Sunday, February 05, 2012

Women bishops

It won't make the lead news story on any TV news bulletin, and neither will it occupy more than a few column inches in the popular press, but this week the General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London and (finally) vote on whether or not women will be able to be promoted to the episcopate on terms equal to men. On one side are the enlightened liberal progressives, who perceive this in terms of equality, justice and human rights; on the other are the mean-spirited conservative traditionalists, for whom the possession of a penis is non-negotiable. At least that's how the battle is being widely portrayed.

There is also the good old Anglican via media option: some are seeking a 'conscience' amendment to the legislation which will permit them to ignore the territorial authority of a female bishop and be overseen by an itinerant male one instead. That way, the Church gets its women bishops and the traditionalists are catered for in the provision of a 'flying' male alternative. His Grace doesn't quite think many women will find this acceptable: it's a little like the Conservative Party appointing Margaret Thatcher as their leader, but making provision for the misogynist wing of the Parliamentary Party to respond only to the authority of Michael Heseltine. A house divided, and all that...

Yes, His Grace is fully aware that the Church must adhere to Scripture, and that Bagehot, Dicey, Erskine May and the Constitution of the Conservative Party do not constitute sacred writ. But the Church of England is not and never has been governed by sola scriptura: there are two millennia of Church tradition; the rational thinking of human reason; and expression of the individual and corporate experience. The Church of England has traditionally shown itself to be adaptable to changing social customs and mores. As far as women bishops are concerned, this quadrilateral is evenly divided.

In a context in which the media only reports the Church's struggles, humilations and divisions, this week is not going to be a good one for the image of the Bride of Christ. Once the arguments begin, you will see pictures of snarling men and hear the whimpering of distraught women. And you will hear of almost universal derision and scorn for the 'insulting', 'derisory' or 'apartheid' proposal that parishes not wishing to be led by a woman bishop may seek her permission to be overseen by a man instead. It is a compromise which some female priests have learnt to live with, so why can't female bishops?

The issue, of course, is that one is either an overseer called by God to lead the Church, or one is not. There is no office of quasi-bishop from whose supervision a faction may demur. If a female bishop has less authority than a male bishop, we have a two-tier system in which women are still discriminated against. There is probably nothing which will prevent the Church of England from splitting over this: the structural tensions have become too great for the crumbling foundations to bear. You can polyfill, paint and wallpaper to your heart's content: it is pointless when the building needs underpinning. Who'd have thought it? From fourth-century Nicea with its divisions and schisms surrounding the divinity of Christ, to 21st-centrury London with its divisions and schisms on the distinctly secondary, even peripheral issue of the possession of a penis. Ut Unum Sint? Pull the other one.

205 Comments:

Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

If Christ wanted women to be Priests He would have appointed them as Apostles.

Simple really. Still, does it matter? As we know the Anglican Church is not really a proper Church in any event!

5 February 2012 at 10:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Article: "There is also the good old Anglican via media option: some are seeking a 'conscience' amendment to the legislation which will permit them to ignore the territorial authority of a female bishop and be overseen by an itinerant male one instead."

If they are denied a conscientious objection then is it up to them to either live with the decision within the church or go and find another church which suits the demands of their conscience better?

5 February 2012 at 10:58  
Blogger Belsay Bugle said...

Terminally divisive.

If these women loved the unity of the church they wouldn't have started all this. Because it is going to finish off the C of E.

There are many reasons why women should not be priests, but all the arguments were lost fifteen years ago, so I can't see why bishops shouldn't go through on a resigned nod. That would do as little damage as possible and give the hostile press less to bite on.

5 February 2012 at 10:58  
Blogger David B said...

'The issue, of course, is that one is either an overseer called by God to lead the Church, or one is not.'

True.

Perhaps God might settle the issue by letting the potential overseers be called a bit more visibly.

It seems that prayer and meditation don't give a lot of clarity on the issue, since these seem to produce differing views on whether he has called people or not.

In fact, as you may have noticed, such invisibility and lack of clear guidance leads some to doubt his existence altogether.

David B

5 February 2012 at 11:18  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

DanJo, your simplistic conclusion illustrates how the Anglican Church has become more like a secular institution than a member of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church we profess to belong to. The position of the Universal Church is clear. The Anglican Church has been infiltrated by feminists with their own agenda. They couldn't care less what happens to devout men and women who find that their church is leaving them. For many, for one reason or another, there is nowhere else to go. For others, Anglicanism expresses their reformed Catholic faith for which there is no other option. That is why the vote for women bishops should be a resounding NO.
http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.com/2012/02/church-of-england-to-reject-women.html

5 February 2012 at 11:30  
Blogger len said...

Well SOME churches abide by scripture .....when it suits them and make up their 'traditions' when it doesn`t suit them to follow scripture.

Is it better to have women Bishops(shock horror) or abusive Priests?.

Dodo, the dilapidated duck, as for Jesus Choice of apostles....remember Judas was one of them.... male as well!.

5 February 2012 at 11:31  
Blogger Belsay Bugle said...

DanJO and len,

There are no such things as 'churches'.

There is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, or there is nothing.
But these women either don't care about that or don't understand. Either way they are well on in the process of destroying the Church of England.

5 February 2012 at 11:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AncientBriton: "DanJo, your simplistic conclusion illustrates [...]"

It was a rhetorical question, making a point about conscience.

5 February 2012 at 11:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Bugle: "But these women either don't care about that or don't understand."

I daresay most of them think they're right and you are wrong. In this case, rather than a punchup between Anglicans and Catholics, or between Christians and non-Christians, it's between Anglicans and Anglicans.

5 February 2012 at 11:58  
Blogger Tommy said...

Does it matter? The Anglican church is a dead church on the way back to rome, the believers are coming out to the house churches and churches meeting in schools, cinemas etc etc where they can get biblical teaching and a faith built upon Christ. Granted there are some decent Anglican churches about but as an organisation surerly ICHABOD is written on its walls. A compromising man pleasing church lead by a druid delivering wishy washy sermons but not preaching the blood of Christ and repentance.

5 February 2012 at 11:59  
Blogger len said...

Tommy
Totally with you!.

But there will be a remnant within the Anglican Church, don`t totally write them off.

5 February 2012 at 12:05  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Chief Priest len said ...

"Dodo, the dilapidated duck, as for Jesus Choice of apostles....remember Judas was one of them.... male as well!"

Yet again you reveal your shocking ignorance of the Gospel and the Biblical basis for the the male gender being Priests.

Your glee at the crisis in Christianity brought about by the departure from the Church appointed by Christ is shameful. Every age has its Judas' pushing their own agenda. Some are within the Catholic Church, some within Anglicaism and some, perhaps the worst kind, stand on the side-lines jeering, making up their own 'doctrines and undermining the credibility of the faith.

"But there will be a remnant within the Anglican Church, don`t totally write them off."

Such arrogance, fuelled by a deluded sense of your own importance!

5 February 2012 at 12:37  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
I have first-hand experience of this sort of issue. Our independent church was trying to establish a new basis of leadership after the departure of a very domineering pastor. A committee was set up to review the qualities required of a leadership team. Their deliberations not only tore the committee apart but the majority findings almost caused a further split in the Church. No doubt Dodo will at this point laugh and say one should belong to the one true church, but we see our church in the model of the NT churches, long before the RCC.
The main stumbling block was that the ‘Leadership’ could only be men. The fact that the two women who should have been leaders were more competent and anointed of God than all the men put together was not considered, only the literal reading of the scripture was acceptable.
Although I would consider myself a fundamentalist in the broader sense of the word, I do believe that the scriptures need reading in the context of when they were written. For example; Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? This relates to when prostitutes had their heads shaved and so a covering avoided confusion. How many women in your church wear a hat?
Also in how many homes does this occur? ‘A woman should learn in quietness and full submission to her husband’.
As to the battle looming at the Synod, there is much to commend a peaceful solution.
For the ladies; ‘The fear of the LORD teaches a man/woman wisdom, and humility comes before honour’.
And again; ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves’.
Pertaining to all,bearing this always in mind; ‘The tongue is an insignificant part of the body, but it is immensely boastful. Remember how a mere spark may set a vast forest in flames’.
Ultimately; ‘Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’.
We need to remember that the role of the female in NT days was significantly different because of cultural conditions. With education, the female role has significantly changed and this should be recognised. And has been said, IF the person is truly called of God, that should be seen in the persona of the individual and whether they are Male or Female should not matter.

5 February 2012 at 12:45  
Blogger Christopher Johnson said...

Here in America, everyone knows that women bishops have revivified the Episcopal Church and made that church one of the most vibrant and influential in this country.

Actually, we don't.

The Episcopalians recently dropped under 2 million members(anyone who knows anything about Episcopal record-keeping knows that they really dropped under that mark some time ago), barely a third of whom attend church on any given Sunday.

Those who do show up hear a "gospel" that is basically nothing more than high-church universalism. Episcopalians see Jesus pretty much the same way as Muslims do. As a prophet and nothing more.

Enjoy it, Great Britain. Because it will get there sooner rather than later.

5 February 2012 at 12:45  
Blogger Albert said...

Dr Cranmer,

From fourth-century Nicea with its divisions and schisms surrounding the divinity of Christ, to 21st-centrury London with its divisions and schisms on the distinctly secondary, even peripheral issue of the possession of a penis.

You're joking surely when you portray this issue as about penises?!

The real problem facing the CofE this week is this:

(i) Bishops must be universal, so if women are made bishops there can be no opt outs.
(ii) The Church of England claims to believe in the sufficiency of scripture so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man
(iii) The Church of England acknowledges that theologically the ordination of women is an open question.

It has long since been the case that Catholic minded Christians cannot be part of the CofE. This week may decide whether evangelicals can - even those evanglicals who believe in the ordination of women. For if they make acceptance of women bishops necessary for continued communion with the CofE they will have violated their own teaching on the sufficiency of scripture. If they do provide space for opponents then the women won't be bishops anyway in any recognisable sense. This is what comes of deciding matters like the ordination of women on anti-theological grounds.

5 February 2012 at 12:48  
Blogger len said...

I think looking through the churches in 'Revelation'(in the Bible) will give an accurate estimation of the position of most Churches.

5 February 2012 at 12:54  
Blogger Flossie said...

We now have a situation where more women than men are being ordained. If other professions are anything to go by (such as teaching) it is very likely that fewer men will now come forward for ordination. So we will have a situation not too many years hence where the C of E will be run by mainly women and gay priests.

This is not attractive to either women or men.

Jesus was right when he picked only males to be his apostles. Why don't people listen? The Church of England is doomed.

5 February 2012 at 12:59  
Blogger Windsor Tripehound said...

Last week in my church (Anglican) 32 candidates - all from that church - were confirmed in front of a congregation in excess of 350. Outstanding work by our outstanding lady vicar.

It's about time the upper echelons of the CofE stopped agonising about child benefits and the "rights" of anti-globalisation protesters and reminded itself what the object of the exercise actually is.

5 February 2012 at 13:00  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 February 2012 at 13:31  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

But the Church of England is not and never has been governed by sola scriptura: there are two millennia of Church tradition; the rational thinking of human reason; and expression of the individual and corporate experience. The Church of England has traditionally shown itself to be adaptable to changing social customs and mores.

Yes, that's why the CoE is dissolving into TEC. It lags about ten years perhaps, but its leadership is already shot through with liberal corruption. The end state can't be prevented anymore.

So the CoE will get its women bishops, and there will be no adequate statutory protection provided for those who object. They will instead be presented with one of two choices:

1. Submit on a matter of conscience.

2. Leave.

Large numbers will leave. They have already said they will do this - which is why the AoC is so determined to find some way to provide them statutory protection by some other name. Women bishops will become the inevitable push for a Non-CoE Anglican presence in the UK.

