Category Archives: Ecclesiology

Now THIS is How You Answer the Question!: N. T. Wright and the Church of England

Earlier this week I wrote about the “battle” within the Church of England regarding the ordination of woman as bishops. What sparked by comments, and concern, was the lack of genuine theological reflection and verbal conviction from those that desire for this to become the practice of the church.

I came across another example of this tendency toward giving in to the trends of the culture rather than forming opinions and views because that is where our understanding of Scripture is taking us. The Washington Post recorded the following comments

An official close to Maria Miller, minister for women and equalities, expressed concern about the move. “Whilst this is a matter for the church, it’s very disappointing,” the official said. “As we seek to help women fulfill their potential throughout society, this ruling would suggest the church is at the very least behind the times.” [Source]

I may be the only one, but this is not the way for the church to move forward by worrying if the world feels that we are behind the times. This is one of the reasons that I give the Roman Catholic Church credit. They are not willing to surrender their identity for the sake of making those outside the church happy.

Enter Bishop N. T. Wright. Continue reading Now THIS is How You Answer the Question!: N. T. Wright and the Church of England

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The Church of England and her Fight for Peace

English: Logo of the Church of England

Yesterday was a historic day for the Church of England. The governing body of the church finally put to a vote the resolution to afford women the opportunity to serve the church as bishops. This particular issue has been a significant point of contention for the Church of England. The main issue is that there are those (labeled “conservatives”) who do not believe that this role of oversight and spiritual responsibility should ever be held by a woman. There are others (labeled progressives) who feel that this is an idea whose time has come. Women have been serving as priests in the Church of England for the last two decades. There have many discussions regarding this.

What was voted on yesterday was the compromise legislation that would have allowed those parishes who found themselves under the spiritual supervision of a female bishop to be accommodated and, in essence, transferred to the care of another bishop during the time that the female bishop served. This did not sit well with the conservative crowd. There were concerns about whether this would cause for unfair treatment of those parishes that did not submit to the leadership and authority of their bishop. The irony of this situation is that they compromise resolution actually brought the opposing sides together against the measure.

Now, I am not really interested in the politics of the debate. Nor am I going to comment on whether the church should or shouldn’t do this. What I take exception to are some of the reasons that were cited for why this decision should result in the approval of this female bishops.

I have seen various versions of this rationale. However, the following example is the most egregious example of what is wrong with making decision in the church that are not based on scriptural reflection and theological conviction.

Peter Broadbent, bishop of Willesden in London, has called for a “yes” vote so that the church does not “look completely stupid in the eyes of society.” [Source]

Excuse me!

This is a bishop of the church and the best reason he can provide is that the church would “look completely stupid in the eyes of society.” It does not matter what the context of this comment was, it represent that ongoing trend within many Christian circles to make decisions based on the greater motivations of the surrounding culture. The words that describes this is capitulation. Whenever the church, regardless of theological or denominational flavor, surrenders it moral prerogative it loses valuable ground to speak prophetically to the world for which Christ died and the church is called to serve.

The bishop of Willesden may hold to a conviction that women should be allowed to serve as bishop within the church. He may look forward to the day this is no longer an issue, but the stated reason was a poor choice of words, at best, or a total surrender of moral ground, at worst.

At least I found a voice from within the church that saw the problem with arguments for this measure that did not actually address the concerns of those that opposed it.

Tom Sutcliffe, an opera critic and member of the Synod for over 20 years, said he would be voting against the measure because it did not provide adequately for traditionalists.

“This is a very bad piece of legislation … I personally do want women bishops, but we have to make proper arrangements for those who don’t accept them on religious grounds,” he said. [Source]

Any time we fail to firmly and consistently ground our convictions we run the risk of being swayed by influences outside of the faith. This kind of thinking is what causes the church to look weak, anemic, impotent and dated. This is the not the way theological issues should be addressed. The Church of England has revealed the symptoms plague churches across the board. There can be cordial and sincere disagreement about a wide range of issues. However, these disagreements, I believe should be grounded in an individuals theological convictions.

Conviction should be the way forward. Not capitulation. The Church of England and the new archbishop of Canterbury have a long road ahead. I will be praying for them.

The Roman Catholic Church, Postmodernity, and Human Sexuality: The Power of 1,700 Years of History

Pope Benedictus XVI
From Wikipedia: Pope Benedictus XVI

I came across an interesting article this week looking at the Catholic Church’s response to the book of “Sister Margaret Farley, a member of the Sisters of Mercy religious order and emeritus professor of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School.”* There were several points that I found interesting in the article. I will take them one at a time.

Before I do, I do want to say a couple of things. First, I am not Catholic, an ex-Catholic and I do not have an axe to grind with the Catholic church. Second, there are many things that I appreciate about the Catholic church. (Two of my favorite movies have heavy Catholic themes: Joshua and The Shoes of the Fisherman. Check them out they are very good.) Third, while there are many within the Protestant traditions who do not believe that the Catholic church is true to Christ’s desires, thinking like this is such an overreaction that I do not even have time to write about it here. Fourth, any failure to see that in spite of its flaws (as we all have in our churches) the Roman Catholic church protected the Gospel of Jesus Christ from A.D. 300, when Constantine Created the Holy Roman Empire to A.D. 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Thesis sparking the Protestant Reformation. Continue reading The Roman Catholic Church, Postmodernity, and Human Sexuality: The Power of 1,700 Years of History