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Strategy at the C. of E.
The Archbishop Smiled

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s strong support for the recently announced measure to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England may have been an astute political move.

Published on: July 23, 2014
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  • Pete

    And so the Anglican will continue to diminish and become even more irrelevant than they are now.

  • Fat_Man

    I am sorry, but I am not an Episcopalian. Haven’t they had women bishops in the US for some years now?

    • Openly gay bishops also. Nothing against people living their lives as they see fit, but clearly, the Anglican church has compromised centuries of teachings to the point it is now a feel-good social club

  • Diws

    The only reason that the support is near-unanimous in the western Anglican churches is that anyone who is serious about Christianity has already fled.

    • fredx2

      And the Parliament threatened them – if they did not do what the state demanded, then they would pass a law forcing them to do it. At that point, they had a choice – be forced to do it, or do it sort of on their own, under compulsion. So they did it on their own, under compulson.

  • Anthony

    One could argue that the vast set of movements we call religion (C. of E. et al) have little in common but their distinctness from the secular institutions comprising current global stage. Over and above that, one could argue that the beliefs and practices generally are endogenous to human affairs, responding to both intellectual and social currents – C. of E. Synod vote. In a globalizing world…

    • fredx2

      And one could not argue that.

      • Anthony

        Res ipsa loquitur (obverse implicit in proposition).

  • Major914

    There is no such thing as a female pastor, let alone a bishop. There may be satanically inspired females who hold themselves out as pastors/bishops, etc., and their deluded followers and enablers who lukewarmly or avidly indulge in the apostasy–but no such thing as a female pastor is remotely possible, same as the fact that a ‘homosexual marriage’ is utterly impossible.

    • FriendlyGoat

      You have done a good job of helping me remember why I trust Jesus AND do not trust organized churches. So many church guys are soooo sure about soooo much. I ran away from you guys (but not from Jesus) a long time ago, and the longer I’m gone, the happier I am with that decision.

      • Major914

        Well, you’re grossly mistaken in thinking I’m one of your dreaded ‘church guys’…

        Read your Bible–its all in there.

        1 Timothy 2:12–
        “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

        • FriendlyGoat

          I’ve read the Bible—-paying more attention to Jesus than Paul, of course. And, honestly, I’m not particularly interested in following a female preacher. But your insistence of what you believe is impossible—-or your willingness to ascribe Satan as explanation for a woman’s motivation to minister are reasons, once again, why I’m not playing the church game with you or any other self-appointed authoritarian.

          • Major914

            The scripture is God-breathed. It is beyond absurd for you to claim authority and ability to pick and chose between the human writers God used. Rightly understood, the Bible is perfectly consistent, and it would be silly to expect or claim otherwise. So you are dead wrong about Paul vs others–scripture is a unity.

            Your claim fails on another basis. This has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit working through a female, it has to do with the fact that God will not violate His own word in scripture when He does work in some way through a female–it will obviously not be to use her as a pastor, which is clearly an impossibilty.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You have something backwards about whether it is you or me who is “claiming authority”. I am aware that some folks worship the Bible (King James Version, usually, in these cases) more than they worship either Jesus or the Holy Spirit. That can result in the tendency to call others absurd, silly and dead wrong for having a more child-like faith.

            The “unity” I’m looking for in life has to do with unifying people with each other and people with Jesus. It has nothing to do with spending lifetimes thinking up words like “dispensation” to explain how thousands of words over thousand of years MUST be a justified as a “unity”. Jewish folks, it’s said, can find 613 commandments. Some people like to focus most especially on the famous Ten. Jesus elevated Two to the most important status, and one of those didn’t even appear in the Ten. Why not let what is simple just be simple?

          • Major914

            As far as it goes, I have nothing to do with the KJV only group–the KJV is absolutely beautiful as literature, in addition to its truth as the word of God, but in a few places it may not be as accurate a translation as some others are. As for worshipping the Bible, that is a nonsensical evasion on your part–the word of God is God’s own word, no one can worship Him who fails to fully regard his word to the, necessarily total, extent he intends.

            Hiding behind absurd straw man arguments regarding supposed legalism won’t help you either. Jesus came not to abolish the law (which is one, and flows immutably from God’s own person), of which not one jot will pass away even though the earth itself will pass away….

          • FriendlyGoat

            Actually, it’s quite possible to worship Jesus without over-rating the entirety of the Bible as God’s own word. One does not need Leviticus 19:19 to appreciate the wisdom and mercy He brought to the world with the elevation of the idea from Leviticus 19:18—–adding, as he did, that all the law and teachings of the prophets depend on 1) Loving God, and 2) Loving our neighbors. Who are our neighbors? Oh, that’s specifically why the story of The Good Samaritan was told, to illustrate the far-flung realm of who is a neighbor.

            I wish you well, Major914, and if some churches decide to have female clergy, I wish those women well, too, and the same for their congregations.

            (Glad to know you’re not with the KJV-only folks, many of whom don’t really know what their Bible says because our language understanding has changed some in 400 years.)