In the meantime, the inrush of women bishops will tilt the leadership even more in the liberal direction. Women who want to be bishops do not draw from a terribly orthodox population after all. That's why they want to be bishops. So a church leadership that is already liberal will be come more liberal. The CoE will accelerate on its TECian trajectory and drive out even more of its members. But the CoE doesn't have boatloads of dead men's money sitting in bank accounts. The resulting instability will be devastating.

All to the good I think. The CoE is a lost cause, and the best thing that could happen to it is financial implosion. Let the huge superstructure capsize and sink and take the whole liberal hierarchy down with it. It must happen anyways. The sooner the better.

carl

5 February 2012 at 13:33  
Blogger Flossie said...

There is no doubt that the C of E will become more liberal. Anyone who has followed these issues will know that WATCH (the pressure group for women bishops) long ago joined forces with Inclusive Church (pressure group for openly gay clergy).

So anybody who is pro women bishops but agin' openly homosexual bishops is doomed to disappointment.

5 February 2012 at 13:42  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

It gives this Roman Catholic no pleasure to see the further crumbling of Anglicanism through what is probably inevitable, whether it be now or the next time. What is hard to take is that these women KNOW the hurt and division they are causing yet carry on regardless. Is the Anglican progressive woman the most selfish of God’s human creation, as she turns the CoE into the Women’s Institute at prayer.

5 February 2012 at 13:49  
Blogger Albert said...

Inspector, you are quite right: there is something very odd about a ministry of unity and reconciliation being turned into a ministry of disunity and acrimony. But since when were such issues of coherence and generosity important when a liberal cause needs pushing through?

5 February 2012 at 13:54  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

My apologies DanJO.

Hopefully I interpret Mr Integrity correctly when he suggests that two women were more competent than all the men put together. The point is not whether they could function better than some men but whether they should. That is the unalterable position of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, the Apostolic Church with whom we are bound through our Creed.

It is clear from scripture that women have a ministry, some would say more important than men, but they do not have to be ordained priest to carry out their ministry. The slippery slope started when Deaconesses wanted to be Deacons, a ruse that gets us where we are today. Use the following links to listen to Dr Priscilla Noble-Mathews and you should understand the point more clearly:
http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.com/2010/12/women-discrimination-and-church.html

Christopher John rightly describes what has happened in the US. If anyone doubts it please read the article linked here:
http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=15330#.Ty6JusU9USp

5 February 2012 at 13:57  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

We now find it clear that Anglicanism as we know it will not survive the century. It will cease trading at some point and be wound up. Inevitable really, as liberalism takes it away from Christianity. No doubt it’s mission will change from saving souls to supporting ‘female rights’ and the gay movement throughout the world. One can imagine the celebrant lecturing the congregation and not missing a beat as individual members of said congregation walk out mid sentence, never to return.

One would expect that the assets of the Church Commissioners would be allocated to what’s left of the individual congregations, who will sign it over to the likes of Stonewall. Hopefully, the Commissioners will continue to maintain the fabric of the buildings, which are of course some of the finest architecture we possess. Buildings without congregations...

5 February 2012 at 14:07  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

the Church of England is not and never has been governed by sola scriptura

This is a back-handed admission that Scripture requires male headship in church leadership. This is at its root an issue of Scriptural authority. The Scripture is supposed to act as the Norma Normata but instead a standard external to Scripture has been used to norm Scripture. That is the root of the problem. What standard do you use to determine that God's revelation is in error?

Tradition What tradition would that be? There is no tradition of female leadership. Quite the opposite and everyone knows it. This movement to female headship is a late development driven by western notions of egalitarianism.

the rational thinking of human reason; Reason isn't a standard. It's a process that is informed by a standard. In truth both supporters and opponents of Women bishops apply reason, and rational thinking. They just begin from contrary presuppositons and so arrive at different destinations.

and expression of the individual and corporate experience This is a different way of saying 'reason' and it doesn't escape the above dilemma. Individual and corporate experience must be evaluated by some criteria. What is the appropriate criteria? What defines a 'good' outcome and what defines a 'bad' outcome. Answer those questions and you reveal the implicit standard in use.

The use of an external standard to norm Scripture reveals a fundamentally liberal attitude towards spiritual authority. It doesn't submit to Scripture. It 'takes scripture seriously' and then proceeds to ignore scripture when scripture conflicts with its own desires. (But only after a prayerful process of discernment.) One cannot escape the implication that Scripture isn't the divine revelation of God to men, but is instead a work of man struggling to discover God. The later attitude places Scripture firmly within the scope of the authority of man. It enables the saying "The church wrote Scripture, and the church can re-write Scripture." Thus do men render null and void the Word of God for the sake of their own traditions.

There is nothing knew under the sun after all. Men have been chasing after this desire from the beginning - the desire to do what is right in their own eyes. But it requires a pre-condition. God must first be silenced so that man can be heard.

carl

5 February 2012 at 14:15  
Blogger Theo said...

The problem of tradition ia that it inevitably leads away from the truth and towards the ambitions of those who seek power in an institutional setting. The Church of England is a secular hierarchical institution populated by those inclined towards the Christian faith. The churches institutionalisation began with Constantine and had become more and more entrenched in the ways of the world since.

A reading of the New Testament will show that Jesus is head of His Church and no allowance was made for any substitute (vicar means representative, deputy or substitute ) so anyone man or woman who sets him or herself in authority over the Body of Christ is usurping the position of Jesus Himself. There was no concept in the early church of one believer having authority over another; certainly not in the context of a paid professional clergy. And that fancy dress; I wonder what Paul would have thought!

This debate is really a total irrelevance in the context of the Church universal as is is a discussion far removed from the nature of the Kingdom of God.

Institutions need such a vast amount of maintenance of the fabric of the institution that is an enormous distraction from the meaning and mission of The Way.

5 February 2012 at 14:28  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

MEMO FROM THE HIGH PRIESTESS OF CANTERBURY – dated this 5th day of February 2042

To all clergy

Hi Girls, it’s come to my attention that some of you have been mentioning ‘God’ in your sermons. Now you know that we have many non believers in our ranks and this is only causing them embarrassment. I don’t want to have any more emails of complaint coming through. BTW, it’s now 10 years since men (...gays excepted...) were barred from the ministry (..such a divisive lot, weren’t they...), and you can all celebrate with a morning down Starbucks. Have you seen the new vestment range Ann Summers has brought out. You should, DARING or what ?

The Arch Rationalist of York, Richard Dawkins send his best. And don’t forget now, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. BYYYYYEEEEE.

5 February 2012 at 14:30  
Blogger Roy said...

@ The Way of Dodo the Dude

If Christ wanted women to be Priests He would have appointed them as Apostles.

The original Twelve were not the only apostles. In addition there were Mattathias, who replaced Judas, Paul and Barnabas, and various others who Paul mentions or alludes to in his epistles. One of those was a woman, Junia, who Paul mentioned in Romans 16:7.

A true church is one that is faithful to Christ, not an ecclesiastical bureaucracy with a long history.

5 February 2012 at 14:45  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "God must first be silenced so that man can be heard."

To be fair, it doesn't take much to silence it. In fact, by observation it makes no noise at all except through men in the first place.

5 February 2012 at 14:49  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

It seems to me that there has become a fixation on having women priests (which is a position of ordination within the church), whereas it would be much more in keeping with Scripture to ask whether women are called to different ministries.

They are called to prayer (Acts 1:14), they are called to prophesy (Acts 2:17-18), they are certainly called to teach other women (Titus 2:3-5), and they appear to have taught the very man who Paul wrote to let him know that he didn't allow women to usurp the authority of men (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15)

They provide support for the Church through charity (Luke 8:3), they do good works (Acts 9:36), and they also supported and upheld the leaders of the Church, including Paul (Romans 16:1-2). Indeed, Romans has rather a lot of women who 'work hard for the Lord' (Romans 16:12; see also Phillipians 4:2-3), who share their hospitality and witness to their faith (Romans 16:13, see also Acts 18:25-26).

So they pretty much the works when it comes to the kinds of ministry they are called to; diverse ministries which constitute the work of the Church-in-Exile (Ephesians 4:8-12). The only things withheld by Paul are their having authority over a man, and their teaching a man (1 Timothy 2:12).

It's pretty clear that not teaching a man doesn't cover the gender but rather the age and status of the man (Paul has no problem with them teaching boys, by the looks of things). Paul likes childhood as a metaphor for faith, so we might even observe "man" in the sense of "man of God". Otherwise, how could so many New Testament women have got away with teaching to non-believers?

So Paul doesn't permit women to be over men. This would appear to be in perfect keeping with women in positions of more formal ministry in the early Church:

Phoebe is a deaconess of Chenchrea (mentioned above, Romans 16:1-2), and thus serves and supports Paul - and thus is not over him, but nevertheless does virtually the same work as him.

Junia is cited as an Apostle of the Lord along with Andronichus(Romans 16:7). And Priscilla and Aquila work together teaching and pastoring to the Church in Rome (Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19).

Junia in particular usually causes ructions - but it's pretty clear tht she was understood as being a woman long before scholars attempted to redact her as "Junias". Her status as an apostle has also only tended to be questioned when her female gender is asserted (that is, critics usually accept Junias the Apostle, but question Junia the Apostle). Women had always been present along with the original Apostles though (Luke 8:1-3).

So it seems to be, on the basis of the evidence in Scripture, that there is perfect justification for women being called to ministry in diverse ways. In fact, there appears to be no limit at all in the kinds of ministry that women are called to. Not a surprise, as all ministry is a calling of the Holy Spirit, and there is 'neither male nor female' in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

[Contd.]

5 February 2012 at 14:52  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

[Contd.]

The only limitation is in the hierarchy of the Church-in-Exile (positions of ministry being defunct in the Kingdom of Heaven). Women and men working together (usually as husband and wife) in the leadership of a church is a pretty standard Biblical model. I've never encountered a husband-wife leadership team in the modern church where either expected to be in command to the other: they were called, as Aquila and Priscilla (and perhaps Junia and Andronichus), as a couple.

As ever, it comes down to desire. There are undoubtedly those who will pursue positions of leadership for the sake of its status, and often on the grounds of equal opportunities law grafted into the Church from outside. If they are compelled by a divisive spirit, division is what they'll get. Leave them to it, God is in charge, and He'll see to justice.

There are also women called to minister for God. How we respond to that is, unfortunately, down to how we perceive ordination. Is it a confirmation of God's calling? Is it a position of authority? Is it a position of authority over men? For many churches, there will be nothing counter-Scriptural in having a woman pastor, quite simply because it is not understood as being a position of authority over, but a calling to service.

For the CofE, the position of Bishop is unquestionably one of temporal as well as spiritual authority (and occasionally, one of service when the office is filled by exemplary rather than political individuals). I can understand, then, the concerns expressed by many "mean-spirited conservative traditionalists" (His Grace anticipates the media exactly). But some of them will be mean-spirited enough to think that in Paul's prohibition on women in authority over men, there is justification for the exclusion of women from the full range of ministries to which they are called. So too, it must be observed, that there is no place for modern-day Aquila and Priscillas in the most "traditionalist" denominations (though this is not to say that such denominations are, by definition, "mean-spirited").

The mean-spirited from either side of the argument discounted, there will still be some for whom the prospect of a woman in the pulpit, let alone in a mitre, is unacceptable, just as there will be those who see it as essential. The latter camp, perhaps ironically, is very often the embodiment of Paul's concern for how the Church is perceived by non-believers; lest the order and discipline found in Christ be mistaken for draconian and patriarchal dominance. As with, Paul, such sentiment is 'hard to understand' and very much open to distortion, even if it is not, in itself, wrong (2 Peter 3:16).

