Women Clergy, Any Good Arguments?

Discussion in 'Sacraments and Holy Orders' started by Justin Haskins, Aug 3, 2014.

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  1. Mockingbird

    Mockingbird Member

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    Arianism taught that God the Father was inherently unknowable even by the Logos. This has nothing to do with the question whether God has a right to call women to be presbyters.

    In the early 1980s I went looking for the arguments in favor of the proposition that God has no right to call women to be presbyters. The best argument I could find was some gobbledygook about a "male principle". It sounded heathenish to my ears. "If this is the best they can do" I said to myself, "then they have no case at all, and God has the right to call any of the baptized to be presbyters."
     
  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    If you don't know what it was you shouldn't offer input on the basis of something you don't fully know.

    Of course he has the right, he's umm, God. He also has the right to exclude women from any position of spiritual authority, and he has done so. As I've documented in the past,

    http://forums.anglican.net/threads/this-got-me-thinking-on-women-priests.44/page-2#post-12732
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    ...the apostolic prohibition against female priesthood was radical for its time.

    You surely have heard of the female priestesses, in both the Greek and Roman cultures? Remember even something as recent as the movie "300" , with its famous depiction of the prophetess at the Temple of Delphi, who was able to speak the very words of God, something neither the male attendants, and certainly not Leonidas himself could do? Here is a still with her from the movie:

    300oracle.jpg

    Here are other examples of how prevalent female priestesses were in the Culture into which Christians were born:

    priestess.jpg priestess2.jpg

    Some helpful articles:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestal_Virgin


    In this context, then, the Christians' rejection of female priesthood was radical and unheard of. That Paul said that women must be silent in the Church, or, that "as man is in the image of God, so woman is not in the image of God, but in the image of man", that was radical. When Christ our Lord ordained only men, that was radical.

    Far from accepting the mores of the culture around them, the Christians were radically opposed in important elements to it.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
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  3. Onlooker

    Onlooker Active Member

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    Were priestesses prevalent in Jewish culture of the time?
     
  4. MWDavis

    MWDavis New Member

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    Though I'd cast my lot against WO, I don't believe it's as grave an issue as many other opponents believe. It's not advisable to tamper with any standard we know with unequivocal certainty existed during Christ's ministry and throughout the Early Church. J.I. Packer makes a fine argument in an interview he gave with Touchstone:

    "I do not find the arguments to the effect that Scripture forbids the Church to make women presbyters compelling. While I, therefore, think the Church may do it, I think it is folly for the Church to do it. Scripture makes clear that God, having made the two sexes different, wants them to remain different. To turn the presbyterate, which in the New Testament is defined clearly as a man’s job, into a unisex role is a departure from that divine wisdom. I believe in women’s giftedness and ministry, but their ministry should be separately structured."

    Many of my fellow Anglo-Catholics believe that WO marks a severance of Apostolic Succession. I don't think that's necessarily warranted. It's a clear break from Tradition, one that ought to be reversed. But the concern that all new priests ordained by women are illegitimate, and that Anglican orders will be invalid hereafter, is (in my view) too extreme. I think it's more a matter of ex opere operato—gender seems to be the absolute only instance wherein Sacraments are invalid before they're administered. That doesn't appear reasonable.
     
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  5. Onlooker

    Onlooker Active Member

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    To reply to myself, no they weren't. The argument that selecting 12 men was "radical" can hardly be supported. The Jewish communities in which Jesus conducted his ministry would not have regarded the appointment of male priests (if indeed the 12 were priests) as "radical", nor would they have thought it radical that leaders of Jesus's supporters were male, nor that it was radical to suppose that the thrones from which Israel was to be judged would be occupied by males.

    When the Church expanded among Jews and godfearers – and even pagans – outside Palestine, then other considerations may have been brought to bear: and indeed it is then that women begin to be named by Paul among church leaders. (A short-lived tradition no doubt, MWDavis, but one not to be discounted perhaps).
     
  6. MWDavis

    MWDavis New Member

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    Indeed, but then we have to weigh those rather fuzzy references (if we're thinking of the same ones?) to the more explicit commands—"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence... Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (1 Tim 11-12, 15)

    I think the real culture gap here is that we in the 21st century can't quite grasp how someone could write the above and not be an utter misogynist. Most liberals don't believe it's possible. They believe that if (a) God is a feminist, (b) Paul is a misogynist, and (c) Katharine Jefferts Schori is a feminist, than Jefferts Schori can over-rule Paul on matters pertaining to gender. This s how they reconcile 1st and 21st century gender roles. It's one of the main causes of the anarchy in the Anglican Communion: the assumption that God has an ideology, and the point of the Church is to advance His ideology. But God doesn't issue an ideology. The closest He gets is to issuing commandments.

