Friday, 23 November 2012

Bishops wearing frocks


So, is a Church be a place that has a core set of beliefs, to which tries to convert the society around it, or should it be a place that moves with the times to reflect the developing views of society?

If the latter, do we stop at women bishops or do we carry on willy-nilly*?  If we stop there, why?

Albert, Measured, and anyone else who wants to get involved, off you go...

*Yes, that was deliberate.

38 comments:

  1. Thank you P.

    According to Tony Baldry who seems to represent the CofE to Parliament, “The Church has to reflect the values of the nation.” Seriously? I thought the Church's role was to preach the Gospel. Does anybody seriously believe Jesus was crucified for "reflecting the values of the nation"? Why would you kill someone for telling everyone what they wanted to hear?

    At the risk of fulfilling Godwin's Law at the outset, he seems to think of the CofE as the English version of Deutsche Christen. What happens in a Communist system - would the CofE become atheist? Or if the West succumbs to Islam - will the CofE deny the Trinity and embrace tawhid. Depending on the kind of Islam will the CofE promote polygamy and be opposed to girls having an education? How can anyone trust such a fickle organisation?

    This doesn't seem very Anglican. After all, at the time Anglicanism was founded, the "values of the nation" were Catholic! What this last example shows is that what Mr Baldry means by "the values of the nation" is "whatever the governing elite say." That does sound a bit more Anglican!

    The other thing he said was that he could not explain how it had failed. He seems to have a short memory. The reason it failed, I think, is that 20 years ago, when women priests were first voted through, Parliament required adequate provision for those opposed. But that was in the time before politicians felt they were theologians.

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  2. What happens in a Communist system - would the CofE become atheist?

    "Become" ??

    "whatever the governing elite say."

    I think that might be the answer. The CofE as the established church has become part of the bureaucracy, just another community outreach worker tasked with enforcing the left-wing policy of the establishment.

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  3. One challenge is how does the Church remain ideologically pure when the Bible itself is so self-contradictory? The mad monks who got together under Pope Wassisname in the middle ages didn't do a very good job of making a coherent whole did they? You can almost always find a bit to support whatever mad belief you might have.

    The Church no longer has a de facto monopoly. It should be free to reform or not as it pleases, but within the law. We now live in a rule-of-law world not a religious state. If you want to set up a bonkers "religion" that believes in a particular division of roles for women or cats or vegetables or wants to preach hatred against a particular minority group then you are free to do so. Just don't expect to have a fixed set of seats in our legislature just because that was the way it worked five hundred years ago.

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  4. BE,

    Evidently, you are trying to wind me up. But I'll rise anyway!

    One challenge is how does the Church remain ideologically pure when the Bible itself is so self-contradictory?

    That's a challenge for a particular kind of Protestantism. But in general, most positions suffer from kinds of incoherence, which may or may not be resolvable. For example, secularists today who hold "off the shelf" moral opinions are likely to believe in human rights, while denying the metaphysical positions that would be necessary for such rights to be anything other than superstitions.

    The mad monks who got together under Pope Wassisname in the middle ages didn't do a very good job of making a coherent whole did they?

    Were you going to justify that statement with an illustration, or are we expected to take it on your authority by blind faith?

    We now live in a rule-of-law world not a religious state.

    These are not mutually exclusive - as you would know if you knew anything about Medieval Europe.

    If you want to set up a bonkers "religion" that believes in a particular division of roles for women or cats or vegetables or wants to preach hatred against a particular minority group then you are free to do so.

    I think it would be pretty bonkers not to have a particular division of roles for women, cats and vegetables. But if you can't see that, I can only assume you're ahead of the politically correct curve there. As for the hatred bit, it's pretty clear, even from the most recent court cases, and from the various warnings from a variety of legal sources, who is guilty of preaching hate against minorities and who is supporting such hatred (not really very surprising given that they cannot coherently uphold human rights).

    Just don't expect to have a fixed set of seats in our legislature just because that was the way it worked five hundred years ago.

    Which being translated means "don't expect to have fixed seats in our legislature unless you are prepared to 'get wiz ze prokram.'"

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  5. Nope, got it all wrong I'm afraid. Perhaps I didn't explain my point(s) very clearly.

    The point about the legislature is this: if you are a member of the Banking Community you don't get automatic seats in either House; if you are a member of the racist community you don't get automatic seats; if you are a member of the libertarian movement you don't get automatic seats. Do you see the pattern?

    The point about people being free to join organisations which they wish to join is ridiculously simple and I reckon even the most ardent religionist should be able to grasp it. If I want to join a weird group that believes that immigrants should go home and the blacks should be banned from driving London buses I am free to do so however distasteful anyone else thinks I am for wanting to.