Personally, I believe in "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church", which includes, by very definition, the Apostles Junia and Andronichus, the ministers Priscilla and Aquila, and the teachers of Timothy: Eunice and Lois. Like Timothy, I owe my faith to a number of holy women, whose prophecy, prayer, teaching, and direction is the root of my faith. Like Paul, I abjure those who desire positions of authority as a means of subjugating others. But then, the women called to ministry that I have encountered have had thought only for their own submission to God, and not the submission of believers to them.

5 February 2012 at 14:52  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Mr Integrity said ...

"No doubt Dodo will at this point laugh and say one should belong to the one true church, but we see our church in the model of the NT churches, long before the RCC."

I'm certainly not laughting, on the contrary I think's its tragic.

The idea of a 'job description' and a 'person spefication' for appointment by Committee of a pastor is hardly based on the model of the early Church presented in Acts. Apostolic succession and leadership, with appointment by Bishops under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was the method then and should remain so now.

The basis for a male priesthood is firmly rooted in Scripture and the insights given into the complimentary nature of gender differences, from Genesis right through to Revelation. Once you start to over emphasis 'cultural context' you open up the route for those claiming homosexuals should be admitted to the the priesthood.

'Born againers' and sundry 'sola scriptura' groups?

What you fail to acknowledge is the debt owed to the Church as an organisation that defended, spread and developed the faith. Without an organisation, an Ark, what would we have now? Thousands of individuals sharing their own 'message' of salvation without consistency or harmony. Oh, forgot, that what's we do have! Over 30,000 protestant creeds and churches.

Remember too there was no NT scripture until the 4th century.

Just where in scripture does it say one must only rely on scripture alone? And what do you make of the references by Paul to following teaching, instruction and tradition?

carl

The Church was given authority and a leadership was appointed:

"And I say to you: That you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."

And for over 300 years the early Church,(a holy, catholic and apostolic church) had no canonical scripture on which to base Christ's meassage of salvation. Yet it developed and spread. How do you think it managed without 'tradition?

5 February 2012 at 15:07  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Belfast

Ummm ... I doubt all would agree with your interpretation of the history of women in the early church! All very controversial.

You've also ommitted a consideration of the sacrificial role of priests and their role in administering the sacraments.

5 February 2012 at 15:15  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Oh dear History & Theology FAIL in the very first post by Dodo.
Yeshua DID appoint women as disciples - they were airbrushed out after Nicea, as were certain "gospels" (Like that of Magdalene)
Oops.

5 February 2012 at 15:17  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Tingey

Name the women Jesus appointed as an Apostle. Cite the scriptural references.

5 February 2012 at 15:23  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

What is needed is a miracle. Perhaps the first page in every Book of Common Prayer could be changed in an instant to say "No women vicars or bishops! Love, God." At least then it would be pretty clear. Is that too much to ask?

5 February 2012 at 15:24  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Tingey

Actually, don't bother replying.

Why not slip into something more comfortable this Sunday afternoon ... like a coma!

5 February 2012 at 15:41  
Blogger IanCad said...

Why not??
Can anyone give a sound scriptural reason as to why women cannot be in leadership roles?
I must say my male pride is somewhat affronted by the prospect but didn't Deborah judge Israel? Priscilla, with her husband Aquila had her own church.
Other than being a lesbian or some other malefactor I see no reason for women to be precluded from entering the ministry.

5 February 2012 at 15:51  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Dodo:

Controversial primarily because of a priori reasoning. As I said, critics of passages to do with women leaders in the Church don't discard them because of any linguistic or textual reasons - they do so because they have already determined that women cannot be called to ministry.

Thus: Junias the Apostle goes unquestioned; Junia the Apostle is instead rendered into "Andronichus the Apostle and Junia"; likewise, Priscilla and Aquila, teachers and leaders in the Church in Rome, gets rendered into "Aquila the teacher and leader, and his wife, Priscilla". Phoebe the "deaconess" (diakonos, which is translated as either servant or deacon - personally I don't see the terms as mutually exclusive), is rendered into "Phoebe the servant" whereas a hypothetical Phoebus would be unquestionably the "deacon".

The elect lady of 2 John needs "special handling", the elder of 3 John does not.

Where I diverge from liberals who share my readings, is that I still accept the teaching of Paul on the submission of wives, and of authority over men.

But as I've explained previously on this blog, I read submission in a Christian sense, just as I read authority in a Christian sense: so that submission is never an admission of one's inferiority, but a mark of someone called to true faith in Christ.

You are quite correct to raise the issue of the sacramental role of priests. As I said in the above post, for those denominations who have pastors rather than priests, the issue is very often easier (though it must be said, this is hardly universally the case: there are many non-sacramental churches that do not allow women pastors).

I agree that if one sees the modern priesthood (as say in the Roman Catholic Church) as being the inheritors of role of the Priests of Israel, then it becomes extremely hard to justify the admission of women, because the nature of the role is implicitly one that carries authority (likewise for Bishoprics, as I alluded in my post above). I'm not trying to tell the Catholic Church (or indeed CofE traditionalists) that they are out-and-out wrong on this matter; again, I agree with your previous posts that this would be arrogance.

I merely suggest that women's participation in a full range of ministries is Scriptural, and does not contradict Paul's commands that women should not be in authority over men. Thus, while we find neither married couples nor women priests in the Catholic Church, I aver that one can still find women called to diverse ministries in the catholic Church.

5 February 2012 at 15:57  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

IanCad

Can anyone give a sound scriptural reason as to why women cannot be in leadership roles?

You mean besides the explicit prohibition of female eldership in the pastoral epistles? Is that insufficient for you?

At this point, the argument has reached a point of diminishing returns. There isn't going to be any last minute change of mind by one side or the other. You aren't going to resolve the impending catastrophe by getting opponents to "see the light at the eleventh hour." The choice is simple. The CoE either carves out some structural space where opponents of WO can exist, or the CoE is going to un-church a large segment of its membership. People will not compromise on a matter of conscience. If they are given no opportunity, they will make one for themselves.

Choices have consequences. The potential consequences for the CoE are grave indeed. If you want a church that is defined by the denizens of 'Thinking Anglicans' then by all means proceed. That is the inevitable end result of the approving Women Bishops. Understand however that you won't have it very long. Within half a generation it will have more priests than laity.

carl

5 February 2012 at 16:14  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Dodo; I agree that appointment of ministry by committee is an abomination. In fact in our case the committee only considered the nature of leadership and the leaders were voted for by the church. Something else I fully disapprove of. The new Pastor was anxious not to follow the principles of his predecessor. However, the previous Pastor was an anointed man of God and knew what was right. (Before he went off the rails that is).
I would definitely proscribe Godly anointed appointments but sometimes we have to wait for a Man of God to come along. (By his fruits shall ye know him).
If we can’t consider ‘cultural context’ then much of scripture becomes unalterable from its written form and it makes the purpose scholarly study superfluous. Did Jesus mean that we can literally move the mountain? Many of the OT stories were given to us as ensamples and are to be interpreted to fit in with a NT life style.
No one has all knowledge and we all see through a glass darkly. Heaven help those who believe otherwise.

5 February 2012 at 16:27  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Wow, so many misconceptions and canards flying around here. Let's clear some of this up.

Archbishop Cranmer: I think you have misunderstood sola scriptura. Sola scriptura does not mean we do not use reason, tradition or experience, but rather that scripture alone is an infallible and ultimate source of authority. I think it should be evident that this is the case for the Anglican church, and to represent this as a quadrilateral is patently false, as scripture takes precedence over all other quadrants.

Dodo: Much of what you write is patently false. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and presume you are ill-informed rather than simply deceptive.

You say: "The idea of a 'job description' and a 'person spefication' for appointment by Committee of a pastor is hardly based on the model of the early Church presented in Acts. Apostolic succession and leadership, with appointment by Bishops under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was the method then and should remain so now."

Can you please substantiate that rather than making a bald assertion. I see no scriptural evidence for the concept of apostolic succession.

I agree with you, however on your claim about complementarity of men and women.

You say: "'Born againers' and sundry 'sola scriptura' groups?"

John 3:3. That is all.

"What you fail to acknowledge is the debt owed to the Church as an organisation that defended, spread and developed the faith. Without an organisation, an Ark, what would we have now? Thousands of individuals sharing their own 'message' of salvation without consistency or harmony. Oh, forgot, that what's we do have! Over 30,000 protestant creeds and churches."

So much error here. Let's begin. The church as an organisation did not coalesce until the late 4th C. The gospel seemed pretty well guarded until then!

The Roman Church did not defend the faith, it perverted and corrupted it beyond recognition, becoming an apostate church.

As for you claim about 30,000 protestant creeds and individual messages of salvation: THIS IS FALSE. You cannot possibly arrive at such a figure (for denominations) without including non-protestant cultic sects such as Mormons, unitarians and Jehovah's witnesses in this, with their thousands of denominations. But if you wish to take this methodology, then you will be forced to admit that there are over 8,000 Roman Catholic "denominations", as the same study claims. Furthermore, orthodox protestant churches are united on such key matters as justification by faith alone and sola scriptura. It is on peripheral issues that they disagree, but so what? Romanists, stop using this canard please.

Remember too there was no NT scripture until the 4th century.

FALSE AGAIN. The scripture existed in its various books, and various canon lists had been created as early as the 2nd century. But no official canon list existed until the 15th Century, and Christendom functioned pretty well until then.

You say: “Just where in scripture does it say one must only rely on scripture alone? And what do you make of the references by Paul to following teaching, instruction and tradition?”

For goodness sake. Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16). Tradition is not. Which one is an infallible source of authority therefore? Teaching should be based on scripture, not a separate entity. Please bring up your reference w/ regard to tradition.

You say: “And for over 300 years the early Church,(a holy, catholic and apostolic church) had no canonical scripture on which to base Christ's message of salvation. Yet it developed and spread. How do you think it managed without 'tradition?”

I’ve already said this is false. Scripture has existed and been used since the apostolic age.

5 February 2012 at 16:34  
Blogger martin sewell said...

Isn't the distinction between between a Disciple, and an Apostle that an Apostle is one who can testify to seeing the risen Christ Ie beyond the chosen 12? On this basis women
plainly qualify. .

I puzzle at those who wish to preserve the CofE as a non Female Headship zone when we have a Queen as Supreme Governor. I cannot see how there is not some scintilla of headship in that Constitutional settlement. Indeed I think one can make a case for the CofE we know, being shaped by Elizabeth I rather than her father.

I think we can also knock on the head the idea that an Inclusive Church is a declining one. Our Church has 3 women clergy, 3 out of 5 female Readers and 1of 2 Churchwardens - and we are a growing Congregation . This is not the gathered rump of discontented refugees from other broken Churches, but rather a congregation attracted to a simply preached ( and hopefully lived) Gospel .

5 February 2012 at 16:40  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Whoops, my mistake on 8,000 Romanist denominations. It's 8,000 prot (max) but here's an explanation of where the figure comes from and why you can't use it the way you do.

http://www.justforcatholics.org/a86.htm

To clarify, 21 protestant traditions compared to 16 catholic. Hardly how Dodo would present it!

5 February 2012 at 16:40  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

critics of passages to do with women leaders in the Church don't discard them because of any linguistic or textual reasons - they do so because they have already determined that women cannot be called to ministry.

