Reform, the Bible and Women Bishops

A tweet from Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans drew my attention to this media statement from Reform concerning the admission of women to the office of bishop in the Church of England. Just to be clear, this is saying nothing new, certainly nothing surprising; it is simply re-stating the position of Reform on the situation as it now stands and urging Reform’s General Synod members to vote in accordance with that position.

However, there is one thing that particularly irritates me about this statement. It’s not the actual theology (though I profoundly disagree with it). No, it’s the casual way that Reform and its spokesman (I use the word advisedly), Rod Thomas, monopolise the Bible for themselves.

As far as the theology goes, it’s not that I don’t understand it. Nor am I unsympathetic to the fact that you probably feel like a rather beleaguered minority in the Church of England. I lived in rather conservative evangelical circles for many years. Twenty years ago I was (Iregret to say now) dismayed by the General Synod vote that opened the way for the ordination of women to the priesthood. However, I concluded that I and many others had been praying for God’s will to be done in that vote and so I began to open myself to the possibility that I had been wrong – wrong in my thinking and understanding of the Bible and of the way in which God leads His church.

Over the ensuing years I wrestled with the Biblical texts, taking seriously the view of those with whom I disagreed (after all they weren’t stupid) and came to the conclusion that I had been wrong. The point is that I found that there was not a single, one size fits all situations everywhere solution – this on the basis of Biblical study.

I am not going to rehearse all the arguments (again) here and now. There are other posts on this blog that have gone into that kind of detail and there will be more in future. But please don’t tell me, or imply, that yours is the ONLY “Biblical” position. I understand that you want to follow your interpretation of “Biblical teaching”. But if that is what you mean, then say it. Don’t dismiss others’ attempts to understand it, even if they come to different conclusions. That doesn’t honour the body of Christ, of which we are members.

One final point. I find it strange and somewhat paradoxical that the evangelical emphasis of being under Grace rather than Law suddenly turns into a desire for legal safeguards. Just saying.

That is all.

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