    The organisation I join is free, like any other, to alter its views over time or to stick to them rigidly. Just as the Church as an organisation is free to have its own constitution and procedures for amending its official line on particular subjects. However the organisation has to submit to the prevailing law on membership. Agree or disagree with the law interfering with the membership of organisations, but it is currently there. Members' clubs in Pall Mall have to admit women as full members. The BNP has to admit blacks and Muslims. Businesses have to give equal opportunities. You may not like it or you may think that's the best way of arranging it but it is a legal fact.

    I am quite happy for people to believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin mother and then died, came back to life then ascended to heaven. That is their prerogative of course to believe so. But just because lots of people have believed something in one form or other doesn't mean their organisation should be exempt from the law.

    I don't think I mentioned morality as such.

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  6. Nope, got it all wrong I'm afraid. Perhaps I didn't explain my point(s) very clearly.

    Indeed. You dressed your opinion up in a load of secularist prejudice and rhetoric. Your serious point was obscured.

    The point about the legislature is this: if you are a member of the Banking Community you don't get automatic seats in either House; if you are a member of the racist community you don't get automatic seats; if you are a member of the libertarian movement you don't get automatic seats. Do you see the pattern?

    That just seems to me to be an objection to the House of Lords per se. As for keeping bishops in the House of Lords, I'm not sure whether I'm in favour of that anyway. What I don't get is why the bishops have to leave the House of Lords just because they can't subscribe to the latest confessional secularist, Test Act. Seems a bit dogmatic and statist to me.

    However the organisation has to submit to the prevailing law on membership.

    Which the Church does, of course. It's not that there's a law that the Church chooses not to keep, it's that there's a law which in its framing does not apply to religious groups. To give a parallel. We all expect the law to oppose sex discrimination, except for where sex discrimination makes sense. For example, it would be crazy for sex discrimination laws to apply to the film industry when it comes to picking actors. The next James Bond will not be a woman, neither is it sexism when film makers refuse to cast men as heroines. It's not that film makers are outside the law, it's that the law does not apply to them in the first place.

    But just because lots of people have believed something in one form or other doesn't mean their organisation should be exempt from the law.

    I can't see that I have argued to the contrary.

    I don't think I mentioned morality as such.

    Indeed not. I was merely observing that you cannot complain about incoherence without running the risk of someone applying a tu quoque to you. Morality was simply my example.

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  7. OK why don't I start again then?

    The Church should not hold a special position in society any more than any other organisation should. If lots of people want to continue to live their lives in accordance with some manuscript cooked up a long time ago to keep people in line then that is up to them.

    If some women are foolish enough to want to work within an organisation that treats them with such contempt then that is up to them. If they want to argue for change within that organisation then that is also up to them. I wouldn't want to waste my life in such a way. Then again, I'm quite happy believing what I want to believe without having to believe it in a group or to have it spoon fed to me or to believe it just because my parents believed it or because for the last few hundred years lots of people who lived on the same island as me believed it.

    In a truly liberal society we would not impose requirements on what organisations did with employees and careers. But given that we do live in a society which insists on intervening in all organisations why should one particular (or a handful of) organisations be basically exempt from the laws which apply to all the others? If I set up a new religion today which believed basically the same as the Christians that organisation would not be exempt from anti-discrimination rules.

    So we come back to the fact that The Church is exempt from treating women fairly pretty much only because it is The Church. And no, Bond movies are not a good supporting example.

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  8. BE,

    The Church should not hold a special position in society any more than any other organisation should.

    I haven't argued that they have, in fact, I have explicitly stated my unease with the present situation. I have simply said that they should not be excluded simply because they do not agree with what the latest confessional secularist Test Act requires. Who set up the confessional secularists as judge of everyone?

    If some women are foolish enough to want to work within an organisation that treats them with such contempt then that is up to them.

    In fairness to the CofE, part of the reason there is such a problem here is that 20 years ago, Parliament required there to be adequate space and assurances for those who disagreed with the ordination of women. That is the reason there is a problem now. The legislation last week broke the promises that both Parliament and the Church made then. See here for an explanation of a supporter of women's ordained ministry voted against:

    http://anglicanink.com/article/liberal-member-synod-explains-his-no-vote-women-bishops

    Of course, modern Parliamentarians and secularists do not trouble themselves with the facts of the matter. They are automatically reasonable, so they do not need facts.