    Traditional Christians, on the other hand, should keep the fixed truths about the Early Church in mind: (a) they appeared to occupy positions of leadership and respect, and (b) they were forbidden to occupy positions of authority. The leadership/power vs. authority debate isn't going to go away, but it might be helpful to remember what high positions have been occupied by women in the Roman Catholic Church, probably the most rigidly patriarchal denomination: the (some might say extreme) adoration of the Blessed Mother, the esteem Theresa of Avila's theological and mystical writings are held in, and the respect and deference given to nuns. Women don't have the authority to corporately perform the rites of the Church, direct its members, or refine its doctrine; but they are equal to (lay)men in their role as exemplars of devotion and prayerfulness.

    The modern world won't accept any sort of distinctness in the role of women. And, again, there are strong arguments on the liberal side. But if we're seriously committed to upholding the teachings of Scripture and Tradition, we have to ask ourselves if we have can be perfectly assured that this fundamental shift is justified. We can say it is if we twist Scripture and pick-and-choose parts of the Early Church, and filter it all through modern progressive politics. I don't think that was part of God's plan all along.
     
  7. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I do wonder, do we sometimes confuse church leaders with clergy? I believe women could and still can be agents of apostleship, helping lead missions and often serving on vestries and running other functions of a church or parish.
     
  8. Onlooker

    Onlooker Active Member

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    I'm not Bible scholar enough to argue Paul with you, except to say that I don't see how you can stop halfway, saying Paul was just prohibiting women from the priesthood (assuming Christian priests existed at the time) and other leadership roles are OK. If man is the head of woman, then that's that.

    But if we can't assume we have something to teach Jesus, as Stalwart put it, and if we can't pick and choose parts of the early Church, as MWDavis says, why isn't the Church still run by a self-perpetuating council of Twelve?
     
  9. MWDavis

    MWDavis New Member

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    It could simply be that women have particular leadership roles among women. I'd be curious if anyone has more information on the role of women in the Primitive Church.

    If I could speculate, I'd say that 12 isn't necessarily the magic number. Nothing in Scripture indicates that there could only be twelve bishops at a time, and I've never come across anything in church history where objections were raised to that effect. I also have serious doubt in claims (like the Pope's) to being the "successor" of a specific Apostle. It's difficult to prove, and doesn't appear to serve any purpose except rigidly localizing power in certain episcopal sees. While this may have its utility, those, again, aren't the sorts of claims I recommend we make lightly. Christ says to Peter, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." How this translates into Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires being able to speak infallibly on Christ's behalf, I don't know.

    To me, the important thing is that this conversation is being conducted with serious concern for Scripture and precedence. Sadly our episcopacy isn't always so considerate. As soon as we start arguing against either, in my view, we've lost the plot.
     
  10. Onlooker

    Onlooker Active Member

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    Your argument would, at least, have spared us Mrs Thatcher; although we would also, alas, to depose the Queen.

    Twelve seemed the magic number to the early church, in that when it dropped to 11 they made haste to top it up.

    I think the discussions about the role of women in the early church will not lead rapidly to a conclusion: we just don't know enough. We just have to take the occasional hint, like the presence of the Apostle Junia.
     
  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Simple, for two reasons:
    • Christ never instituted, by word or deed, the number of twelve as in perpetuity for all time, by saying "twelve there shall be, no more and no less."
    • The institution of the Twelve ends with their death. The bishops are those who are ordained by the twelve- like Timothy and Titus.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  12. Onlooker

    Onlooker Active Member

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    * Neither did Christ institute a male clergy as in perpetuity for all time, by saying "male shall they be, and none female".
    * But the institution of the Twelve did not end with Judas's death.
     
  13. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The twelve were not an institution or hierarchy made out of natural or supernatural law. These were only the disciples who chose to follow Christ during his ministry. He ordained merely those who happened to have followed him at the time (and he didn't ordain all that followed him. He excluded those who were women, and only allowed men be with him in the upper room.)

    There is also the second fact that the Twelve were set up once, but he set up the male priesthood over eighty times. 72 + 12. In other words, he ratified his decision again, and again, and again, and again, and again.

    Finally as the one who wrote the Scriptures, He spoke against female priesthood in the Old Testament, and (through the Epistles inspired by him) in the New. Christ and God spoke and wrote everything that is in the OT and the New. He made his decision clear. You've no way out on this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  14. Onlooker

    Onlooker Active Member

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    I find that an unusual statement, Stalwart, to come from a member of an apostolic church. Were they "only the disciples who chose to follow Christ"? Did he not have hundreds of followers, and were the Twelve not called by him specifically, rather than"merely those who happened to have followed at the time"? Certainly an institution, because they had a procedure for electing to vacancies, certainly hierarchical, because the Church says they were bishops, and the first foundation of that succession apart from which no priesthood has validity.

