Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Out of step

The Anglican church has been in the news a lot of late, not all for good reasons. Not that it needs hyping but of course the media has focused on the division. Indeed there is a whole subsection of news called 'Anglican Divisions'. There is of course the debate about homosexuality and the role of women in the church.

The news that CofE has finally given the go ahead for women bishops (by 2014 giving the argument time to rumble on some more) has received support from a number of blogs that I read.
  • Unsurprisingly the Rev Joy Carroll Wallis (wife of Jim Wallis) at Beliefnet is in favour
  • Methodist minister Dave Warnock is in favour
  • As does Anglican Peter Kirk
  • On the other side Mark Heath wonders if this makes him sexist?
  • The church network I'm a part of (Newfrontiers) is currently holding a conference where Mark Driscoll will be speaking. I think he'll address this topic at some point. If you don't know, he wouldn't agree.
I find myself with Mark Heath and wondering about the state of the world when I am more out of step with contemporary culture than the Anglican church. But that's where I am. To some I am faithful, perhaps to others an oppressor and denier of God's call on the lives of women.

But in our individualistic society that leads us to a bind, where God's personal call is the one indisputable fact. When someone says 'but God has called me' how can you respond without seeming mean-spirited even if your honest understanding of scripture says, 'that can't be'? It's not easy to avoid heartache in such situations. So for those on both sides of this division, with heartache all round - may you know greater grace.

* For those who want to understand better my theological convcitions on this subject, I'd recommend reading - for a browse click here. I'm with Craig Blomberg

Beck, James R., ed. Two Views on Women in Ministry. Rev. Ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.

"This revised edition includes essays by complementarians Thomas R. Schreiner and Craig L. Blomberg and egalitarians Linda L. Belleville and Craig S. Keener. A helpful update to the first edition (2001) is that after each contributor offers his or her position, a response is given by each of the other contributors. It should be noted that, although he uses the term "complementarian" and clearly affirms differences in roles for men and women, Blomberg's "mediating" position places less restrictions on the roles of women than the traditional complementarian view."


ianjmatt on 9 July 2008 at 10:51 said...

As one who supported the motion as it was passed, I am really saddened by the media coverage on this from both sides. It is interesting that most evanglical parishes and bishops, epsecially from the 'New Wine' end of things, support this - they are able to seperate this issue from other things (such as sexuality).

I wish people would realise that often the media is only invitiong them onto a programme because they hope that by arguing they will create 'good' TV.

Pilgrim on 12 July 2008 at 06:42 said...

Well for sure, Phil, sorry to have to say it, but on this one you and New Frontiers have lost the plot big time.

God will continue to call both men and women, as s/he always has done. And like the tide, God's call, the movement of God's Spirit, is relentless...

As Dave Warnock says, you're addressing the situation from a position of power: that's always a dangerous place to be.

May you find the grace to either step down from that pedestal or raise up the women around you.

Blue, with a hint of amber on 14 July 2008 at 12:31 said...

Pilgrim, I just posted this on another site but it is also how I would respond to your statement.

I am an elder at a newfrontiers Church, and am male (hopfully that does not come as agreat surprise!).

I oversee our midweek cell groups. We have 19 cell groups and we have 13 female cell leaders. 5 of them lead as half of a couple, while 8 women lead on their own (in 7 groups, as one is lead by two single females). Of the 8 leading on their own, five are married but lead alone (different calling & gifting to husbands, or husband not saved), two are divorced and single, and one is unmarried.

Our pastoral co-ordinator is female, and co-ordinates a team that involves two elders serving on it. Two of five worship leaders are female. Our discipleship-co-ordinator is a female divorcee. Of five cell group overseers two are female.

All of them serve actively in a Church with a male eldership.

If we are talking about the final authorty of church government and discipline then let us discuss the issues clearly.

Almost all of the women mentioned would be called "cell pastor" or "discipleship elder" in other Churches. But don't hold the post of "elder" in terms of the complimentarian position of final government in churches.

I know local churches with a female minister who have far, far fewer women active in ministry in the church, even as a percentage of congregation and overal numbers, than us, even though they serve under a female minister. Fewer women are "raised up" into positions of leadership and expressing their God given gifts in that church compared to ours.

None of those facts relate to how I feel being the one "in power" as such - those are the numbers.

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