    Then again, I'm quite happy believing what I want to believe without having to believe it in a group or to have it spoon fed to me or to believe it just because my parents believed it or because for the last few hundred years lots of people who lived on the same island as me believed it.

    That's interesting, because you say that belief is a matter of what you want. Isn't the point that it is a matter truth? As for not having truths spoon fed to you, how is it that your opinions are so terribly predictable? Your belief that belief is a matter of what you want is to terribly post-modern, for example. I could go into a classroom of 15 year olds anywhere in the country and find the same opinion again and again.

    So we come back to the fact that The Church is exempt from treating women fairly pretty much only because it is The Church. And no, Bond movies are not a good supporting example.

    You love to race to the conclusion before the matter has been properly investigated, don't you? Just because you feel X should be true, does not make X true. Do you even know which argument against the ordination of women I was alluding to, when I referred to James Bond? Do you have any idea what the priesthood is? Are you a theologian now? Unless you can answer "Yes" to those questions, the conclusion stated at the beginning of this paragraph is (on your lips) irrational and unjustified.

    And that's why, of course, so many people think it is their right to boss people around who disagree with them. They never stop to investigate other people's beliefs, they simply assume their own dogmatic and unexamined positions are the only ones that are acceptable.

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  9. Gosh, you are so keen to argue about whether God exists or not that you haven't read my point at all. It is really simple.

    I am saying that either we should live in a liberal society where clubs and organisations are free to organise themselves as they wish OR we should agree that the law should impose restrictions to avoid the organisations treating their members and staff "unfairly". If we go for the latter (which I don't necessarily agree with) we should at least do it evenly so that women are not restricted from holding positions in organisations just because the organisation happens to have always restricted them from holding that position.

    I think perhaps my point is too simple for you to grasp. I don't need to know precisely what bishops do in order to know that the C of E is saying it won't let women be bishops.

    Then you go off on some rant about what I know and what I don't know and how I've come to my own views. If I wasn't laughing so hard I might ask what you can possibly know about my religious views or how I came to hold them. And then the killer line:

    "Just because you feel X should be true, does not make X true"

    This sounds familiar somehow.. I can't quite put my finger on it.

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  10. Gosh, you are so keen to argue about whether God exists or not that you haven't read my point at all. It is really simple.

    That's very strange, because I cannot see that I have addressed the question of whether God exists. On the other hand, I have understood for long enough now your point:

    I am saying that either we should live in a liberal society where clubs and organisations are free to organise themselves as they wish OR we should agree that the law should impose restrictions to avoid the organisations treating their members and staff "unfairly". If we go for the latter (which I don't necessarily agree with) we should at least do it evenly so that women are not restricted from holding positions in organisations just because the organisation happens to have always restricted them from holding that position.

    I cannot see why you cannot see that I have been addressing that latter point ever since 1432. My point is this: you have created a false dichotomy It isn't that either the state doesn't get involved in the discrimination of some communities or no discrimination can be allowed anywhere. There's a middle way between that dilemma, which is that the state recognises that there are some positions in society which reasonably should not have discrimination laws applied to them. I have given the film industry as an example (notice how it doesn't fall into your black and white categories?). Whether discrimination can be reasonably allowed very much depends on the kind of activity involved. When it comes to the Church, that activity is described theologically.

    Now, while you say just because the organisation happens to have always restricted them from holding that position you show you have no theological grasp of the issue and thus, cannot reasonably draw a judgment here. You can of course complain that the result of the theology is that we have an all male bunch of bishops in the House of Lords - but as I'm not disagreeing with you about having bishops in the House of Lord, that wouldn't necessarily be to the point.

    And that's why you cannot make the second horn of your dilemma stick at the moment. It is false as stated, and if modified to account for reasonable exceptions, you would then need to investigate whether the Church fell into the category of having a reasonable exception. And to do that, you are going to need to understand what a priest is and does, and that requires theology.

    This sounds familiar somehow.. I can't quite put my finger on it.

    I was being ironic BE, parodying a prejudice unexamined unbelievers often play at us.

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  11. So you think that Bishops do a special job that women couldn't do. I doubt it. I think that sums up our differences. I want to live in a society with simple, clear rules which apply pretty much equally. That is why I describe myself as a classical liberal and favour less regulation so that everyone can be free to organise themselves and meet the regulatory requirements without too much burden. You seem to think that lots of people should be regulated but your gang shouldn't.

    Out of interest, given my apparent complete ignorance as to what churches are all about because I come from some awful ignorant background, what do bishops do that is so hard that women can't manage?

