Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Speaking of the Double-Minded

Here is what the Bishop of Durham (Church of England) N.T. Wright said after the Church of England's General Synod vote to approve the consecration of women (as reported here):

There are some issues which are make-or-break matters. I believe (and successive Lambeth Conferences have affirmed this) that the question of women’s ordination should not be regarded as one of these.
I am but a lowly layperson. But as I understand it, if a priest or bishop who is a woman dispenses the sacraments, then those who object to her orders must view the sacrament as null and void. They must view the sacrament as null and void. Thus, according the view of those who believe women cannot be ordained, this is a first-order objection.

Strangely enough, gay men who ore ordained priests or consecrated bishops pose no such problem, for at least they are "fit matter" for ordination.

So I find it passing strange that folks like Bishop Tom Wright are willing to "agree to disagree" about the ordination of women, but go ballistic about gay bishops.

Bishop Wright goes on to say:
Knee-jerk adoption of easy slogans do us no credit as a church that officially at least still believes in thinking as part of the God-given path to wisdom.
Indeed. It is a mystery to me that he can accept diversity about the ordination and consecration of women, but keep his knees so tightly tucked together when it comes to the ordination or consecration of gay men.

Bishop Wright continues:
I do want to say very strongly to those who in conscience cannot accept the consecration of women as bishops: you know that I do not share your particular view, but I hope you also know that I do not believe this is something over which we should divide the church. The Lambeth Conference and our other Instruments of Communion have said there must be room for both opinions on this matter, and the Church of England made promises to people who hold those views, back in the early 1990s, which I do not believe we should break. I am not going back on that. There are many of you in this diocese and elsewhere who are enormously valued members of our team and I want to continue to work with you to find ways forward. Thus, though I simply don’t yet see how we can do it, I continue to hope that a way will be found to square the circle (as some would put it) and move towards the consecration of women while retaining the goodwill and loyalty, within the Church of England, of those who disagree. I should be utterly appalled if that should prove impossible, and I ask you all, on all sides of this debate, to join me in praying and working for a larger unity and the retaining of theological and pastoral integrity and wisdom. And please, while this process is going on, remember that in all these things we are absolutely bound by the basic Christian demands of charity and patience – which are not the same as ‘tolerance’ or ‘fuzzy thinking’.
Scripture is unclear about the role of ordained women. The Anglican Communion has agreed that this is not a communion-breaking issue. Some provinces allow women to be ordained to the priesthood and episcopate, and some do not. No province is breaking communion with another over this issue.

Nowhere does Scripture address the kind of faithful gay people whom we now find in the Church, some of them seeking holy orders. And yet Tom Wright – and several other provinces – want to make this a wholly different issue. I don't understand why.

Bishops like Tom Wright are begging the Anglican Communion to be tolerant of the role of women in holy orders. How can he not see that the same issue obtains about gay men and lesbians? I do not understand his blind spot.

4 Comments:

Blogger John Bassett said...

this is the key issue from any conservative Catholic view point, and evangelical just do not get it. The sacraments are essential for salvation, and without them a man or woman cannot inherit eternal life. Since a woman cannot mediate that sanctifying grace, a soul is lost.

In contrast, the Article of Religion are quite clear that the worthiness of minister does not hinder the efficacy of the sacrament. So no one's salvation is at risk fro a gay preacher or priest.


Right?

7/17/2008 12:56 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, that's how I understand it from the conservative Catholic viewpoint. And that's why I don't understand how the FOCAs can "agree to disagree" about women's ordination, but get so bent out of shape about a gay mann as priest or bishop.

7/17/2008 1:11 AM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

"Since a woman cannot mediate that sanctifying grace, a soul is lost."

If women are unworthy to be priests, does not the same Article apply in their case? Or does the issue of worthiness depend solely on the plumbing of the administering clergy person, which is why gay men are okay but not women? Article 26 says nothing about worthiness other than it has to do with good and evil ministers rather than their plumbing.

I'm having a hard time finding in those same Articles a statement that a human being cannot inherit eternal life without the saacraments. A citation would be helpful. If this has only to do with conservative RCs, I'm not sure why we care. Help me out with this.....

7/17/2008 12:54 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I'm with you, Cranmer. I do not understand the "logic" of their thinking. But we've been asking this question for about five years, so I'm not optimistic that they're going to answer it this month.

7/17/2008 8:12 PM  

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