Andrew Goddard writes: Building on my earlier reading of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s contributions about Communion life, this article explores the ecclesiological questions that are important, and currently intertwined with, the questions relating to sexuality that tend to dominate discussion.
It argues that although all wish for unity and communion there are currently two main competing visions of the end of communion in terms of its goal or purpose:
- the traditional vision of Communion Catholicity which is an ecumenically shared vision;
- and a vision of Autonomous Inclusivism where provincial autonomy is central.
The account of the Communion offered to the Conference by the Archbishop does not articulate that of Communion Catholicity and appears perilously close to that of Autonomous Inclusivism. If this is now the end (in sense of destiny and goal) it would entail the end (in sense of destruction) of the Communion as it has developed and understood itself because it embraces provincially driven pluralism while sidelining or abandoning the quest to be of one mind which I argue is part of the biblical calling of the church.
By contrast, the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) are firmly committed to Communion Catholicity as well as to traditional teaching on sexuality. The question is whether the Archbishop of Canterbury and IASCUFO can now work with the Global South to enable the current Instruments to be “reset” and return to seeking the historic goal of “Communion Catholicity” or whether we are seeing the end of the Communion as we have known it.
In my previous article I tried to examine what the Archbishop of Canterbury was saying in his letter and speech of Tuesday. I did so in relation to both sexuality as regards the status of Lambeth I.10 and the reality of the Communion’s life. I argued that while there was much of value there were also important areas which lacked clarity. Above all, there was an ecclesiological deficit in each area leaving us with key questions—“what bearing, if any, does the continued “validity” of I.10 have on the ordering of the life of the Communion?” and “is the reality of “a plurality of views” in the Communion no longer the ecclesiological problem it has been in the past and if so what does that mean for our working ecclesiology as a communion and in our ecumenical relationships?”
This latter ecclesiological question is one which, “given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of Provinces” (Call on Human Dignity, 2.3, p.15) has hung over the Communion for decades and which Archbishop Robert Runcie clearly set out back at the 1988 Conference:
There are real and serious threats to our unity and communion…The problem that confronts us as Anglicans arises..from the relationship of independent provinces with each other…The New Testament surely speaks more in terms of interdependence than independence…Are we being called though events and theological interpretation to move from independence to interdependence…Let me put it in starkly simple terms: do we really want unity within the Anglican Communion? Is our worldwide family of Christians worth bonding together? Or is our paramount concern the preservation or promotion of that particular expression of Anglicanism which has developed within the culture of our own province?…I believe we still need the Anglican Communion but we have reached the stage in the growth of the Communion when we must begin to make radical choices, or growth will imperceptibly turn to decay. I believe the choice between independence and interdependence, already set before us as a Communion in embryo twenty-five years ago, is quite simply the choice between unity or gradual fragmentation… (The Truth Shall Make You Free, pp. 14-17).
In its current manifestation this challenge brings us back, again, to the question of how different teachings in relation to marriage and sexuality are related to different ecclesiological visions. As I set out in an article earlier in the Conference (drawing on two of my previous and fuller discussions and also two pieces in 2006 and 2008 by Graham Kings) this has been a constant and divisive question since at least The Windsor Report. One way of seeking to understand it is by representing different viewpoints on a quadrant created by axes mapping a spectrum of views on sexuality (the x-axis in relation to I.10) and on ecclesiology (the y-axis relating to support or rejection of the Windsor/Covenant vision of life in communion).
The Windsor/Covenant vision in the upper half of the y-axis is one of “Communion Catholicity”. This can be held by both those supporting I.10 (the Communion Conservative version at top right) and those—most famously Archbishop Rowan Williams—who though not convinced by the claims of I.10 (and so on the left-hand side of the horizontal axis) respect it as the teaching of the Church (the Communion Liberal version at top left). In relation to the life of the Communion this “Communion Catholicity” vision of autonomy-in-communion, freedom held within interdependence and mutual accountability, leads to the sort of position summed up in the words of Archbishop Rowan Williams which I quoted in my previous article and contrasted with those of Archbishop Justin Welby who has at this Conference only affirmed the first of Archbishop Rowan’s three statements on his appointment in 2002:
 The Lambeth resolution of 1998 declares clearly what is the mind of the overwhelming majority in the Communion, and  what the Communion will and will not approve or authorise. I accept that  any individual diocese or even province that officially overturns or repudiates this resolution poses a substantial problem for the sacramental unity of the Communion.
In contrast to this view are two alternative ecclesiologies which in the crisis of recent years have sought justification in expounding as authentically Anglican the privileging of individual provincial autonomy over the mind of the Communion and wider church.
The most obvious form of this is seen in those opposed to I.10, especially in the US, who have overturned and repudiated it and then ignored the pleas of the Communion to turn back from this course. They are represented at the bottom left and have an ecclesiology which holds that each province’s autonomy means that it determines its own actions within its own jurisdiction as it sees best and that other Anglican provinces and the Communion Instruments should honour and respect those decisions. Even after unilateral action against the mind of Communion a province should therefore continue to be fully included in Communion life and other provinces should maintain bonds of communion with them despite them having created significant disagreements and sought to establish plurality on matters of doctrine, liturgy, sacramental order, morals, practice and discipline. This perspective can thus be described as “autonomous inclusivism” and results in a vision of “communion” that embraces plurality and prioritises the province over the global body. Extra-provincial relationships are here more that of a voluntary association or federation of autonomous churches each free to disregard the mind of the wider fellowship (hence “federal liberal”) rather than the self-understanding of the Anglican Communion as classically understood and the vision of “visible unity” it has pursued ecumenically.
Although less clearly defined, there are elements of a conservative alternative vision (bottom right) in at least some of those provinces which intervened in the US and consecrated bishops to serve there and who are part of GAFCON and have been strongly separatist in relation to the current Instruments. This appears to take the form of a purely confessional stance whose vision of the church is one which draws together those who can agree on, for example, the Jerusalem Declaration. What is not clear is whether this represents a fundamental rejection of, and alternative to, the richer Windsor/Covenant ecclesial vision. It may do so or it may simply be an emergency remedial measure in the light of the failure of the Windsor/Covenant vision within the current Instruments. In the latter scenario, its current advocates might willingly embrace a form of Communion Catholicity such as the covenantal structure being developed by the Global South.
What is the End of (the) Communion?
One way of exploring these differences is in terms of their different views of the end—the goal, or purpose—of ecclesial communion and thus of the Anglican Communion. Any account of this end of ecclesial communion must, in turn, flow from our account of humanity’s ultimate end of communion in truth and love with the triune God which is graciously given and revealed to us in Christ and the Spirit-inspired apostolic witness to Christ. That is why the disturbing “declaration” in the Call on Reconciliation (2.1, p.11) that “We believe in God who is both three and one, who holds difference and unity in the heart of God’s being, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (italics added) may prove to be so significant and reveal the depth of the disagreements.
Among Anglicans today the two main competing perspectives are those of Communion Catholicity (Quadrants II and III) and Autonomous Inclusivism (Quadrant IV). We here face, among ourselves as Anglicans, the pressing questions which Cardinal Koch’s address to the Lambeth Conference identified in relation to ecumenism and Christian unity more widely:
That brings the main difficulty of the present ecumenical situation to light. On the one hand, it was possible in previous phases of the ecumenical movement to reach an extensive and pleasing consensus on many hitherto controversial individual questions around the understanding of faith and the theological structure of the church. On the other hand, most of the still existing points of difference continue to make themselves felt in the differing understanding of the ecumenical unity of the church. In this double context, I perceive the most elementary challenge in the ecumenical situation today as being what the late bishop of Würzburg and eminent ecumenist Paul-Werner Scheele diagnosed as follows: “Regarding unity, we agree that we want unity but not on what kind.”
Amongst ourselves as Anglicans we might say this is being expressed as “Regarding communion, we agree that we want communion but not on what kind”.
The previous clear consensus, developed over decades, was one where the end or goal was that of Communion Catholicity but we are now possibly leaving this behind. We could be turning away from this to make our end or goal what the cardinal identified as an approach in which “churches and ecclesial communities…strongly promote diversity and difference” and visible unity “merely consists largely in the sum of all available church realities”.
This relates to what he refers to as “another great challenge…the pluralist and relativist Zeitgeist” in which “there is no thinking backwards from the plurality of reality, and we must not do so if we don’t want to expose ourselves to the suspicion of a totalitarian approach” (one cannot help but hear in this echoes of some of the, to my mind unfair, criticisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant). From such a postmodern perspective, the cardinal continued,
plurality is said to be the only way to reflect the whole of reality, as far as this is possible at all. It is therefore characteristic of postmodernism to abandon unitary thinking on principle, which means not only tolerating and accepting pluralism but fundamentally opting for it…people have not only learned to live with the historical and present pluralism but also basically welcome it, so that the ecumenical search for a way to restore church unity appears unrealistic and is regarded as undesirable.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s
- portrait of the state of the Communion at the Conference and its failure to even mention mutuality, accountability or interdependence,
- consistent failure over time to re-articulate and commend the Windsor and Covenant vision of Communion Catholicity or to protest against the unilateral actions of those committed to autonomous inclusivism, and
- unexpanded and unqualified statement that “We have a plurality of views”
are all signs pointing in one direction, one in which:
- the fact of a plurality of contradictory views and practices concerning the Communion’s teaching as to Scripture’s witness concerning marriage and sexual behaviour is not ultimately incompatible with life in communion;
- we can only speak of “majority” and “minority” perspectives existing within the Communion at any point in time and not, in any meaningful way, of the Communion approving or authorising anything, only of provinces doing so;
- unilateral actions against the mind of the Communion have no consequences in the ordering of Communion life;
- it is wrong to hold that the “deep differences that exist within the Communion over same-sex marriage and human sexuality” (Letter) should be seen as impairing communion; and
- it is wrong to believe, in relation to I.10, that “any individual diocese or even province that officially overturns or repudiates this resolution poses a substantial problem for the sacramental unity of the Communion”.
