Five Guiding Principles 2
Church of England

Women bishops: the desperate and disingenuous distinction in the Five Guiding Principles

Of all the responses to the post on the ‘review’ instigated by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York into the operation of the Five Guiding Principles in the nomination of Philip North to become Bishop of Sheffield, this one from ‘None of the above’ was by far the most interesting:

It is HG, not the bishops of The Society, who is “obfuscating the meaning of ‘true'”. Guiding Principle 1 requires that it be acknowledged that clergy are “the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy.” To then speak of this as if it referred to “true validity” or “true ordination” is to fail to grasp a fundamental distinction between orders and office – a failure which indicates either mischievous misrepresentation or simple ignorance. The Principle is precisely worded, and uses the terms it does for a reason: not to provide convenient loopholes, but to say exactly what it intends to say and no more. There is no contradiction in the Principles, and no need to amend them, but simply to insist on them being applied in the sense in which they were plainly intended.

Now this is really geeky Anglican stuff, not to say lawyerly ecclesial pedantry. Honestly, if you’re not an anorak, please don’t waste your time reading further. And if you belong to another denomination and want to use this analysis simply as an(other) opportunity to trash the Church of England, please don’t bother commenting at all.

The context was the assertion that the Five Guiding Principles incorporate at the outset the patent nullification of Philip North’s (and The Society’s) theology of Church leadership. This first principle states:

Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;

So “all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender”, and the Church of England holds that women priests and bishops “are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy”. It was thus reasoned:

Note the phrase “true and lawful”: this is not merely a matter of parliamentary statute, but also of ecclesio-theological truth. Philip North (along with the rest of The Society) has no problem with ‘lawful’, but robustly refutes a crucial dimension of ‘true’. The stated aim of The Society is: “to promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England”; and “to provide episcopal oversight to which churches, institutions and individuals will freely submit themselves to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which they can have confidence”. How may this be reconciled to the first principle? Well, it can’t. If a diocesan bishop can have no confidence in the women clergy he leads, believing, as members of The Society do, that women priests and bishops are inconsistent with the apostolic tradition, in what sense can Philip North assent to the whole of the first principle without obfuscating the meaning of ‘true’? Whether his objections are ontological (that women are incapable of receiving ordination), or ecclesiological (that the decision to ordain women cannot be taken by the Church of England in isolation), his theology of leadership refutes the ‘true’ validity of their ministry.

‘None of the above’ didn’t like this at all: he takes the view that it is “either mischievous misrepresentation or simple ignorance”, because there is a “fundamental distinction between orders and office”. Members of The Society can assent unequivocally to the first principle because it distinguishes between holy orders and the office of priest/bishop: women may indeed be ordained to ministry, but “true and lawful” applies only to their office, not to their ordination.

While ‘None of the above’ may not believe that nothing mischievous was intended (because it truly wasn’t), he might consider that if the reasoning was borne of ignorance, it is more the fault of a desperate and disingenuous distinction than scholarly deficiency. There is either incompetent drafting, or a purposeful obfuscation of meaning which is repugnant to common sense.

If “true and lawful” relates only to a woman’s ecclesial office rather than her ordination (which The Society considers ‘lawful’ but not ‘true’), why apparently conflate the two with the phrase: “..those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office”? Is proper (theological and legal) understanding contingent on ‘true’ as it relates to ‘lawful’, or on the relationship between the first and second half of the clause?

Does “Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender..” define “..and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience”?

The first half of the clause is concerned with all orders of ministry, but the second half restricts itself to the recognition of ‘office’ – in other words, all offices appear to be subsumed into the understanding that all ministry (and therefore orders as well since they form a constituent part of ministry) is gender blind. Hence the reasoned proposition of “true validity”, which was neither wilfully mischievous nor ignorant, but a plausible, considered interpretation of meaning.

‘None of the above’ (and The Society, and so, presumably, Bishop Philip North) takes the view that the clauses are dealing with two different categories: the first half with ministry in order to include and understand office (but exclude orders), and the second half with office qua  office (but not orders).

Was this clausal complexity the purposeful introduction of a crafted ambiguity, or just a happy confusion which both parties have sought to take advantage of?

The Rev’d Dr Gavin Ashenden considers the nuances of the matter in a video. It is flawed by introductory and pointless waffle about the weather; and also by his referring to Philip North when I means Sir Philip Mawer (@ 9.55 and 10.37). It’s not dementia: these things happen in ‘Anglican Unscripted’ because it’s.. um.. unscripted:

Since the ‘Independent Reviewer’ Sir Philip Mawer really doesn’t have a lot to write about in his report (see bottom of previous post), maybe the clausal complexity of the first principle of the Five Guiding Principles is worthy of his meticulous attention. Could he please clarify whether it purposely distinguishes between ‘office’ and ‘orders’, and rule on what the precise relationship is between ‘true’ and ‘lawful’ in the text?  Over to you, Sir Philip (..with prayers).

  • vsscoles

    Casuistry is an unfruitful and jesuitical endeavour. Let’s state the matter plainly. In order to get the legislation through General Synod a deal was struck which permitted both sides of the argument to co-exist. And now there are some who lack any integrity who want to break the deal after just three years. And there is no leadership forthcoming from their respective Graces of Canterbury and York – who have passed the buck to someone without any power to do anything.

    • Anton

      Law or Grace?

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Blaise Pascal attacked the casuistry of the Jesuits in his Provincial Letters.

      In so doing, he refined the French language into a formidable weapon of attack: I think Voltaire acknowledged his debt to Pascal in this matter.

    • Anton

      I predict that the buck will come back. What then for the Archbishops?

      • vsscoles

        The have demonstrated recently that they are incapable of leading the General Synod. Worse, they seem to imagine that they can govern the church by issuing press statements.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Martyn Percy: name him and shame him.

  • Andrew Holt

    Currently wrestling with the 1993 Crofting Act, it is as nothing compared to this. I will take Your Grace’s sound advice and keep my Pentecostal nose out of this one and assure you of my prayers.

  • David

    I usually watch many of the discussions on Anglican Unscripted but stopped when this one became truly labyrinthine. Compared to the Land Use Acts I used to ponder in the course of my professional life, this legalese is far more complex and obscure.
    So as His Grace advises, not being an anorak, I shall do something more useful like continue working on two Easter sermons and try to shoot supper for the weekend.

  • Little Black Censored

    The distinction between lawfulness and validity is perfectly clear; people who are confusing them are doing so deliberately to score debating points, like Lib Dems.

  • dannybhoy

    Gavin Ashenden understands two things: what it means to be a Christian and how the Church of England works. I like this man very much, and I pray God will use his gifts and learning in helping us find a way out of this mess we have gotten into.

