced this rights agenda contrary to biblical and historic Anglican teaching on sin and grace. ECUSA advocates of equality for homosexuals point to the ordination of women as a landmark for their cause. They correctly perceive that once catholic orders are abolished, there is nothing to hold them back.
Question: Where do you differ from the traditionalists presentation you mention in one of your statements (where you mention Peter Toon)?
Response: Dr. Peter Toon mentored me for one year in my preparation of a study on the Book of Common Prayer (editions of 1549-1928). I have great respect for his profound knowledge of the Anglican Way. I dont differ from Anglican traditionists on catholic orders or on the necessity of holding Scripture and Tradition in tension. I differ in that my conclusions on gender roles are drawn from anthropological study of Genesis and the conviction that Genesis is foundational to the Bible and to Christian theology.
Question: Where do Evangelicals who support women priests go wrong in your view?
Response: The irony of Evangelicals is that they say they believe in the authority of Scripture but then allow cultural accommodation in their interpretation of Scripture. This happens because they do not maintain the proper tension between Scripture and Tradition, as did St. Paul and the other Apostles.
Question: What made you go for women priests in the first place?
Response: The failure of men to lead in my family and in the congregation. God uses those who are available and willing to serve. When a generation of men fails in service to God, God allows females to serve. This is his permissive response throughout Scripture and history.
Question: How can you be so sure of your point now, where you were probably equally sure then? Is it possible you will be sure of yet another view in some years time? (Forgive me, I dont want to sound rude, Im just putting questions to you that your decision may raise.)
Response: I am sure of only one thing: that God, the Good Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is sovereign over all and in all, and though I am unworthy, He holds my soul secure. This is for me what cogito ergo sum was for Descartes.
Question: Does your resignation have anything to do with the way you felt you functioned as a priest?
Response: I resigned as Rector of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Lexington, Kentucky on the Sunday that V. Gene Robinson was consecrated. My ministry at that church and at all my former cures had been effective and well received. I am single, so my only source of income is from my work. Once I opposed my bishops social engineering agenda my life became very difficult. I lost jobs, had to sell my small farm because of lack of income, moved into an abandoned house without heat and windows, and endured 2 years of being ostracized by former friends and colleagues. I have no regrets. My relationship with God is stronger now than at any time in my life. I am in awe of how God has so generously provided for me and confirmed my decision.
Question: Do you think it likely youll end up in the Roman Catholic Church? Is Presbyterianism an option? Would you have a problem in principle to be in any Church that has women in ministry?
Response: My paternal grandmother was a Baptist minister, ordained in 1929 by the Northern Baptists in southern California. Her name was Alice Linsley. I am named after her. I have no problem with women in ministry as preachers, teachers and pastors. This is beside the point, as we are not speaking here of catholic orders. My doubts surround women priests, and even on that matter I recognize that Gods call on a women to be a priest may be authentic. However, speaking from personal experience, it cannot be authentic if it is based upon a churchs dishonesty, manipulation and failure to deliberate openly.
I am as yet uncertain where I will go, but it will not be to a denomination that is likely to give in to pressure to accommodate the Gospel to social pressures. In this country that doesnt leave many options.
Question: Does the whole gay issue have anything to do with your decision?
Response: In as much as the homosexual lifestyle falls far short of the biblical teaching on holy living and Gods sovereignty, yes. But, apart from this issue, the question of women priests is really a question of maintaining the apostolic tension between Scripture and Tradition.
Fascinating. Thank you for posting this.
God bless her on her journey. She has a lot of options, even in Lexington. There are a couple of Orthodox churches and even an FSSP chapel for Latin Mass there.
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