Skip to comments.England: Church urged to refrain from allowing women bishops
Posted on 06/30/2005 6:12:18 PM PDT by sionnsar
A large group of bishops has issued a last-minute appeal to the Church of England to hold back from allowing women the opportunity to become bishops.
On the eve of next week's General Synod, 17 bishops have expressed their concern that it would be pre-emptive to remove the legal impediments for the ordination of women as bishops before the Church has had proper time to debate the issue.
In a letter to The Church of England Newspaper, they warn that voting to set the process in motion for women to become bishops would be deeply divisive for the Church's relations with its other provinces in the Communion and its ecumenical partners.
It reads: "There is ample evidence from church history, not least, and most recently, in the Anglican Communion, that actions by individual provinces touching the scriptural and traditional faith and order of the Church, actions that inevitably unchurch those who cannot accept such changes, do not serve the unity which Christ asks of his Church."
The letter, which is signed by six diocesan bishops, including one of the highest ranking in the Church, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, says: "This matter touches profoundly both the order and identity of the Church of England and its place in the Church as a whole."
The bishops argue that the Bishop of Rochester's report showed that there is still "major theological disagreement within the Church of England" on the issue. They add that it is also a matter of deep concern to ecumenical partners who share a historic commitment to apostolic order.
It would be inappropriate to take action before there has been "a full and extensive theological debate," they argue. "To begin the process of removing the legal impediments to the ordination of women as bishops before such debate would widely and correctly be interpreted as assuming the answer."
Campaigners for women bishops will be concerned that the intervention of the bishops ahead of next week's meeting could cast doubt over what had seemed like a certain vote in favour of removing the legal obstacles preventing women from being promoted to the episcopate.
For the motion to be passed, it will require a backing from two-thirds of each of the General Synod's houses of laity, clergy and bishops.
The Bishop of Pontefract, the Rt Rev Tony Robinson, one of the letter's signatories, said that there needed to be a fuller discussion at all levels of the Church before Synod took a decision on the issue.
Christina Rees, Chair of Women and the Church, attacked the bishops' letter as "an insult" to the thousands of women serving as priests.
She refuted the claim that the Church had not had a proper debate on the issue and said that the overwhelming majority of the Church wanted women as bishops. "This has been on our agenda for 30 years. The time is now right. The exasperation most people in the Church feel that this has not happened yet is very high. We have already exhausted the issues."
Mrs Rees warned that the Church would be left in a far worse state if it took more time to debate the issue.
There are 14 provinces in the Communion that have already approved women as bishops. Only eight do not have women's ordination.
Text of bishops' letter on women bishops
July 1, 2005
Sir, At the July meeting of the General Synod a motion is to be debated asking that the legal impediments for the ordination of women as bishops be removed. As a number of diocesan synods have requested this, we accept the decision of the House of Bishops to test the mind of Synod in this way. We hope, however, that members of the Church of England as a whole will be given the opportunity to consider the implications of the Rochester Report (Women Bishops in the Church of England?) before any such decision is taken.
This matter touches profoundly both the order and identity of the Church of England and its place in the Church as a whole. The Report shows that this is still a matter of major theological disagreement within the Church of England, and is also a matter of deep concern to those ecumenical partners who share our historic commitment to apostolic order.
Bishops are called to be instruments of unity. They are ministers of the communion of churches and are specially charged with guarding and handing on the faith and order of the Church. That faith and order the Church of England has consistently claimed to be the apostolic faith and order of the universal Church. In our proposed new ordinal, those being ordained as bishops are required "to strive for the visible unity of Christ's Church".
There is ample evidence from church history, not least, and most recently, in the Anglican Communion, that actions by individual provinces touching the scriptural and traditional faith and order of the Church, actions that inevitably unchurch those who cannot accept such changes, do not serve the unity which Christ asks of his Church. "Reception is a long and spiritual process" (Grindrod Report (1988) cited in Resolution III.2 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference)
At the very least the full and extensive theological debate requested by the General Synod in setting up the Bishop of Rochester's Working Party must be held throughout the Church of England, and in consultation with all our ecumenical partners, before it would be appropriate to act as if that debate had already taken place and had been concluded in a particular way. To begin the process of removing the legal impediments to the ordination of women as bishops before such debate would widely and correctly be interpreted as assuming the answer.