    • David

      Hear, hear !
      My thoughts entirely as well.
      Gavin Ashenden comes over as a very sincere, learned man of God who is also a very likeable person. Although not from my evangelical wing of the Church, that matters little, as I recognise in him a thoughtful, theologically skilled conservative who works to ensure the continuity of the historic Anglican expression of the universal Church.
      Conservatives used to unite around Hooker’s useful ideas of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, but little is heard about this these last decades. Instead liberals run amok at the expense of the precious things that held the Via Media together.
      Like you I hope that Gavin Ashenden, and fellow travellers, can help lead UK Anglicanism to recover its sense of direction, within or without the C of E. Certainly the two primates are not up to that big task.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Seems perfectly reasonable to me – orders are NOT the same as office. An archdeacon is not an ‘order’, neither is a bishop (in the CofE sense of what they mean).

    The 1863 Deed Poll of the Free Church of England (now moribund – not the current body part using that name) says the following:

    “It is hereby expressly declared and agreed that in the Free Church of England there are two orders of Ministers videlicet Bishops and Deacons. The first order shall be designated Bishops, or Presbyters or Elders the words being applied in the New Testament to the same persons.”

    It then goes on to describe others who might be involved, saying:

    “These may be associated in the several Congregations with other Ministers as Doctors or Teachers and those Elders or Presbyters who do not minister the word but whose gifts qualify them to rule in the Government of the Church.”

    Officers that is, who have no orders, but are still involved. Why would anyone try and equate ‘offices’ with ‘orders’ except to cause trouble?

  • len

    Just interested in any comments or if anyone knows or cares what the bishops are talking about?.With that I will depart.

    • Anton

      Do you mean the bishops or the archbishops?

      • len

        The men with the pointy hats?.

  • Martin

    Seems to me that such documents are an irrelevance since it is the Bible alone that is the Church’s authority and rule. That being so, the CoE’s decision to appoint women to either the office of elder/overseer (bishop if you insist) or deacon is illegitimate and not binding on any person within the CoE.

    Holy
    Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that
    whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not
    to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an
    article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. Article VI.

    No one is therefore required to recognise a woman as having an office within the CoE.

    • Dominic Stockford

      The effective abandonment of the Articles, and the theology contained therein, has served the CofE badly. Which is no surprise.

    • Anton

      Which raises the question, what should an Anglican do who disagrees with such appointments of women?

      • Don’t you advocate the removal of all ordained clergy, with lay (male) elders in local churches and no bishops? Doctrine is not to be settled by any church authority as the “priesthood of all believers” means government by the elect. Local autonomous parishes is scripture’s prescribed form of Church governance.

        • Anton

          Let me choose my words carefully.

          I believe that the church polity in the New Testament is as you describe (plainly a summary of what I have said here before). I believe it is still how the collective of believers in Christ should be organised today. The congregation I am in is of this sort, and I made informed choice to be in such a congregation.

          Now, the question is what I “advocate”. I don’t plan to start a petition telling Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops and higher-up-stills that they should abolish their own offices. I don’t even tell my Anglican and Catholic friends that they should “Come out of her, my people”. I can conceive of events such that I might, but such events are not yet, at least. I have simply made sure that my friends in institutional church systems know what I believe and why. My intention is to be a living example to them that it is possible to know and love Christ and not be an Anglican/Catholic, so that if they feel the need to quit their denomination under pressure of events then they can be more confident that they are not walking away from Christ.

          • The Bible provides plenty of support for episcopal government of the Church, which is why the early Church was clearly hierarchical.

            Bishops (Greek: episkopos) are specifically mentioned in Acts 1:20 (“office”), 20:28; Philippians 1:1 (“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons”); 1 Timothy 3:1-2; Titus 1:7; and 1 Peter 2:25. In Scripture particular duties are assigned to men who were regarded as overseers over regions, rather than individual churches: the power to ordain priests or appoint elders (Acts 14:23), the prerogative to excommunicate, management and administration of church affairs, and a special duty of defending the faith.

            Acts 20:28: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.”

            1 Timothy 3:1-5 “The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?”

            Titus 1:5-9: “This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town . . . a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless . . . he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

            1 Peter 2:25: “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian [episkopos] of your souls.”

            (In this verse, Jesus Himself is called a “bishop,” thus demonstrating the analogy of authority and oversight from God to the Church.

            You may claim the Bible teaches that bishops, elders, and deacons are all synonymous terms for the same office – that of a pastor today – and doesn’t indicate that bishops are higher than these other offices. To the contrary, in Titus 1:5 the bishop is higher than an elder because he is charged to “appoint” them “in every town.” This suggests both hierarchy and regional administration or jurisdiction. “Bishops and deacons” are both mentioned in Philippians 1:1, which would be odd if they were synonymous. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 also discusses bishops, then goes on to treat deacons separately.

            We would expect some overlapping or variability in function of ministers in the early Church, because it was just the beginning of the development of ecclesiology. The doctrine of the Church and its government would take time to develop, just as the Trinitarian and Christological doctrine did.

          • chefofsinners

            Oh, where to start in all this confusion?
            The terms bishop and elder (presbyter) can be seen to be synonymous by comparing Titus 1 verses 5 and 7. These verses in no way indicate that a bishop was superior to an overseer. They describe the way that apostles initially appointed church leaders.
            The term overseer is from the same Greek word as bishop. Peter addresses them as equals in 1 Peter 5 verses 1-3.
            It can be seen that the term pastor is synonymous with elder by comparing Acts 20:17 with 20:28.
            Finally, on bishops, there is no mention ever of a single bishop of a particular place. They are always plural.

            Bishops and deacons are clearly different offices. Broadly, the work of the bishop is spiritual and the deacon practical. (Acts 6: 1-7).

            All these years, I thought you were paying attention.

          • Anton

            He was – to the Magisterium.

          • Yes, Jack prefers to follow the Church established by Christ, rather than individual interpretations of scripture.

          • Anton

            I am a member of the Church established by Christ.

          • You’re not a member of His visible Church which has authority from Christ to loose and bind doctrine, forgive sin and to speak on behalf of Christ.

          • Anton

            I am a full member of Christ’s church according to God’s scriptural criteria. That’s good enough for me.

          • So what outfit do you belong to?

          • chefofsinners

            I’m a Christian.

          • Yes, but a Congregationalist, Presbyterian or Episcopalian Christian?

            The Inspector, who up-ticked you, is “independent Christian”.

          • Anton

            Why change the subject? Refute his exegesis or concede, Sir.

          • Jack, not subscribing to sola scriptura, already has to his own satisfaction in his previous post.

            As he said, we would expect some overlapping or variability in function of ministers in the early Church, because it was just the beginning of the development of ecclesiology. The doctrine of the Church and its government would take time to develop, just as the Trinitarian and Christological doctrine did. One needs unity of faith in the church, not doctrinal anarchy.

