Lambeth creed drops "and the Son"

In a comment on another blog a few days ago I referred to the infamous filioque addition to the Nicene Creed, or, more correctly, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. The original 4th century version of this Creed, adopted at the Council of Nicea and revised at the Council of Constantinople, affirms that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father”. In Western churches by the sixth century this had been changed to “proceeds from the Father and the Son”, by the addition of the Latin word filioque “and (from) the Son”. This is the form normally used in Roman Catholic and Anglican liturgies. But the addition has never been accepted by the Eastern Orthodox churches and has become a major point of contention between eastern and western churches.

Pat Ashworth, reporting in the Church Times Blog from the Lambeth Conference, writes the following in describing the opening service in Canterbury Cathedral:

Then the Nicene Creed: it caused us to stumble, said as it was in its ancient form, without the phrase, “and the Son”.

So why was the filioque clause omitted from the Creed as recited in Canterbury? I suppose that it was because of a resolution from a previous Lambeth Conference, which unlike the present one actually discussed substantive matters and made decisions. This is from section 5 of Resolution 6 of the 1988 Lambeth Conference, the resolution about Anglican-Orthodox Relations (Wikipedia‘s link to the Anglican Communion website is broken, I have given the current link):

Asks that further thought be given to the Filioque clause, recognising it to be a major point of disagreement, … recommending to the provinces of the Anglican Communion that in future liturgical revisions the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed be printed without the Filioque clause.

So I suppose whoever designed the liturgy for the Lambeth Conference is at least following the conference’s own resolutions. It would also appear that in the twenty years since 1988 not many provinces have actually implemented this resolution, for many bishops stumbled over the revised wording. Indeed in the Common Worship liturgy of the Church of England, “Copyright © The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, 2000-2006”, the form of the Nicene Creed without the filioque is specified only as

may be used on suitable ecumenical occasions.

And as such occasions are rare it is not surprising that even most Church of England bishops stumbled at this point.

The comment I made a few days ago makes an argument from Revelation 22:1 that the Holy Spirit does indeed “proceed” (whatever this means – the Greek word simply means “go out”) from the Father and the Son, thus giving a theological justification for the filioque clause. So I would have to suggest that the filioque clause is theologically justified. However, the Anglican Communion’s position, as reflected in the 1988 Lambeth resolution, is not rejection of the theology of the filioque. The position seems to be that the proper text of the Nicene Creed is what was agreed at the Ecumenical Councils including both eastern and western churches, rather than in subsequent decisions of the western church alone. On this basis I can accept the creed without the addition – although I too would be likely to stumble over it.

Congratulations to John and Alison Richardson

Congratulations to John Richardson, the Ugley Vicar, and his bride Alison, who were married this morning. John kept this news very close to his chest. And even on the very morning of his wedding he was still blogging, not just to make the first public announcement of his wedding (meanwhile bizarrely if not accidentally disabling the posting of congratulatory comments), but also to comment on other posts, including this comment and this one in which he writes, concerning ordination of women:

my wife-to-be disagrees with me on this and we’ve managed to stay together a long while without either of us conceding much! …

I think her (Alison’s) arguments are pretty (well, actually totally) unconvincing, but she makes me think, which can’t be bad.

I am glad Alison is making John think, and presumably vice versa. John certainly makes me think, even though I often disagree with him  But it will be interesting to see how long he can actually share the (notional) Ugley Vicarage with Alison before he gradually finds her arguments beginning to convince him.

I wish them a long and happy marriage as they come closer to one another and to Jesus in heart and also in mind!

Jim West endorses Todd Bentley

I had intended to take a break from blogging about Todd Bentley. But I can’t resist this quote, which appears to be genuine, from Jim West:

you can learn as much from benny hinn and todd bentley as you can the ‘fathers’ (with the singular exception of Jerome …)

So Todd’s and Benny’s teaching is as valuable as that of the “Fathers” of the church? Why, I thought I was praising Todd rather highly in comparing him with Jesus and Paul, but I was only saying that he was trying to follow their example. I would never have dared to compare Todd’s teaching with that of any of the respected theologians of the church. But Jim West seems to value Todd and Benny above such towering figures as Tertullian, Origen and Chrysostom. High praise indeed!

Which bishops want women to join them?

Ruth Gledhill digresses from her Lambeth Diary to give the low-down on which bishops at last week’s General Synod voted for and against the motion on women bishops. This includes some minor surprises. I won’t repeat all the details, but I will give the votes of those bishops in the Church of England who I have been mentioning on this blog.

