What does the decision on women bishops mean?

As you will be well aware, General Synod this week voted not to approve the measure to allow women to be ordained bishops. Was this the most important thing that happened in the news? No. Does it spell the end of the Church of England? No. Is it a reason to leave the Church? No. Does it fatally compromise the Church’s life and ministry in this country? Contrary to some reports, I believe not. I do not think that having women bishops is of the esse of the Church. (I don’t think having any kind of bishops is, but that is another story.)

But we do need to reflect on what has happened here.

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Summary: the Bible on women and authority

I have just finished writing a Grove Biblical booklet on ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 32 pages, due out in the next week or so. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 161 Cor 111 Cor  14Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Having wrestled with these texts for the last two years, this is my considered summary:

1. The creation accounts offer no evidence of hierarchy in male-female relationships as part of the original created

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How should we vote about women bishops?

On Monday I attended a really helpful meeting in anticipation of the Diocesan Synod vote on the motion from General Synod proposing a way forward on women bishops. This essentially proposes a ‘middle way’ between simply going ahead, and making a legally structured provision for those disagreeing. It proposes to put in place delegated (rather than transferred) episcopal oversight, accessed by a Letter of Request from a PCC, with a Code of Practice ensuring that the provision is adequate. (Having just written this, I realise how complex the whole thing is, and baffling to those who have not been following closely.)

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Can women be pioneering church planters?

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 pages! Due out later this month. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2, 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14, Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Here is the section on Acts 18.

This passage relates Paul’s first visit to Corinth and the establishment of a congregation there, followed by his first visit to Ephesus. His partners in ministry are named as Priscilla and Aquila, believing Jews with Latin names who have come from Rome following the Emperor Claudius’ edict expelling the Jews. There are some uncertainties around the dating of this edict, and whether Acts matches other contemporary accounts. But the most likely dating for the edict is 49 AD, so Paul’s visit should be dated to around 50, since Priscilla and Aquila had arrived in Corinth ‘recently’.[1] The passage is rather compressed, giving a briefer account of Paul’s 18-

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What is wrong with Common Worship?

General Synod, the Church of England’s ‘Parliament’ has voted to look at a revision of the Common Worship Baptism service. There has been debate about the difficulty of the language; can you expect non-church-goers to understand the idea of the ‘kingdom of God’ for example? But that is not the issue for me—it is much broader than that. The whole service is far too complex, and the language is fussy and, to be honest, at times pompous. The double set of triple vows simply seems unnecessary, and does not make practical sense when it is used.

But this is not the first time Common

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Should theological training be validated?

The Government’s removal of HEFCE funding from Humanities subjects could have a big impact on ordination and theological training in the C of E, since quite a few institutions have relied on this income to make ends meet.

I contributed to a consultation on Wednesday about the future of training in the light of this. One of the possibilities mooted was that a small number of ordinands would take (in future more expensive) validated courses, whilst the majority would take (cheaper) non-validated courses.

There are some clear disadvantages to university validation. It makes administrative demands on already busy staff, and it would be great to find ways across institutions to minimise this. But there are a number of clear—even vital—advantages of validation.

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Duty or pleasure?

I went to see the magnificent The King’s Speech yesterday. (In case you need persuading, you can see the trailer here). It concerns the relationship between George VI, unwillingly passed the crown on the abdication of his elder brother Edward VIII, and his speech therapist Lionel Logue who tries to rectify George’s stammer.

There were some moments of great poignancy—such as the look that Lionel gives his eldest son as they listen to Churchill announcing the declaration of war, knowing his son would be called up (though in fact he survived the war). And other moments of sheer genius—the

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