          • chefofsinners

            The purpose of the scriptures being…?

          • Your question assumes all Christian doctrine is explicitly described in the bible, even though this teaching itself is not found in scripture. Catholics believe, on the other hand, that divine revelation comes from God’s word given to us in written form (Sacred Scripture) and oral form (Sacred Tradition), both of which testify to the existence of the episcopacy, culminating in the Papacy.

            According to Scripture, Christ founded a visible Church that would never go out of existence and had authority to teach and discipline believers (see Matt. 16:18-19, 18:17). St. Paul tells us this Church is “the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15) and it was built on “the foundation of the apostles” (Eph. 2:20). Paul also tells us the Church would have a hierarchy composed of deacons (1 Tim. 2:8-13); presbyters, from where we get the English word priest (1 Tim. 5:17); and bishops (1 Tim. 3:1-7).

            Unlike the Apostles, Christ’s Church would exist for all ages, so the Apostle’s passed on to their successors the authority to bind and loose doctrine (see Matt. 18:18), forgive sins (see John 20:23), and speak on behalf of Christ (see Luke 10:16). Acts 1:20, for example, records how after Judas’s death Peter proclaimed that Judas’s office (or, in Greek, his bishoporic) would be transferred to a worthy successor. In 1 Timothy 5:22, Paul warned Timothy to “not be hasty in the laying on of hands” when he appointed new leaders in the church.

            As early as A.D. 110, St. Ignatius of Antioch told his readers: “Follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop.” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8)

            Just as the Apostles’ authority was passed on their successors, Peter’s authority as their leader and the rock on whom the Church was built (Matt 16:18) was passed on to his successor. This man inherited the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19) and Peter’s duty to shepherd Christ’s flock (see John 21:15-17).

            In A.D. 190, Pope St. Victor I excommunicated an entire region of churches for refusing to celebrate Easter on its proper date. While St. Irenaeus thought this was not prudent, neither he nor anyone else denied that Victor had the authority to do this. Indeed, Irenaeus said, “it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [Rome] on account of its preeminent authority.” (Against Heresies, 3.3.2)

          • chefofsinners

            My question assumed nothing.
            The bible describes itself as “given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work .”
            If the purpose of scripture is that we may be “thoroughly equipped”, it is hard not to understand these words as saying that it is sufficient.

            You may if you wish accord equal status to tradition, but you have no scriptural basis for claiming that tradition is God breathed. So, if scripture indicates one form of church leadership and tradition another, I will follow scripture.

          • So the early Church leaders who formulated the Christian doctrines and collected together the canon of scripture, were “heretics”?!

            Apart from the Gospels and Acts, Paul provides explicit evidence of Sacred Tradition in his writings. Here are three examples:

            “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” (1 Cor. 11:2).

            “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6).

            “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thess. 2:15).

            2 Timothy 3:16–17 doesn’t claim scripture is sufficient as a rule of faith. An examination of the verse in context shows it claims scripture is “profitable”. Many things can be profitable for moving toward a goal, without being sufficient in getting one to the goal. The passage nowhere even says that scripture alone is “sufficient”. The context of 2 Timothy 3:16–17 is Paul laying down a guideline for Timothy to make use of scripture and tradition in his ministry as a bishop. Paul says:
            “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”
            (2 Tim. 3:14–17)
            In verse 14, Timothy is initially exhorted to hold to the oral teachings, the traditions, that he received from the Paul. This echoes Paul’s reminder of the value of oral tradition in 1:13–14, “Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.”. Here Paul refers exclusively to oral teaching and reminds Timothy to follow that as the “pattern” for his own teaching . Only after this is scripture mentioned as “profitable” for Timothy’s ministry.

          • chefofsinners

            The early Church leaders, who formulated the Christian doctrines and collected together the canon of scripture, were not heretics, but heresy existed at the time. This is reflected in some of the non-canonical writings.

            Doctrine was first communicated orally by the apostles and supplemented by letters as necessary. As the apostles died their letters were collected and became the authoritative repository of their teaching.

            The key phrases in 2 Tim 3:16 are:
            i) ‘God breathed’, an authority which oral tradition lacks if it contradicts scripture.
            ii) ‘thoroughly furnished’. How can you be thoroughly furnished and yet insufficiently furnished?

          • Paul doesn’t separate oral teaching and the written word. Oral tradition does not contradict scripture but explains it and expands on it. Sacred Tradition comes from Christ by way of the Apostles. Not all Christian doctrine is explicitly described in the bible. What is clear, however, is that Christ established a visible Church with authority exercised through the Apostles and their successors to bind and loose doctrine (Matt. 18:18), forgive sins (John 20:23), and speak on behalf of Christ (Luke 10:16).

          • chefofsinners

            You have quoted a number of passages in which Paul separates oral teaching and the written word.
            Of course in his day they went hand in hand. But there is no reason why they should continue to do so.
            And, I return again to this: what do we do in this specific case of leadership where some oral tradition contradicts scripture? You choose the oral tradition, I choose scripture.

          • Anton

            Again you subtly change the subject. You and Ch[i]ef have the New Testament in common. If you think his exegesis from it is wrong, please indicate where and why. That has nothing to do with sola scriptura.

          • chefofsinners

            I’m not sure the Inspector qualifies as either.
            I am glad to work with other Christians wherever I find them. I spent this afternoon with a CoE bishop and a Catholic friend who has one of the strongest and most inspiring faiths I have ever encountered.

          • Jack remains curious – are Congregationalist, Presbyterian or Episcopalian?

          • chefofsinners

            Christ is not divided. Mankind sees divisions, Christ sees only sheep and goats. I am His sheep and He is my Shepherd.

          • Congregationalist it is then.

          • chefofsinners

            No.

          • Presbyterian then?

          • chefofsinners

            No.

          • carl jacobs

            The First Church of Exceedingly Painful Puns?

          • chefofsinners

            Punsibly.

          • carl jacobs

            Didya hear they made a rabbit into a Bishop? He was a haretic, of course.

          • An Anglican with no fixed views about ecclesiastical polity?

          • Lucius

            I would submit that St. Ignatius, the third Bishop of Antioch from about 68-107 AD, in his letter to the Letter to the Magnesians indicates the existence of a Church hierarchy, stating “I advise you, be ye zealous to do all things in godly concord, the bishop presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the Apostles….” Here, Bishops are in the “likeness of God” and Presbyters in the “likeness of the … Apostles.” Certainly, a hierarchy, no?

            Here again in the letter, it indicates that Bishops are superior to Presbyters and not synonymous as you seem to suggest: “Yea, and it becometh you also not to presume upon the youth of your bishop, but according to the power of God the Father to render unto him all reverence, even as I have learned that the holy presbyters also have not taken advantage of his outwardly youthful estate, but give place to him as to one prudent in God.”