By default, even if not by intention, and however the Archbishop might personally wish to locate himself in the quadrant, this approach is one which positions the Communion in a place which looks perilously close to the autonomous inclusivism vision.
What needs to be acknowledged, however, is that if the Anglican understanding of the end (ie goal) of communion is indeed now this pluralist vision rooted in a favouring of autonomous inclusivism then it marks the end (in the sense of termination and destruction) of the Communion as it has existed until now where it has been shaped by the end/goal of Communion Catholicity.
The Call to be of One Mind
Faced with the undeniable reality that “we have a plurality of views” (on both sexuality and the end/goal of communion) how should we interpret and respond to this given New Testament appeals and prayers such as these?:
Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind (Phil 2:1-2).
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:2).
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Cor 13:11).
In the light of these and other parts of Scripture, and “if unity with apostolic teaching and apostolic witness is a natural consequence of understanding unity as unity in Christ”, then the calling of the church is not to accept this plurality and embrace it within our vision of the goal of life in communion. Our calling is rather to lament it, to recognise it as a sign that we are being disobedient and failing to live the communion into which we are called in Christ, and to commit ourselves afresh to seeking the unity of God’s people in Christ we find in Scripture.
What James writes about double-mindedness in the individual Christian applies also to double-mindedness within the church. A church or communion of churches which simply accepts such double-mindedness on a matter relating to the pattern of holy living called for among Christ’s disciples where it itself holds that Scripture teaches something will inevitably be “unstable in all they do” (James 1:8). Similarly, a communion of churches which accepts double-mindedness about what it means to be a communion of churches and the goal of communion will also inevitably be unstable. Such instability leads not to walking together as we should be doing but—as we have seen in recent years and also in aspects of this Conference—to the instability of which James writes which is more like the walking of a drunkard or Archbishop Runcie’s “gradual fragmentation”. When we find ourselves as a Communion in this state a word repeated three times in 1 Peter which is being studied in the Conference is apposite: “with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming…be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray…Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 1:13, 4:7, 5:8).
The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA)
As has been evident for some time and is reaffirmed in their communiqué as the Lambeth Conference closes, the GSFA are clearly positioned as committed to both Lambeth I.10 and the vision of life in communion set out in Windsor and The Covenant. They are now the primary advocates of Communion Catholicity within the life of the Communion and are clear that there is an “unattended ‘ecclesial deficit’ in the Communion” (6.6). Within the quadrant they are squarely in the top-right corner (II) but one of the problems is that most of those who previously may have been Communion Catholicity allies in the top-left corner (III) have moved to join TEC and embrace autonomous inclusivism (IV).
The GSFA believe that “Anglican identity is neither sociological nor historical. It is first and foremost doctrinal” (5.6) and that
If Anglican identity and unity are rooted in common doctrine, then we cannot be a Communion with a plurality of beliefs. There need to be limits to theological diversity, limits that are set by a plain and canonical reading of Scripture and which is supported by church history (5.7).
They are also deeply concerned that “it would seem that the global Anglican Communion falls short of being a truly interdependent Communion of Churches; it is becoming an association, or at best a federation, of autonomous Provinces” (6.7(b)). As argued above, they believe that
The hard reality is that we cannot be a true Communion if some Provinces insist on their own autonomy and disregard the necessity of being an interdependent, ecclesial body (6.7(d)).
Their response to this has two main elements. On the one hand, they are developing their own structures shaped by the goal of communion expressed in Communion Catholicity:
We will find ways to be mutually accountable to one another as orthodox Provinces in staying true to the Word of God. We want to express enhanced ecclesial responsibility as a global body of faithful Anglican Provinces and dioceses. With common doctrine on essentials and mutual accountability, we anticipate more synergy and joy in living out our faith and being Christ’s witnesses to a watching world that is lost and grappling with pain and hopelessness (6.5)
Several orthodox Global South Provinces…have started to voluntarily bond themselves together on the basis of common doctrine to be accountable to one another in faith, order and morals and to express their ‘koinonia’ (fellowship) through relational networks of discipleship, evangelism, mission, economic empowerment and community services. The form in which this is taking place is the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA). This is an ecclesial body within the Communion that, while being rooted in the Global South Provinces, is now a world-wide Anglican Fellowship based on commitment to doctrine and a Covenantal Structure (The Cairo Covenant, adopted in 2019 and updated in 2021) (6.6)
On the other hand, they will continue to engage with the wider Anglican Communion structures but with the conviction that
Biblical faithfulness and relational integrity now require us as orthodox Bishops to speak of ‘degrees of communion’ with other Provinces, recognising the extent to which those degrees may increase and intensify or decrease and face temporary or permanent impairment. Simply stated, we find that if there is no authentic repentance by the revisionist Provinces, then we will sadly accept a state of ‘impaired communion’ with them. (6.7(f))
In relation to the traditional Instruments they will
continue to connect with the Communion Instruments as best we can without compromising our convictions about the authority and orthodox reading of Holy Scripture. The current situation warrants us to adopt suitable forms of ‘visible differentiation’. We will seek not to be schismatic. (6.7(j)).
In doing so they will work for “a resetting process” with proposals for “the repair of the tear in the Anglican Communion” (6.7(k)).
The GSFA will also, although they do not particularly draw attention to this, thereby be contributing to the Communion’s ecumenical calling by heeding the warnings that have been given to previous Lambeth Conferences by ecumenical guests from Rome such as a homily at the 1998 Conference (before it passed I.10) by Cardinal Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the address by his successor Cardinal Kasper at the 2008 Conference. Cardinal Cassidy quoted the Virginia Report, presented to the 1998 Conference, as he described one “insidious” threat to unity in these terms:
It comes when prayer for unity and ecumenical engagement are compartmentalised, hermetically sealed off from other areas of Church life and decision-making. If these are just part of a series of concerns, perhaps left to the enthusiasts, the ecumenical imperative becomes subtly marginalised. Different approaches, important decisions, in other areas of the Church’s life can conflict with it and may even undermine it. The commitment to unity is relativised if diversity and differences that cannot be reconciled with the Gospel are at the same time being embraced and exalted. It is put in question when pluralism in the Church comes to be regarded as a kind of ‘postmodern’ beatitude. It will be lost sight of altogether if radical obedience, and the necessity of costly ethical choices for faithful discipleship, are swept aside by a naive overemphasis on our innate goodness, underestimating the reality of sin in our lives and our world and also the power of Christ’s redemption and the grace-filled possibility of conversion. Are we not experiencing in fact new and deep divisions among Christians as a result of contrasting approaches to human sexuality for instance? When such attitudes are in the ascendant, disunity between Christians will remain unresolved.…The Virginia Report is surely right to argue that, ‘At all times the theological praxis of the local church must be consistent with the truth of the gospel which belongs to the universal Church’; and that the universal Church sometimes has ‘to say with firmness that a particular local practice or theory is incompatible with Christian faith’.
The End of (the) Communion?
In the light of all this, one possible and perhaps most plausible reading of where Anglicans now find themselves is that the Archbishop of Canterbury has given this week an account of the Communion which has effectively embraced the autonomous inclusivist vision as the goal of the Communion. This vision results in pluralism of doctrine and lack of any Communion boundaries, mutual accountability, or capacity to re-order its common life in the face of unilateral innovative decisions by provinces. At present, those provincial decisions are focussed on disregarding I.10 but, as the Global South has tenaciously maintained, the more fundamental question of the nature of the authority of Scripture underlies this specific question. In addition, other ethical areas (notably abortion, euthanasia and transgender identity) are already also now coming to the fore and it is likely that more traditional doctrinal matters will eventually also arise.
If this “end of communion” has indeed now been legitimised by the Archbishop then this fact, combined with (a) the incapacity of this Lambeth Conference (like that of 2008) to enable the bishops of the Communion to take common counsel and teach and uphold doctrine effectively and (b) the repeated failure of various Primates Meetings (including it now seems that in 2016) to respond effectively to the crisis, does seem to mean the end of the Communion as we have known it. The task of being faithful to the traditional vision of Communion Catholicity has, on this understanding, now clearly been abandoned by the Instruments but appears to be being picked up by the leadership of the Global South.
There are, however, a few small glimmers of hope that all may not be lost in relation to the historic Instruments and the direction being offered by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Two aspects of his speech stand out as marking potentially positive developments compared to how he has often spoken in the past and in tension with the goal of pluralism and autonomous inclusivism. Firstly, he spoke not simply of unity but also of truth: “We are called by Christ himself both to truth and unity…Truth and unity must be held together”. Secondly, using the language at the end of the revised Call on Human Dignity, he spoke not simply of “walking together” but being “committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree”.
Bringing these two together there appears to be an acceptance that in the face of “our deep disagreement on these issues” the importance of truth limits the extent of our “walking together”. As the Primates put it in 2016, such “walking together” has to recognise “significant distance” because of “unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity” that “further impair our communion”.