On this feast of the apostles, St Peter and St Paul, who, despite their often sharply expressed differences, witnessed to the unity of the Church both in their teaching and their faithfulness to death, we pray that new divisions be not forced upon the Church of England, and that the episcopal ministry may continue to be the (albeit imperfect) ministry of unity our Church has hitherto maintained.
The Bishops of Gibraltar in Europe, Beverley, Blackburn, Chester, Chichester, Durham, Exeter (members of the House of Bishops);
Together with the Bishops of Burnley, Ebbsfleet, Edmonton, Fulham, Horsham, Lewes, Pontefract, Richborough, Whitby, and the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle.
I worship using the classic 1928 Book of Common Prayer and prefer all things traditional Anglican, but despite that I believe women should not be barred from the priesthood or becoming bishops. If Margaret Thatcher could be a prime minister, a woman can lead a church.
But only if she has a wife. 1 Tim. 3:2 "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife...."
By the way, many Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Missouri Lutherans use the fact of the feminazi and gaysbian movement in churches that allow woman priests/pastors as an argument against women's ordination. However, the Roman Catholic church, which has neither women's ordinations nor married priests, has feminazi "theologians". But the Orthodox church, with married priests but no women's ordination, has NO feminazi "theologians" that I know of. Go figure.
Women priest and bishops always lead to the fall of the church body they represent. It amazes me that normally rational people can't see the correlation between the two these days.
Take a look at what happened to the ELCA, Anglican communion, Old Catholics, Methodists, UCC, etc.
When a church gets to the point it decided to ignore scripture and ordain women as pastor/priests, then it quickly jumps right in to ignoring the rest of the book.
Red - It's just not that easy. ALL churches ignore parts of scripture. I suppose that what you consider valid is as important as what you choose to ignore.
In short, you are right. All of us here on earth only understand in part, and we are just as likely to go tilting at windmills as the next guy.
But we aren't talking about some of the minor things that seem to keep church leaders busy on a slow winters day here. While I have seen and met some good women pastors, the fact remains that Paul really came out against it. Until relatively recently it wasn't even considered by most, if not all, denominations as an option.
Ask Tony and HS about the damage done by some of the feminists in the ELCA (don't know where you worship, so you might also have some first hand knowledge). Go ask some of the Anglicans about what happened when women started to get ordained.
The LCMS has had many bloody battles about this internally, and it always came down to "Can we back it up with Scripture." The answer is no.
I am an Anglican. I agree with you that radical feminists have caused much damage. However, it is not their gender that causes the damage, it's their ideology. Look at the list of bishops who voted for Robinson to be ordained. Out of 100, 4 were women. How do you explain the men who voted for Robinson? My explanation is bad ideology/theology, not gender.
Maybe we are talking past each other. I see women's ordination as a symptom, not a cause, of the fall of a church. It is just a very visible symptom. As for the men who voted for Robinson (Vicky Gene), they were filled with a different spirit I guess. /joke
I don't see how ordaining women of sound theology will cause the downfall of a church. That implies that women are unfit for the office. And, they are...just as men are basically unfit. It's a condition of our life here.
Oh, and I think he spells his name "Vicke". For what that's worth!
Red - I'm trying to make sure I get this right, so, the only verses I find that say this are 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Am I missing some?
Yes. See the verses TonyRo76 listed in Post 7 to start.
1 Timothy 3:1 This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2 A bishop (episkopos ) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders (presbuteros) in every city, as I had appointed thee:
6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
1 Timothy 3:8 Likewise the deacons (diakonos) be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
11 Even so [must their] wives [be] grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Romans 16 refers to "our sister Phoebe", a deaconess. So women were at the very least in Holy Orders in Paul's time. There is also reference to an "apostle" named Junia. Male or female?
For any lefties out there who don't understand what the 'no extablishment' clause is for -- this is it!
The Greek word transliterated 'deacon' or 'deaconess' simply means servant. Whether or not that is an office of the church should be evaluated on context.
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