On “the Bishop of Winchester’s motion, including the reaffirmation of the Lambeth 1998 resolution that both sides in the argument on women priests and bishops are ‘loyal Anglicans’”, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester, otherwise so far apart, were together among the 14 bishops who voted in favour. Among the 31 against this motion were Archbishop John Sentamu of York and bishops John Gladwin of Chelmsford, NT Wright of Durham and Pete Broadbent of Willesden. Ruth writes mischievously that

those who hold traditional views on ministry, men and women who believe implicitly in the Catholic faith contained in creeds and scripture, are now apparently not regarded as loyal Anglicans by two-thirds of the diocesan bishops of the Church of England present and voting at the Synod

– including Sentamu, Gladwin and Wright, also Broadbent who is not in fact “diocesan” but was included in this reckoning. So will Pete Broadbent, despite staying away from the Lambeth Conference, now be rejected by the conservatives? It will be interesting to see.

On the final motion, which I reported here, it seems that Archbishop Sentamu and bishops Gladwin and Broadbent were among 28 voting in favour, whereas 12 bishops including Nazir-Ali and Wright voted against, and Archbishop Williams abstained, alone – although at least four bishops seem to have absented themselves as 45 voted on several of the amendments. Well, at least I can agree with my own diocesan bishop on something. But there is surely something symbolically significant in the one who is supposed to be leading the Church of England choosing to abstain.

Lambeth: no news may be good news

The long awaited Lambeth Conference has started. But for the moment it doesn’t seem to be very interesting, in terms of any real content. The blogging bishops, and even the usually irrepressible Dave Walker who has got himself a pass through the security fence, are keeping quiet about anything non-trivial. The real press have been reduced to talking about themselves and sneaking through the fence.

The most interesting news I have seen, with the possible exception of the contradictory Roman Catholic reactions, is that the bishops are saying what they think about the Church of England’s antiquated parish system by breaking its rules. They are meeting for their conference without the permission of the incumbent of the parish they are meeting in – as reported by that incumbent, who is also a blogger. But he doesn’t report that a bishop who is not at the Conference will this Sunday attend an open air service in his parish. Nor has the bishop in question yet reported it on his blog; this news was hinted at by Ruth Gledhill and confirmed here. Has the incumbent officially invited this bishop? Does he even know he is coming? Of course the bishop doesn’t need an invitation if he is just going to attend, but will he do more? The bishop I am referring to: none other than Gene Robinson!

What can we hope for from this conference? The press have gathered in the hope of picking over the bones of a deceased Anglican communion. But I doubt if they will find a corpse. I suspect that the whole thing is now being carefully enough stage managed that an appearance of unity will be kept up, even if everyone knows how superficial it is. In that case there will be no news to satisfy the reporters, so I hope the weather warms up so they can enjoy their swimming pool. Of course if the stage management breaks down and real fireworks start to go off among the mitres, that will be news. But I expect that even if the rain stays away Lambeth will be a damp squib, three expensive weeks which will do nothing to solve the terminal sickness of the Anglican Communion if not actually making things worse.

I am sure a lot of Anglicans are taking a “wait and see” approach to the GAFCON process until after Lambeth, and after their summer holidays. But by September they will be starting to realise that they have to make choices one way or another. Time will tell.

Todd Bentley back at Lakeland from Friday

When it was announced last week that Todd Bentley was taking a short break from his series of outpouring meetings at Lakeland, some people seemed to conclude that he would not be back, that this was the end of the Lakeland outpouring and even of Todd’s ministry. For example, Dan Curant (who has a helpful blog mostly about Todd and healing which I just discovered, including this transcript of Todd clearly preaching the gospel, and this testimony of his own partial healing) commented, without hostility, that

Todd deserves to live the rest of his life in obscurity and peace.

Even I was expecting that Todd would be taking a break of a month or so – and that I would not be blogging any more about him, at least for some time, after my last post.

But you can’t keep a good man down. This has just been announced:

Todd Bentley back at Lakeland from July 18th

Also there will be

a special one-off Healing Revival with Todd Bentley [in] Louisville, Kentucky on 17 July

And all of this will be broadcast live, and streamed to the Internet, by God TV.

So Todd is taking a break of barely a week. I would have expected him to want a longer break, at least for the sake of his family. But I suppose he is feeling under the same compulsion to continue his ministry that the Apostle Paul felt:

For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:16 (TNIV)

Todd Bentley follows Jesus' example

A certain “Doozie”, apparently of Arkansas, USA, who has a private blog (what’s the point of giving me that URL, Doozie?), has commented a few times on this blog in the last day or so. His or her name means “Something extraordinary or bizarre”, and that is a good description also of the content of this comment, which includes the following:

Show me in the NEW Testament where it supports an evangelist/prophet/disciple or anyone else standing in front of large masses conducting themselves as a Leader…….that is focusing only on healing and not repentance. The example of Jesus doesn’t count.