      • fredx2

        What makes you think he belongs to a church? See, there is a little bit of bigotry going on here. He apparently is all on his own

        • FriendlyGoat

          I don’t think it’s possible for Major914 to have written all the posts he has written here without the heavy influence of some church, either at present—-or some church doctrine he has held onto from his past. You don’t arrive at that line of thinking “on your own”. Read all of his posts.

  • PKCasimir

    The so-called Church of England, founded by the psychologically disturbed Henry VIII, son of a usurper of the throne, has absolutely no theological credibility and has about as much influence on British life as the Rosicrucians.
    Although roughly 60% of Britons claim to be Christian, only 18% claim to be a practicing member of any organized religion. So much for the Church of England and its relevance to modern day Britian. In fact, the UK will sooon rival France as a secular nation.
    The UK still practices de jure discrimination against Catholics and Moslems since, although the UK repealed the act that automatically disqualified someone who marries a Roman Catholic from the throne, it did not repeal the requirement that the monarch be a Protestant.

  • Gary Novak

    Berger’s post reminded me of that incident in Atlanta a few years ago in which a female deputy was disarmed by a prisoner, who used her gun to kill a judge and others and escape. He eventually gave himself up after attempting to hide in the apartment of a woman who convinced him to surrender. I recall thinking at the time that women are better at talking men around than knocking them around.

    And, since bishops are generally not called upon to strongarm sinners, I see no reason women should not be bishops. True, men and women are different and cannot be expected to serve the church in interchangeable ways, but if we worry about one-sex leadership in the family, why should we require it in church? For my part, I would be happy to receive spiritual guidance from Sister Wendy Beckett, whose PBS series on the history of painting is always edifying (and occasionally slightly shocking– that Carmelite is as wise as a fox and innocent as a lamb).

    But, please, no affirmative action. Let the devout, qualified Wendy Becketts rise to the position of that other Beckett, but “proportional representation” is an offense against the religious concept of calling, which originates in heaven, not the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. True blindness to social characteristics diminishes the deleterious consequences of both prejudice and misguided affirmative action. And now it’s time for me to toi-toi.

    • Major914

      Humanistic starting point to one’s considerations = abject rebellion against God.

      Spritual truth, which always comports perfectly with God’s revealed word, is metaphysically a priori–it obviously depends not at all on any material examples, or on some inductive human viewpoint. God’s word would be just as perfectly and timelessly true in all instances even if no example could be found anywhere on the earth at a given point or period in time.

      “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

      “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

      • Gary Novak

        It would have been more helpful if you had corrected my spelling of Becket.

        • Major914

          You may well be beyond help–but until the very end, there will be some who are not.

          “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 11:13-15)

    • Wayne Lusvardi

      Talk radio host Dennis Prager has made the point “Women without female role models still grow up to be women, but men without male role models still stay boys.” While I have no opposition to women bishops it might depend more on who those priests serve than whether they meet an equality standard. I believe one of the strongest statistical correlations as to whether young men end up in a life of crime and prison is lack of a male in the home.

      Another sociological aspect is the tendency for boys to remain in the youth culture as a rejection of the hardness of modernization. There no longer is mandatory military service. There is a social class divide in this phenomenon. The youth culture is mainly socially located in the college educated upper class.

      As Prof. Berger wrote in his book The Homeless Mind: “Lower middle class and working class youth people, while they may exhibit some of the external accouterments of the youth culture, seem to be much less infused with its demodernizing consciousness. Especially are they less likely to have abandoned the achievement aspirations of the Protestant ethic, and therefore they are mush less likely to ‘drop out’ of the conventional career system into some countercultural pattern of life. Long hair or not most of them appear to remain emphatically in the ‘rat race.'”

      Berger continues: “The youth culture maintains itself on the subsidies of ‘straight’ society — on parents’ checks, welfare mechanisms of the state, scholarships, subsidized college fees, and the like…”

      The zones of the youth counterculture that Berger describes are zones of social relationship dependency. Even Berger states, these “zones cannot be significant enlarged without endangering the survival of everybody.”

      That women have historically had roles that nurture such dependency. If women priests and bishops inculcate an ethic of dependency under the theology of social liberation they may inadvertently (or advertently) expand the youth culture. One of the sectors of the economy, at least in California, for those in the youth culture to join the larger economy is in “green jobs” — which again depends on subsidies, tax credits, and foundation grants.

      It may be of some concern whether the feminization of the ministry would have an unintentional consequence of eroding the Protestant Work Ethic and the fruits of modernization.

    • Wayne Lusvardi

      I should have added in my prior comment that the women depicted in the photograph with Archbishop Welby are likely not to have come to the Christian ministry from economic success in other fields, such as Welby’s former career in the oil industry (although I may be wrong about such a hunch). They too may be products of the youth culture in which the ministry is just another extension of.

      Women priests and ministers are increasingly female and many prone to the touchy-feely type (as well as touchy-feely male priests). This often is prone to end up with a subordination or subversion of the Christian Gospel to a therapeutic gospel. As I wrote earlier, I have no opposition to women priests or bishops. But I have an aversion to substitute gospels, whether they be therapeutic, political, countercultural, gender liberating, or other.