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  12. So you think that Bishops do a special job that women couldn't do

    No, I don't - and I never said that. You're thinking in functional terms and in so doing you assume that equality = interchangeability, which it doesn't always. A father is equally a parent with the mother, but they are not therefore interchangeable. So the reasoning is fallacious and needs to be supplemented (the point I was making about the dilemma).

    what do bishops do that is so hard that women can't manage?

    Can you quote a proper authority against the ordination of women who argues on such grounds? I can't! Let the CofE speak for itself. This comes from the CofE's report: Women Bishops in the Church of England? A report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women in the Episcopate 2004.

    If a priest or bishop has an iconographic function as a representative of the incarnate Christ, particularly at the celebration of the Eucharist, then he has to be male for the representation to be appropriate. Just as the historical particularity of the Last Supper can only be properly represented by the use of bread and wine, so the historical particularity of the incarnation can only be properly represented by someone who is male.

    And again:

    A sixth argument is that a woman bishop could not function as an icon of God the Father as suggested by St Ignatius of Antioch [First Century saint] because the Fatherhood of God is something that is paternal rather than maternal in nature. In the words of Ovey:
    [Ignatius of Antioch] suggests that the bishop is a type or icon of the Father. While one might dissent from this judgement, one must also recognize its influence. It is to some extent problematic to see a
    female bishop as an icon of the Father. Symbolically she would tend to convey maternal rather than paternal associations. Yet the patristic thought with regard to the First person of the Trinity is that he is essentially Father (by virtue of his eternal relationship with the Son). Maternal associations might well be thought to obscure this and to
    depart both from the economic revelation of Fatherhood/Sonship as well as the tradition of the church.


    I admit, the CofE is not quite as clear here as it could be (surprise, surprise). But the idea makes sense: from ancient times (i.e. long before anyone argued about women bishops) the bishop (or priest) was understood to be an icon of Christ and a reflection of God the Father. Therefore, for the same reason as you would not paint an icon of a female Jesus, have a female crucifix, address God as "Mother", so you wouldn't have a female priest or bishop. To do so, would be to change the nature of the priesthood, so that it isn't the priesthood any more (which is a bit self-defeating).

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  13. Now, you can disagree with all of this. You can say that this iconic argument does not apply to the priesthood for some reason. Perhaps you are an Evangelical, for example, and you are unhappy with the idea that the priest represents Christ (the theology here is called alter Christus - another Christ - evos are not happy with such views). But then the argument is not about women's equality (as interchangeability), it is about the nature of the priesthood.

    At this point, you might wonder how the matter can be resolved. And it's here that people might say "Well, actually this isn't our Church, or the Church of women who have been ordained etc. it is Christ's Church, so we should consult the Bible to see what he meant about the priesthood and gender." This is not about saying that Christ is allowed to be sexist because he is Christ, it is about the kind of priesthood he established. If it is the kind of priesthood as expressed in these quotations from the report, then clearly women's ordination (but not other forms of ministry and leadership) is clearly pretty difficult (hence my comparison with Bond!).

    For Mr Cameron to then come in and say the Church needs to get with the programme, is pretty confused. He assumes a particular view of the priesthood and has forgotten the historical and parliamentary elements here.

    Points about whether a part of our legislature should be restricted to men because of such theology are well taken, but that raises the question of whether only one world-view is valid. Personally, I cannot see why someone who thinks that House of Lords should stay, should be all that worried about women bishops.

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  14. To clarify, that last sentence meant "about women not being bishops".

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  15. I look at it like this. If I had a daughter who decided that it was her calling to take Holy Orders, her decision, her life, would I wish to deny her the chance of becoming a bishop?

    Albert, do you have a daughter?

    "When considering the arguments for war, remember that a soldier is not the 1000th part of a battalion; he is John Smith* of England, aged 21." Likewise, the Church.

    It has everything to do with fairness and justice rather than the role of institutions and historical interpretations of selected extracts of the Bible. It is a sad reflection on the Church that Parliament wants to get involved, but perhaps they feel some responsibility for the current state of affairs.

    I liked the 'willy-nilly'. As patently and BE know, one of the best tweets at the time of the Synod vote was "Can someone explain to me why you need a penis to be a bishop?" I look forward to your reply, Albert, for as I see it, we are all equal in the eyes of God.

    * or Joan Smith

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  16. Measured,

    No, I do not have a daughter.

    If I had a daughter who decided that it was her calling to take Holy Orders, her decision, her life, would I wish to deny her the chance of becoming a bishop?

    This is rather paradoxical. If she believes (rather than decides) she has called to take Holy Orders, then implicit in that is that she wishes to do Christ's will. So it doesn't come down her deciding or having a chance, it comes down to what Christ has in fact established. If on the other hand, she says she does not care less about what Christ has established, it is evident she is not following a calling.