Yes, he or she, apparently a Christian, wrote “The example of Jesus doesn’t count.” I am gobsmacked! Sorry if this doesn’t sound too “Gentle”, but Christian “Wisdom” requires that I correct this amazing error, not because the mysterious Doozie makes it but because this attitude of rejecting Jesus’ example seems to lie behind much of the criticism of Todd Bentley.

In an early post on this blog, nearly two years ago so long before the Lakeland outpouring, I wrote that Jesus is Our Fully Human Example. As I argued in that post, Jesus carried out all of his ministry as a human being filled with the Holy Spirit. That implies that we as Christians should expect to be able to do all the same things that he did – although if we are crucified it won’t have the same significance as Jesus’ crucifixion. We are not perfect and so will not follow Jesus’ example perfectly, but our aim should be perfection according to the model which Jesus taught us (Matthew 5:48).

If we look at Jesus’ ministry, we see a man who started out on his ministry by preaching and teaching (Mark 1:14-15,21-22) and building a team around himself (1:16-20). But he soon found himself healing and casting out demons (1:23-31). Indeed that very first evening of his public ministry he found himself as the focus of a large healing meeting (1:32-34), “standing in front of large masses … as a Leader”. The “Capernaum Outpouring” had begun! But Jesus was concerned to meet a broader need than just in one small town, so he starting a touring ministry of healing – and of asking those who were healed to look for authentication of their healing (1:35-45). Within a few days the crowds had become unmanageably large, but he had also attracted the attention of critics (2:1-12). Soon, despite there being no TV or Internet in those days, his ministry was bringing in international visitors, with people travelling as much as a hundred miles from Idumea, probably on foot, for healing (3:8). At this point he commissioned others in his team, initially 12 and later 70 or 72, to broaden his ministry, and imparted to them the power and authority to heal and cast out demons (3:14-15, Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1-2,6, 10:1,9) – a ministry they continued after Jesus’ death and resurrection (Mark 16:20, Acts 5:12-16).

Few people alive today are following these aspects of Jesus’ example more precisely than Todd Bentley. He started as an evangelist but soon found himself at the centre of crowds seeking healing. And by the power of God he was able to provide this healing, not perfectly as Jesus was because he is imperfect, but enough to convince crowds to come back for more. For years Todd, like Jesus, has travelled from place to place. He stayed in Lakeland for a time as this allowed his message to get worldwide coverage through TV and the Internet. From this base he has commissioned many others to take his message and his healing power throughout the world. But of course he has attracted his critics. Eventually Jesus’ critics had him crucified. I hope and pray that Todd won’t meet a similar fate! But I also hope and pray that he, like Jesus, will remain steadfast in the face of criticism to complete the ministry which God has for him.

Todd, like Jesus, has encouraged those who are healed to get proper evidence of this. And he has provided this evidence to the press, for example in a binder full of medical records which was given to ABC’s “Nightline” programme. It is sad, but understandable in a litigious age, that doctors are reluctant to confirm healings. But as Christians we should not depend on such confirmation, especially when it implies that we trust the non-Christian media more than the reports of our Christian brothers and sisters. In John 20:26-29, whereas Jesus graciously gave Thomas the verification he required of the resurrection, he implicitly rebuked him and blessed those who believe without demanding proof. Similarly, we should not insist on this kind of verification of God’s works. We should rather trust what we believe God is doing, and allow the Holy Spirit to verify its truth to our hearts.

But God does graciously provide some evidence. TC Robinson has posted a testimony of partial healing from a medical professional. Also I found the following in Todd’s book “Christ’s Healing Touch”, volume 1 (Fresh Fire Ministries 2004, ISBN 0-9736387-0-2), pp. 296-297, concerning Todd’s mission to India in 2004:

Doctor Rod Thompson, a medical doctor from the Pacific North West in the USA, was able to check and document the validity of many healing testimonies. If this procedure does not convince the skeptic, nothing will. Again and again, after examining the people the doctor verified Jesus Christ still heals today. Here is part of his report:

“Todd had called out a word of knowledge for a blind 13 or 14-year-old girl. A 13-year-old girl came for prayer. I examined her eyes with an ophthalmoscope and found a dense cataract in the left eye. She reported that she was totally blind in that eye. After Todd prayed for her, she reported partial sight. I re-examined the eye and to my amazement, the cataract looked like it had broken into several pieces. Medically, this does not make sense, but that is what I observed. I believe God was breaking up the cataract and restoring her sight. …”

In the book there is a picture of Dr Thompson examining an Indian woman. Presumably he could be traced and asked for an independent copy of his report.