If these elements are brought back to greater prominence by the Archbishop than they were given in his letter and speech and if they are drawn into the work of the Communion’s Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) then there is the possibility of constructively connecting the “maximum possible degree” within a form of “walking together” to the Global South’s clear statement of there being “degrees of communion” (a significant concept now requiring more careful scrutiny) which need to be recognised in the structuring of the Communion’s life by forms of “visible differentiation”.
The challenge is that the Global South communiqué is very clear about their constraints on “walking together”:
Our willingness as orthodox Bishops to attend this Conference does not mean that we have agreed to ‘walk together’ with the revisionist Primates and Bishops in the Anglican Communion. To walk together as the redeemed people of God requires that we believe the same fundamentals of our faith and are united in our mission to faithfully proclaim by word and deed the propositional truth of the Gospel revealed in the canon of Holy Scripture (5.5)
Failing to correct false teaching is to fail to act in love. Hence, orthodox Bishops are duty-bound to God not to ‘live and let live’ under the guise of simply walking together in continuing dialogue with those who have departed from the way (or path) of truth (5.12)
The only basis for our walking together is to submit ourselves again to the sovereign authority of Holy Scripture in loyalty to the Anglican tradition and its formularies (GSFA Call, 1.1).
Once this is put alongside the fundamentally incompatible visions of the “end of communion” found in Communion Catholicity and Autonomous Inclusivism, the Communion is, if it is not to continue in unstable “double-mindedness”, likely going to have to pursue some form of “visible differentiation”. Those whose end is that of Communion Catholicity and those whose end is Autonomous Inclusivism cannot comfortably pursue their ends within the same undifferentiated Instruments of Communion when the situation is that “Regarding unity, we agree that we want unity but not on what kind”. Attempting to do so will only result in those Instruments of Communion becoming, in a Freudian slip I heard while visiting the Conference, “Instruments of Confusion”.
Even, therefore, if the Archbishop has not led the Communion to embrace, as he appears to have done, by default or design, the Federal Liberal vision of “Autonomous Inclusivism”, the Communion as we have known it appears to be coming to an end because too many within it have made this prioritising of provincial autonomy the “end of communion”, the destiny or goal which they are seeking in our global Anglican life.
What must not be forgotten, however, is that, as in relation to I.10 regarding sexuality, so here in relation to ecclesiology, the overwhelming majority remain committed to Communion Catholicity. The overwhelming majority of provinces (and even more of regular worshippers) are still found in the top right “Communion Conservative” quadrant with only a few of the smaller and declining provinces ,placed in the bottom left vision of “Autonomous Inclusivism”.
The question is whether the Archbishop of Canterbury and IASCUFO can now work with the Global South to enable the current Instruments to be “reset” and return to seeking the historic goal of “Communion Catholicity”. This could go alongside enabling some lesser degree of communion to be sustained among and with those who reject that richer and deeper end of communion. This might perhaps focus on shared “life and work” rather than “faith and order” concerns.
Archbishop Rowan Williams remarked in 2006 that “There is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment”. He argued that for its
distinctive historic tradition—a reformed commitment to the absolute priority of the Bible for deciding doctrine, a catholic loyalty to the sacraments and the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, and a habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility that does not seek to close down unexpected questions too quickly…[to]…survive with all its aspects intact…[there would need to be]…closer and more visible formal commitments to each other. And it is not going to look exactly like anything we have known so far.
Sixteen years later, the Archbishop of Canterbury and formal Instruments look like they may be moving in the opposite direction to that of “closer and more visible formal commitments to each other”. They appear instead to be prioritising autonomy and accepting a plurality of views.
The Global South, by contrast, are clearly wanting such “closer and more visible formal commitments to each other”, a way to intensify and deepen communion relations. We are, it seems, dangerously close to finding ourselves in a situation where “not going to look exactly like anything we have known so far” could become (because of both our disagreements over sexuality and our incompatible visions of “the end (goal) of communion”) something more honestly described as “the end (termination) of the Communion”.
But, if that is indeed the case, then, thanks be to God, the gospel is one of resurrection hope.
Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and Tutor in Ethics at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He is a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and was a member of the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF.
71 thoughts on “The End of (the) Communion? (ii): So where are we now?”
A few specific observations that I think call Andrew’s reasoning into some question.
1. He (and others, like Graham Kings whom he mentions) make much of the Windsor Report and what Rowan Williams said back in 2008, following the last Lambeth Conference, which didn’t go so well. The possibility is that the Windsor Report is just now dead, as the Anglican Covenant which it proposed is now dead. They are dead because they were never fit for purpose. Both were written in a storm. The storm is still going on, but it’s different now, not least because we have a different Archbishop.
2. Rowan Williams was quite clear that he was speaking as Archbishop of Canterbury but believed rather different things in private. I recall a journalist asking him for his private view and he responded that ‘private is private’. Whilst I sympathise and totally understand that position, it must have been agonising. A particular power play by Conservative Evangelicals in the C of E had already forced him into asking Jeffrey John to step aside. The C of E is still reeling from that power struggle, and that, in part, is why we ended up with Pilling and now LLF. Justin is also speaking as ABofC – one of the instruments of communion but has, perhaps been on a journey with his private views. At the Inclusive Church meeting prior to the Feb 2017 meeting at which the Bishops ‘take note’ paper was thrown out, Justin was clearly moved by listening to what was being said. (I was there). Appealing to what people say is fraught with difficulty. Andrew needs to appeal to what the Archbishop of Canterbury is saying. He does that to some extent, but there is confusion.
3. The Global South are by no means uniform in this matter. What they say is important, but their own resolution is just the resolution of a (partially) like minded pressure group.
4. The Lambeth Conference isn’t over for quite a while yet. There will be on-going dialogue especially on the Call re. human dignity. It’s just too early to draw any conclusions.
1. Odd then that more than 75% of the Communion think that kind of arrangement is indeed fit for their purposes.
2. GS2055 wasn’t ‘thrown out’. Synod, by a small margin, voted not to ‘take note’—an alliance of liberals who thought it was too conservative and conservatives who thought it was too liberal! If it was represented at Synod now, it would be taken note of. Justin might indeed be moved by listening—but he is spending a lot of time listening to those dying churches which represent 5% of the Communion. LLF happened because of Justin’s impetuous and ill-considered response to 2017. ‘I had to say something’ he told me.’No you didn’t’ I replied. Waiting and reflecting was what was needed then, but we rushed into an ill-advised and ill-conceived project.
3. It is odd to describe 75% or more of the Communion as a ‘pressure group’. The usual term would be ‘vast, even overwhelming, majority’. But that is hidden because of the ridiculous preponderance of white, western, liberal bishops with almost no congregations.
4. There are two more days to go.
There are two more days of the conference but it has been made clear that there will be longer to reflect on the calls. Not least by the Archbishop himself.
He will have a lot to think about.
What you call a power play, some call an insistence on biblical truth. And a widening split is as ‘agonising’ for faithful evangelicals as for liberals. The CoE is ‘reeling’ from the liberal assault on biblical truth, and the Pilling Report was keot on the rails only by the Bishop of Birkenhead’s appendix on what the scriptures said.
We all need to appeal to what the scriptures say, for they are God-breathed.
What some call an insistence on biblical truth is only a partial truth.
Pilling was balanced by David Runcorn’s appendix in addition to that of Keith Sinclair’s.
How can you balance the Bible, which is God-breathed, agaisnt the word of man?
Well you said Keith Sinclair added an appendix on what the scriptures said. David Runcorn also added an appendix on what the scriptures said.
They are both men. They interpret scripture differently. Both are opinions.
I assume you’ve actually read both of them. One of them confirms your reading, and one confirms mine.
Interpretation is a weasel word when the scriptures are clear. We don’t need an army of scholars to ‘interpret’ a shopping list, do we?
Andrew thanks for these two articles and for your insightful analysis which I have found really helpful. I now need to take time to ponder and pray. Rowan Williams while
I was at college make a comment that I remember this way – while the C of E may implode God’s church is bigger. I didn’t write it down and I may remember it incorrectly but it has been a very helpful sound bite as I have seen the C of E in so many significant ways in the last few years fail to reflect the character of the God we seek to serve.
Unfortunately for quite a few it is the C of E that is paying their pensions!
There is no value in unity for its own sake. Otherwise one might as well unite with the world, and the spirit that rules the world. This is of course what the leadership in Canterbury/ Lambeth is hell-bent on doing.
It is quite remarkable that as Jesus approached the last days of his life on earth his thoughts turned to the last days of this age. That is why his final prayer for the Church was, “Keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. … The world has hated them because they are not of the world. … Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. … I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.” Unless the Church knows the truth, it has nothing to say to the world. It has no reason to exist.
Paul wrote: ‘Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the apostasy comes first.’ Has the apostasy not come? The Church in western Europe – the institution on which western civilisation was founded – is dead. The Church of England is itself going through the death throes, with an average age around 70, shrinking at the rate of 3% a year and believing, at the top, that the core of a man’s being is his sexuality, the very belief that most characterises and condemns modern civilisation.
We should wake up and understand the time in which we live for the most part as spectators. We are at the tail-end of a revolution that is absolutely momentous. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” The question was in the context of his coming speedily to give justice to his suffering elect, and was not idle. Many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
Fire is coming upon the world and upon the Church. Jesus will purify his bride before he takes her to the place prepared for her.