    It has everything to do with fairness and justice rather than the role of institutions and historical interpretations of selected extracts of the Bible.

    But it's only unfair if one rejects the kind of doctrine of the priesthood I have presented. In my opinion, to reject the kind of doctrine of the priesthood I have presented is to reject the priesthood itself and therefore not compatible with claiming to have a vocation to the priesthood. Your comment about the army is therefore moot.

    It is a sad reflection on the Church that Parliament wants to get involved, but perhaps they feel some responsibility for the current state of affairs.

    No it's not. It's another opportunity for politicians to show how 'right on' they are. If they were really concerned about the CofE they would know a bit more about what the issue is about. Deal with this self-serving issue and the politicians will forget about the CofE.

    "Can someone explain to me why you need a penis to be a bishop?"

    I have explained why you need to be a man to be a bishop. If that does not answer the point about the penis, then I think I can see why people are confused here.

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  17. Albert,

    Very gently I need to point a couple of things out. Firstly, I am not speaking for my daughter. That would be presumptuous. I am talking as a mother. Please do imagine that you are a father with a very bright, beautiful daughter and think what would be right if she also had ambitions and ability.

    I am not interested in the potential role of Parliament. I agree this is a matter that should be resolved by the C of E itself as it is so fundamental in how it perceives half of the population and probably a majority of its congregation. This is how it will be judged and while it preaches fairness, it will quite rightly be perceived as a hypocrite.

    Can you explain to me that, apart from the sexual organs, the differences between men and women you wish me and the rest of society to recognize? You are saying only men can personify Christ. Have you not seen women acting as men and men acting as women (if you consider this relevant).

    Tootsie, you are really are on the back foot.

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  18. Measured,

    I recognised the first point you make. The issue was hypothetical.

    I agree this is a matter that should be resolved by the C of E itself as it is so fundamental in how it perceives half of the population and probably a majority of its congregation. This is how it will be judged and while it preaches fairness, it will quite rightly be perceived as a hypocrite.

    But it isn't about how it perceives women, it is about how it perceives the priesthood.

    Have you not seen women acting as men and men acting as women (if you consider this relevant).

    Yes, I am aware of this in four contexts (though I've only ever seen the first two):

    (i) Pantomimes
    (ii) Situations where there were not enough actors of one sex.
    (iii) In times in which females were not allowed to perform on stage (e.g. Tudor times).
    (iv) Transvestites and those making some kind of point.

    I cannot see that anything of these serve a models for an answer to the argument I have given. When I watch a serious play, or film, I expect the parts to be taken by people of the same sex as the role itself.

    Now it is surely hypocritical of society to judge the CofE (or anyone else) for applying principles everyone accepts as a matter of course when they apply everywhere else. But what is right or wrong is not really the issue here. What is the purpose of people getting excited about the (non)ordination of women? It is about being able to knock the Church, so that it can be ignored. As the fountain-head of the all-male apostolic ministry Himself put it:

    The light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

    This is really the agenda with gay marriage. If Dave really cared about marriage he would do what he promised to do: give tax-breaks to married couples. He pretends an interest in marriage (and knocks the Church) because it serves what he thought was his purpose of detoxifying the party.

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  19. Sorry, just noticed this:

    if she also had ambitions

    That kind of gives the game away that you are still not discussing a vocation to the priesthood.

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  20. I made what I think is the correct assumption that only the most ambitious manage to become bishops.

    I did put in 'if you consider this relevant' in relation to acting.

    We are all equal in the eyes of God. Men was used as a generic term for all people in the Bible, as it is today. The role of the sexes has changed over 2000 years. That does not mean the Bible is not relevant but it does mean that the Church as it always has must adapt. Witches no longer get burnt.

    Albert, we are discussing women bishops, not the institution of marriage.

    Women are already members of the clergy so why can't they be bishops? You have to admit that the C of E is being inconsistent because it has allowed women into the priesthood and now it is imposing a glass ceiling.

    So to sum up your stance, there can't be women bishops because the disciples were all male and women unlike men can't see the light. Nothing about fairness, truth and justice.

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  21. So to sum up your stance, there can't be women bishops because the disciples were all male and women unlike men can't see the light. Nothing about fairness, truth and justice.

    I can't for the life of me see why you think that is my position. My reference to the light was to do with the fact that politicians and others get excited about the non ordination of women, so that they have an excuse not to come to Christ. That is plainly not a statement against women. The women who believe in women bishops plainly do want to come to Christ. I think their theology of priesthood is faulty, but it's not my Church, so they should do what they like. As for truth and justice, again you are assuming the point you need to defend.

