John Hartley’s take on Women Bishops Debate, from a clergy member of General Synod, is helpful. It explained to me one thing and gave me an interesting new insight on another.
John’s post explains why the opponents of women bishops will not accept a code of practice under which women bishops are required to appoint men to deputise for them when requested:
in saying that a woman bishop should/must delegate powers, it would implicitly admit that a woman bishop has powers to delegate and therefore that she is a bishop.
Well, I see the point, for those who have the legalistic mindset which many Christians seem to have inherited from the Pharisees rather than from our Lord. But then I would not have thought it impossible to come up with a wording to satisfy these people, in which the powers are technically delegated by one of the Archbishops rather than by the woman diocesan bishop. Of course that will work only as long as the Archbishop in question is male, but then I don’t see how these people could in any way remain within a Church of England headed by two female Archbishops!
In fact I don’t see how these people can remain within a church which appoints bishops who they don’t accept as being bishops. The only thing that could satisfy these people is a new province. General Synod isn’t offering them that, but then I doubt if it is within their power to do so. A new province is of course also what GAFCON is demanding, and proposing to set up unilaterally. Perhaps these opponents of women bishops will be welcome in that province – but then if it takes a permanent stand against women bishops it is less likely to be acceptable to others like me.
John Hartley also makes an interesting point about 1 Timothy 2:12:
As an evangelical I have still not given up hope of helping my evangelical opponents to see that 1 Tim 2:12 does not say “I do not permit a woman to teach a man”, but rather that it says “I do not permit a woman to teach at all”. Because all evangelicals agree that some women nowadays do have teaching ministries – and therefore none of us live by the stricture of what it actually says – that women should keep silent. Instead the verse is a statement of one particular person’s take (“I do not permit” – not “It should never be permitted”) in a particular place – which that same person did not take in other places (e.g. 1 Cor 11:5 which permits a woman to prophesy). That same person had already admitted that there is a difference between his advice and the Lord’s word (1 Cor 7:10 & 12).
Good point! I can only agree that this verse must refer to a specific situation for which Paul lays down specific rules, not intended to be valid everywhere or for ever.