      Aimee Semple Mcpherson, for whatever else she was, did not preach a therapeutic gospel. She came from a farming background and was exposed to Christianity through her mother who worked in Salvation Army soup kitchens. But Mcpherson was not a member of the New Class and neither were her congregations for the most part.

      In Robert Hefner’s new book Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century (afterward by Peter Berger), sociologist David Martin writes: “One further niche favorable to Pentecostalism is found among the women of two thirds of the world.. There are many contexts where Pentecostalism acts as a trade union for women, enabling them to organize for their own cultural defense…In Latin America, it may take the form of a restoration of respect, given the treatment of women under the colonial and postcolonial gender regimes. In the West Indies, respect is restored given the long term effects of slavery; in Southern Africa both young women and men may seek to leave behind the control of traditional tribal elders; in West Africa it is often young women who become ‘born again’ after suffering from a predatory state and economic disaster. Women are head pastors in only a minority of Pentecostal churches, and female status usually derives from prestigious male partners. At the same time there are many example of ‘Big Woman’ in the pastorate complementing the ‘Big Man.’

      So a ministry to Third World women who have migrated to the First World would be a “niche” or calling for many female priests.

      Living in the Los Angeles where Pentecostalism was birthed, and being an inveterate curious visitor to many different churches including Pentecostal churches, I have observed that women ministers and prophetesses, were institutionalized long ago.

      Martin, however, observes: “Women find the ‘feminized man’ of Pentecostalism an attractive proposition compared to the aggressive and irresponsible macho man.” So Pentecostalism also offers a cultural option to the traditional macho personality. But for the wealthy, educated elites of the New Class prone to be members of Anglican churches, the obverse would be the case.

      • Gary Novak

        I’m not worried that allowing women into the ministry will lead to a “feminization of the ministry.” I used Sister Wendy Beckett as an example of a Christian woman whose first loyalty is to God, not “the [feminist] sisterhood.” I doubt that “Bishop Wendy” would foster a generation of sissies– not only because she probably wouldn’t want to be a bishop– but because she would never subordinate the interests of God to a feminist theology, a therapeutic society, or those other lesser values you mention. I can easily imagine feminist theologians wondering what “the interests of God” might refer to (or Quebecois wondering what the “heritage of their church” refers to.) A nun who delights in praying all night would know that it doesn’t refer to the interests of the patriarchy.

        Notice that Berger only says, “If you are going to have bishops, I see no reason why only men should have the title.” The best arrangement might be to have no bishops at all– the priesthood of all believers. Even Berger might toi-toi for that. But, to the extent that there is any justification for religious bureaucracies, the categorical exclusion of women from them under all circumstances strikes me as unjustified– and partly responsible for the irrational struggle against any exclusion of women from anything under any circumstances. (Think of the way the race industry becomes ecstatic over a Donald Sterling, who gives new life to the devils it wants to fight.)

        Your mention of the youth culture joining the larger economy in “green jobs” reminded me of Berger’s 1971 essay “The Blueing of America,” in which he described an America with “new reservoirs of lower-middle-class and working class populations supplying the personnel requirements of a technological society no longer served adequately by the old elites [and their subsidized youth culture]. (Full disclosure: At the time, I was one of the goofballs reading Charles Reich’s “The Greening of America.”)

        Finally, your mention of touchy-feely Christians calls to mind Peter Sellars operatic production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora. Handel’s original is based on a standard conflict between persecuted Christians and Roman power. Sellars turns the Christians into touchy-feely hippies and dresses the oppressors in orange U. S. Navy flight suits. This politicization of Handel is then billed as “a timeless parable of spiritual resistance to tyranny and persecution.”

        • Wayne Lusvardi

          I have no reservations about Sister Wendy ministering to me either. I am only concerned about the social class divide and the leadership role of women as role models. Certainly Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori would be at the other end of the pole in this regard because she preaches a substitute gospel of false transcendence.

          When I was younger I watched even some of the strongest and most intelligent single parent mothers who were also social workers end up unable to control or socialize their incorrigible adolescent male children.

          The sociologist Rodney Stark convincingly advances the hypothesis in his book The Triumph of Christianity (2011) that it was women who grew the Christian church. Certainly one of the major differences between Christianity and say Islam or even Buddhism has been the role of women even if they were not the high profile ministers.

          • Gary Novak

            I would summarize our discussion by saying that women in the ministry are not necessarily a problem (even for adolescent boys) but feminists in the ministry (with their associated substitute gospels) are necessarily a problem for everyone. The problem is feminism, not ovaries. We wrote quite a lot– considering that we don’t seem to be disagreeing about anything! I should probably add that, as a practical matter, I suspect that many women who are interested in the ministry ARE feminists, and, if so, their applications to occupy the commanding heights should not be viewed favorably by church bodies.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    For those regular readers of Dr. Berger’s column who may have read his May 28 article “Is Yoga a Religion?” I would suggest reading “What’s Happening to Montreal’s Churches: How Quebec is Finding a New Way to Preserve its Heritage in a Secular Age” (Yoga and the Health Gospel) posted online in the National Post of July 25, 2014 (Google search).

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