Thanks. My reading of the situation is that in order to get this LC done JW had to open the door, knowingly or not, to the autonomous inclusivism vision of the Anglican Communion. However there are three other instruments of communion. The Primates may take another view. The Anglican Consultative Council may take another view. The way the LC was managed means that the bishops have no defining view on what the future of the Anglican Communion looks like. That leaves JW as the sole instrument of communion pushing autonomous inclusivism. And he will retire within a few years. Typically JW has both overplayed his hand, making it sound like autonomous inclusivism is the only show in town because he says so, and underplayed his hand, saying he has no power or authority, which he does have if he works in harmony with the other instruments. Andrew Goddard, what are the chances of the Primates Meeting getting Communion Catholicity back in the table?
Correct me if I am wrong there is no-one in the C of E who supports the theological vision of the GSFA – which again correct me if I am wrong involves a consistent application of biblical teaching on sex differences not just in respect of traditional marriage but also in areas such as male leadership in the home and in the church. Except St Helens Bishopsgate (and their church plants? – or is it only St Helens who operate in a state of formal disconnection with C of E leadership?). And so whilst this article may appear to be supporting the GSFA – neither the writer of the article (who is part of the CEEC -whose videos feature women vicars) nor the owner of this website – in fact do – their support for traditional marriage isn’t based in their belief that sex differences are primary biblical teaching – they merely wish to use the GSFA’s numeric strength and passion in order to preserve traditional marriage (for who knows what reason – they haven’t said – the fact that there are verses in scripture which say that marriage is between a man and a woman isn’t a HEART reason – we haven’t understood scripture until we have linked what we read to the character of God).
The disagreement on these issues should according to EVERYONE in the C of E (except those mentioned) be regarded as no more important than if there was disagreement about whether Christians can smoke – it’s secondary doctrine. It therefore leaves one to wonder why so many words are being written about so small a matter. If it’s more than secondary surely it would be up to those writing to explain why – why is preserving traditional marriage such a big deal? You’ve explained away all other sex specific teaching in scripture as cultural – surely the logical thing is to go the final step – to admit you don’t have a theology of the sexes – that man and woman doesn’t need a theology any more than other contrasts in creation like day and night need a theology.
And if sex differences aren’t primary – neither is homosexuality primary. There is no HEART reason – a reason related to God’s character and glory – to not accept practising homosexuality. If I am right about sex differences being considered secondary doctrine in ALL of the C of E we would expect homosexuality to be an issue over which people agree to disagree instead of leaving the C of E or announcing disconnection. And sure enough this is the situation in the C of E – everyone remaining in fellowship with C of E leadership is in their choices saying that this is secondary. If it is why do you not wish to welcome bishops with their gay lovers – why do you wish to disfellowship people over what you consider logically and practically to be a secondary matter?
You are right in saying that male leadership in home and Church and sexual intercourse only between man and woman in lifelong marriage are all part of the reason why this is a primary doctrine because of what the Bible says about the analogy of these truths with God’s relationship with his people in both Testaments. Conservative evangelicals who accept ordination of women (Ian Paul, CEEC etc) are not consistent.
Referring to your last sentence – my point was intended to be that there are no longer ANY conservative evangelicals in the C of E (except St Helens Bishopsgate and anyone else who has said announced formal separation) – that not even those who personally comply in some way with ALL sex specific teaching of scripture – but won’t separate from those who refuse to do so – are in PRACTICAL terms conservative evangelicals.
The Church of England – despite all the huffing and puffing – is in fact of one mind – that’s WHY they are still one group – the entire denomination acts as if sex differences are secondary truth. But they are wrong. Romans 1 – in DIRECTLY linking turning away from God with homosexuality – and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – in DIRECTLY linking turning to God with having to have turned away from homosexuality – reveal that sex differences are PRIMARY teaching. The 1 Corinthians 6 passage is saying that to realise man and woman are different is Spiritual Awareness 101 – something about which any person just saved will have understanding.
But WHY is homosexuality rebellion? To be rebellion it must be rebellion against something. There is only one possible answer – that there is a created order (1 Cor 11:3 – God Christ Man Woman) – so if people wish to explain this verse away they will have to find a created order somewhere else! Without there being a created order homosexuality ISN’T rebellion. So the entire Church of England is currently ENTIRELY liberal – committed to rebellion against the created order – as much against Christ as against Man and Woman – they are committed to spiritual suicide. With the exception of St Helens Bishopsgate and any other church which has chosen to announce disconnection from C of E leadership while remaining in the C of E. (I know of no other church who has done this).
‘There is only one possible answer – that there is a created order (1 Cor 11:3 – God Christ Man Woman)’
Except that is not an order of authority. ‘Head’ here does not mean ‘in authority over’; if it did, it would imply eternal subordination of the Son to the Father, which is a Neo-Arian heresy.
The points here are probably quite subtle, but if it’s not an order of ”authority”, what is it an order of?
Dear oh dear.
I don’t believe in “authority over” – in a sexually potent world does literally anyone believe that a husband can order his wife around? Who believes this is what God appointed leadership is – and therefore why bring it up as some if in some way disproving complementarianism? Does God order us around – or appeal to us on the basis of demonstrated character?
Leadership is responsibility for. I can prove it is – if a person I am supposed to lead will not submit to me I am still responsible for them (until God frees me from any responsibility) – I am able to show care even in the way in which I respect someone’s decision not to submit. So leadership is about responsibility – not authority. If it was about ‘authority over’ then it would contradict the fact that a women operating in obedience to God operates with ALL the authority of God – certainly no less authority than anyone else.
Right understanding comes from understanding how God’s authority works. God is worthy of praise not because he is IN power. If he was human beings with power would be worthy of praise only because they too were powerful. God is worthy of praise because he alone uses power ONLY in full constraint – only in a way that is fully self giving.
No person submitting to someone God has appointed to lead is required to do any more than what is ALSO submission to God (since when the person who is assigned by God to lead refuses to obey God – at that point NO-ONE must submit to that person – they should not be treated as if IN power).
So then saying 1 Cor 11:3 is not about ‘authority over’ doesn’t add to the debate unless people believe God appointed leadership is about being in power – lording it over people.
So then Ian – what is 1 Cor 11:3 about (you only said what it wasn’t about)? And for that matter what are all the different verses concerning which you argue about Greek words about (for example kephale) – the fact that the verses aren’t about ‘authority over’ doesn’t eliminate the need to work out what they actually ARE about. And I already raised the fact that people must explain – if not the created order in 1 Cor 11:3 – what is homosexuality rebellion against? Is it only against God’s plan that sex be for marriage (in which case same sex marriage is theologically logical)? I already said that if someone doesn’t accept 1 Cor 11:3 is a created order they would have to answer that question – but you didn’t Ian – you only replied to tell me what 1 Cor 11:3 isn’t about. What Ian is Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6’s rebellion against if not God’s heart revealed in sex differences? I put it to you that 1 Cor 11:3 is about leadership – but leadership which is servant hearted responsibility for others.
The reasoning above shows why my ideas are not heresy – Jesus’ constant submission to the father isn’t an issue – because just as I explained with earthly submission there is never intended to be submission in the trinity which would see the will of the son and the will of the father independent wills. Instead submission is only something related to God’s heart expressed in the trinity and his heart expressed in the world. A wife is only supposed to submit to her husband as the TWO OF THEM are obeying God WITH ONE MIND.
If there is no eternal hierarchy (alongside mutual submission – for example the father submits to Jesus’ judgement of the world) what Ian does the following passage mean?
1 Cor 15:24-28 ESV
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
Note the purpose in there being leadership revealed in the final sentence – God tells us – “I’m doing all this only so you will best know me – so I will be in all”. Glory to him!
‘my point was intended to be that there are no longer ANY conservative evangelicals in the C of E (except St Helens Bishopsgate and anyone else who has said announced formal separation) – that not even those who personally comply in some way with ALL sex specific teaching of scripture – but won’t separate from those who refuse to do so – are in PRACTICAL terms conservative evangelicals.’
That can’t be right. There are many ‘who personally comply in some way with ALL sex specific teaching of scripture’ .We have not separated because the battle for this doctrine is still being waged and we pray and hope that by God’s grace it will be won and the whole Church will be persuaded.
I largely agree with Philip B here.
‘Head’ here does not mean ‘in authority over’; if it did, it would imply eternal subordination of the Son to the Father, which is a Neo-Arian heresy.
‘Head’ obviously does mean ‘in authority over’. Moreover, the only legitimate way to argue theology is on the basis of Scripture, not by assertion and appeal to 4th-century Roman, potentially semi-pagan, determinations of heresy. “Heresy!” is a rhetorical, non-rational shortcut; it is to guillotine debate by appeal to taboo. As a scholar, you can do better.
Arius is said to have stated, “If the Father begot the Son, then he who was begotten had a beginning in existence, and from this it follows there was a time when the Son was not.” This seems to me perfectly reasonable and in accord with Scripture. To deny it is to deny the sonship of Jesus and that is heretical because the NT reveals Jesus as God’s son.
<If it did, it would imply eternal subordination of the Son to the Father.You seem not to see that this begs the prior question of whether Jesus is the ‘eternal Son’ and whether the idea has any meaning. To my mind, it is logical nonsense and, not surprisingly for an illogical idea, inconsistent with NT revelation.