    I made what I think is the correct assumption that only the most ambitious manage to become bishops.

    I am sure that often the ambitious become bishops, but I cannot see how you have demonstrated that only the ambitious do. Besides, I take that as a cause for shame that ambitious people become bishops.

    I can't see where you have addressed my argument here. BTW the burning of witches was mainly a Protestant thing, and the witches were mainly male.

    Women are already members of the clergy so why can't they be bishops? You have to admit that the C of E is being inconsistent because it has allowed women into the priesthood and now it is imposing a glass ceiling.

    This is a superb point, I agree with it entirely! The paradox is that the CofE made women priests and then looked for the signs that it had done the right thing afterwards. They called this "reception". There were several criteria - it would be received in the CofE and in the wider Church. Until it was received, it would make no sense to make women bishops. But it hasn't been received! By the logic currently being used (if you have women priests you must have women bishops) it follows that if you cannot have women bishops you cannot have women priests! To put the matter another way, the best argument for women bishops now, actually condemns as incoherent the legislation then!

    This is why there is such a mess over it. The problem isn't with the leadership now, but then (1992). The moved faster than their own theology could justify, and so Parliament forced them to ensure those opposed were not forced out. Hence last week's vote failed not because of people who were opposed voting against, but because of people in favour voting against because they realised it broke the very promises on which women priests stand.

    Now if the most important argument for women bishops is that you cannot have women priests without women bishops, and the move to make women bishops breaks the very promise on which women priests stand, the whole thing is terribly contradictory.

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  22. No, my argument is that women are the same as men. We are equal, not inferior and not superior. Therefore we should be afforded the same life chances. You presumably disagree.

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  23. This is actually fascinating. I was brought up in quite a seriously "C of E" household, my great uncle was a Bishop and I was "confirmed" by the Bishop of London. That a Bishop is supposed to represent Christ himself is news to me as of this evening. In all the time that I was being brought up as a good Christian nobody ever felt the need to impress this fact upon me. I suppose it must be vital to the functioning of the Church.

    I wonder what other essential tenets of Christianity have also been forgotten which people might have got upset about at the time?

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  24. Measured,

    my argument is that women are the same as men.

    Surely not! If they were the same as men we would not have men and women!

    We are equal, not inferior and not superior. Therefore we should be afforded the same life chances. You presumably disagree.

    This is all very nice self-affirming, don't you have such terribly right on opinions and aren't those wicked Catholics so terribly wicked for not agreeing, but you haven't actually addressed my point. My point is this equality does not always mean we have the same life chances.

    For example, as a man, I will never experience being pregnant and feeling a new life inside and so forth. This must be a wonderful privilege. It will never happen to me. I don't have the same life chance as you. You on the other hand, will never experience the joy of being a father at the birth of a child (I think the last few minutes of child-birth are better for dads, but if, in the name of equality-as-interchangeability, you wish to disagree, I won't argue). You, as a woman could never be considered for the role of James Bond, I could never play the role of Mary in a nativity play.

    So it's perfectly possible to agree on equality, but nevertheless, recognise that life chances will not always be the same: men and women are not always interchangeable. The only question is, whether the priesthood is one of those roles in which men and women are interchangeable (like being a doctor) or whether it isn't (like the examples I have given). What kind of role it is is a theological question, and I cannot see that you have have engaged in that discussion - to do so would be to threaten your conclusion.

    Of course, you might want to argue that someone adopts a theology in which the priesthood is not interchangeable for some reason, because they are sexist. But even this would not alter the truth of the matter of what the priesthood is.

    BE - I don't have time to reply to you at present, but will do so later.

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  25. BE

    In all the time that I was being brought up as a good Christian nobody ever felt the need to impress this fact upon me. I suppose it must be vital to the functioning of the Church.

    Well, I'm not surprised no one sought to impress it upon you, and for a number of reasons. Firstly, there will be many vital things that you won't have been taught then. A confirmation class is not a theology degree or preparation for ordination. I don't expect anyone explained the meaning of the Creed when it says:

    We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.


    But that does not mean it isn't important. I doubt anyone mentioned this clause either:

    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

    but it's still important.