Thus: Junias the Apostle goes unquestioned; Junia the Apostle is instead rendered into "Andronichus the Apostle and Junia"


Not true. St John Chrysostom knew full well that it said Junia and that it called her an apostle. But he didn't believe in the ordination of women. Why not? He knew full well that the word "apostle" is used much more widely than just those who had the kind of authority we call apostolic. There are plenty of good reasons to think "apostle" is being used in a wider (i.e. non-relevant) sense in Romans 16, and precious few to suggest a narrower (relevant) reading. At best therefore, this passage is uncertain and so cannot be used to support the idea that there were women apostles. It is only used in that way by those who have decided a prior that they want it to be so.

5 February 2012 at 16:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

The church as an organisation did not coalesce until the late 4th C

Would you mind clarifying what you mean and then substantiating it?

Your position on scripture and tradition seems paradoxical. For surely (especially if you think no official canon list existed until the 15th Century) the canon of scripture can only have been identified through tradition?

5 February 2012 at 16:50  
Blogger Albert said...

May I just hit this numbers game idea that keeps popping up on here? I don't think the numbers game is really a good way of deciding things, but if it is, may I point out that all of the local churches I attend have far larger congregations than the kinds of numbers being attributed to women clergy here. What's the ministerial arrangement of these churches? All male and celibate.

5 February 2012 at 16:53  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo@ 10:51 :

Mary Magdalene 'apostola apostolorum' - disciple; apostle; or both? Discuss in under 300 words:

5 February 2012 at 17:05  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Thomas Keningley

You do use a lot of words to say very little!

Let's keep this simple. Just tell me where in scripture it says not to use tradition? Where it says that scripture is the only basis of authority?

And what do you make of Matthew 16? Avoided that small matter, didn't you?

Have you actually read The Acts of the Apostles? You know, the book that describes the early church? Maybe you should.

As for the 4 Gospels, these were written years after Christ's death and resurrection. What was around were letters that circulated in the new churches preaching and teaching the message of Christ. The early church alsohad baptism, confirmation and the breaking of bread. Not in scripture! What do you think the letters based their teachings on? Thin air?

The first church council that accepted the present canon of the New Testament was the Synod of Hippo Regius in 393. The Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419 confirmed this.

carl said ...

"People will not compromise on a matter of conscience."

Come now. The via media is based on a such continuing compromise.

5 February 2012 at 17:14  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace: I say the games of genderism are one more way to turn people away from the Church!

I'm not the only woman who can't be doing with priestesses, though we do try to sit through it all. My reaction is unrelated to ideas of superiority or inferiority of genders and their brains. It stems from a sense of how work suits a gender, and the reasons why genders have traditionally divided labour to the general advantage. For example, the world's best mothers are necessarily women; but even the best mother cannot replace the best father--for either sons or daughters.

Neither am I prejudiced against women in high political office: some of the world's greatest rulers have been women. But they worked with superb men as advisors and managers.

However, priestessing being redolent of pagan fertility cults, or of fortune-tellers and witches; of Amazons or, at this stage, of Feminazis .... show me a priestess and I can't leave fast enough. Yet, I have the happiest and most respectful memories of my godmother, and of my RI teacher. Amid their own kin and kith, some women know how to support and develop spiritual growth.

This is not to say, then, that one values a church or any organization run by a man who lets his gender drive his neurones. In the north there is one male bishop - a feminist and marxist - whose church I will never enter.

At a secular level, this blog is another case in point. One returns because of the blog-owner's brilliance, integrity, and support of traditional values. For admiration of those qualities, one takes time to scroll past the boys' playground - the misogynist section of the commentary.

Yes. Game-playing and incitement to conflict cause trouble and destruction- not gender itself. The communists know that.

5 February 2012 at 17:23  
Blogger Anglican said...

I understand that those opposing women bishops (and priests) do so on theolohical grounds, not on grounds of 'misogyny'. Bishops (and priests) already operate outside the geographical dioceses - in the armed forces & in hospitals, prisons, etc. If the majority in the Church of England are not prepared to allow the traditionalists to continue as loyal Anglicans they will split the C of E wide open, and it will probably go the way of the American Episcopal 'Church'. And we know where that has led.

5 February 2012 at 17:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Jesus was keen on tradition, Jewish tradition. Or doesn’t this count ?

5 February 2012 at 17:27  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

martin sewell said...

I think we can also knock on the head the idea that an Inclusive Church is a declining one.

A church that allows for female leadership is not an automatically declining church. Nor is decline in and of itself a necessary indication of heterodoxy, just as growth is not a necessary indication of orthodoxy. But a liberal church is by definition a declining church. There are isolated pockets where liberal congregations might flourish. But there are not many people who are interested in a religion of questions without answers. The introduction of women bishops will produce a flood of liberal women bishops. This will accelerate the decline of the CoE into a church of intellectuals who want only to contemplate their metaphysical angst.

So it is not the idea of women bishops per se that will exacerbate the immediate problems. The introduction of women bishops will drive out more conservative members. This will make the CoE more vulnerable to the liberal agenda. As the liberal agenda advances, more and more conservatives will leave. The problem eventually becomes self-feeding. Once a church succumbs to theological liberalism, it is doomed. There aren't enough liberal laity to make such an enterprise viable.

carl

5 February 2012 at 17:39  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Thomas Keningley; A Cambridge student you may be, but at the tender age of early twenties, you present yourself as a bumptious young upstart. I have no doubt that you consider that you have an outstanding knowledge of scripture, but you lack a quality that one learns with time, and that is Grace. It is no wonder that it is said, Employ a teenager whilst he knows everything. Do not be discouraged but learn the other virtues of life that can't be taught such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty.

5 February 2012 at 17:44  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert and Martin Sewell appear to be quite close on the term "Apostle", despite, if I've read you both correctly, coming from different points of view.

Albert, I wasn't aware of St. John Chrysotom's viewpoint, so thanks for making me aware of that. But in my original use, I wouldn't include him in the critics I described. It remains true that passages involving the ministry of women have been subjected to far greater scrutiny than the equivalents; not, as I said, for any textual reason, but because of the pre-existing views on the place and role of women in the Church. And yes, these are a priori, to a certain extent even within Scripture: "Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God." (1 Corinthians 11:13-16; my emphasis).

Out of interest, do women at your church follow that instruction? It's still fairly common over here in Northern Ireland, but by no means universal. My views on it can largely be summed up by 1 Corinthians 8:13.

You'll also notice that I didn't insist on "Apostle" as an example of one holding authority, but rather that it is one of many examples in Scripture of men and women sharing ministry and witness. My viewpoint has always been that this issue is at its most divisive when it is about holding positions of authority - when it is about who is in charge of the Church-in-Exile, but more pertinently who is in charge of other Christians. As I said, my experience of exemplary women called to ministry simply bears no relation to that aspect of the debate.

I've always thought that the much-maligned passages from Paul about marriage and the Church make for the most admirable model both for personal unions and the practical running of the Church. If I could go to a single service in the whole history of the Church, it would be one in the church of Priscilla and Aquila. They appear to have been particularly blessed with an ability not only to encourage the faith of their brothers and sisters, but to further deepen and strengthen it by 'explain[ing] the ways of God more accurately' (Acts 18:24-28). But that particular passage is also relevant: because when they corrected (enhanced) Apollos' knowledge, they did it by taking him to one side. You can see there that they are not excercising (either of them) authority over Apollos; they're not "putting him in his place". They're supporting and strengthening him in his faith. That's Christian pastorship at work, and not for an instance is it at odds with Paul's instructions in 2 Timothy.

5 February 2012 at 17:47  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Out with the old and in with the new, eh ladies and liberals. Bit stuffy Anglicanism, with all that emphasis on worship. How about a rebrand at the same time. “Club CoE” perhaps...

5 February 2012 at 17:48  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Dodo

Come now. The via media is based on a such continuing compromise.

There is no via media on offer. Those who advocate for women bishops demand that objectors submit to their authority. Indeed, the ultimate proof of authority is the ability to compel those who would reject it. Breaking the objector's resistance thus becomes an essential test case. This is why no compromise is being offered.

Likewise, the objectors will refuse to break in order to defend an essential principle. This is why they will leave. They will have no other choice.

carl

5 February 2012 at 17:55  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Carl Jacobs:

Can I just say that the number of liberal men I know in the Church vastly outweighs the number of liberal women, despite the fact that there are usually considerably more of the latter than the former.

There are, quite simply, some exceptional women whose exposition of doctrine and Scripture is such that, if you weren't made aware of the gender of the speaker, the majority of traditionalist readers of this blog would wholeheartedly endorse. There are also, some people peddling pretty rotten teaching, but as non mouse points out, these are hardly restricted to one gender.

There's an idea for His Grace: publish a series of anonymous sermons and let his communicants try and work out if they are men or women.

5 February 2012 at 18:05  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

Via Media is a catch-phrase for the CofE, because it claims to be a middle way between Catholicism and Puritanism (or in the view of the Oxford Movement, Protestantism). Otherwise, yes, you are clearly right.

5 February 2012 at 18:07  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

While we're about Junia, it's also noteworthy that the KJV also has "Junia". I think this is the most certain reading traditionally, and yet the same readers never supported women's ordination. I think that demonstrates this question cannot be rushed over whether it is Junia or Junias. It's obvious from the immediate context, not to mention the wider teaching of St Paul that Junia was not an Apostle as (say) Paul himself was.

As for 1 Cor.11, no very few Catholic women follow it these days - though you do still see women wearing mantillas. I've never researched why the Catholic Church does not require this, but my own attempt to understand 1 Cor.11 indicates that it is a very difficult passage fully to grasp. It's clear Paul wants women to cover their heads, but why he does so, is much less clear. It's the bit in the middle where he says That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. There seems no agreement on what Paul is going on about.

Consequently, I think that the Church has just decided this was a custom for a particular time and place, and therefore the Church is able to alter the custom.

You'll also notice that I didn't insist on "Apostle" as an example of one holding authority, but rather that it is one of many examples in Scripture of men and women sharing ministry and witness.

I think you are conflating ministry and ordained ministry. It's clear that in the Bible women were barred from certain roles, but still retained other roles. This is reflected in the history of the Catholic Church which has a long history of women's ministry, and indeed, women holding authority (see St Hilda at the Synod of Whitby for example), but never receiving ordination.

The kind of argument you are using, which seems to infer from women having ministry to women being ordained seems highly clericalising to me. Hence, I don't agree with you when you say:

my experience of exemplary women called to ministry simply bears no relation to that aspect of the debate.

The significance of the ministry of exemplary women has been very vigorously discussed among traditionalists, while liberals tend simply to conflate all kinds of ministry and miss the subtlety of the traditional position.

I think the example you give from Acts is an excellent example of the where the NT is at: a woman correcting a man, but not being the public preacher which would conflict with 2 Tim etc.

5 February 2012 at 18:28  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Carl Jacobs (17:55) & Albert:

Actually, I agree that you are right. Trying to make the via media an issue of whether or not women may be in positions of authority (primarily but not exclusively in a temporal sense) as Bishops is ultimately one where one side affirms the strict letter of 2 Timothy, and the other finds ways of rejecting it or dismissing it.

The via media that I'd rather persue is one that does not see authority as being essential to the ministry of pastorship. That in fact there exists in Scripture models of behaviour in which women may certainly teach to one another (Titus 2:3-5), and may, by way of "taking to one side", by way of working with fellow apostles, minister to the Church without assuming positions of authority. Personally, I'm quite happy to take this as the basic model for all pastoral ministry, whether by men, women, couples or the celibate. But I'd not dogmatically insist on an essentially non-dogmatic position. I'd also recognise that in, for instance, the structure of the Roman Catholic Church, the centrality of clerical obedience and episcopal authority the place of women over men is going to be incompatible with 2 Timothy.

