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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Lost and found in translation

Last night we were greeted with the tragic news that the person killed in Jerusalem by a terrorist bomb was not only a British citizen, but a Wycliffe Bible translator. Mary Gardner was there to learn Hebrew in order to improve her skills in translation work. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and colleagues at Wycliffe.

Why would someone risk their life, or at least suffer considerable personal sacrifice, for the sake of translation? The answer is that translation of the Bible is at the heart of Christian faith, for two reasons.

The first relates to the Christian faith’s unique global vision. There is no ‘Wycliffe Qur’an Translators’ or ‘Translation Committee for the Bhagavad Gita.’ This is because, from the very beginning, the followers of Jesus had a centripetal (rather than centrifugal) desire to make the good news relevant to others. The roots of this can be found in Jesus’ restlessness to move on to other villages early in his ministry in Mark 1.38, and in John 10.16 in his declaration that ‘there are sheep who are not of this

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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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Life in the city: 1 Corinthians

Lechaion Way with Acrocorinth in backgroundI am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible. The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here are the key verses and summary for the story of 1 Corinthians (‘Life in the city’), to be broadcast this Sunday 20th Feb from around 8.20 am:

Verses: 1 Cor 13.1–4

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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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Security and identity

Where do you get your sense of personal security? What defines who you are? What gives you a secure sense of identity? For most of us, it will involve a range of factors—our occupation (often important for men), relationships (often important for women), our achievements, perhaps our appearance. For much of the time, we can happily get on with life without worrying about this, but there are key moments which test our security in our identity:

  • The years when we are forming our understanding of ourselves. I remember the intense competition, as a teenager in an all-boys’ school, for kudos and being in the ‘in’ group—and the freedom that came from discovering I was accepted as I was, first by Christians and then by God.

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Honey or vinegar?

I am a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council, and yesterday we had a meeting at Lambeth Palace. We were there to hear from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to ask him questions, in the end both about what he had said and about wider concerns for evangelicals in the Church.

Rowan’s address, starting with a careful exploration of the what the NT says about the Spirit and power (the role of the Spirit does not seem to be merely to give us power, but the Spirit and power enable us to be formed in the self-giving image of God, and we make space for it when we recognise our own human weakness) and ended on a quite inspirational note. In relation to the goal of mission and evangelism, he commented:

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