    Secondly, the iconic theology isn't accepted by all Anglicans (only by the more catholic Anglicans), so they would not teach it anyway. And this is why there is a problem. You essentially have three different groups of Anglicans, arguing not about women, but about the nature of the priesthood. That's why Parliament realised 20 years ago it needed to act to prevent a break up. They saw that whole tradition was in danger of being ejected (considering that you don't get ejected if you deny the fundamentals of the Christian faith, it would be rather odd to tolerate ejecting the Anglo-catholics, who are the most creedally faithful of the lot - perhaps Mr Cameron ought to think about that).

    But the teaching about the importance of priest as icon is perfectly secure. I've pointed out that it goes back to the first century, that it developed without any axe to grind about women in the priesthood, and that therefore, those who object to women's ordination on those grounds would have still held those grounds even if the women's ordination issue wasn't on the table.

    So there's no great mystery here. The issue is whether the CofE will remain that - or if it will cut off from its membership a whole legitimate theological tradition.

    The bishop of London confirmed you. Was it the present bishop? He is the most important bishop who is opposed to women's ordination.

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  26. Albert,

    Greetings to you on St Andrew's Day.

    You just don't get this about women bishops, do you?

    We are all unique; black skin, white skin, athlete, intellectual, male, female,... on one level. However, we are all members of the human race and on this basis I can see no valid reason to warrant imposing a bar to prevent women becoming bishops.

    There is so much hocus pocus men with too much time on their hands have thought up over the generations. I cannot include women in the instance, but I am sure they will contribute in the future.

    What dismays me is that the fundamentals upon which Christianity is founded are so sound. These become obscured. Treat your neighbour ..... ::[cough]:: So much for role models. Thank goodness for the existence of the Commandments in their simple form. If it were not for the foundations, the Church would have fallen down by now.

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  27. And St Andrew's Day greetings to you to (for tomorrow!)

    You just don't get this about women bishops, do you?

    As far as I can see, I have responded to each of your points. You have ignored my fundamental argument - the only thing you said in response to it, supported it! So is it really me that "doesn't get it". True, I'm not wiz ze prokram our masters want, but as far as I can see, I am following the example of the true Master, and faithfully expounding the ordained ministry he gave us.

    I can see no valid reason to warrant imposing a bar to prevent women becoming bishops.

    Can't see or won't see? The only thing you have in your favour is that you are on the side of the state programme. Is that a good thing?

    Treat your neighbour...

    No, I don't remember that in the Bible.

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  28. Albert,

    Tsk. Remember. I am on my daughter's side.

    I cannot see anything in the Bible that explicitly prevents women from becoming bishops. Where is it written "Women must never ever be allowed to become bishops" in those precise terms?

    Right, off to look up the Decalogue. I though the neighbour one was one of the last. I bet it comes down to interpretation again.

    I am always a day ahead of most people. Sadly too few realise this. :-)


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  29. What we need is a more free market in religion. More competition. I reckon if there was a Church which was largely protestant/Anglican but with none of this sexist nonsense which allowed gays to get married then it wouldn't matter if there was also a Church which said that women with the requisite skills can't "represent" Christ in the way that a man with the same skills can.

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  30. Whoops poor typing. I meant none of this sexist nonsense AND allowed...

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  31. You'll be looking a long time there, measured. I think perhaps you might be looking for "Love your neighbour as you love yourself."

    I am on my daughter's side.

    As scripture says "Who is on the Lord's side?"

    I cannot see anything in the Bible that explicitly prevents women from becoming bishops. Where is it written "Women must never ever be allowed to become bishops" in those precise terms?

    If you want it in those terms, try:

    As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. Given that St Paul clearly permits women to speak in Church when prophesying, he seems to mean by this that they should not preach. The principle role of the bishop is to preach. Ergo.

    This wouldn't be my preferred way of arguing, however!

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  32. BE, all the evidence is that when church's liberalise they haemorrhage people in huge numbers. No one has a need for a Church which simply reflects the world. It becomes compromised and invisible. The strong Churches are conservative: Catholics (though even we have suffered from a liberal element) and evangelicals.

    The claim that the example of Jesus is sexist has been asserted here but not defended, neither has any argument been given here in defence of gay "marriage". If the Church just copies the world, what does it offer? Jesus was crucified because he refused to follow the world. As he puts it:

    "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

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  33. AAAAAAAAAARGH!

    1) if there was a free market people might choose the strong, ideologically pure, rigid one or they might not.

    2) When did I say Jesus was sexist?

    3) That last bit is an argument in favour of challenging tradition. And yet when anyone on this thread has challenged your tradition you have gone nuts. How hilarious!

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  34. I wonder what you mean by a free-market BEs. It is a free-market isn't it? And what we can see is that those traditions which follow the world die and those which remain firm grow.

    When did I say Jesus was sexist?

