I mentioned in my last post Rev David Short, Rector of of St John’s, Shaughnessy, Vancouver, and a leading member of the Anglican Network in Canada which is breaking away from the official Anglican Church of Canada. He came to Vancouver from Australia, the conservative Sydney diocese. His church is, I am told, the largest Anglican congregation in Canada, and its financial contribution, expected to be 10% of the parish income, will no doubt be important to the Network.
A reader has pointed out to me that Short holds a complementarian position and, contrary to the rules of the Anglican Church of Canada, opposes the ordination of women. This has also been mentioned in comments here, and looks like being a tricky issue for the Network. As evidence for this, I was sent a link to some of Short’s sermons, with a recommendation of the (29 minute) sermon Prime Rib on Genesis 2:18-25, from 19th October 2006, which I listened to and made a few notes on.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this sermon. Yes, Short is complementarian, but this is the relatively acceptable face of complementarianism. He states clearly the fundamental equality of men and women:
“helper” is most often used in the Old Testament to refer to God … there is no implication of superiority or inferiority … a helper who is Adam’s equal … just as much the image of God as him
Indeed. He does go on to mention
the equality of woman and the difference … The text says that she is different
but he does not explain this difference.
But when Short moves on to the New Testament application of his Old Testament passage he shows his complementarianism, although not in a strong form:
The New Testament sees Genesis 2 as teaching male headship within marriage … Both parties are called upon to raise up the other person by choosing to serve the other person.
But he gives no clear explanation of what headship means in this situation of reciprocal service.
Short’s most controversial point is this:
Headship must be demonstrated in the local congregation, 1 Corinthians 11:3 … Within the local congregation a woman should not take preaching headship.
But Short’s logic is confused here. He notes that in 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul allows women to prophesy, which he takes as equivalent to preaching, but that in 1 Timothy 2:12 he does not allow women to exercise authority “within the church at Ephesus”. Logically the conclusion he can properly draw from this apparent contradiction is that the rule in 1 Timothy is a culturally relative one which applies in that particular location but not universally. But instead Short seems to set aside what Paul teaches the Corinthians by giving the rule in 1 Timothy priority over it, effectively implying that Paul was breaking his own absolute rule by allowing women to prophesy in Corinth. Or maybe Short holds to the Muslim position that earlier inspired teaching from God can be abrogated by later teaching?
Nevertheless Short’s words “Within the local congregation a woman should not take preaching headship” do seem to imply that he cannot accept the ordained ministry of women. It is presumably to accommodate this kind of position that the Anglican Network in Canada has pledged to
recognize and protect the consciences and “careers” of those who dissent from the ordination of women.
I will not attempt to comment on the rest of Short’s sermon, except to say that it is a good clear exposition of the conservative evangelical position on human sexuality. I was pleased by his affirmation of singleness as an equally valid alternative calling to marriage, such a good contrast to the views of his fellow complementarian Mark Driscoll. Short finishes by pointing out
The great significance of Genesis 2 … [is that it is] a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.
So, the kind of complementarianism and opposition to ordination of women mentioned by Short will be significant in the Anglican Network in Canada. But to me this is a less significant departure from biblical truth than the full acceptance of homosexuality which the Anglican Church in Canada seems to be moving towards. If I was an Anglican priest in Canada, I would certainly feel very positive about moving towards the Network, although I also respect the views and reasons not to move expressed in a comment here by my friend Tim Chesterton, who is in fact a Canadian evangelical Anglican priest.
Well, I am not a Canadian priest, I am an evangelical lay Anglican in England. But I may well have my own decisions to make within a year or so, and studying what is happening in Canada is helping me to clarify the issues for myself.