            In other words, St. Ignatius is notes that the Presbyters are not taking advantage of a younger Bishop but giving him his due place, insinuating a superior position of the bishop.

            Finally, it also states it the letter “my fellow-servant the deacon Zotion, of whom I would fain have joy, for that he is subject to the bishop as unto the grace of God and to the presbytery as unto the law of Jesus Christ.” Here, the St. Ignatius notes the subordinate position of the deacon to the both the Bishop and the Presbytery.

            Keep in mind, St. Ignatius is one generation removed from the Apostles, and some say Peter the Apostle may have been present when Ignatius was installed as Third Bishop of Antioch (remember, Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch).

            Would his letter not be good evidence of a Episcopal hierarchy (Bishop, Presbyter, Deacon) as the very beginnings of the Church?

          • chefofsinners

            I would submit that this letter is not part of the canon of scripture and therefore not authoritative. If it does reflect the positon in the Magnesian church at the time this does not necessarily establish that position as in accordance with the will of God.

          • Lucius

            I think your just fixed in your position, which is fair enough. A letter from a first century Christian Bishop of Antioch (where followers of Christ were first called Christians) that is on point with regard to the subject of Church hierarchy should not be so casually dismissed. Again, this is another problem with strict Sola Scripture, even recorded teachings of immediate or near-immediate successors to the Apostles themselves are discarded. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the Bible was never meant to be an exhaustive source on Christian teaching or the Church itself. I understand your position, but we will have to agree to disagree.

          • chefofsinners

            Letters, teachings and traditions are only dismissed if they contradict scripture.

        • Pubcrawler

          Aaaaand here we go again…

          *headdesk*

          • CliveM

            A supporting couple of pints I think.

      • Given the episcopacy, and therefore the appointment of women as ministers and bishops, it’s not considered (by some) a matter critical to salvation, one can have a “good disagreement” about it and lay out the rules for “mutual flourishing”. All that matters is faithful transmission of the Gospel and women are as capable as men is this and in fulfilling pastoral roles. For those who have a different view, that only men can have authority in proclaiming the Gospel in church and in her governance, and/or that ordination involves sacerdotal functions that can only be validly conferred on men, following the example of Christ and 2000 years of church practice, there is no common ground.

        • Anton

          I meant: Should an Anglican who disagrees quit or seek to restore a more biblical status quo? I have no problem telling the CoE’s liberals that they should return to the Bible, but it would be presumptuous for me to advise its evangelicals over this matter.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Although I’m not at home and therefore don’t have the Bible in front of me I am pretty sure there were women deacons in Apostolic times. Furthermore some of the people named by Paul as apostles, not the original 11 obviously, were women.

      • Women deacons were not ordained in the same way as male deacons. They were there to assist women at baptism and other similar tasks that required modesty. And the term “apostle” has a variety of applications.

      • Martin

        Roy

        The word deacon, or rather diakonos, means one who serves. There is clearly a distinction between the office, here:

        Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
        (I Timothy 3:8-13 [ESV])

        where they are clearly men, and the serving performed by women.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Paul doesn’t name any women as apostles. Read it more carefully and you will note that some women worked for the Lord, not that they were apostles. I work for the Lord when I sing a hymn.

        • Anton

          I’m not sure that praise is work.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I am sure that praise (giving glory to God) is serving the Lord, and that is work – but after this world work won’t be the post-fall blight that it has become.

    • Andym

      No-one is required to recognise a woman as having an office within the C of E – except Anglicans. The C of E ordains women as priests and bishops – fact. They rank pari-passu with ordained men. Those are the rules of the C of E. The rules may have changed since you came to Christ, but if you are unable to accept this change I respectfully suggest you join Anton in his sect with male only priesthood.

      • Martin

        Andy

        The 39 Articles say otherwise.

        • Andym

          Where in particular?

          • Martin

            Andy

            I quoted that part.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Being a priest (bishop merely being another name for presbyter which the CofE have translated to priest) is NOT a office, but an order. Thus I have no problem in accepting women as legally holding offices, though they do not in God’s eyes have orders.

        • carl jacobs

          Honest question. If you can’t accept that a woman can legitimately exercise the authority inherent to the office, then how can you accept the office?

          • Dominic Stockford

            I don’t believe that being a ‘Bishop’ is holding an office, I merely think it to be another name for presbyter, etcetera. It is thus an order only. Therefore I don’t have any intention ever of accepting them in that order. The CofE has done the RC trick and turned Bishops into something else, an office. Then they turned the office into an order. It is perfectly possible to administrate the practical needs of a geographical area (serving their needs, rather than lording it over them) without being ordained. And administration in a servant capacity doesn’t mean it is necessary to have authority. One of my church members is the most vital cog in his office, as the office administrator, finding meeting rooms, checking stock, getting rail tickets, etcetera – without him the place would fall apart – and yet he is the most junior employee in the office (at 71!) with no authority over anyone else.

      • carl jacobs

        if you are unable to accept this change I respectfully suggest you join Anton in his sect with male only priesthood.

        There you go. “Mutual Flourishing” defined. At least you are honest about it.

      • Anton

        Not a sect; a congregation. With male-only leadership (of which I am not one, by the way). I confess that I haven’t considered whether the default priesthood of believers spoken of in Rev 1:6 and 1 Peter 2:9 is taken to include women.

      • ChaucerChronicle

        We, the orthodox, can no longer be in communion with the CofE as it is no longer Christian, but a pre-Christian religion with priestesses.

        • Andym

          ChaucerChronicle says Anglicans are not Christian. Thank you for your clarity – or not – what do you mean by “pre-christian”? Who are you to judge who is a Christian? Why are you commenting at all, given what your host said in his post? Have you a mandate for “we” the the orthodox – are you ordained?

          • ChaucerChronicle

            It is written:

            Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

          • Merchantman

            Are you?

          • carl jacobs

            ChaucerChronicle says Anglicans are not Christian.

            No, he didn’t say that at all.

          • Andym

            He said ” … the C of E as it is no longer Christian”. That seems clear to me.

      • Merchantman

        People out there are Spiritually hungry for Christ yet what’s on offer (you say) is now in my understanding compromised and a version of ‘let them eat cake’.

  • One can legislate all one likes that there is no distinction between coconut milk and cow’s milk and proclaim it can therefore be lawfully marketed as dairy produce. It doesn’t mean it is in accordance with reality.

  • Mike Stallard

    When I was at Lincoln Theological College in 1975, I wrote this and hung it on my door: “When the Holy Spirit of the New Testament and the Holy Spirit of today disagree, who wins?”

  • chefofsinners

    Well, I wouldn’t start from here.

