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Why the Church of England Desperately Needs Our Prayer

By David Ould, Stand Firm

[...]  I’m going to disappoint him and I would have been 100% behind him were it not for this letter in the Independent today…

We, as clergy of the Church of England, stand alongside Rowan Williams, Justin Welby, and the dioceses of the Church of England, in hoping that the General Synod will vote on Tuesday to allow women to become bishops in our church.
We believe wholeheartedly that this is the right thing to do, and that the time is now right to do it. There are many reasons for this belief, and we highlight just some here.
First, because the Bible teaches that “in Christ there is no male or female”, but all people are equal before God. Just as the churches have repented of our historic antisemitism and endorsement of slavery, so we believe that we must now show clearly that we no longer believe women to be inferior to men.
Secondly, Jesus treated women radically equally. He encouraged them as disciples, and chose a woman as the first witness to His resurrection, at a time when women’s testimony was inadmissible in law.
Thirdly, we have promised as clergy to “proclaim the faith afresh in every generation”. We fear that failing to take this step would do the opposite, proclaiming instead that the church is more interested in the past than the future.
The legislation to be voted on represents enormous compromise from all sides. Those who wish to avoid the ministry of women will still be able legally to do so.
We hope and pray that all will feel able to work together in the future with the trust and respect that should characterise our church.
This does, genuinely drive me to my knees for 2 basic reasons.
First, if this is meant to be “a Biblical argument” then I fear very greatly for the place of the Scriptures as authoritative and normative in the Church of England. Any fair understanding of the conservative argument against Women Bishops would acknowledge that it has absolutely nothing to do with a view that women are “inferior to men”. It is utterly disingenuous at this point in the debate to launch such a puerile attack effectively branding every opponent of women bishops as a misogynist. The conservative argument sits independently of Gal. 3:27 and, indeed, affirms it.
To then move on to antisemitism and slavery is another utter canard. These are matters on which, it is certainly true, certain elements of the church have had varied views at different times but the overwhelming consensus over the decades and a prevailing view in the early church was that anti-semitism and slavery were wrong. By contrast you cannot find anyone arguing for a female episcopacy until very very recently. Are we really suggesting that the church has been, almost in totality, wrong on this issue for 2,000 years? What arrogance.
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