Jesus also said:

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 your enemies will be the members of your own household.’

37 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10:34-39 (TNIV)

In his own day, and indeed ever since, this Jesus who preached peace and reconciliation has been a cause of strife and division, within nations and even families. This was necessary in order to separate the true people of God from those who, while claiming to know him, would not accept the messenger he sent. And it seems that Todd is following this aspect of Jesus’ example as well. He has become a cause for division within the church, the family of God.

Now I would not want to suggest that Todd’s ministry has the same significance as a cause for division as Jesus’ ministry. But I might suggest that there is a real analogy between the way that many of the Jewish people in Jesus’ time rejected his ministry and the way in which many Christians today reject new ways in which God is working in the world. This situation has been foretold in the Bible:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, … 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

2 Timothy 3:1-2,5,8-9 (TNIV)

Today there are both Bible deists and people who claim to be charismatics who presume to pontificate on what God can and cannot do today. Some of them assert principles such as that God cannot do anything which he isn’t recorded as doing in the Bible. Where did that come from? Not from God, who said

See, I am doing a new thing!

Isaiah 43:19 (TNIV)

– ironically the one thing God did in the Bible which these people don’t allow him to do today – nor from Jesus, who said

Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

John 14:12 (TNIV)

Christian ministers today can do different things, greater things than what is recorded in the Bible, because Jesus is risen and ascended to the Father.

Among Jesus’ critics were those who accused him of ministering by the power of demons (Matthew 12:24). This is part of his response to them:

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12:32 (TNIV)

I hope and pray that this will not be the fate of those who reject the working of the Holy Spirit in these days. Instead, I long to bring them back to the truth about what God is doing today, following James’ final exhortation:

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring them back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the way of error will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

James 5:19-20 (TNIV)

Todd Bentley takes a break

Yesterday I received the following from God TV, which is also at this web page:

Fresh Fire Ministries announced yesterday that Todd Bentley would be taking some time off to refresh and to rest from the Florida Outpouring after nearly one hundred days of ministry. The Lakeland meetings will continue and Todd will remain the leader of this move of God.

So Todd Bentley is taking a well deserved break. Perhaps his critics will also take a break. Perhaps some of them will conclude that their campaigns against his ministry have been successful, and rejoice. But this would be premature. I suppose that all the criticism has added to the stress which Todd has necessarily been under after keeping up such a heavy schedule for three months. But I’m sure he will be back. Indeed the announcement from God TV suggests that his break will not be a long one, as well as confirming that nightly meetings will continue at Lakeland, although without Todd and without TV coverage:

but until then, you can continue to enjoy the nightly meetings LIVE at

Meanwhile there has been an interesting report about Todd in USA Today. This is generally reasonably sympathetic, considering that this is in the secular mainstream press, but it is unfortunate that Todd’s staff cannot come up with even one convincing authenticated healing for the press to report. Here is an extract:

To those who doubt the healing claims, he asks: If you believe in the Bible’s miracles, why can’t you believe they’re happening today?

“Miracles and healings are evidence,” Bentley said. “They are signs of the Kingdom, and if we don’t have signs then all we have is a bunch of theology. How one individual wants to interpret Scripture and how another individual wants to interpret Scripture.”

At this point I interrupt the quote to note that, despite how Eddie Arthur interprets this, Todd is not saying that miracles and healings are the only signs of the Kingdom. They are clearly the signs which Todd is concentrating on, but he says nothing to invalidate the other kinds of signs which Eddie mention, which are also helpful in getting interested people beyond “a bunch of theology” to an understanding that God is real and at work. I could add that Todd’s eschatology may be over-realised (we should expect victory now), whereas Eddie’s may be under-realised (we should expect suffering now), but that issue needs another long post to do it justice.

The revival is similar to yearslong events in Toronto and Pensacola, on Florida’s Panhandle, in the 1990s, said Vinson Synan, a professor of church history at Regent University and sympathetic expert on Pentecostalism. The difference is Bentley’s focus — more on healing, less on conversion — and appearance, he said.

“What I see is exhortation — encouraging the people to worship and to praise, exhorting people rather than teaching and preaching, in the traditional sense,” Synan said. “I told my class he’s the most unlikely evangelist you can imagine, compared to the curly haired Billy Grahams and Oral Robertses, who were attractive people. This guy’s kind of short, fat and bald, with tattoos on his arms. He looks like a hippie. … In a way it’s a positive, because he’s very much of the common man.”

