Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Church of England: Lessons for ACNA

Fr. Dale Matson

“For those pushing for women bishops in the Church of England, there is after all only one real theological argument. And it is that the office of priest and the office of bishop are fundamentally united, and that there should not be a class of people ordained to be priests who cannot be bishops:” Post on Stand Firm blog

I agree with this and believe it is the crux of the issue. Women priests are already a break from tradition and scripture. Once this is allowed, the measure is no longer scripture and tradition but consistency. The cloth begins to unravel.

“Archbishop Duncan has appointed the Rt. Rev. David Hicks, Bishop of the REC Diocese of the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic to lead a Theological Task Force on Holy Orders. The Task Force will lead the College of Bishops through a thorough study regarding the ordination of women to Holy Orders.”

How the issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood is resolved in the ACNA may be their most important decision theologically. It is not a second order issue. A theologically sound decision must be made. One issue is an existing provision in the constitution and canons of the church.
  1. “The Province shall make no canon abridging the authority of any member dioceses, clusters or networks (whether regional or affinity-based) and those dioceses banded together as jurisdictions with respect to its practice regarding the ordination of women to the diaconate or presbyterate (Constitution, Article VIII)
Does this mean that even if the ACNA decides as a church that women should not be ordained as priests, that the bishop in a diocese may still ordain them to serve in that diocese?

A great deal of ink has been devoted to the issue of reconciliation. What this really has come to mean is the reluctant acquiescence of one group to the incessant demands of another group. To what extent has the Anglican Church sought the counsel of the other two main Christian denominations; the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches? Even dialogue with our brothers and sisters in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) has them concerned about our foggy policies on the ordination of women in the ACNA.

What does it mean to be a part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church? I am simply weary from the empty arguments of relevance, context, and justice as inclusion. It finally comes down to God’s Gospel or a humanist gospel that claims inclusivity but has demonstrated only exclusivity.  The majority of those who voted in the CoE, voted in favor of women bishops in the Church of England. Did this mean that God’s will was thwarted? What about the majority of Christians in the world today? They accept only male priests and bishops. What about the tradition of the church universal?

The issue of women’s ordination will be researched by the ACNA task force, headed by +David Hicks. One comment that caught my eye: “...the first major conversation will be a study of hermeneutical issues, specifically looking at how the Church’s tradition and culture influence interpretation of Biblical texts.” I am concerned that there may be a tendency to portray early Christian culture as contextual and androcentric. Another concern is that in the context of our modern culture males are diminished by both male and female feminists with gynocentric perspectives.

One question the task force must address is whether their conclusion will lead to greater unity in the Christian church or it will be just one more, lengthy, politically correct, agenda driven document. I believe the ACNA has the opportunity to shape the future of World Wide Anglicanism through their decisions and ecumenical perspective.

1 comment:

Dale Matson said...

My Friend Pageantmaster sent me the following.+Michael Nazir-Ali chaired a committee which produced a superb piece of work on the issue relating to womens' ministry for the purposes of considering them in the Episcopate. It is excellent and if you are interested, here are the links:
There is a shorter digest of the report here:
It is a superb examination of the historical role of the priesthood, episcopacy and role of women, which I suspect you will find as interesting as I did.
Thank you Pageantmaster and I hope this is a part of the resources used by the ACNA task force.