Indeed, this sort of semi-pagan trinitarianism is anti-scriptural in many ways. The Jesus of John’s gospel emphasises his subordination to the Father again and again (the other gospels less frequently, but the testimony is there too, e.g. Matt 20:23). How can you not see that? Are you just mentally editing out all the scriptures to that effect? When Paul, partly on the authority of Psalm 2, says that Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, do you not see that that is the position of second-in-command, and that that was a position that Jesus did not occupy before? Actually, I would say that in conquering death on the cross Jesus was given authority equal to God’s, because God gave all his authority to his son, but the key point is that that was a real event, it was not, as Roman trinitarianism has it, a sort of play-acting, because Jesus had always been co-equal with him. If this is not heresy, I don’t know what is. The teaching is vital and it is in black and white (e.g. Matt 28:18, Eph 1:20-23).
And what is ambiguous about I Cor 15:27f? ‘But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.’ As nearly always, Paul uses ‘God’ and ‘the Son’ as distinct terms (as Jesus himself does), and reveals that the ultimate end of God’s plan is that all things be subjected to him, the Father. That is why there is a distinction between the kingdom of the Son and the kingdom of the Father.
If doctrine is to be decided by majority vote in some sort of church council rather than by reference to Scripture, then you are thinking in the same way as the UK bishops. They are almost unanimous in putting the world’s wisdom above Scripture. Since from their relentless evangelising on the issue it is clear they do not regard it as of minor importance despite pronouncing it ‘adiaphora’, they are slowly but surely ostracising those who resist the sanctification of same-sex sexual relations as heretics, theological misfits, because they contravene the will of the council.
‘‘Head’ obviously does mean ‘in authority over’.’
No, Steve: head means the thing on your neck. If you want to claim that it is a metaphor for ‘authority over’ then you will have to do that, and not simply assume it by projecting your own assumptions on the text.
And read this: https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/head-does-not-mean-leader-in-1-cor-11-3/
Philip Benjamin ‘So then Ian – what is 1 Cor 11:3 about?’
It is about questions of origin, as Paul makes clear by using exactly that language in vv 8 and 9.
There is only one solitary mention of ‘authority’ in the passage—and it is one that points to women’s autonomy:
‘It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head’ v 10
Why the small target replies Ian? Why are you avoiding responding to the issues I raised?
Your replies reveal only as much as is necessary to reveal your disagreement – not enough to reveal your understanding. What does your conclusion about 1 Cor 11 and Eph 5 being about origin mean that the passages are saying? Is the reason why a wife should submit to her husband because the husband is the origin of the wife? What does that even mean? And what is the purpose in 1 Cor 11 for saying in the context of that passage that the origin of woman is man, the origin of man is Christ and the origin of Christ is God? What does God being the origin of Christ even mean – ignoring for a moment the overall understanding of the passage if the word head means origin?
Why do you act as if you have said something complete only in contesting the interpretation of individual Greek words?
Why is homosexuality rebellion against God? Why does God care who people jump into bed with? Why is homosexuality directly linked with rebellion against God in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6? Your understanding of sexuality must answer these questions. Why is it the case that anyone even just saved will just KNOW that turning to God means turning away from homosexuality? How does your understanding of man and woman account for that Ian?
Why are you seeking to preserve traditional marriage in the C of E Ian? If man and woman are functionally the same what is the heart reason – the reason that relates to God’s character and glory -which sees you defend marriage being only between a man and a woman? Why is homosexuality directly linked with rebellion against God in Romans 1? What’s the big deal? And 1 Corinthians 6 – same question?
What’s your explanation for why the church throughout its history has got man and woman entirely wrong – despite having the Holy Spirit guiding people into all truth? Is sexuality the only area immune to the sanctifying power of the gospel? Is sexism the one sin which the gospel cannot change in a person? You have so much to explain – yet you are choosing to respond only with a possible meaning of a Greek word (without so much as bothering to explain the resulting meaning of ANY passage).
I don’t accept the idea that those who within their private silo hold to sex differences being primary but won’t act outside their silo are entitled to still be in negotiations with the C of E about its position on sex differences. The C of E has been refusing to obey the sex specific teaching of scripture for more than twenty-five years – it’s been in open communion with provinces which PUNISH PEOPLE for upholding orthodox teaching! And yet that wasn’t enough?
How can there be any need for further negotiation after this Lambeth conference – in which bishops who have gay lovers were invited to attend? Yet all churches want for some reason is PERMISSION to hold their views – as if the permission of leaders who are open destroyers of the truth would mean anything.
So I reiterate my view that sex differences are primary Christian beliefs and EVERY single church in the C of E (except any that have formally announced disconnection) are operating as if sex differences are secondary – walking away from the heart of the gospel.
To be absolutely clear Ian what I am seeking to understand – if your interpretation of kephale makes man the origin of woman does that mean that you believe that 1 Cor 11 is referring to woman being created out of man? And if so that means that Christ was created out of God – an idea not consistent with the rest of scripture. So I would like to confirm your understanding – not of a single word – but of the single word’s implications for the meaning of verse 3 – and the passage.
Philip Benjamin asks a serious of ‘whys’.
a. Because I have written on this at length elsewhere
b. Because this has nothing to do with the content of the article
c. Because you don’t get to tell me what I must or must not do. If you keep writing in this tone, I will delete your comments.
Clearly in 1 Cor 11 1:1-3 head does not mean ‘the thing on your neck”. It sometimes means ‘the thing on your neck further down the text but not hear. I hope I don’t have to explain why not.
Source does not work very well either since both God and Christ are the source of both the man and the woman. A source chain simply does not work very well. And we may ask what source actually means in the context of these verses. What point is Paul making in the ensuing verses that ‘source’ would shine light on?
On the other hand ‘authority over’ fits very well here and with the rest of Scripture.
It seems clear that we are looking at a hierarchy of gory and service.
or a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
The issue is not how this is worked out in our lives as much as acknowledging that however unattractive to our egalitarian culture (equal not the same) this may be it is what the Bible teaches.
Incidentally the hierarchy has nothing to do with subordinationism (Christ is not God). It is Christ/Messiah of whom it speaks who will be eternally subject to God (1 Cor 15:28).
On the other hand… if I wished to be contentious… to argue that God is the source of Christ may be considered dubious from a trinitarian perspective.
One common source for teaching the relations between male and female (and other relations) is the ‘household codes’, especially Ephesians 5:22-6:9. This was not an uncommon form at the time. However, the NT versions have important differences from the contempories.
The pagan forms only address those with power: husbands, fathers and masters. The NT forms address wives, children and slaves as those with agency and choice. This alone is remarkable.
The pagan forms base what they say on what was seen as the natural order of things. In contrast, the Christian ones base what they say on the basis that in each relationship axis there is a third party, namely Christ. In particular, to those with ‘natural’ power, it seems that the required action is to set aside that power.
As for male and female in Ephesians 5:22-33, the wife is to submit to her husband – as every Christian is to submit to other Christians (Eph 5:21). The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves us, as every Christian is commanded to do one to another (John 13:34). A Christian husband should submit to his Christian wife, and a Christian wife should love her husband as Christ loves the church.
[This symmetry suggests to me that Paul is addressing wives married to non-Christian husbands, Christian husbands to unbelieving wives etc. This possibility is expressed in 1 Corinthians 7.]
‘male leadership in the home and in the church’
Where does the Bible teach this exactly?
1 Timothy 3:2 and Ephesians 5:22.
I think a more interesting question to ask is what the Bible teaches about ‘leadership’ – although that is actually quite a modern term. Mark 10:35-45 is a good starting point, perhaps adding in John 13, and Phil. 2:1-11.
I find it hard to think of anywhere in the NT which implies that one Christian has authority over another – e.g. an explicit use of the word exousia. (Hebrews 13:17 seems to me to be commonly translated on the assumption that there is authority, but an expert friend of mine points out the issues with this).
In the passages you refuse to see it Ian – even when its staring you in the face.
To take but one example 1 Cor 11 is clearly teaching about authority hierarchies. The word ‘authority’ is mentioned in the passage more than can be said for the word ‘origin’. But again, as I pointed out before passages like Eph 1:22 and a variety of passages in the Septuagint clearly interpret ‘head’ in terms of authority. Eph 5 clearly sees the church as submitting to Christ (and wives to husbands). 1 Pet 3 Sarah calls her husband ‘Lord’ a fact Peter uses to teach the submission of wives.
I cannot see how patriarchy can be missed. Raven Jordon Peterson can see it and can see its value.
‘To take but one example 1 Cor 11 is clearly teaching about authority hierarchies’ Except it isn’t.
Tell me where the word ‘authority’ is mentioned in the passage?
And tell me why the word ‘head’ must be a metaphor for ‘authority’, when it is pretty clear that is not how it was understood when Paul wrote? Please only answer after reading this:
I’ve read MM’s blog post. I’ve read it before too. I’m simply not persuaded. I’m. Not persuaded for the following reasons.
1. The biblical commitment is to patriarchy. I believe this is taught clearly in Gen 1 and throughout the Bible. The whole Genesis 2 narrative is explicitly patriarchal. I’ve gone through before the ensuing patriarchs/12 sons of Jacob/elders in Isreal/priesthood/kingship etc all leading to a male Messiah/12 male apostles etc. The best you can do is pick a few exceptions to try to undermine the rule. That you cannot see a commitment to patriarchy in the Bible astonishes me.
2. It is in this axiomatic male leadership context I approach a word like ‘head’ which although it may indicate ‘source’ frequently means ‘leader’. We should hardly be surprised at a metaphorical meaning since ‘ source’ may confer authority. Parents are the source of children.