Meanwhile Richard Steel posts an interesting defence of Todd’s strategy, which he presents as essentially one of evangelism:

I agree with what I’ve heard from Todd Bentley, John Arnott, Mark Stibbe, Jerame Nelson, Charlie Robinson, Trevor Baker, John Laframboise, Patricia King, Bob Jones, Paul Keith Davis, Keith Miller, and many other notable speakers that this revival, this outpouring is for the harvesting of souls. It is to empower the church for harvest. Yes we need God’s love and compassion. But we need something that will show people that Jesus Christ is God, and the only way to Heaven. …

It needs to be emphasised that this move of God is for all the body of Christ. A powerless church is not going to be effective. With so much pornography, violence, and degradation available on the internet, isn’t it time that we as the body of Christ showed people The Kingdom of Heaven invading earth? … Do we want to see outpouring turn into genuine revival? Then let’s seek God and pray fervently, but also take the fire out there with much love and compassion onto the streets, our communities, in our workplace, amongst our family, friends, and neighbours. …

Let’s all be encouraged to take a risk for Jesus. He died for you and me. Let’s give Him everything we have, and remember how valuable every person is to Him. Let’s also love and encourage each other to step into all that God has for each one of us. The Lord is building His Kingdom, and to Him alone be all the glory, the honour, and the praise!


Gene Robinson nearly gets it right

Thanks to John Richardson for giving me the link to this article in the Guardian by Gene Robinson, the controversial gay Bishop of New Hampshire, who last month “entered into a civil union with his longtime partner”, becoming “a June bride”.

I can’t help wondering whether John’s reaction to this article is more to its author than to its content. In fact there is very little to object to in its content, beyond the rather trivial objection to the wording “God’s self”, popular in some circles to avoid using specifically masculine pronouns for God.

Now I suppose John’s reaction to Gene is based on these sentiments:

My conservative brothers and sisters seem to argue that God revealed everything to us in scripture. …

Isn’t God – the living God – constantly making God’s self and God’s will more perfectly known to the church over time?

I can understand someone like John reacting against this kind of statement, especially from Gene and because he is already presupposing where Gene is going next. But it is in fact standard evangelical theology that God continues to reveal things to his people, such as his will for their lives, individually and as a church, and what he wants preachers to preach about Sunday by Sunday. Only the most hardline cessationists would deny that God guides his servants and his church today.

Of course the evangelical position is that such guidance will always be within the limits imposed by Scripture. And I would agree. But does Gene Robinson disagree? I’m not sure. His point is surely more that such guidance will sometimes take us beyond traditional interpretations of Scripture:

God, of course, was not and is not changing – but our ability to apprehend and comprehend God’s will for us is. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, the church was led to permit eating things proscribed by Leviticus, to oppose slavery (after centuries of using scripture to defend it), and to permit and bless remarriage after divorce (despite Jesus’ calling it adultery).

Even on this last point, I would argue, even if Gene doesn’t, that this is a matter of reinterpreting the Scriputres concerning exactly what Jesus was calling adultery.

The real controversy of course comes here:

And now, by the leading of that same Spirit, we are beginning to welcome those who have heretofore been marginalised or excluded altogether: people of colour, women, the physically challenged, and God’s children who happen to be gay.

But note what he says in this last phrase, and what he does not say. He clearly believes that there are people who “happen to be gay” in the sense of having an inner homosexual orientation. There are certainly people who believe this of themselves. And Gene is saying that such people should be welcomed rather than marginalised. He is referring to people as they are or understand themselves to be, not to what they do. On this basis, I fully agree!

There is of course a point on which I would disagree with Gene. I would hold that the church should not unconditionally welcome those who persist in sexual intercourse outside a monogamous heterosexual marriage – a matter of what people do rather than who they are. Presumably Gene would disagree. But that is an issue which he does not even mention in this article.

So I can fully endorse Gene’s next paragraph:

This is the God I know in my life – who loves me, interacts with me, teaches and summons me closer and closer to God’s truth. This God is alive and well and active in the church – not locked up in scripture 2,000 years ago, having said everything that needed to be said, but rather still interacting with us, calling us to love one another as he loves us. It is the brilliance of Anglicanism that we first and foremost read scripture, and then interpret it in light of church tradition and human reason. No one of us alone can be trusted to such a process because, left to our own devices, we recast God’s will in our own image. But in the community of the church, together we are able to discern God’s will for us – and sometimes that may mean reinterpreting and even changing old understandings of things thought settled long ago.

The problem with women bishops, and a new take on 1 Timothy 2:12

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.