Lady Bishops?


Here’s a spirited debate by two members of the Church of England on whether or not to have women bishops.

If you are opposed to this innovation, take time to read George Pitcher’s arguments in favor. It’s a good exercise in trying to understand the other side’s point of view.
Most of all, take time to see how he deals with the New Testament passages which those against women’s ordination use as their proof texts.
You’ll begin to understand why, in any church debate, Scripture on its own is insufficient. Both sides simply have different interpretations of the same verses. Both interpretations, when properly explained, seem very plausible. So who decides? In the Anglican Church it comes down to a vote in synod, which means that they play politics until one side gets the result it wants.
The vote is on Monday in the Church of England General Synod. If it is defeated the proponents of women’s consecration to the episcopate will simply re-group and try again next time. If it goes through the opponents of women bishops will call for a ‘lady bishop free enclave’ or they will leave the Church of England for the Catholic Church or one of the Anglican breakaway churches. If they lose, what neither side is likely to do is say, “Well, the Holy Spirit has spoken through the General Synod. I suppose I must change my mind and accept it.” 
UPDATE: Here’s a blog I found which features lady bishops from all sorts of Protestant denominations worldwide. Bishop Elizabeth of the Liberal Catholic Church and Bishop Patricia of the Community Catholic Church of Canada are my favorites. 

One of the neat things about this blog is that Bishop Jefferts Schori is listed (as she should be) along with obvious fruitcakes who operate with a website and using their garage as their cathedral. All of them grinning happily and wearing all the episcopal clobbber and claiming to have valid orders.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06710927638399318664 A Simple Sinner

    I was kicking the idea around for a post about this… I don’t understand how it can be understood as anything but a waiting game, a matter of time, a fait accompli!The CofE is an insignicant institution in lives of the vast majority of its nominal members. (First to admit, not the least bit unlike the situation in some post-Catholic nations like France or Bavaria!) But who is there to real this in or stem the tide? It is all by vote and have conservatives/traditionalists even been admitted to the institutions that would put them in a position to be voting? Anglican watching nowadays is like watching a football game that is in the fourth quarter with a score of 6 to 84 with three minutes left.Not really a matter of “speculation” for who the winner, and who the loser will be.Let’s keep in our prayers the chance that bridges will be built for would-be ex-Anglicans to come home. (cf. TAC-Related Announcement post-Lambeth?)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04446241126728692642 niggle

    It’s interesting how, when George Pitcher brushes aside Jesus’ choosing of the twelve with the statement that all but one of the twelve fled before the passion and Golgatha, he is in effect brushing aside, well, Jesus’ choosing of the twelve.Last Supper? Breathing of the Holy Ghost? Those manly workers of miracles throughout Acts of the Apostles?Blah. Deriving ‘political contexts’ from Jesus’ time and pretending like we are now becoming free from them in the present is much more fun. Because that would mean we are in on the enlightenment that Jesus was giving to those who weren’t stupid chauvanistic runaways; the special enlightenment which all those dark age people have been keeping shackled up, knowing full well what would happen…Two words: Apostolic Succession.Here’s another two words: True Liturgy.Two objective things that are going to unify us.And divide.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    These guys seem horribly revisionist and slanted to me:When a woman anointed Jesus, to the outrage of the men, it was a priestly action that Jesus accepted as such.Priestly action seems like a stretch. Only Judas was angry, and at the expense of the oil used on inefficiently on feet with hair. There is zero indication that this was a feminist action, or a misogynist response. Of course that is only the beginning of this liberal interpretation. Martha, it seems was training for ministry, just by listening to Jesus one day. I guess the paralytic on the mat must have been in seminary too.And the women’s narrative even survives patriarchal editing in the early Church.Of course, those things that do not meet the author’s bias are the results of patriarchal editing by the early church. Protestantism, as always is rebellion from authority of any kind.Then we have:One of the geniuses of Anglicanism is its post-Reformation journey of exploration of the will of God, in contrast to the authoritarian and catechistic Roman Catholicism from which it departed.These bishop’s in the episcopalian church seem to own all the churches, and aren’t exactly ready to let parishes sign on to more conservative splinter groups if they so desire, while keeping their land and parish. So I love the outright hypocrisy when Anglicans call Rome authoritarian.Thank God we have an earhly authority in the successor of Peter and that we’re not quite this crazy, even if we do have a few SSPX’ers and womyn priests running about.The brutalist answer to those who won’t accept the episcopacy of their sisters in Christ is that there is an alternative: Rome.But most Anglo-Catholics love the Anglican Communion too dearly,Nah. Most Anglo-Catholics are bigotted against, because they’ve been weened on how ‘authoritarian’ Romans are, yadda yadda yadda.The “liberals” in the Church are in fact totalitarians. They are the ecclesiastical counterpart of all those people at the BBC, the Guardian and the Independent who hate everything about traditional ways. They despise the culture that created them. Now that rings true!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12520325224585096747 Éstiel