3. I follow W Grudem’s study which he revised with little change a few years ago. I note the number of times in Judges the Septuagint uses kephale for leader. It seemed to me from memory more than 8 times but I’d need to check. 8 times is significant.
4. I read Eph 1:22 which clearly means ‘leader’ – a text I’ve never noticed you respond to. Col 1:18 with its context of preeminent also suggests ‘leader’. Other ‘head’ verses could equally be translated ‘leader.’
Jospeh Fitzmeyer also supports Kephale as ‘authority over’
In general, in the Old Testament the Hebrew word rō’š means (1) ‘head’ in the literal, anatomical sense (Gen 40.16–17 [of a man]; 3.15 [of an animal]); (2) ‘top’ (Gen 8. 5 [of a mountain]); (3) ‘head = chief’ (Judg 10.18; 11. 8, 9,11); (4) ‘beginning, source’ (Gen 2. 10 [of rivers]; Judg 7.19 [of watches of the night]); (5) ‘sum’ (Exod 30.12 [in a census]); and (6) ‘division, company’ (Judg 7.16 [of an army]). (Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Another Look at Kephalē in 1 Corinthians 11.3,” NTS 35 (1989): 506–07).
He goes on to site seven further passages to the head=chief texts in Judges where ‘head’ means ‘leader’.
13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them,
He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
2 Samuel 22:44
“You delivered me from strife with my people; you kept me as the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me.
1 Kings 21:12
they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people.
For the head of Syria is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
And within sixty-five years
Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
If you are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all.’ ”
The people did not turn to him who struck them,
nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.
So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day—
7 For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save your people,
the remnant of Israel.’
Psalm 17(18):43: David says to God, You will make me head of the Gentiles: a people whom I knew not served me.
These all create a context where in 1 Cor 11 1-3 the sense of ‘leader’ is very probable. When we add to these the hierarchical structure of 1 Cor 11:1-3 again ‘leader is enforced.
5. 1 Cor 11 speaks of the woman having ‘a sign of authority’ on her head.
Whatever the passage ultimately means the issue of authority is involved.
6. Paul refers to Adam’s priority in creation and the woman being made from and for the man (indicating a patriarchal reading of Genesis 2 is correct).
7. I have previously pointed out that Peter cites Sarah calling Abraham ‘Lord’ as an encouragement for women subjecting themselves to their husbands. A more powerful patriarchal passage is difficult to imagine.
Yet you manage to disregard these passages Ian. I think its a great mistake. I have little doubt that part of the dislocation in modern males lies in the loss of role that feminism has imposed. Men will take responsibility if they are given responsibility and if they are taught what true leadership looks like- the leadership of the servant-king.
Women will be most feminine when they function as the bride of Christ does as it submits to the authority of Christ. Of course, the problem is the bride of Christ is not very good to submitting to authority either.
I think you need to engage with these arguments and the studies of Grudem and Fitzmeyer.
We have been over this ground several times
My view on men-women in marriage and ministry can be found here: On Fulcrum thread ‘Paul’s concern for the women in Timothy’s churches: Notes on 1 Tim 2.8-15’
August 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm
Below is Ian Paul’s comment and my response:
February 10, 2018 at 5:21 pm
Phil, yes, I have (read it), and I think you are mistaken on just about every point. Take this paragraph:
‘In the Ephesians passage husbands are called upon to model their relationship with their wives on Christ; wives are called upon to model their relationship with their husbands on the church. These involve self-sacrifice, love, nourishment, cherishing by Christ towards the church and husbands towards their wives, and involve being subject to Christ by the church and being subject to their own husbands by wives. Because the Christ-church, husband-wife analogy is so closely coupled, and the notion of Christ’s authority in Paul’s thought is inescapable, the notion of the husband’s authority is likewise inescapable.’
This is clearly *not* a closely coupled analogy, since Christ is the saviour of the Church. In what sense is the husband the saviour of the wife? If Christ exercises authority over the Church, and the Church is to be obedient to Christ, and there is an analogy in marriage, why does Paul conspicuously avoid ever using the language of authority and obedience of husband and wife, when that is the commonplace of Greek and Roman understandings?
Why is there in Greek and Roman thought the absence of the use of ‘head’ in reference to authority?
And why is the only mention of authority in marriage in Paul (1 Cor 7.4) very precisely symmetric, with husband and wife exercising mutual authority and submission to one another?
February 13, 2018 at 9:13 am
These are my responses to your posts.
“First, the thrust of Paul’s concern in Eph 5 is that husbands learn to love their wives (that is the dominant focus of the section), presumably rather than lording it over them as would be culturally acceptable?”
Ephesians 5:21 to 6:9 is a connected line of exhortation about relationships, about marriage (5:21-5:33), about parents and children (6:1 to 6:4) about masters and slaves (6:5 to 6:9). We have to follow Paul’s whole line of thought in 5:21 to 5:33 to grasp what he is saying, not just assert what the dominant focus of the section is.
“And it is odd to think that Christ does not in some sense submit to ‘the church’ in the light of Jesus’ stark proclamation (in the context of disputes about power and leadership) ‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many’. This idea is picked up by Paul in Phil 2 as Jesus’ self-emptying. So the most natural way to read kephale in Eph 5 is that husbands need to learn what it means to empty themselves, and give themselves up for their wives, as Christ did for the church, isn’t it?”
I have responded to this in my post to Christine (February 10, 2018 at 9:17 pm). Also, we have to see what Paul says about the implications of kephale for both husbands and wives which I will now try to do as I comment on your
“This is clearly *not* a closely coupled analogy, since Christ is the saviour of the Church. In what sense is the husband the saviour of the wife? If Christ exercises authority over the Church, and the Church is to be obedient to Christ, and there is an analogy in marriage, why does Paul conspicuously avoid ever using the language of authority and obedience of husband and wife, when that is the commonplace of Greek and Roman understandings?”
I will assume it is common ground that in 5:23 ‘The wives to the(ir) own husbands as to the Lord’ (Nestle-Marshall literal) ‘be subject’ (‘The wives be subject to their own husbands as to the Lord’) is obviously implied from 5:22. I will also assume it is common ground that in 5:24 ‘so also the wives to the(ir) husbands in everything’ ‘be subject’ is implied.
The exhortation to wives to be subject to their own husbands as to the Lord in 5:22 is ‘because a man is kephale of the woman’. ‘But as the church is subject to Christ…’ in 5:24 is clearly (implied) because ‘as also Christ is kephale of the church’. This implied link between kephale and subjection is supported by Ephesians 1:22 ‘and all things subjected under the feet of him, and gave him [to be] kephale to the church, which is the body of him, the fullness of the[one] filling all things with all things’.
You assert, “This is clearly *not* a closely coupled analogy…”
But I hope you would agree that it is the first part of an analogy: In 5:22-23 the wives are exhorted to be subject to the(ir) own husbands (‘be subject’ is clearly implied from ‘being subject to one another in [the] fear of Christ’ in 5:21) ‘because a man is head (kephale) of the woman as also Christ [is] head of the church, [him]self saviour of the body’. It is because a man is kephale of the woman that wives are exhorted to be subject to the(ir) own husbands. This means that kephale does imply subjection.
Now for the second part of the analogy.
Christ is saviour of the body. The body, his body, is the church of which we are members. Christ loved (and loves) the church as described in 5:25-27. The husband and wife are one flesh. Husbands are exhorted to love their wives as also Christ loved the church and to love their wives as their own bodies. In loving his wife the husband loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it as also Christ nourishes and cherishes the church. Again, the analogy is there. Christ loved (loves), gave himself for, cherishes and nourishes the church, his body, to present the church to himself glorious, holy and unblemished. Husbands are exhorted to model themselves on Christ in how they behave towards their wives: loving them as their own flesh, their own bodies, cherishing them, nourishing them, and (usually metaphorically) dying for them – all for their wives physical, moral and spiritual well-being (the equivalent of ‘saviour of the wife’). What a challenge and rebuke to some husbands, including me. Note the analogical language: ‘as also’ (5:23), ‘so also’ (5:24), ‘as also’ (5:25), ‘so…also’ (5:28), ‘as also’ (5:29), ‘also…so’ (5:33). The whole analogy seems closely coupled to me.
“If Christ exercises authority over the Church, and the Church is to be obedient to Christ, and there is an analogy in marriage, why does Paul conspicuously avoid ever using the language of authority and obedience of husband and wife, when that is the commonplace of Greek and Roman understandings?”
Paul uses the same word ‘being subject’, ‘is subject’ for both the Christ-church and the husband –wife relationships. I point out in my essay that
‘In the New Testament there are 34 instances (various tenses etc.) of the verb ‘hupotasso’ which is the word translated ‘is subject’ in Ephesians 5:24. One is Ephesians 5:21, of which more later. 4 are about wives being subject to their husbands (the correct understanding of which is at the heart of the disagreement), 1 is about women learning ‘in all subjection’ and the context of the other 28 makes clear that ‘being subject’ involves the notion of authority and/or obeying or disobeying that authority’.
‘For so then indeed the holy women hoping in God adorned themselves, submitting (same word as in Ephesians) themselves to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord….’ (1 Peter 3:5-6)
‘Obey’ and ‘be subject to’ are not so far apart in conveying the idea of authority.
“Why is there in Greek and Roman thought the absence of the use of ‘head’ in reference to authority?”
I don’t know. But kephale is clearly linked to authority in Ephesians 1:22 and in the passage we are debating. The Biblical context is much more important than secular usage. Christ has authority and we are commanded to be subject to his authority.