  • dannybhoy

    It suddenly struck me this afternoon..
    Why would you need the fantastic Five Guiding Principles when you already have the Thirty nine Articles..?
    http://www.theologian.org.uk/church/39articles.html

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Article XXXII (Of the Marriage of Priests) does not envisage women being ordained and (or) holding office:

      Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God’s Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.

      The progressives need the Five Guiding Principles to degrade the authority of the 39 Articles.

      • dannybhoy

        The trouble is Chaucer Chronicle that regardless of denomination too many genuine Christians believe it is a sin to stand up for our Lord Jesus and His gospel. We have lost that St. Stephen passion to speak for the Truth, even if it means being stoned to death for blasphemy.
        This is what stoning to death entails..
        http://heavy.com/news/2015/08/new-isis-islamic-state-videos-pictures-man-stoned-to-death-nineveh-ninawa-iraq-uncensored-photos/4/
        In our times the closest equivalent might result in being ostracised from the bishop’s garden party, not getting a diocesan Festival card, or no invitations to social soirees. At the very worst you might be referred to a psychiatrist…
        But somewhere along the line God must be seeking men willing to risk it for the sake of His holy name?

        Ezekiel 22:30
        ” And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.”
        Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

        2 Corinthians 6
        14 Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Be′lial?[a] Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

        “I will live in them and move among them,
        and I will be their God,
        and they shall be my people.
        17 Therefore come out from them,
        and be separate from them, says the Lord,
        and touch nothing unclean;
        then I will welcome you,
        18 and I will be a father to you,
        and you shall be my sons and daughters,
        says the Lord Almighty.”
        Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

        • ChaucerChronicle

          He is seeking.

          The men are not willing.

          • dannybhoy

            :0).
            I was greatly impressed by an article I read about martyrdom by ISIS where it was recognised that some believers would not deny their faith, full stop.
            http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/april/more-martyrs-isis-executes-ethiopian-christians-libya.html
            I know this is somewhat different, but I think we will see God raise up leaders..

          • ChaucerChronicle

            Aye!

            The broken He will ‘resurrect’.

          • dannybhoy

            We should keep on praying for those that seem to us most fit to step up to the mark, yet who knows who He will anoint? I think of those saints who willingly went to martyrdom for their Lord, and believe that somewhere along the line He will test us too.

          • ChaucerChronicle

            Danny

            Pleasing that you said ‘test’ rather than ‘temptation’.

            Brilliant!

  • Inspector General

    An Inspector sticks his head around the door and says..

    “Is it possible that ‘none of the above’ is the actual legal hand that committed the five principles to word.” In which case, the five principles are whatever he wants them to be. And certainly not you, Cranmer. The very idea!”

    {Door is slammed shut, but the Inspector has left the building…}

    • Anton

      At least the stuff about the weather is clear!

      • Inspector General

        Something about the miscreant returning to the scene of his crime…

    • None of the above

      Ah, Inspector, I fear I am a mere lowly parish priest; with the Psalmist, “I do not exercise myself in great matters : which are too high for me.” (Not for want of trying, perhaps, but my colleagues declined to elect me to General Synod.) And I am certainly no lawyer!

      • Inspector General

        Oh well, it was worth a punt.

        Can’t do anything about you being in Cranmer’s bad books though. Unless. Just a moment. One was given some excellence advice in the centre of Gloucester not 90 minutes ago. Anyway you can have it. Wrote it down even, So impressed was this Inspector. Ah, here it is. “Repent of your sins”. There. Mean anything to you?

        • None of the above

          I believe I may have heard the expression somewhere. But it’s not the first time I’ve been in Cranmer’s bad books. I used, in the distant past, to be a regular commenter here, until we had a bit of a run-in a few years ago. (He never banned me, though he deleted many of my comments. He later grudgingly conceded the point I had been trying to make. Does that count as him “repenting of his sins”?)

          • Inspector General

            Yes. Being subject to Cranmer’s vengefullness counts. Or at least it should.

          • Sorry, but please don’t spread untruths: comments aren’t summarily deleted for mere disputation (good lord, just read some comments in any thread – take you pick for reams of personal abuse, insult, disparagement..). This is a blog which upholds freedom of expression, and always has). The Comment Policy is transparent. What point had you “been trying to make” (you mean it wasn’t clear?) which was then “grudgingly conceded”?

          • None of the above

            No untruth there, YG, though if we were to revisit the issue I suspect we might disagree as to whether it was “mere disputation” or something else (I was, though, scrupulously polite throughout.) As a gesture of goodwill I shall delete the relevant part of the above comment.

  • How would The Society view a Rev. Canon in Manchester who describes herself as a “trans lesbian”, having been born male and finished “transitioning” in 1995?

    • Anton

      Son of a Gun?

    • chefofsinners

      Five gelding principles?

      • Royinsouthwest

        Shouldn’t one be enough?

    • Invalid. Disordered and in need of help and or care.

  • len

    When you don`t follow scripture you have to make something up that sounds scriptural but isn`t.
    Perhaps the C of E should ask the RCC for some pointers?.

    • Dominic Stockford

      They are the acknowledged experts at it, yes indeed.

    • IanCad

      Oh Dear! Oh Dear! Glass houses and stones.
      Pots and kettles.

  • chefofsinners

    No.

    • CliveM

      Darn I thought I had it. I give up…………….. (Slopes off with pouty bottom lip).

  • IrenaSerena1984

    Finally someone has pointed out what Martyn Percy must privately know: that recognising lawful office has *nothing* to do with recognising the validity of orders.

    The background to the first Principle is the legal challenges that were brought forward against women’s priestly ordination in the 1990’s. Church Society, for example, legally challenged Synod’s competency to change the doctrine of the Church and in doing so challenged whether women priests were the “lawful holders” of their office. Guiding Principle 1 commits us all to recognise that women priests/bishops are in fact the *lawful* holders of the office they occupy. It is no longer acceptable to challenge the legality of women’s admission to the three orders of ministry (Church Society style).

    I am, however, permitted to question the validity of +Rachel’s holy orders even as I recognise that she is in fact the lawful holder of the office of Bishop of Gloucester.

    • Inspector General

      Good for you madam. That bishop-feminist is around a mile away from where this man communicates tonight, if she is home. If Jesus referred to his father in heaven, then it should be enough for that woman to do so also….

    • ChaucerChronicle

      ‘she is in fact the lawful holder of the office of Bishop of Gloucester’: legal, but a legal fiction.

      • So really, in other words, women priestesses, bishops are no more theologically valid than a state appointed registrar or head registrar is.

        • IrenaSerena1984

          Therein is the subtlety. As clergy of the Establishment they are holders of a civil office. In signing the 5 Guiding Principles I commit to recognising (and not legally challenging) that they hold that office, though, for me, without the theological and sacramental validity. A priest in Gloucester can’t, for example, send a young man from his church to train for ordained ministry without Rachel Treweek sponsoring. But he is perfectly entitled to go elsewhere for sacramental provision. Strange, I know, to divide the office from the ministry…

          Martyn Percy knows all this and will say what he needs to say in order to stir up the kind of controversy that will achieve his ends. Arsy and disengnuous

          • ChaucerChronicle

            Then Irena, it would have been better to leave when it was agreed that there would be priestesses.