    What you said was this: none of this sexist nonsense

    I assume you mean a male only apostolic ministry is sexist. It starts with him. So either Jesus is sexist or a male only apostolic ministry is not sexist.

    3) That last bit is an argument in favour of challenging tradition. And yet when anyone on this thread has challenged your tradition you have gone nuts. How hilarious!

    I haven't gone nuts because people challenge the tradition. I have gone nuts when the tradition has been called sexist, even though the reasons for the tradition being as it is have been unknown, ignored or misunderstood.

    I don't really see that making a positive remark about gay "marriage" is challenging the tradition. Providing an argument in favour of gay "marriage" is challenging the tradition.

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  35. It is a free market! At last! Except one of the providers of religious services has state backing! Christ, you are beginning to catch on to my point!

    No, to be fair you have been arguing *hard* in favour of never changing anything because that is how it has been for two thousand years because that is how some people wrote it down at some point between two thousand years ago and now. You are totally making my point for me. Sticking religiously to one interpretation of one version of one book is just as much "following the world" as blindly following contemporary orthodoxy.

    If you want my opinion (which you don't) when Jesus was talking about "following the world" he was probably saying "don't just accept what other people tell you, think it through for yourself". I have done so (as have others on this thread) and have come to my considered view that there is no reason for women and gays to be treated as second class citizens by the Church of England.

    I am not going to comment further because either I am explaining myself very badly, you won't even accept that there is a defensible counter-argument or you have the clothiest of cloth ears in Christendom.

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  36. BE,

    You really are remarkable. You keep accusing me of saying things I haven't said. Earlier on you said:

    you are so keen to argue about whether God exists or not that you haven't read my point at all.

    But in fact, I had done no such thing. A simple search for the word "God" shows that you were the first person to mention God - in that very sentence.

    You held the view that women should be ordained, even though, by your admission, you did not have an adequate of the theology of priesthood to be able to make a judgement. Having been given that information, you have stuck with the same position, without refuting the argument. In doing so, you support "the programme" and yet you accuse me of being inflexible!

    No, to be fair you have been arguing *hard* in favour of never changing anything because that is how it has been for two thousand years because that is how some people wrote it down at some point between two thousand years ago and now.

    Where have I done that? Please quote me.

    Now you say Sticking religiously to one interpretation of one version of one book is just as much "following the world" as blindly following contemporary orthodoxy. But I haven't argued from one book, indeed, when I quoted from the Bible it was only because measured wanted a direct quote - I made it clear that was not my preferred way of arguing.

    If you want my opinion (which you don't) when Jesus was talking about "following the world" he was probably saying "don't just accept what other people tell you, think it through for yourself".

    Is it really likely that he was that post-modern?! The sensible thing to do to see what Jesus means, is not to look down the well of history and see you own face staring back and claim your face is Jesus', but to put the text into context:

    Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

    The key thing here is obedience to Christ! We're a million miles away from your interpretation. In fact, the context contradicts your interpretation.

    women and gays to be treated as second class citizens by the Church of England.

    Not ordaining someone does not make them second class. Recognising that gay relationships are not necessarily interchangeable with heterosexual ones is simply to observe a truth - however uncomfortable it may be. Just because the government refuses to discuss the question doesn't mean the matter is intellectually "settled".

    At last! Except one of the providers of religious services has state backing!

    Not mine of course, and I have repeated several times my own unease about the establishment of the CofE - so why do you say "at last"? As for the free market, your point was about people being free to choose where to go to Church. That is not affected by the establishment of the CofE - except insofar as by being established, the CofE stands too close to the world and loses members.

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  37. "Not ordaining someone does not make them second class."

    ::[cough]::

    Usually you are excellent at backing up assertions with evidence, Albert.

    So you can be a woman bishop in Swaziland but not in Swindon.

    We let bishops in the Lords influence social policy based on their interpretation of divine will. It has always been thus, but I hope they are intently staring at their feet as they are probably standing on carpet if they don't take further steps to move away.

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  38. Usually you are excellent at backing up assertions with evidence, Albert.

    The burden of proof rests with the person proposing. No evidence was offered for the claim that not ordaining someone makes them second class, so I did not need to offer evidence.

    Did Jesus make his Mother second class by not ordaining her? We are not talking here about career plans, ministry is a form of service and does not fit into the same patterns. Is Kate Winslet second class because she would never be asked to take the role of Jesus of Nazareth in a film?

    So you can be a woman bishop in Swaziland but not in Swindon.

    The Anglican communion is incoherent on this - you're right, it makes no sense to be a woman bishop in Swaziland but not here.

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