Albert is spot on with it being about the middle way between Catholicism and Protestantism/Puritanism. Does the CofE priesthood exercise apostolic authority, or is it the priesthood of all believers? Hardly new ground for the CofE, but the added dimension of equal opportunities legislation (as opposed to the idea that we have equality in Christ) will certainly add to the strain that the via media has always been put under.

5 February 2012 at 18:33  
Blogger Albert said...

Martin,

sn't the distinction between between a Disciple, and an Apostle that an Apostle is one who can testify to seeing the risen Christ Ie beyond the chosen 12? On this basis women
plainly qualify. .


No, if that were true, then all the witnesses of the resurrection would automatically be apostles. That this is false seems clear from 1 Cor. 15, in which 500 witnesses are distinguished from "all the apostles" and from the fact that in Acts 1 they have to chose from among the witnesses who shall take the place of Judas. The Greek is clear here, it restricts the choice to men. You may wish to bring a different criterion, but you cannot appeal to Acts 1 to defend it, I think.

5 February 2012 at 18:36  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Inspector; I have checked out the Antibiotic/Alcohol thing as I would not trust him as far as I could send him in a trebuchet.
It seems from the medical sites that it depends which Medications you are on. If in doubt, refer to instructions with meds.

5 February 2012 at 18:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

I wouldn't want to imply that the only reason for opposing women's ordination is found in 2 Tim, only that a pattern whihc allows some kind of ministry (such as that found in Acts) is consistent with 2 Tim, provided always that it falls short of anything approaching ordination. As for the priesthood of all believers, I think it is evident that Anglicanism believes her ordained ministers to be more than that. Consequently, from a sola scriptua point of view (i.e. without bringing to bear any of the more Catholic arguments) the matter seems pretty clear. I find it genuinely odd that Evangelicals can't see this, especially when they can be so opposed to homosexuality. I also find it odd that they don't see the harm done to the CofE when viewed in the light of the comments I made at 12.48. This is a much more dangerous move for the CofE than people seem to realise.

5 February 2012 at 18:42  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

AnonymousInBelfast

The via media that I'd rather persue is one that does not see authority as being essential to the ministry of pastorship.

Except we are talking about the office of elder, and that office by its nature holds authority. You cannot separate the one from the other.

carl

5 February 2012 at 18:49  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Thomas Keningley said...

"Whoops, my mistake on 8,000 Romanist denominations. It's 8,000 prot (max) but here's an explanation of where the figure comes from and why you can't use it the way you do."

You really are a jumpted uplittle pip-squeak, aren't you? What on earth is a 'Romanist denomination'? Do you actually know what you're talking about?

As for protestantism, well you number the variations any way you choose. Let's look at some of the main varieties:

Pietism and Methodism
Evangelicalism
Adventism
Modernism and Liberalism
Pentecostalism
Fundamentalism
Neo-Orthodoxy
New Evanbelism
Paleo-Orthodoxy
Ecumenism

Yes, maybe they do have broad similarities but many follow their own theology. None accept a universal Church authority. Those that have an international organisation, Episcopalians for example, are free to follow their own path. Anglicanism has no international authority. The thirty-nine provinces of the Communion are autonomous, each with their own primate and governing structure. There is no international juridical organisation. All international bodies are consultative and collaborative, and their resolutions are not binding. As "spiritual head" of the Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury only has moral authority.

The doctrines of the various protestant denominations vary widely. Most include the common themes of justification by grace through faith alone, the priesthood of all believers, and the Bible as the ultimate authority in matters of faith and order. Thereafter, it's a bit of an free for all. Just think of the scope for dissent within thse 'givens'.

As a protestant one can shop around and find a 'Jesus' and a 'message' that suits oneself - or go it alone. A gay priest on one corner; a traditionalist on another; a woman here and a man there. Some accepting the Incarnation; some not; some accepting the ressurection; some not. Some accepting abortion;some not. Some divorce; some not.

This really is stretching the 'guidance' of the Holy Spirit!

Catholicism is one Church, with one Magisterium, one Cathecism, one sacremental structure and one set of doctrines.

Outside of fidelity to Rome and the authority of the Church, you cannot rightly claim the title Catholic.

There are some 23 autonomous Churches and 22 Eastern Churches. However, these accept the paramouncy of the Bishop of Rome. There are no 'traditional', 'modernist' and 'liberal' Catholic Churches as distinct bodies with seperate theologies and structures.

All the particular Catholic Churches are by definition in full communion with the Church of Rome. In the words of Vatican II:

"It is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists."

Mr Integrity said...

"Thomas Keningley; A Cambridge student you may be, but at the tender age of early twenties, you present yourself as a bumptious young upstart."

How do you know his background?

He's young and wet behind the ears. Personally, I'm more troubled by his evident stupidity than his lack of grace.

Oswin said...

"Mary Magdalene 'apostola apostolorum' - disciple; apostle; or both? Discuss in under 300 words:"

Disciple. Was she in the Upper Room or at the Last Supper?

5 February 2012 at 18:54  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@ Albert: "I think you are conflating ministry and ordained ministry. It's clear that in the Bible women were barred from certain roles, but still retained other roles. This is reflected in the history of the Catholic Church which has a long history of women's ministry, and indeed, women holding authority (see St Hilda at the Synod of Whitby for example), but never receiving ordination."

Hopefully my post above will make it clear that I am trying to avoid conflating the two, precisely for the reasons you express.

I understand, and have been using "ministry" to mean the various callings (including, but not exclusive to teaching - a fuller list is in my first post) on men and women.

I view pastorship as being essential to the church (in that all congregations are in need of it), and leadership of a "small-l" variety; which is to say much closer to a Protestant understanding where pastors and elders/deacons exist to serve the congregation but do not excercise any privileged authority over the congregation (and as a consequence do not usually conceive of themselves as intercessing on the part of their congregants). We may defer to them out of respect, or in recognition of their greater wisdom, but we do not owe them obedience.

Priests, on the other hand, are in positions of "big-L" Leadership; which is to say, that they fulfil the same pastoral ministry but have an added position as the authorities with responsibility for determining doctrine, and with dealing with heresy etc. In other words, the role of the High-Anglican Priest, of the RC Priesthood. The role of Peter and Paul.

I've tried to avoid using "ordained"; as it means different things across the spectrum of Christianity - it is used in instances of pastorship, but to signal a confirmation of a particular calling. In apostolic priesthood(s), it is this also, but has the added factor of the bestowal of authority.

I think women can, across the catholic Church, fulfil with absolute parity the ministry of pastorship. Women priests (in the apostolic sense), on the other hand come into conflict with 2 Timothy when they are put in authority over men. I both understand and respect the reasons why for Catholics and traditional Anglicans, apostolic succession cannot be passed onto women. I agree that it would seem to be oxymoronic for a woman to seek apostolic ordination whilst upholding the strict understanding of 2 Timothy. But I would be very interested in listening to their take on it, however, on the basis that, at the very least, I may benefit from their pastoral ministry.

However, I do hold to a basically ecumenical view that the catholic Church is not solely limited to said traditionalists. Thus I have no problem with, and in part inherit my faith from women who have been pastors and ministers. I also have no problem in having received Christian instruction from women, both in recognised positions of pastorship and in general, and I am happy to continue to do so wherever a Priscilla is able to deepen my relationship with God.

5 February 2012 at 18:57  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Indeed Mr Integrity. I reiterate you must inform the Physician or Dentist your intention. In my case, I was not prescribed my dentist’s first choice of antibiotic for that very reason. The program was of course ‘QI’ which would normally appeal to me, but sharing your opinion of Fry, I never did manage to see one in anything like it’s entirety...

5 February 2012 at 18:57  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Carl Jacobs: I meant more generally. I agree that a CofE Bishop is a position of temporal and spiritual authority.

5 February 2012 at 19:01  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

AnonymousInBelfast

There is no office of 'bishop' in Scripture. Presbuteros and Episkopos are interchangeable terms. Both refer to the congregational office of Elder. So the authority of eldership attaches at the congregational level.

carl

5 February 2012 at 19:06  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Carl Jacobs

Maybe not, but it exists in the RC Church and the Anglican Communion. I doubt any church is in precise accordance with the form of the early Church.

But again, eldership in practice may mean both a position of authority, and a position of respect. Neither definition holds exclusive sway across all the people who hold Christ to be their saviour.

5 February 2012 at 19:10  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Dodo; It is a very unusual name and a quick search produced a Facebook profile.

5 February 2012 at 19:10  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

MrIntergrity

Ah!

Is there no privacy these days? Do not disclose any of my personal details. Remember I'm an endangered species!

5 February 2012 at 19:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Mr I: "It is a very unusual name and a quick search produced a Facebook profile."

:O

5 February 2012 at 19:17  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Why do I have a feeling that everyone is going to start Googling one another (if they haven't already begun)?

5 February 2012 at 19:19  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

Thank you for your clarification. I must admit though, I'm with Carl on this. You seem to put so many qualifications on the notion of ministry, that I am left wondering whether the kind of ministry, which includes authority, really figures. To be relevant to the original post, a Bishop clearly does have that kind of authority, and so, I think on your own terms you would have to agree women cannot be CofE bishops (whether or not you also emphasise apostolic succession).

A note on the Catholic priesthood: Catholic priests don't have responsibility for determining doctrine, and with dealing with heresy. That would lie solely with the Bishop (although a priest can make his voice heard, but any Catholic can do that). If priests have authority in these matters it is because of their greater grasp of the Catholic faith. Things are slightly different in the Cofe because the breadth of the traditions available rather emphasises the doctrinal significance of the priest as the one who determines right doctrine. As the saying goes, the CofE has created a situation in which there is a "pope in every parish"! So one parish follows the Roman Missal and has Benediction, refuses to marry divorcees and will not allow a woman priest in the building. But the neighbouring parish has a practising lesbian who'll marry more or less anyone, while another parish is so indistinguishable from a free-church that the vicar says he is only in the CofE because he thinks it is the best boat to fish from. Catholic priests don't have that kind of scope and are accordingly less the centre of everything in many ways.

5 February 2012 at 19:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Why do I have a feeling that everyone is going to start Googling one another (if they haven't already begun)?"

It was done with me ages ago. It turned up "danjo" (rather than Dan J Zero) in the urban dictionary. Someone even registered with Gaydar as far as I know to search there for me. Lol.

5 February 2012 at 19:27  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

btw...

I'm sure you haven't forgotten over there in the UK but today is the day of the Super Bowl - by common acclamation the world's biggest sporting event of the year. So I assume you will all be dropping off soon to watch it.

carl

5 February 2012 at 19:29  
Blogger Albert said...

Super Bowl

Doesn't sound like a sporting event to me, more like a gimmicky attempt to make TV cookery more interesting.

you will all be dropping off soon to watch it

No, more that if I watch it, I'll drop off.

5 February 2012 at 19:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Albert: Thanks for your clarification on Catholic priests. That's what I broadly meant but didn't express it particularly well as I was already heading to Peter and Paul in my head!

I think your criticism that the qualifications make my definitions too fuzzy are quite right. In part this is because I have been trying to express two different categories: one (formal apostolic priesthood from parish to pope) which is readily expressed in terms of its clear structure. The other is essentially that which is moved by the Spirit. We all agree on the fruits of the Spirit, and can even name them, but trying to define every possible permutation and possibility evades us, and runs the risk of reducing down God's work in us.

In that sense, it is like comparing an attitude towards teaching and pastorship that by its nature does not try to build hierarchies but rather tries to express Grace interrelationally between people; and another which expresses Grace through obedience within clearly defined social and spiritual organisations. I hope I'm not coming across as raising one of these on a pedestal over the other. Nor do I want to give the impression that I'm arguing for a liberal "anything goes".