    It is true, as MWDavis says, that we can hardly avoid seeing those times through 21st Century eyes, and one of the filters in front of those eyes is the story the Church has told us, the picture it has painted, which is so present in our minds that it enables us to make bald assertions based on nothing but surmise, if those assertions match the accepted picture. Your post is the second time already in this thread that the statement has been made that the Seventy were all male, although the truth is that we do not know who the Seventy were or what their gender(s). (Actually you plump for 72, which sounds right – 6 x the apparently unimportant number 12). You tell us also that women were barred from the Upper Room with him although I know of no evidence for that, and indeed Scriptures tell us specifically of women being among the disciples in the Upper Room. Can you help with evidence?

    We know that, according to Scripture, Jesus chose an inner group of disciples, twelve male Palestinian Jews. We have no record that I know of that he referred specifically to their gender, but he did to their number and ethnicity, which it seems were thought by him to be significant: "Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel". The Church has not preserved a ruling group of twelve Israelites; it has however for many centuries insisted on the importance of a ruling group of men. Why?
     
  15. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    He may have had other followers but during the time when everyone had left him, "Lord without you where shall we go," only his beloved disciples stayed with him. Now from among his beloved disciples, he excluded those who were women, and those who were men he ordained as the high priests, proto-bishops in the Church of God.


    You're reading waay too much into it, there was just one vacancy replacement, and when they all died, there were no more. Think about it, when Judas died he was replaced (as you say), but when the next Disciple died, there were no replacements. Your argument breaks down right there, as far as I can see, for if your point held they would perpetuate the institution of The Twelve in perpetuity. Instead, they were content with letting it die out in their own lifetimes.

    They even weren't averse to adding to the Twelve, wherein St Paul was admitted in that holy community despite never even having been around. If your argument holds, they'd exclude St Paul on the basis of being a thirteenth when they were The Twelve, and he wasn't even around as Christ's disciple when all the rest of them were. But instead he comes in as Thirteenth and his writing constitutes a canonical word of God Himself, second to Christ alone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
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  16. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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  17. MWDavis

    MWDavis New Member

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  18. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It's sad to say this, but from the standpoint of orthodox Anglicanism, the Church of England has become irrelevant. There is no turning back for either side.
     
  19. MWDavis

    MWDavis New Member

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    There's really no such thing as "Anglicanism" per se. As a term it doesn't appear until the late 19th century. The noun "Anglican" predates it by 200-300 years, and meant something as broad as "relating to the Church of England".

    It's like the conundrum with Eastern Orthodox Churches. You can't say "Orthodoxism" or "Church of Englandism". They're not grammatically viable. If there's such thing as "Anglicanism" it would necessarily be as vague as the historical theological and liturgical teachings of the Church of England itself. But, undoubtedly, without the C of E, there's no Anglicanism whatsoever. It relates to the institution, and teachings and practices relative to that institution. If the C of E goes, there's no more Anglicanism.

    "Orthodox Anglicanism" is in itself a phrase that fails when used more than rhetorically. We've far from established a consensus on what the Church of England did and/or does believe in (Evangelical or Tractarian, High Church or Low, Armenian or Calvinist, and so on).

    The only real way to argue for what we call "Orthodox Anglicanism" is to first justify the English Reformation, then for the validity of the C of E's legitimacy to the present day, and then argue for one of the various historical factions that has adhered to Scripture and/or Tradition more closely than our contemporary liberal establishment.

    But an Anglicanism without the C of E can't exist as such.
     
  20. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    MWDavis,

    Your points are well taken, yet since the Church of England established numerous churches around the world which in turn have become independently governed Churches in the Anglican Communion, in a sense, something called Anglicanism does exist independent of the mother Church. The Churches of Nigeria, Canada, South Africa, etc., do have a theological and liturgical heritage that would continue to exist even if the Church of England were to hypothetically cease to exist tomorrow.

    "Anglicanism," as a distinct version of Christianity, does exist globally. Americans who were raised in the Episcopal Church, and whose families have been Episcopalian for generations, have inherited a form of Christianity from England that is no longer dependent on the Church of England to maintain its existence or identity.

    Your comments regarding what "Orthodox Anglicanism" is, and the problems involved with how it is defined, are spot on of course.

    I might add though, that if we look at what the various forms of Anglicanism shared in common from the Restoration period until the last several decades, we would have a basis for a definition of "Orthodox Anglicanism." None of the factions; Arminian, Calvinist, High Church, Low Church, etc., would have approved of women's ordination or of Gay marriage, Abortion, modernist biblical criticism, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
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