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The Church, Women Bishops and Provision

The Church, Women Bishops and Provision – the integrity of orthodox objection to women bishops

Contributors:  Roger Beckwith, Sarah Finch, Michael Ovey, Charles Raven, Vinay Samuel, Chris Sugden and Anthony Thiselton

Some think that a particular verse in the Bible – affirming that in Christ ‘there is neither male nor female’ (Galatians 3:28) – is all that needs to be said on the subject of women bishops.

If you are having difficulty explaining the reasons for not accepting the  women bishop’s legislation in its present form, here is something to help.

This symposium was commissioned in January 2011 by a number of members of General Synod – some in favour of women priests and women bishops, some not in favour – who wished to see the theological arguments being more fully explored.  As many people have recognized, these arguments have not yet been adequately addressed in General Synod debates over the years. 

This book presents these arguments.  It also includes evidence to show that, since the mid-1990s when women were first ordained, the richly varied ministry within the Church of England of women who are not ordained as priests has been growing strongly.

The commissioning group of General Synod members all agree that a proper legal framework should be in place, to provide the security of an ongoing ministry in the Church of England for those who will not be able to accept the ministry of women bishops. 

The women bishops legislation, as it stands, does not give proper place to the theological positions contained in this book, positions which have every right to a proper and continued expression in the Church of England.  And a ‘Code of Practice’ will do nothing to ensure that there will be proper places in the selection, training and ordination of the next generation of Church of England clergy for those who cannot accept the ministry of women bishops.  In short, better, more secure, provision is required.

Some people argue that to make such provision would reduce women bishops to second-class bishops.   That criticism relies upon an unbiblical view of ‘mono-episcopacy’ which, while represented in much (but not all) Church of England practice of episcopacy, fails to take into account the shared leadership that characterizes the New Testament Church. 

The Chapters are:

Kingdom and Church
False Premises and Failed Promises   
Recovering Mutuality – ‘heirs together of the grace of life’
How Does the Church Decide?  The Trojan horse of Reception
A Better Way – the Biblical pattern for women’s ministry in the Church of England
Appendices on Collaborative Episcopacy

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