Whether the teaching comes fraternally or from a person in authority, I would expect it to attest to the same Truth, the same regard for the authority of Scripture, and the same Gospel that has defined the Church since its foundation.

But really, when it boils down to the practicalities the working of the Holy Spirit is obvious to a fellow Christian who is also infilled with the Holy Spirit.

In the case of Apollos & Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos could have conceivably refused to have been corrected - but that would have been pride on his part. Priscilla and Aquila could have used the opportunity to publically rebuke him, and thus advance their own social position, but that would have been divisive and prideful on their part - especially as Apollos was not teaching heresy. Neither party needed to be told not to do these things, because both parties were under the authority of the Holy Spirit. In that sense, when I talk about pastorship, I don't mean something defined in a primarily legalistic way, but something that derives from our relationship with God. That the Holy Spirit ministers through those who submit to Him for the sake of those who have been Saved.

5 February 2012 at 20:17  
Blogger Albert said...

That's very nicely put Belfast. The distinction between shall we say a purely charismatic ministry and a hierarchical (i.e. with authority) is important. The Church needs both I think, and both are found in the NT. There women can do the former, but not the latter, and that seems to me to be right. It's worth pointing out that whether one is Catholic or Protestant, the greatest role ever given one who responds to the Gospel is that of a woman: Mary.

5 February 2012 at 20:22  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Dodo; You forget, we know that your nest is in Dean St. Soho.
By your recolections of your work experience in that region we know your approximate age. Going by that, you should be bald by now.

5 February 2012 at 20:25  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Albert: One day I'll manage to be concise; you sum it up perfectly.

I've come to genuinely lament the loss not only of Mary but of the body of Saints in the spiritual outlook of mainstream Protestantism.

5 February 2012 at 20:29  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Belfast said ...

"I agree that if one sees the modern priesthood (as say in the Roman Catholic Church) as being the inheritors of role of the Priests of Israel, then it becomes extremely hard to justify the admission of women ..."

That isn't quite the Catholic objection. It is based not only on the biblical complimentariness of the genders but also on the role of the priest in representing Christ in the sacraments.

Catholics believe Christ established the Eucharist and an Apostolic Priesthood at the Last Supper. It was the Apostles too who first received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Are we accusing Christ of sexism? He chose only men to share the secrets of His ministry with.

A woman cannot symbolise being Christ the Groom; neither the supernatural Headship (as reference point and absolute origin, not superiority - like the Father to the Son and Holy Spirit in the Trinity). It is not a put-down of the abilities of a woman. It is the lack of spiritual symbolism in being a woman of the specific Man Jesus Christ Who as a man is Priest, Head to the Body, Groom to the Bride, Son to the Father, Father of the World to Come.

A woman can of course symbolise the Body and the Bride of Christ and she does, and Mary is the Woman and the symbol of the Church in its highest.

That is why Christ chose only men to attend the Last Supper where He established the Eucharist and Priesthood. And that is how the Church took it from the beginning with the ordination of gentile men while the Apostles were still alive and refraining from having priestesses.

This sacramental awareness of the Priesthood also checks the political understanding of Church leadership as primarily a position of power. It is a position of authority: kingship, Priesthood - the sanctifying role of offering the sacrifice and prophecy - teaching with God's authority God's Mind on things, as service to the flock, not as power in society.

Of course, Protestants deny this. The minister is chosen on the basis of a community's evaluation of his talents and functions towards their needs; they go to him for that and remove him when they don't see the results they want.

In that understanding of ministry it really would be male chauvinism to insist on excluding women on principle or because that's the way it always was done in the past (traditionalism rather than Tradition).

So, at the heart of this is a view about the Church, its mission and its sacramental system. The 'via media' has contained this differance for 400 years. The need to balance Catholicism, Lutheranism and Puritanism was a political necessity thento avoid civilwar . It is no longer.

5 February 2012 at 20:32  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl said ...

" ... the Super Bowl - by common acclamation the world's biggest sporting event of the year."

Er, I take it you mean by acclamation of the common.

5 February 2012 at 20:37  
Blogger Larks Tongues in Aspic said...

Thank you gentlemen for a timely reminder of the unattractiveness of Christianity.

5 February 2012 at 20:55  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

I've come to genuinely lament the loss not only of Mary but of the body of Saints in the spiritual outlook of mainstream Protestantism.

Then, may I commend to you,
this sermon
of a young Anglican clergyman: John Henry Newman. Written long before he had worries about converting, in fact written before he embarked upon Anglo-catholicism. Written simply as a Bible believing Christian reflecting on Mary. It opened my eyes.

5 February 2012 at 21:14  
Blogger Flossie said...

Some of the posters here appear to have a better grasp of theology than some bishops in the C of E. One well-known blogging bishop has today described opposition to women bishops as 'discrimination' in the sense that it is unfair. For crying out loud!

5 February 2012 at 21:30  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Larks

Just for you - to lighten your mood.

Four Catholic ladies are having coffee together.

The first one tells her friends, "My son is a priest. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him 'Father'.

The second Catholic woman chirps, "My son is a bishop. Whenever he walks into a room, people say, 'Your Grace'."

The third Catholic woman says smugly, "My son is a cardinal. Whenever he walks into a room, people say, 'Your Eminence'."

The fourth Catholic woman sips her coffee in silence. The first three women give a subtle "Well...?"

She replies, "My son is a gorgeous, 6'2", hard-bodied stripper... Whenever he walks into a room, people say, 'Oh my God...'."

5 February 2012 at 21:35  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Albert: Thanks for the link, I've long been a fan of Newman, who succeeded in reversing much of the anti-Catholicism with which I had grown up, even if he could not ultimately get me to cross the Tiber.

@Dodo: Might I ask what place you envisage for a married couple being called to ministry in the sacramentally and symbolically continent argument you make? I don't say this to get at you via clerical celibacy (it's a foolish Christian indeed that scorns celibacy); but rather because it seems to me that there is rather a lot of scope in your complementarian view for the kind of pastorship exhibited by married couples in the early Church, and yet no such scope in the present day Roman Church.

5 February 2012 at 21:39  
Blogger Albert said...

You are unusually gracious Belfast.

even if he could not ultimately get me to cross the Tiber.

Never say never. Years ago, if someone had told me I would become a Catholic, I would have laughed in his face. Thanks be to God, that wasn't the end of it. Becoming a Catholic has changed my life in the most wonderful and joyful ways. It's why I'm such an untiring defender of my adopted Church: I feel she deserves it, for the joy she has given me. But it does still surprise me when I think where I have come from!

5 February 2012 at 21:56  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Belfast

There is no theological objection to married priests within Catholicism. I understand the arguments both for and against and can see advantages and disadvantages in marraige and in celibacy.

When I was a lad the priest was always assisted by a Sister and that seemed right; a good balance. Plus there were various Church groups for women and for men with different tasks. Sadly, times have changed and not only have vocations for nuns dropped, so too has the practice of parish groups as outreach bodies.

I do think women have a really important role in the Church but not necessarily as wives of priests of as mothers of their children.

5 February 2012 at 22:06  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dodo:

Thank you for a timely reminder of the point I opened with, but have gradually lost sight of; that God calls men and women alike to diverse fulfilment in accordance with His design.

5 February 2012 at 22:50  
Blogger martin sewell said...

Albert, I think we are all looking at the " puzzling reflections in a mirror" as we try to find consistency and clarity in the historic record.

I agree with Carl that the numbers game is not a conclusive intellectual argument either way: I don't suggest it does but some do imply that only the " conservative" Churches avoid decline and that is demonstrably false - though good luck to anyone sharing the good news!

In the Rochester Diocese, the Synod debate ( voting in favour) was characterised by a careful respectful generous discussion which pressages well if that example is followed elsewhere.

Albert's ref to 1Corinthians 15 is only part of the story. This was written before the Gospels which we know and delivered to a specific Church in a local context.

We have to remember that the Canon was agreed centuries later also in a context.

Paul has to reference his resurrection experience because it is his only claim to authority ( never having been a Disciple).
Oddly, he never refers to the earliest appearances to the women, which raises questions. Did he know of them? Was he suppressing them? Did he reference them in letters we do not have through loss or suppression of others?

Let us also acknowledge that the Gospel record of those experiences are inconsistent.

Building a picture from such sources is not easy and we should be generous towards those who honestly interpret these texts in a different manner to ourselves.

How we manage sincere difference may be more important than any issue of contention.

5 February 2012 at 23:11  
Blogger David B said...

Why do people call the church a Christian church when, judging from many of the comments I read, a Pauline church would be much more apposite?

David B

5 February 2012 at 23:33  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Well there have been a lot of comments since my last visit. I probably won’t be able to respond to all of it, but here’s my best go:
Albert: 1. I am basically referring to the taking up of Christianity as state religion, as well as the influence of Constantine earlier in that century which caused Christianity to move to a centralised structure, whilst beforehand there had been five patriarchs.
2. You make the key point when you use the word identified- i.e. it already existed. The canon of scripture long existed and was identified by the church in various times and places. There were indeed a multitude of (slightly) varying canon lists from earlier on in the chuch, one of the earliest being in a letter of Polycarp. I am arguing against authoritative tradition, and there was no authoritative tradition needed to identify the canon- the canon is simply a function of inspiration.
MrIntegrity: You are right of course. My original post was graceless, rude and condescending. For that I apologise to all to whom it was directed.
Dodo: Firstly, I reiterate my apology for the rudeness and gracelessness of my original comment (not to mention the factual error).
On the substance of your points: 1. Nowhere in scripture is it said that tradition should not be used. Everyone has traditions. However, nowhere in scripture is tradition elevated to the level of scripture. We see clearly that whilst Jesus has a very high view of scripture (saying it cannot be broken) he frequently transgresses Jewish tradition, never suggesting it has any elevated position in his mind except insofar as it accords with scripture.
2. Matthew 16 has been written about variously in terms of exegesis. Many have posited that the rock in question is Peter’s confession of Christ, given the differences between the two words (Petros and Petra) and their meaning. I think this is how it is best understood. Even if it were referring to Peter, that simply would prove that Peter would be instrumental in the growth and development of the early church, and cannot prove anything about apostolic succession or Petrine primacy. And yes, I have read Acts.
3. In the apostolic age, the church was taught and grown by the apostles. The apostles wrote or supervised the writing of scripture. This lead to what we have now, and scripture being are authoritative norm. As for the canon of scripture, the question of the deuterocanonical books, for example, was an open question up until the 15th c., with men of all denominations disagreeing on their nature.
4. On the nature of the denominations, the article I linked to explains the distinctions being made. If you wish to use the inaccurate denominations figure that you used, then you have to accept a multiplicity of RCC “denominations”, which rather undermines the claim of being one true church. Barrett breaks things down into traditions, which is more helpful because there may be a hair’s breadth between many denominations, if anything at all.
5. No, protestants accept no universal church authority except Christ Jesus, and no authoritative rule of faith and practice except the word of God. I do not see this as a problem.

6. I think it your comparisons miss the mark you wish to hit because they are not disagreements of Biblical interpretation but simply a refusal to listen to the Bible. On the issue of homosexual practice, complementarianism, the truth of the incarnation and the resurrection, the wrongness of abortion and divorce, the scripture is totally clear, and theological liberalism doesn’t even attempt to argue the point from scripture, arguing from culture rather than anything else. And if you are going to argue for the perspicuity of the Magisterium (which seems logically necessary for a RC) then why not that of Scripture.