    Marcus,You are dead right. I will only hope that the Pope sees as clearly regarding that “Anglo-Catholic love for the Anglican Communion”, but we’ll see. And, whatever Rome decides, being Catholic, we will obey. Because we are not Anglican, as they apparently insist on remaining–while attempting to use the Catholic Church as a weapon with which they threaten their fellow Anglicans, engaging in yet another expression of the Tudor temper tantrum. Duh. (The definition of Anglican seems to be, just one mo’ time, “rejection of authority”. So they now reject the authority of their own church. What’s new?) Regarding the feminist Gospel revisionism: Well, you know, “to the man (excuse me, ladies) with a hammer, the whole world is a nail.” Or, in psychological parlance, a “complex”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16141414361291882691 Augustine

    After this exercise in trying to understand a heretic’s point of view, it confirmed my previous assessment that it’s nothing but Protestantism taken to its ultimate consequences poppycock.May St. Thomas Becket and St. Thomas More pray for the COE to come home to Rome.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    Did anyone note this comment:Has anyone stopped to look at where this PC agenda is taking the church? The church is becoming feminized and men are checking out in increasing numbers – and without men the church is dying. Take this research from Evangelicals Now 2003: Win a child to Christ and 3.5% of the family follows; win the mother and 17% of the family follows, win the father and 93% of the family follows! Men and women clearly have different roles in the church – and women priests (let alone Bishops) is not one of them. My wife is in leadership outside of the church but also believes in this passionately. I like this earlier comment from PJM – it’s worth repeating: “The crucial argument against women in the sacerdotal role is this: Jesus did not choose a woman to be one of the 12. Jesus was prepared to go against social convention in appointing a tax collector, a hated outcast, but he did not appoint a woman. He had many women disciples, but none was called to be among the 12. If Jesus was simply caught up in the perspective of his day, then he doesn’t appear to be a Messiah worth worshipping for all time”Posted by Colin Ashley on July 4, 2008 8:45 AMThat rings true to me. The ‘stallions in the bars, geldings in the churches’ sentiment is of course nonsense to the parcticed faithful, but it rings true to the novice. Christianity is a pacifist, gentle, feminine religion. The majority of the faithful at the weekday morning mass are ladies, often old ones.I’m sure the opposite was true at the temple of Venus in ancient Rome. Aside from the priestess, and the temple prostitutes, one imagines that the congregation would be 99% male.The tradition of selecting the most practiced of ‘spiritual warriors’ from amongst the male ranks to represent the masculine impulse within a very gentle religion has a place in keeping a gender balance. At least in Boston there are twice as many female religious than male religious and priests combined. Once you open the floodgates to women priests, I’m afraid you’d lose the men. Not because they are bigots, but because without a very strong presence of masculine role models in such a gentle faith you lose a light along the way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01960521706457744649 Tara

    As a nurse, one day I was caring for a Baptist minister. He gave me his card and told me to call him so he could try and convert me away from “those” Catholics. Caring for him for a couple of days and both of us very oriented to relgion, he tried to challenge my beliefs–I did the same to him. Thinking I would torment him about only using part of the Bible–protestants threw out the rest–he said, no, his congregation voted and decided to use the entire Bible–the same one the Catholics use.”You voted?” I could not continue the conversation as I was so dumfounded that they “voted.” THEY, themselves decided to use the entire Bible–very good choice–but, should it be left to us to “vote” on which of God’s truths to follow!?Ahhh, how lovely to belong the the Roman Catholic Church–the fullness of truth!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110491371985845560 kentuckyliz

    Don’t forget…St. Junia the Apostle, in the Bible, and honored in Eastern Christianity. St. Phoebe the Deaconness. Chloe’s people (her house church). Prisca and Aquila’s house church and traveling mission.We need male leadership because the male ego is fragile and part of the Fall is that they have the desire to lord it over. Let’s humor them. Churches are a male priest with an entirely female parish staff and leadership and volunteers. The priest is the token male.Catholic men don’t go to Church unless their mothers or wives make them.A feminized church attracts effeminate men, hence the Lavendar Mafia problem. Being a priest is a gay career choice. (That’s what the gay community believes and promotes.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    We need male leadership because the male ego is fragile and part of the Fall is that they have the desire to lord it over. Let’s humor them.I disagree with this. I think that there are a number of elements of applied christianity that do conflict with some masculine impulses be those impulses entertained by men or women. A strong libido is sometimes at odds with christian teaching, as is any sort of wrathful/fierce countenance towards life’s various difficulties. Male priests are not window dressing for men’s fragile egos at all. Male priests do provide a constant role model for yet another contradiction, how Christ’s teachings can be wholly christian yet fully masculine. This role model is just as important for mothers with sons and husbands as it is for Men themselves.So obviously I agree with you Liz that the church is a very feminine institution in many respects. So I agree that one reason the male priesthood is important is that assures us that that role model will be available. Without it I think the priesthood would be absolutely over-run by women, as they are more naturally faithful. There is no denying that in my mind, though I no scads of very faithful, ardent catholic men who are perfectly masculine. I just see twice as many women as men in that condition. How many fewer men would i see were it not for the male priesthood?Mandatory celibacy is another matter. In my view that works against us, the role model described, and a lot of other things.I agree regarding Junia and Phoboe, and for those reasons I think I am in favor of catholic deaconnesses, though I haven’t thought deeply enough about it to have a firm opinion. I do not buy the ‘naked baptizer’ argument at all. That doesn’t seem realistic to me, any more than that today’s church would create a female holy order only for the sake of naked baptism.


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