“And why is the only mention of authority in marriage in Paul (1 Cor 7.4) very precisely symmetric, with husband and wife exercising mutual authority and submission to one another?”
As I say in the essay
‘Secondly our view of Ephesians 5 is challenged by appealing to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. This clearly means that with respect to making love the husband-wife relationship is one of mutual submission. Does that, as some would see it, mean that the husband-wife relationship is symmetrical with respect to authority in all respects? No, because, as a Reform paper pointed out in the Awesome-Reform debate, this would imply contradiction between 1 Corinthians 7 on the one hand and Ephesians 5:22ff, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5 and 1 Peter 3:1ff. “Such a dissonant reading of Scripture is not to be preferred”.’
And note the Colossians, Titus and 1 Peter references.
The root of this whole disagreement is acceptance of ordination of women. The bitter fruit is the present disagreement about sexuality.
As I see it the ball is in Ian Paul’s court in my disagreement with him.
Thanks for this. I think I must have missed it. Apologies.
However I point out that your post includes
“Though New Testament lexicons give a definition of “leader” for kephale, it is important to note that only God (1 Cor. 11:3), Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:15-16; 5:23; Col. 1:18-19; 2:9-10; 2:18-19), men (1 Cor. 11:3), and husbands (Eph. 5:23) are referred to with the word, and only by Paul.”
And your post does not include any reference to my
“I will assume it is common ground that in 5:23 ‘The wives to the(ir) own husbands as to the Lord’ (Nestle-Marshall literal) ‘be subject’ (‘The wives be subject to their own husbands as to the Lord’) is obviously implied from 5:22. I will also assume it is common ground that in 5:24 ‘so also the wives to the(ir) husbands in everything’ ‘be subject’ is implied.
The exhortation to wives to be subject to their own husbands as to the Lord in 5:22 is ‘because a man is kephale of the woman’. ‘But as the church is subject to Christ…’ in 5:24 is clearly (implied) because ‘as also Christ is kephale of the church’. This implied link between kephale and subjection is supported by Ephesians 1:22 ‘and all things subjected under the feet of him, and gave him [to be] kephale to the church, which is the body of him, the fullness of the[one] filling all things with all things’.”
I think you need to show where my exegesis is faulty.
I think this is an excellent piece by Andrew Goddardwhich deserves wide circulation. In a sense there’s very little to be added because it is uninhibited and objective in setting out what’s happened and the stark choice which faces the Anglican Communion. But the plain reality, and one that needs constant restating, is that the great majority of Anglicans firmly support a continuation of ‘Communion Catholicity’.
So why is the revisionist tale being allowed to wag the orthodox dog? I’m afraid there’s no way of avoiding the answer: Justin Welby, the man, is pivotal to this wholly unsatisfactory situation; and I believe there are two plain reasons for why he acts as he does. Firstly he’s long since been captured by the revisionist narrative (which is not to suggest he personally would want to force it onto orthodox believers), and secondly he acts accordingly because he is allowed to get away with it.
There’s a case for saying that the liberals have acted with integrity inasmuch as their determination to promote and fight for their belief has been open, energetic, persistent and united. This cannot be said about a great proportion of the majority orthodox side, certainly in England: they have been reactive rather than proactive; they have participated without objection in every manipulative process dreamed up by the C of E hierarchy (culminating in the egregious LLF project); and they have been factional rather than united. In such a situation, Justin may have been criticised from time to time but he’s carried on regardless – and nothing serious has been done to stop him.
At this Lambeth Conference he’s now sung a carefully composed lullaby over Lambeth 1.10 and the Communion Catholicity for which it has acted as the totem; he will be hoping that the passing of time and a bit more careful manoeuvring will be the pillow that finally smothers it. ‘Autonomous Inclusion’ is to be the new baby. If Jill Duff’s peculiar piece in Premier Christianity is anything to go by, his hopes don’t look likely to be dashed by anything that happens in England. But if the GSFA and Gafcon were to unite and organise themselves as one group, the Anglican Communion situation could be reversed, although London would put up a fiercely cunning fight.
The decision now to be faced by the Communion’s majority bishops is whether the time and energy needed for the fight to save it would be spent at greater cost to the mission of the gospel than its benefit. The gospel must always take priority.
Steven Robinson makes a very clear point. Some of which is very interesting. I agree scripture should be enough to expound scripture. But, in Revelation, we see Jesus at the centre of the throne. Where is ‘TheOne’ He sits next to? Surely Jesus is ‘The One who is , who was and who is to come. He is self revealing. His Spirit is before the throne. St. Paul wrote about being in the loins to show how people are blest before they exist. Surely God begotten is more than that. Jesus was always going to be born as man. This is comforting , not a mere point of theology.
Revelation 4 reveals God on the throne (vv. 2-3) and his sevenfold Spirit before the throne. He is explicitly the Lord God Almighty (v. 8, you missed this for some reason). Jesus is not mentioned in either this chapter or the next. Nonetheless, Revelation 5 reveals that the Lord God Almighty is not alone, but there with him, a separate being, at the centre of the throne but also between the throne and the four cherubim and in the midst of the elders, is a Lamb. Which of course we know to be Jesus. He takes the scroll from the one seated on the throne. Voices declare: “The Lamb is worthy to receive power and glory” – things which he will not receive in actuality (though, at the right hand of God, he has already been awarded them) until he and the throne descend from heaven to Jerusalem and he brings every nation under his rule.
Like you, I am very concerned that such things are not mere points of theology.
And of course the answer to the conundrum of the fact that there is One on the throne and yet there are Two, and that the river of life, signifying the Spirit, flows from the throne, is that God is three persons in one. Revelation even uses a grammatically singular verb for the action of the One and the Lamb!
But what does any of this have to do with the article?
Well answered Ian!
In my usual fuzzy way I am trying to get to the heart of leadership/ authority question.
Jesus mentioned divorce in Luke 16:18. Not I think to make a point about doctrine out of the blue but to reinforce his ultimate desire for the church. He wants a bride. He will not give up on the mission. Therefore St.Paul’s writing has this in mind. Firstly Jesus is the Groom and we are the bride. Marriage reflects the heart of God, the very reason why there is a universe at all – because he wants a bride. He wants us.
For male male relations to be acceptable would be like imagining God able and content to exist only to enjoy his own company. Female female relations likewise would be to imagine humanity existing only to enjoy each other, without God interfering, ever. Male Female marriage is expressing prophetically the will and heart of God, the very essence of, the foundation of reality.
I wanted to explore an idea I have that the scroll in revelation is the bride in the hand of the Father of the bride. Jesus comes to take her in marriage. But I yield.
What does any of this have to do with the article?
Good question. As Andrew pointed out (29/07/22), the Call on Human Dignity begins with the astonishing statement that “We believe in God who is both three and one, who holds difference and unity in the heart of God’s being, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. Thus the Church of England reaps the consequences of its semi-pagan three-gods theology. As soon as you have the notion of three co-equal, co-eternal gods, the possibility of difference and division in the godhead naturally arises. The Church is divided because it does not recognise the God of creation from whom all things came into existence. Difference is normalised as reflecting something essential in the godhead itself. But a house that is divided cannot stand.
“Our differences embodied in the Anglican Communion,” the Call continues, “challenge and deepen our experience of God in the other. As we join in God’s mission of reconciliation through Jesus and in the power of the Spirit, our differences are celebrated and redeemed, as we are made whole in the body of Christ. In that diverse whole, we more fully reflect the image of God.”
All this is delusional pseudo-Christianity. In Britain the Anglican communion does not work in the power of the Spirit and has no deep experience of God. If it ‘celebrates’ differences from scriptural doctrine, we can be sure this is of Satan, not the Spirit. And as I have pointed out many times, references to ‘the image of God’ are pure cant from a leadership that has married Genesis’s testimony of creation with materialist Darwinism. In the Darwinian view, there is no Spirit, either divine or human, and Nature creates itself.
The division of the godhead into three began at Babel, 4th millennium BC, when Yah was divided into E(y)a, Anu and Ellil, gods respectively of the underworld, the sky and the earth. So began the history of the multiplication of gods, and Roman Christianity couldn’t quite make a clean break. The three-gods-in-one dogma belongs with the sacrifice of the Mass, the Lord’s table as altar, vestments, the adoration of relics and statues, prayers to departed saints, the idea of a set-apart priesthood, clerical celibacy, infant baptism. If it is not entirely pagan, it is certainly a shadow of the real thing.
As for Revelation, your reading stems from the dogma rather than the text. The fact that there is One on the throne and yet there are Two tells us that Jesus has been exalted to the highest place, as I have said, and there is no mention of the river of life. That the river in Rev 22 signifies the Spirit, and that the existence of the Spirit is affirmed in Scripture, need not be disputed. The question is whether he is a separate deity/person, or the Spirit of the Father and the Son, given that we might know God inwardly. Revelation indicates that the Spirit is an attribute of God, i.e. the Father (Rev 3:5), and also of the Son, who reflects and embodies the fullness of God (Rev 5:6). That Jesus has the spirits of God (Rev 3:1) is not by any stretch a trinitarian statement.
Those who are interested in knowing the truth should therefore read what, in the Prophecy, God gave me to write, before the end comes.
Congratulations. You’re fast on your way to becoming a defacto union as well.
Already the language of “walking together” and autonomy is in the ascendent, with a sprirt of dissent waxing strong in the south, and I can’t wait to read the 39 declarations of principle. 😉 We just need you to do away with infant Baptism, elect a president and viola, you’re just the Baptist Union with seats in Government and nicer buildings!