5 February 2012 at 23:46  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

... continued:


7. When you compare the traditions you mention with the Roman Catholic Church, you are comparing apples and oranges, insofar as the RCC may be one institution but it also has these various traditions. Indeed, most of the traditions you mention are not denominational but rather cross denominational boundaries. There is not a neo-orthodox denomination, after all. The Roman Catholic Church has various competing doctrinal strains, and has its own share of theological conservatives and liberals, pietists and moderns, charismatics and cessationists etc. etc. It may be one institution, but if this is all its unity then it seems to be solely a unity of bureaucracy.

Looking at the history of the RCC one can see large doctrinal debates, for example between Dominicans, Jansenists and Jesuits in the 16th-17th C.

5 February 2012 at 23:46  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

This whole issue, in my opinion, is yet another indication of the infiltration of secular values into Christianity. The issue properly is not about 'equality' or even 'ability'. 'Equal opportunities' is not biblical. God chooses who He wills.

The problem for the Church of England seems to me to be the concession to women as priests. If women priests then why not women bishops?

The Vatican's teaching is clear and definitive, based on the actions of Jesus and on constant Church practice:

"In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behavior, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time."

"In fact the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles attest that this call was made in accordance with God's eternal plan; Christ chose those whom he willed (cf. Mk 3:13-14; Jn 6:70), and he did so in union with the Father, "through the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12). Therefore, in granting admission to the ministerial priesthood, the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord's way of acting in choosing the twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church (cf. Rv 21:14). These men did not in fact receive only a function which could thereafter be exercised by any member of the Church; rather they were specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself (cf. Mt 10:1, 7-8; 28:16-20; Mk 3:13-16; 16:14-15). The Apostles did the same when they chose fellow workers who would succeed them in their ministry. Also included in this choice were those who, throughout the time of the Church, would carry on the Apostles' mission of representing Christ the Lord and Redeemer."

"Furthermore, the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe."
(ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS)

5 February 2012 at 23:47  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Martin Sewell: well said; we are none of us likely to be pleasing God if we cannot exercise generosity of spirit to our fellow brothers and sisters.

@David B: in short, because Paul defined much of the early doctrine of the Church.

"Pauline" is often used in a pejorative sense both within and without the Church, but its worth noting that it is from Paul that the fundamental (and never before expressed) notions of unity and equality in Christ derive. It was Paul who defended the place of Gentiles in the Church (despite not being one himself). And it was Paul who wrote these words, which for me define precisely the nature and the foundation of my faith:

" If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
" (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

The idea that Paul writes in a "difficult" way is hardly new. The author of 2 Peter recognised that his epistles were particularly prone to being twisted (2 Peter 3:15-17). Christians must reconcile the writer who wrote so much that we can all agree on, with the same writer who wrote much that the world scorns. This is, quite simply, a matter of things cohering and holding together in the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:17). If we cannot accept the God who called Saul to be Paul, if we reject the Spirit within one of the earliest converts to Christianity, then we have denied the very basis of our Faith, and we have denied the capacity of God to save. In that sense, it seems in hindsight to be entirely apposite that God should use a repentant persecutor to shape the earliest doctrines of His Church. I can think of no finer testimony to the salvation to be found in Christ :)

6 February 2012 at 00:16  
Blogger martin sewell said...

Dodo, The word apostle comes from the Greek word which can be rendered as " messenger".

The Gospel accounts of the resurrection have women as the first witnesses of the risen Christ: they are commissioned to take the news of the resurrection to the disciples and thereby become the first Apostles. Does one ignore the significance of that choice when seeking the mind of Christ as to who may preach Christ risen from the dead, and whose testimony may be trusted on things needful for spreading the good news?

Does Paul's choices trump Jesus' ? I doubt anyone would assert that.

Yet that honour might be seen as another sign ( after Mary' s choice of obedience ) of the expiation of Eve's sin. By her initiative the world fell, so by Jesus trust ( cf also the betraying Peter) the old way of looking at women is overturned and they become the first agents of the Good News/ New Life .

6 February 2012 at 00:25  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Thomas Keningley

No need to apologise to me. I'm not known for being too gracious and I'dsooner youspeak your mind than feigning politeness.

Of course within the Catholic Church there are theological differances. It is made up of people grappling with the mystery of God. However, as I said and I'll repeatt:

Catholicism is one Church, with one Magisterium, one Cathecism, one sacramental structure and one set of doctrines.

When divisions reach a point wwhere unity is threatened or the matter is significant, a clear position is adopted. Its hardly 'bureaucratic' to be clear on issues such as the Incarnation, the Divinity of Christ and His Resurrection'; or to have a clear position on abortion, divorce, contraception and homosexuality. Granted, many protestant groups show distinct signs of anarchy in these areas.

Whatever you make of Matthew 16, and I wont discuss it further here, the relevant line is:

"And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."

Pretty clear to me that Christ appointed Apostles - all male -, gave them a leader and gave His Church authority to act on His behalf until He returned.

6 February 2012 at 00:26  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

martin sewell

Who's disputing women the first to the empty tomb? But waht does it show? I would not give it the theological significance you do.

Were women present at the Last Supper when the priesthood and Eucharist was established?

Were women in the Upper Room at Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit?

Do you ignore the commission given by Christ to His disciples - all men?

Do you ignore Christ's choice of His Apostles to whom He revealed His mission?

6 February 2012 at 00:36  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

David B

Don't be ridiculous!

Why not return to your atheist site as you have nothing of worth to contribute here -just mischief making. You don't believe in God, so how can you possibly comment with any honesty or integrity on His Church?

6 February 2012 at 00:42  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

This must be the most informed and pleasant debate I have ever read on this site. I come away feeling I have actually learned something.

Also Inspector, on the anti-biotics discussion I read briefly: the drug your dentist probably wanted to prescribe is metronidazole. Apart from killing anaerobic bacteria it supposedly blocks acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (the enzyme that turns hangover causing ethanal into harmless ethanoic acid) thus giving you massive hangover like symptoms whenever you drink alcohol. Whether this actually happens is up for debate so I hear. Other alcohol antibiotic reactions mainly lead to sedation. As to other interactions Mr Integrity that would depend on what the antibiotic is and what else you're taking. Some of them are pretty nasty so it's good to check them out first.

6 February 2012 at 00:43  
Blogger outsider said...

As an outsider (heretic not atheist), I apologise for commenting. It is not for me to comment on the helpful theological debate above. But may I draw to your attention that this is a classic case of Marxist economic determinism in its broadest sense.
The theological debate is many centuries old. It came to the boil only because falling numbers shriveled CoE resources. Stipends fell to the smallest proportion of pay in other graduate callings since the CoE began. Eventually they fell below a level where enough family men of sufficient quality could be recruited to become professional vicars. The Church had to rely on the second rate, on men who preferred to remain unmarried and on those for whom it was a secondary income.
Women were simply much cheaper, quality for quality, and the thinking of church/society adapted to that need.
As in the wider world of work, once women (or other sources of initially cheap labour) became indispensible, they inevitably demanded equality of pay and career progression.
Rightly or wrongly, that is, I think, why the balance of an eternal theological debate shifted within the hierarchy. Economic realities do not change the debate, only the outcome.

6 February 2012 at 03:09  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

"The Church of England has traditionally shown itself to be adaptable to changing social customs and mores."

That must explain why the CofE churches are packed to the rafters every Sunday...

6 February 2012 at 07:34  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

Does this mean that they will have to think of a new name for Bishoprics?

6 February 2012 at 07:35  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Dodo:

Well hopefully it should be possible to speak my mind graciously. I leave it to God to judge whether or not this is feigned.


I could argue the exact same thing about Protestantism- that it is filled with sinful people trying to sit at Jesus feet and be taught by Him and His word, therefore theological disagreements are bound to arise.

In what way is the position adopted by the RCC on the issues you mention more clear than the Bible’s? If it isn’t, then why do you say that sola scriptura has led to the great division amongst us, rather than sinfulness and the invasion of modernism, as could well be an accurate analysis. I see no ambiguity within scriptural teaching on the moral issues you mention apart from contraception, on which I think the RCC is incorrect. You don’t hear liberal Anglicans arguing for no bodily Resurrection from scripture, but rather from the fact that it is, according to their naturalistic presuppositions, impossible. There are also a large number of RCs who disagree with the Church’s position on these issues- now you can say they are no true Catholics, but why can’t I say the same for Protestants who deny the Biblical teaching on this matter?

Well I don’t know how you get from there that His church was to have authority- at most it is saying the apostles have that authority, and the nature of that authority is once again a matter for exegetical dispute. Nevertheless, I agree with you that women should not be appointed pastors, though not for the reasons you give. Passages such as 1 Tim 2 give a far more clear argument than that from the Apostles’ gender.

6 February 2012 at 07:48  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

Why did heaven ordain that there be two sexes?why should the moon not be allowed to shine during the daytime?

6 February 2012 at 08:40  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Read some of the posts and then decided "Sod it, I'll post without reading the rest".

Pro-women:
Mary Magdalene first person to see the risen Christ. Also first person to go and tel people about it.
Paul appointed Lydia as a church leader by virtue of the fact he set up a church in her house (house owner always a leader at the time).
Paul writes that we are all equal under Christ.

Anti-women:
No female apostles (at least among the 12).
2000 years of traditionally male-led Church
Paul writes several times about women being under male authority

Ok, so that's a fairly simplistic representation, but I think it covers the basics. However, for me the pro stance is far more Biblically sound and, especially after having heard a talk by Bishop Graham Cray about it, as a result I am in favour of women in leadership, at all levels.

That said, the way that WATCH and others have been towards those who disagree with them has been disgusting. They seem very eager to jump all over their deeply held convictions and tell them that they do not belong (at least figuratively, if not literally) in a rabid attack on a tradition they do not like. And when they are in sight of "victory" do they show Christian compassion? No, they say they want it all and throw 2 fingers up at their "enemies" and say that they really don't care what they believe because it doesn't fit with their own worldview.

Because of this I am against the voting in of Women Bishops because, if we really are a broad church, we should be trying to find a way for all to co-exist as best they can.

And regarding Your Grace's comment of "you either are...or you're not" I would suggest that we already have a situation where women are considered priests by some and not by others, so it can surely work for bishops too.

6 February 2012 at 09:21  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Thomas Keningley

My initial thoughts on reading your post was that there is a difference between knowing the bible and understanding it.

We are agreed the church, whatever the denomination, has sinful members - aren't we all sinners? The issue is man's capacity to justify sin and to convince himself what he's doing is consistent with the bible. Isn't that a very real problem for 'sola scriptura' and for the individualistic approach of many prostentant sects?

The Catholic Church is clear because it is based on the authority we believe was given to it by Christ. If you read any of the Encylicals defining doctrine you will see they are all based on scripture and on the Tradition of the Church.

As a Catholic I would never presume to claim my understanding of the bible is superior to the Church's. That's the real difference. If I disagree with the Church's teachings then effectively I put myself outside of its membership and cannot partake in its sacraments.

I quess, in part, it comes down to who you believe Jesus was addressing when He said:

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."

The Holy Spirit was sent first to the Apostles in the Upper Room.

Isn't the whole bible potentially a matter for "exegetical dispute"? Indeed, since the days of the early Church the nature of Christ and His mission has been the source of theological disagreement.

After His resurrection didn't Jesus ask Peter to represent Him on earth as the 'Good Shephard' until His return?

"Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."


And my position on the ordination of woman is principally connected with their priestly mission as outlined in an earlier post.