          • IrenaSerena1984

            Maybe so. My point isn’t to make the case for staying in the Church of England but to highlight Percy’s scornful disregard of the power of distinction. The Church has made a distinction and to talk as though the distinction were not there is to dishonestly use the careful balance of the GP’s in order to make out that traditionalists’ views are incompatible with said GP’s. Which is of course preposterous, given that they were written with the express purpose of allowing space for traditionalists.

          • Then Irena, what are these women priestesses and bishops doing in the Church if they have no theological and sacramental validity?
            Their positions are rather like a decorated hollow Easter egg. All the trappings of earthly man made law but no spiritual backing.

          • IrenaSerena1984

            Or rather, “having a form of godliness but denying its power”. Many of them are, I suppose, good-faith participants in this error. Others are motivated by a feminist neo-paganism that has determined to sacrifice Scripture on the altar of modern equality discourse.

          • I think you’re right. They’re all a bit pathetic to my mind.

    • Anton

      The question that seems to me to underlie all this is: By whose law? God’s or man’s? Talking about “law” without specifying that is going to lead to confusion which those with an ungodly agenda can exploit.

      • IrenaSerena1984

        Canon law in the Established Church is a complex beast given its status as law of the land. That in and of itself is a perfect foundation for contradiction when the land no longer professes the faith of the church in any meaningful sense.

        The clear point of the first Principle is that we cannot argue that the appointment of a woman Bishop contravenes the law of the land (which happens to be Canon law too). I’m happy to do that and to desist from legally challenging every female appointment. As I do that, I’m allowed to reject their theological validity and not receive their sacramental ministry.

        It’s a theological contradiction but not a legal contradiction, as Percy claims.

        • Anton

          I wonder what the apostle Paul would say about the phrase “canon law” in view of his comments about grace and law in Romans 1-8.

          • IrenaSerena1984

            That’s quite a chunk. Which particular comments about grace in law do you have in mind?

  • David Waters

    Bishops. Who gives a damn?

    • carl jacobs

      Ruy Lopez.

  • ChaucerChronicle

    Your Grace

    You’ve been correct in your analysis as to where all this was heading. There can be no ‘mutual flourishing’.

    We are, where we are.

    I wonder what ‘Christianity’ will look like under a denomination that has a ‘Mother God’ and congregations being ministered to by priestesses.

    In a society where single (female) parenthood is a major factor; what affect will priestesses and a ‘Mother God’ have on the long-term psychology of boys and girls?

    Boys and men, who love competition and the sting-of-battle: what will happen to them within the CofE?

    • Sarky

      Are there any in the cofe???
      The evidence would suggest otherwise.

      • ChaucerChronicle

        It’s worse than you imagine Sarky.

        CofE prances about appointing a bishop for black and ethnic minorities.

        However, its Doctrine of Inclusion (the pansexual agendum) ensures that they are excluded.

        As the CofE shrinks, its position as the Keeper of the Nation’s Conscience becomes untenable and calls for disestablisment will grow

        It will be no use arguing the Queen should do something to defend it; she is Defender of the Faith: the Roman Catholic Faith.

        • Sarky

          I thought she was defender of faiths?? Or is that just charlie boy?

          • ChaucerChronicle

            The latter.

  • Father David

    Your Grouse,

    Many of your correspondents complain about the complexity of the bad disagreement in our understanding of the differences between ORDER and OFFICE and have given up trying to comprehend the nuances therein. But just wait until our politicians start wrestling with the Brexit negotiations – you ain’t seen nothing yet! I was rather hoping that the vicar’s daughter’s missive would have arrived on Mr. Tusk’s desk tomorrow morning (April 1st) and then we could all wake up from this terrifying nightmare.

    • Dominic Stockford

      What nightmare? Being ruled by socialist madmen in Europe? Yes, indeed, all of us here want to wake up from that nightmare.

  • None of the above

    Well, YG, I confess myself genuinely flattered that you considered my humble contribution “by far the most interesting” on that thread.

    You don’t appear to say explicitly whether you acknowledge the distinction between office and order; instead you have chosen to divert the discussion on to the relationship between the clauses of the Principle.

    As to the former: the reality of the distinction between office and order is demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt by well-established features and practices of the Church of England – features and practices which long pre-date the present dispute over women’s orders.

    For example: when, a few years ago, my present Diocese received a new Diocesan Bishop, he had not previously served as a Suffragan or Assistant Bishop, and at the time he kissed hands with Her Majesty was not yet in episcopal orders. Nonetheless, from that moment he was the Bishop of the Diocese. Not “Bishop-designate”, “Bishop-in-waiting”, or Bishop-with-any-other-qualifying-term. Just “Bishop”. And not just as a terminological nicety: from that moment he was in full possession of his office, and had all the powers, rights and obligations which attend that office – saving only the sacramental power to ordain (and, arguably, confirm) which he received later at his episcopal consecration. He was, in short, “the true and lawful holder of the office which [he] occup[ied]” (notwithstanding that he lacked as yet certain powers which are ordinarily concomitant with the office), and “thus deserve[d] due respect and canonical obedience”.

    Even if, for some reason, he had never subsequently received episcopal consecration, both the lawfulness of his tenure of office and its truth (i.e. no mere legal fiction but a practical reality) would have been unaffected. It is thus a perfectly coherent position to insist upon due respect for the one who occupies the office, regardless of his/her sacramental status.

    Realising, I suspect, that you are on a bit of a sticky wicket over that issue, you attempt by main force to yoke order and office together by dissecting the clausal structure of the Principle. Now, no doubt this is all meat and drink to those given, in your nice phrase, to “lawyerly ecclesial pedantry”; as a non-lawyer, I can only say that what appears “desperate and disingenuous” is your own attempt to subvert the plain meaning. The “Now that …” clause establishes the context; it strains the bounds of the English language to claim that it defines the meaning of what follows. Indeed, if order and office are incommensurate, it cannot do so – it makes no reference to office, and nothing in either part of the sentence implies that office entails order (or vice versa) or that they are to be judged by the same criteria . The phrase “true and lawful” qualifies “holders of the office”, not “orders of ministry”, and no matter how convoluted one tries to make the argument I see no way of getting from the one to the other.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      NOTA

      Either His Grace is a witness to events and presumably neutral; or, he intends the destruction of the CofE.

      At the moment it appears to be the latter (in a replication of a Twitter exchange, Ashenden cites HG as agreeing to women’s ordination. There has been no denial by HG).