Don’t forget they would also need to do away with ther funny hats and frocks Mat.
The C. of E. already has a very dissolute view of marriage. It seems that the Anglicans will marry a divorcee without a problem. The Anglicans will marry someone who is known to have been a serial fornicator without a problem – even if there is no sign of repentance from the person.
I am very much against same-sex carnal relations – just as I am against any carnal relations that are not between a man and a woman, in life-long union, who would like to have children together. On the Richter scale of sin, two men who want to live together in life-long union seems to me small potatoes compared with much that the Anglicans seem prepared to put up with in matters of sexual deviance (even if they are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing within the privacy of the four walls of their own home).
Therefore, I can strongly understand why gay people feel picked upon and discriminated against when they see the double standards and the heterosexual sin that gets turned a blind eye to.
If the Anglicans want to get marriage sorted out, then perhaps they should start by sorting out what happens in the heterosexual world – refusing to marry divorcees, refusing to allow people who get divorced to continue as clergy, etc ….
Your para proves the slippery slope theory. Yet again the slippery slopers (maligned and ignored) are far more correct than their opponents. But that is data for the present and future. We already know in advance that the slippery slopers will be correct.
On the small potatoes, so many things are extremely bad absolutely – which is all we need to know (while also being no better *relatively* than many other things). There is no way
we can gauge their worth by the second of these 2 data, since it is contextless.
Double standards are irrelevcant unless 2 wrongs make a right. Double standards are used as an excuse. Likewise hypocrisy.
O)n your last para, they should not sort out those things, they should never have gone down the road of remarrying proactive divorcees in the first place, since there is only one way that the extremely holy and intricate bond of marriage can be healed (if, God forbid, it should need to be): namely, by forgiveness and reuniting.
Thanks John for referencing palm branch and reed.
My mind immediately went to song of songs for the female stately palm and Jesus holding the reed.
With regard to the debate taking place above –
1 Here is an interesting article: Death to Patriarchy? by Kevin DeYoung
2 While there will be multiple factors and it would be difficult to isolate only one, it would be interesting to determine if there is any causation or correlation to link the current flow of the AC and sex/ gender disputes, Human Dignity, with the ordination of women and one of the unmovable *pillars* in regard to women’s ordination?
And perhaps in regard to
Christian church growth/decline, (not limited to the CoE)?
Oh Geoff – not a good article – among many wincing gender stereotyping profiling statements this corker stands out: “men look to women for gentleness, kindness, and love, for refuge from a world of pain and force, for safety from their own excesses.”
oh dear – any with the courageous spirit, leadership, giftings and faith of Mary, or the Samaritan women, or Mary Magdalene, or Mary the sister of Lazarus, or Phoebe, or Junia, or Priscilla, or Chloe want to comment?
and I think the underground church of China is doing quite well growing even with women leadership
Yes. God is often merciful and gracious even when our doctrine is wrong. But wrong doctrine is very important. In this case (ordination of women) it is resulting in many wanting to accept same-sex partnerships and marriage.
In his 1948 essay “Priestesses in the Church?” C S Lewis ends with the following prophecy:
“With the Church, we are farther in: for there we are dealing with male and female not merely as fact of nature but as live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge. Or rather, we are not dealing with them but (as we shall soon learn if we meddle) they are dealing with us”.
Yes, that quote of Lewis is often dragged out at this point – pity as it should stay in that bag with his other misogynist sayings. Lewis’ dysfunctional relationship with women in his life and his evident misogyny should make us wary of citing him as an authority source on such matters. Do you agree with his attempt to restrict women’s admission to Oxford university, claiming an “appalling danger of our degenerating into a women’s university.” ?
No I don’t agree. The Bible supports that admission. Lewis, like Calvin and others, got some things right and some things wrong. I am willing to be challenged about my views to see what I get right and what I get wrong. But that needs scrutiny of detailed exegesis of all arguments. Over to Ian and David R about my exegesis o0f Ephesians 5.
well, we agree on that Phil
the argument one way or another must be made from Scripture
and Scripture interpreting Scripture
and then the scholars exegeting Scripture
I feel Lewis and that other source I cited, are exegeting themselves not Scripture
It is inevitable that the introduction of female leadership affects the ambience – more than that, I see it as *the* common denominator in most recent changes:
-More of the ‘all have won and all must have prizes’;
-More emphasis on child protection;
-God ‘is’ above all else hospitable and generous – God’s new central characteristic;
-More headlining of, and attention to, scandal stories, however non-recent, even of those which seem secretly to be being relished (for, after all, the innumerable such magazines are not marketed at men, and are mass market enough to be very cheap);
-More medium sized congregations (not the big empire building ones nor the small cold emotionally backward ones);
-More homeliness in the way church is and feels and looks;
-Less concern with doctrinal truth or objective truth. More plurality – each person should be allowed their say;
-More identifying with the previously downtrodden. More ‘rights’ discourse.
The song ‘Good good Father’ (remarkable in neither music nor lyrics) encapsulates it as nothing else.
Yet Peter commends the women for a gentle and quiet spirit.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.
Not a verse that goes down well in our society.
We should never listen to any theory that has a minimal or nonexistent theory of the role of men, husbands and fathers (or makes them surrogate women, or adjuncts to women) – as is so common today.
Indeed – and we should never listen to any theory that reduces women, wives & mothers to some sort of servile role for men.
Let’s remind ourselves of that quote that I balked at: “men look to women for gentleness, kindness, and love, for refuge from a world of pain and force, for safety from their own excesses” – my wife of 33yrs brings far more than that to our life together
Most certainly, though I affirm all 5 too. Complementarity lives and is not without overlap.
‘Indeed – and we should never listen to any theory that reduces women, wives & mothers to some sort of servile role for men.’
Or the child in the womb?
Or to our country’s future leaders, whom she is nursing, nurturing and teaching?
Sir Winston Churchill’s nanny read from the King James Bible to him.
Having the rythms and cadences of that Bible, as part of the furniture of his soul, he mobilised Britain’s fifth armed service in defence of this once great nation:
1. The Army;
2. The once mighty Royal Navy;
3. The Royal Air Force;
4. Resistance groups across Europe; and,
5. The last and final battle group: the English language – that inspired the Resistance.
I’d balk at you reducing the whole article to a part you balked at.
Indeed, the whole thrust of point 2 was really in relation to the CoE/AC.
What I had in mind ( but didn’t make explicit) as far as the part in brackets was concerned was in relation to Western churches outside the CoE Episcopal church denominations,
I know nothing of the Chinese church.
The arguement has been settled in the CoE by a seemingly unusual process, but I’d not seek to be part of a church which had female oversight, thanks, such as vicar or Bishop, whether it is described as leadership, authority, headship, pastor or whatever.
The CoE is hardly likely to go back to the future or even seek to evaluate, research the outcomes on church growth/ decline, polity of the establishment elite.
And if there is something, I’d balk at in Anglicanism/CoE it would be the gowns and garbs on display at the official Lambeth photo call. Inclusive? You, – the church- is having a larf, surely? ( Not you personally Simon!)
[And Simon, I think you have confirmed in the past your acceptance of CoE office of *priests*, yet I see no New Testament office, more a royal priesthood of plebes, all believers, male and female, who are dressed in royal robes of righteousness, though holding no official church office.]
But, what do the ordinary folk in the street think of it- that is, the pictorial message, and symbolism -and subliminally, as a result, of Christianity, of Christ himself?
And.talking about * priests,* that role was reserved exclusively for men was it not? Simon?
Jordan Peterson (not a believer) makes a good case for the dislocation of the modern male. The Pill, a technological society (non-physical jobs where words matter more than strength) and the feminist movement have conspired to take responsibility away from the male and create male redundancy; little wonder young men find themselves increasingly involved in self-destructive activities. Suicide is high among young men.
He does indeed, and recently has exorted the church to get men involved, target men, I think.
He has been bloodied but is unbowed in his stance. He also comes across as being highly supportive and appreciative if his wife.
When I was involved in the mental health services more than 15 years ago, it was well recognised that suicide was the biggest killer off men under 30. I think the age group has now expanded to include older men.
One key aspect seems to be the pressure to measure-up as a man in different spheres of life.
As for the church targetteing men I can recall the head of a national Mens Ministry, though I forget the names, saying that Jesus was what it is to be a real man. Both a man’s man and a woman’s man. The ultimate, supreme, male role model. Bloodiied not bowed. And Revealing our True Father to all.generations including the grievously fatherless generations, and the heart of God to the motherless child.
Missing from this something of a side track to the main article which has moved into male headship / authority is this, which I came across last night.
It is the Affections of Christ.
It comes from a surprising source for some, someone who is robustly Reformed, systematician and WCF adherent. ( That will be enogh to put some people off, but stick with it)
It ranges widely from Augustine to Catholic, to puritans, but mostly is “all over the Gospels”- the “Affections of Christ” woven through and underpinning categories such as Jesus authority.
It was truly a remarkable surprise, delight from this year.
This will hardly come as a recommendation to those who visit this site, as it is from me, but it is well worth 42 mins of time.
It is an IPC Conference address, 19 June 22.
Disclosure of interest – I’m not Presbyterian.
But to me, after many years, even from within some charismatic circles, it is rare – overview- teaching, certainly rare in the context of male authority/ headship/ leadership, pastor. Arms length relationship, it ain’t.