      Then, why?

      • None of the above

        I believe he said a little while ago that he has changed his stance (or, as we say, gone wobbly) on WO. It was never clear why. I suspect he just got tired, as so many have, with constantly having to swim against the tide, rather than having received a Damascene revelation.

        Will he though at the last decry, with his namesake, “that unworthy hand” by which he made a less than sincere recantation of his previous position?

      • Dominic Stockford

        He has said this in various places recently – he supports WO. So your conclusion to sentence one seems accurate.

    • Dominic Stockford

      There should be, in the CofE, only two orders of ministry, deacons and presbyters/overseers/bishops – as the latter is served by a variety of titles for the same task in the NT. Sadly they now have three, having created an order out of an office, and then stolen the word ‘bishop’ for that position.

      • IrenaSerena1984

        I’m sure this horse has been flogged to high heaven on here. But two questions:

        1. When and under what circumstances do you suppose that the pure polity of the NT was subverted, given the very early evidence of three orders?

        2. Where does St. Timothy – a man with the power to ordain and discipline presbyters – fit into your two-order model?

        • Dominic Stockford

          1. Who knows (I’m sure someone here will), but it was.
          2. ‘Ordain presbyters’ ‘discipline presbyters’? Please give textual evidence for this so I can discuss the specific Biblical point you are making.

          • IrenaSerena1984

            Timothy is the one to whom accusations against elders are brought (1 Tim 5:19) and who “lays hands” upon them (5:22). Certainly the Bishop/presbyter distinction is blurry at this time in the Church’s history, but it’s equally certain that Timothy exercises an apostolic authority *above* those whom he disciplines and appoints.

            Returning to question 1, the non-conformist narrative is unlikely enough to give one pause for thought. To think that the entire polity of God’s Church was corrupted within a mere generation is far fetched, while those who espouse this corruption ape after something that cannot possibly exist. The apostles are firmly in glory and we no longer enjoy their Apostolic oversight in the way the 1st century Church did.

          • Dominic Stockford

            1 Timothy 5:19? So the charges are presented to him, but Timothy would not have gone against other teaching which tells us NOT to do such things alone, but to do them with another. Frankly, this is no more than any pastor has to do. What is more, the wording is clear, and it doesn’t say presbyter [πρεσβύτερος] but elder [μεγαλύτερος].

            The ‘laying on of hands’ does not imply a specific episcopal office or order seperate to that of presbyters/overseers. In continuing Anglican churches ALL the presbyters lay on hands together led by whosoever is the senior pastor – the same in Presbyterianism.

          • Pubcrawler

            Which edition of the Greek NT are you using? All the ones on Biblehub clearly have πρεσβυτέρου. I can’t say, in all my decades of reading Greek, that I’ve ever come across μεγαλύτερος. Looks like Modern Greek to me. And it mean ‘bigger’, anyway, not ‘elder’ (which is πρεσβύτερος).

            http://biblehub.com/texts/1_timothy/5-19.htm

            I can’t say, in all my decades of reading Greek, that I’ve ever come across μεγαλύτερος. Looks like Modern Greek to me. And it mean ‘bigger’, anyway, not ‘elder’ (which is πρεσβύτερος).

          • Dominic Stockford

            Apologies, used the wrong page of information on that one.

          • Pubcrawler

            I see…

            But I am now intrigued. What was the page that you used addressing?

          • IrenaSerena1984

            You assume this, and yet the text clearly says that the charges are to be brought to him. A much simpler reading is that Timothy has been delegated a Pauline (Apostolic) authority to appoint, discipline and oversee the ministers of a cluster of local congregations. There’s no implication at all that roles could be reversed – that the ministers that Timothy is charged with disciplining are also tasked with disciplining Timothy. The logic is that he holds a higher office than they do. And the organic development of this situation is the historic episcopate – I.e. Bishops who represent Apostolic authority and guard the teaching and unity of multiple congregations.

            I point to development because it’s clear that NT polity develops as the Church grows (for example, the creation of the office of Deacon). With the death of the Apostles, this polity necessarily develops further. From the single order of Bishop-Presbyter the Church consecrates certain men to have Apostle-style oversight over a community of local congregations.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Respectfully, it is you doing the assuming. And when such assuming suits the creed that you follow it is incumbent upon you to think carefully about such an assumption.

          • IrenaSerena1984

            Doubtless. We all read on the basis of our own assumptions. I just don’t know from what text you derive ideas about “senior pastors”? Given that such a concept is read into the text, your argument is no less an argument from silence than the episcopacy you condemn. I’d say it is all the more incumbent on you to reflect on why you prefer to read it that way, particularly given the novelty of your view.

          • Dominic Stockford

            There was only ONE congregation in Ephesus. Timothy was clearly the senior pastor there. Even Eusebius, who supports you on the ‘bishop’ concept (all depending on what someone means by bishop), says so: “Timothy, so it is recorded, was the first to receive the episcopate of the parish in Ephesus, Titus of the churches in Crete. (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 3.4.6)”. Note the specific singular ‘the’.

            However, 1 Timothy 1:3 does not say that Timothy was the bishop of Ephesus. In fact, Timothy is never called a bishop or an elder (and though never called a pastor, he was clearly acting as one) – (The same could be said of Titus as well.) However, Paul may have called Timothy an apostle (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6), and he encourages Timothy to be a good deacon (1 Timothy 4:6).

          • IrenaSerena1984

            None of what you say damages the case for the development of episcopacy nor supports your made up role of “senior pastor”. I’m not arguing that the 3 orders are concretely arranged in the NT but that the situation in the NT organically develops (for develop it must) into the historic episcopate. You, however, want something that token for token mirrors the situation in the NT but you don’t achieve it. Presbyterians end up making up roles that don’t exist in the text and thereby contradict their own regulative principle.

          • Dominic Stockford

            1. I’m not a Presbyterian.
            2. You admit in your last answer that the three-fold order for ministry does NOT exist in the NT. It is therefore not Biblical, and an invention of man. Simples.

          • IrenaSerena1984

            Only if you’re enslaved to the ludicrous regulative principle (your last dichotomy there betrays such enslavement). You admit that Timothy operates in some kind of senior role to other presbyters. And you have to make up an office of “senior pastor” that doesn’t exist in the text and therefore fail to uphold your own standards of what is Biblical.

          • Dominic Stockford

            He is a pastor, and the most senior of those there. Facts, not invention. Paul writes to him as Paul knows him, fact, not invention. He passes on to the people there Paul’s teaching, he acts as Paul’s voice – fact, not invention.

            High Churchers are desperate to make their version of ‘Bishops’ necessary and different. The Bible doesn’t do that.

            As for calling those who adhere as far as possible to the regulative principle, and the principle of seeking to follow God’s infallible and inerrant Word closely ‘ludicrous’, that is simply insulting and ad hominem.

          • IrenaSerena1984

            Not meant as an insult but to show that it is not a principle that is applied consistently. Normal pastors don’t act as Apostolic spokesmen over other pastors. Bishops do that. You seek to have your cake and eat by rejecting episcopacy AND creating a quasi-episcopacy

          • IrenaSerena1984

            Sorry, difficult to let this one go unanswered. To say the regulative principle is ludicrous is no more ad hominem than for you to say that episcopacy is unbiblical. I’m giving judgement on a theological position, not you as an individual. Again, no personal offence intended at all.

          • grutchyngfysch

            For 1. my own personal view is that it is was when men started to perceive a separation between office and man – in short, to introduce legal fiction of the same nature as when companies insist on their personhood. That they did this was necessary because many of the men occupying the office were resolutely unfit for it by any of the criteria laid down in Scripture.

            Doing so enabled the preservation of the office on two grounds: the first on the grounds of authority – it would not do, after all, to have a mere parishioner point out the clear and obvious truth that many of his “overseers” were utterly unfaithful and under the power of sin in their lives. The second to preserve the authority of the sacramental system, which by then was inextricably linked to the powers of those in orders. The burning question was whether a corrupt priest could say a valid Mass. The official answer was that it had no bearing on the sacrament; an answer which preserved the office at the expense of the integrity of the man occupying it.

            From there we get the distinction between thrones and occupants, and chairs and prelates, with the net effect that some thorough rogues sat in some thoroughly powerful places in the Church. All very removed from the Scriptures, all very removed from the standard that measures shepherds as men and not as potential seat warmers.

        • Catrina Bennett

          The NT has Christ calling MEN to ministry, first 12, then 72 then 144.
          To replace Judas, Men were put forward and so on, Stephen …
          The Bishops of the Orthodox are the line of Apostles, The Priest is the stand in for the Bishop and the deacon/s are the Bishops”hands”
          The Diaconissa is the wife of the Deacon, if he wishes to marry, he does so before ordination, and presbyteras are the wives of Presbyters, and the Bishops are either Monks or widows.

          • IrenaSerena1984

            Thank you, Catrina. I’m not sure who or what your comments are aimed at, given that I too am arguing for male episcopacy (and priesthood). The only thing I’d note is: yes, indeed, your second paragraph is accurate; BUT this was not always and everywhere the case (as John Behr so elegantly demonstrated recently). Mono-episcopacy is a *development* in catholic doctrine and polity, and yet a VALID one.

  • Neil Hailstone

    As a former Anglo Catholic member of the C of E and for many years a member of FIF I found this article very helpful. It confirmed me in my belief that leaving it for membership of an orthodox Old Catholic jurisdiction formally recognised by the Holy See was entirely the right course of action.

    • IanCad

      Neil,

      Although sympathetic with the conflict you have experienced and pleased that a resolution has been determined, I am intrigued as to how you made that transition.

      I am making the assumption that womens’ ordination was the trigger. If so I would further conclude a close reading of Holy Writ was at the heart of your decision to transfer to Rome.

      This is where I see a difficulty, for transferring from an order which places those words as inspired, and then joining another where Scripture is held as merely equal to tradition, suggests to me either you have at best a wobbly commitment to the Word, or, are being entirely inconsistent.

      • Neil Hailstone

        Wholesale departure from apostolic christian truth across a range of issues including doubts in the CofE about the nature of Orders, the Incarnation, Atonement and Resurrection. As an Anglo Catholic member of the C of E it was an easy choice to join the Nordic Catholic Church, which is orthodox Old Catholic and formally recognised by the Holy See for inter communion on the same basis as the Holy Orthodox.. It has the beliefs and doctrines of the Undivided Church of the first millenium. Western and Orthodox. I did not join the RCC because of – compulsory celibacy, the ban on artificial contraception in Marriage, Papal infallibility and Universal Supremacy.
        Ian, I could go on a bit but this will cover the basic reasons for my decision.

        • IanCad

          Thank you Neil, I had no idea about the Nordic Church and a hasty consultation with Mr Google was called. I’m still unsure as to whether or not it is The Pope to whom you assign the settling of all things scriptural.
          That said, although I understand the controversy over Orders, I was not aware of any great differences regarding the Incarnation, even less the Resurrection and Atonement. I’m not saying there aren’t any but I do not know of any insurmountable divides between Protestants and Catholics on those issues. I stand to be corrected if I’ve misunderstood.
          As nearly always, this blog serves to bring education, enlightenment and entertainment to all who participate.

          • Catrina Bennett

            Christ IS Risen!! See the post above.

        • Catrina Bennett

          IanCad please be aware that only Canonical recognised jurisdictions are in communion with The Orthodox Catholic Faith. Rome or any parts under the Pope are schismatic.
          Neil is joined to them.

          The Orthodox Patriarchs (Popes) are all brother Bishops along with Metropolitans. No Pontiff in the Orthodox!
          Christ is the Living Head of His Earthly Body, and needs no Vicar.

          • Neil Hailstone

            Catrina,
            I use the word ‘orthodox’ in the now common English Language usage as denoting the opposite of ‘liberal revisionist’ For the avoidance of misunderstanding I do not imply that the Nordic Catholic Church is a member of the Canononical Holy Orthodox. We were formally confirmed as a ‘Particular Church’ under Canon 844 of the RCC in December 2015. The Canon refers to the circumstances where three sacraments are available to members of other churches including the Eastern Orthodox.We are a sister church, together with Christ’s Catholic Church in Germany, of the Polish National Catholic Church.
            Additionally all ‘orthodox’ Old Catholic christians have valid Apostolic Succession and a degree of inter communion and close bonds with the Holy See though lacking full communion under Dominus Ieusis issued in Our Year of Grace 2000 by St John Paul 2nd.
            For info the NCC has warm and close ecumenical relations with the Ecumenical Patriarch.
            I hope this will clarify matters for the readership here.

  • IrenaSerena1984

    The Church of England really has opened up all orders of ministry to women: check.

    There is space to flourish within the Church of England for those who disagree with the mind of the Church of England on this matter: check.

    What’s so complicated about this arrangement? Principles 1&2 merely ask traditionalists to agree with what is manifestly obvious (that the CofE has made up its mind). We used to be able to argue that General Synod’s decision was not the actual mind of the Church of England, but an illegitimate imposition that had no real legal force. Those who want to minister in the CofE can legitimately disagree with the decision, but they must do so on the understanding that *they* (and not General Synod) dissent from the mind of the Church of England. Again, it’s owning up to what is obvious. This particularly battle is well and truly lost.

  • Mark Bennet

    I think, given the direction of some of these comments, analysis of Canon C1 might be in order as well as Article XXXVI, or at least people ought to read them with the comments on this thread in view.