6 February 2012 at 11:57  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Dodo: Yes, I am agreed that everyone in the church is a forgiven sinner. And people will often try to justify their sin to themselves. It is the job of the (local) church to faithfully teach the scriptures, that men may be convicted of their sin and run to Christ for forgiveness, and seek to change by the power of the Holy Spirit. Some protestant sects are individualistic, leading to an aberrant position known as solo scriptura, i.e. “‘s just me and ma Bible.” This is not historic Protestantism. We value the vital role of the fellowship of believers in teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness through the scriptures.

I don’t see why the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching and encyclicals should be any clearer than Scripture. All verbal communication is open to exegetical dispute, but sensible people recognise that words can communicate meaning. Furthermore, the Bible gives its own interpretive context: “Scripture interprets scripture”. A concrete e.g. being where John the Baptist says “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” We might have many exegetical disputes about the meaning of “Lamb”, “God”, “Sin” and “World”, but by looking at the immediate context, the whole book of John, all Johannine literature and the Bible as a whole we can define these things and so understand what John is on about. The clarification of Scripture comes from within Scripture itself.

As a Protestant I seek to make sure my understanding of the scripture is not ahistorical, and that I am not being idiosyncratic but rather am in line with tradition. The difference is that I recognise the possibility of the church and of our tradition being incorrect, it having been formulated by men sinful like myself, and so I am open to the possibility of even great saints getting things wrong.

I agree that the Spirit was sent first to the Apostles, and one of His purposes in their particular case was to remind them of the things Christ had said. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Obviously this cannot apply any longer, as one can only remember things one has already seen. I believe that this was done that they may write or supervise the writing of Scripture.

Jesus did tell Peter to feed his sheep. This is not equivalent though to representing him on Earth until he returned. Peter was to feed Christ’s sheep- they are still Christ’s sheep, after all! But this doesn’t establish anything more than a pastoral role for Peter, the same as any presbyter today (though of course he also had a vital role as Apostle, but that isn’t what Jesus is referring to here).

My position on female preaching is based on my view on the complementarity of the genders, not to mention the explicit teaching of 1 Timothy.

6 February 2012 at 12:22  
Blogger martin sewell said...

I think folk are using the term disciple and apostle interchangeably: although those well versed can probably figure out the meaning I am sure some will be confused.

The 12 Disciples -all men
70. (2?) Disciples unspecified but likely all men
Apostles -plainly includes women.

I am not making any point here but is that a fair clarification?

6 February 2012 at 13:30  
Blogger Albert said...

Youthpasta,

Mary Magdalene first person to see the risen Christ. Also first person to go and tel people about it.

Why is this significant? What is the premiss that enables you to move to ordination? In fact, MM was not the first to believe, she's actually rather slow and needs more convincing than Thomas. Her commission is limited, not universal. Nothing in the NT indicates she was recognised as an apostle.

(house owner always a leader at the time)

This is supposition which is contradicted by the evidence. There are examples of churches meeting in the houses of pagans (I can't remember where). We can assume that if there was a common practice of the head of the house being the leader, it was qualified by other factors. In the light of the whole of Paul's corpus, gender was likely to be one.

Paul writes that we are all equal under Christ.

Where does he say that?

Why do you think the maleness of the 12 can be so easily dismissed?

6 February 2012 at 13:36  
Blogger Albert said...

Martin,

Oddly, he never refers to the earliest appearances to the women, which raises questions. Did he know of them? Was he suppressing them? Did he reference them in letters we do not have through loss or suppression of others?

No, I think it is quite straight forward: he didn't mention the women because they were not apostles.

Apostles -plainly includes women.

Evidence?

6 February 2012 at 13:40  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

Some confusion there, I think:

1. I am basically referring to the taking up of Christianity as state religion, as well as the influence of Constantine earlier in that century which caused Christianity to move to a centralised structure, whilst beforehand there had been five patriarchs.

You were talking about the church coalescing. That can clearly take place without the state, and I cannot see that you have provided any evidence to the contrary. But what you have written here is simply wrong:

whilst beforehand there had been five patriarchs

Two of the five patriarchs (Jerusalem and Constantinople) were raised to patriarchal status as a result of state interference in the Fourth Century! The centralisation of that century was away from the Church and towards the Emperor. It tells us little about issues such as the papacy (except that the papacy became smaller in the 4th century as a result of the growing power of the state, and would only recover when the state declined in the West - exactly the opposite of what you seem to be saying).

2. You make the key point when you use the word identified- i.e. it already existed. The canon of scripture long existed and was identified by the church in various times and places. There were indeed a multitude of (slightly) varying canon lists from earlier on in the chuch, one of the earliest being in a letter of Polycarp. I am arguing against authoritative tradition, and there was no authoritative tradition needed to identify the canon- the canon is simply a function of inspiration.

It's pretty obvious that tradition pre-existed scripture, since scripture is based on tradition (e.g. 1 Cor.11). Then it is by tradition that we know which books are scripture and which are not. This is not to say that scripture gets its authority from tradition (it's the Word of God!), it's to say, we need tradition in order to know what's in and what's not.

6 February 2012 at 13:49  
Blogger Albert said...

My mistake, Jerusalem was raised to Patriarchal status in the Fifth Century. Though this rather supports the position I am taking.

6 February 2012 at 13:53  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo @ 1854:

''Was she in the Upper Room or at the Last Supper?''

Well old Leonardo appears to have considered the possibility; unless he was just a crap painter, that is?

I reckon he was a part of this self-same debate; we are in illustrious company!

General: there is much interesting discussion here, of the nature of the early Church; laced amidst the usual gratuitous insult and ya-boo-suckings of certain yahoos. I join with Lakester91, in thanking those who sought to address in a scholarly manner; I've enjoyed reading many of the posts, notwithstanding the occasional too strong partisan assertions.

6 February 2012 at 15:09  
Blogger Albert said...

Oswin,

No, it's St John. He is often painted as a feminine looking youth. See
here
.

6 February 2012 at 16:25  
Blogger Oswin said...

Albert: I know who it is supposed to be; but really, one can't help wondering... :o)

Whatever/whomever, I feel sure that da Vinci was making some sort of point here; but as to what point, I'm not at all sure.

6 February 2012 at 16:54  
Blogger Albert said...

I thought you probably were just trying to wind Dodo up, but I thought I'd reply, just in case!

6 February 2012 at 17:05  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Oswin

Come now, the odd "gratuitous insult and ya-boo-sucking" and "partisan assertion" is okay. It makes it all a bit more interesting and entertaining too. We're not the General Synod and I suspect the quality of these exchanges are friendlier than some that will take place there. And, considering our denominational differences, that is an achievement!

Oh, and don't go getting all Dan Brownesque. Stict with science fiction rather than religio-fiction.

6 February 2012 at 17:10  
Blogger Oswin said...

Albert: just a thought here, as I've not researched this point beyond a quick trawl through the net: but are feminine representations of St. John, pre, or post da Vinci's version? Are they influenced by Leonardo; thus the effeminacy?

The few I've seen pre-dating da Vinci, are not nearly so markedly feminine; some being decidedly ugly. As I say, just a thought ...

6 February 2012 at 17:15  
Blogger Albert said...

Oswin,

Sorry, I know next to nothing about the history of art, but if you mean, does this tell us something about Leonardo's sexuality, I suspect you are not the first to ask that question!

6 February 2012 at 17:37  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo @ 17:10:

Oddly enough, I actively enjoy learning from the scholarly discourse of others; it still gives me a 'buzz' even at my age.

'Entertainment' aside, I'm really not interested in a lot of partisan 'piss & wind' - there's rather more to life than bald statements of supposed 'fact'.

As for Dan-bloody-Brown, do we really need him to point out that an Apostle looks remarkably like an attractive, and decidedly feminine female?


Albert @ 17:05 : as if I would!
Anyhows, that's the bit that Dodo professes to enjoy, poor Duck. ;o)

6 February 2012 at 17:41  
Blogger Oswin said...

Albert: :o) I was trying not to 'go there' specifically; merely pointing out, without any real knowledge of the subject, that Leonardo might have influenced later artists, with his feminine representation of St. John, perhaps?

As for fancying 'pretty boys': is that the same as fancying pretty-boys who are feminine to the point of others 'arguing the difference', as it were? Or was Leonardo making an altogether different point; possibly as others have done so here?

Thank you for raising the question, and for your painting link; it gave food for thought!

6 February 2012 at 18:01  
Blogger Albert said...

Oswin,

I think this has all got a bit beyond me. I leave these kinds of technical questions to Dodo. ;-)

6 February 2012 at 18:15  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Albert and Oswin

The bible does suggest John had unique and special qualities. I've always seen him as the most sensitive of the Apostles and certainly the most spiritually imaginative. His Gospel is poetic and mystical and shows a mind of a high and delicately refined nature.
It seems to me he, more than the other Gospel writers, captured Christs love for us and His suffering.

6 February 2012 at 18:26  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Ps

Let no one suggest anything untoward in John's behaviour or his relationship with Christ. He may have been more delicate looking, who knows? There has always been a degree of homo-erotic speculatiom about him. Disgusting and coming from perverted minds!

6 February 2012 at 18:31  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo. The Inspector is pleased your plump fowl avatar is back !

6 February 2012 at 18:42  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Plump, Sir!? How dare you!

6 February 2012 at 18:45  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo @ 18:31 : who was suggesting any such thing???

6 February 2012 at 19:51  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Oswin

Apologies for misunderstanding the direction of your discussion.

Some dispicable 'theologians' seeking to have homosexuality accepted, most notably an ex-Catholic Jesuit, have claimed that the interaction between Jesus and John was a pederastic relationship. Evidence also suggests that Leonardo Da Vinci was celibate and most probably homosexual.

6 February 2012 at 21:07  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Albert, please note I said it was simplistic. Plus I was outlining some of the arguments that ARE used. They are not necessarily my arguments, but they are ones that have been used.

6 February 2012 at 21:17  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

"Thomas Keningley" said...

"I don’t see why the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching and encyclicals should be any clearer than Scripture."

Men have for milennia disputed the meaning of passages in scripture. Clearly “Scripture interprets scripture” does not hold. As Christians we believe in the Incarnation and the Trinity, yet these doctrines took centuries to develop and are still not universally held. Indeed, in the end, they were made as authoritive teachings of Church Councils.

" ... I recognise the possibility of the church and of our tradition being incorrect, it having been formulated by men sinful like myself, and so I am open to the possibility of even great saints getting things wrong."

Even the Church when acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? We're back once again to Matthew
16 when Jesus promised:

"And I say to you: That you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

And have you deliberately missed out a key section from John to support your position? The full section points to additional knowledge and not just what Jesus had already said:

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."

As you say, Jesus did tell Peter to feed his sheep. It is, according to Catholic understanding and the Church up to the Reformation, the Shepharding of Christ's flock until he returns in Glory. And, of course, they remain Christ's sheep and lambs.

6 February 2012 at 22:16  
Blogger len said...

Dodo, you keep repeating that' one phrase' like a mantra.Who are you trying to convince?.

There is of course only One Shepherd all the rest are' under shepherds'.

Jesus makes an interesting statement(John 10:27) 'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me'.

6 February 2012 at 23:29  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Chief Priest len

Wondered when you'd make a 'contribution'. Not much is it? Just another lame comment. Do you ever have anything to say?

Of course Jesus' sheep follow Him and listen to His voice. Of course the Church is subject is Christ. And your point is?

Pity you don't listen to Him instead of the false prophets and deceivers you follow and constantly promote here.

Jesus alsosaid:

"How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leads to life: and few there are that find it!"

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

6 February 2012 at 23:44  
Blogger len said...

Would God have left us at the mercy of any man or group of men to' interpret' scripture for us?.To do this they( the interpreters) would have had to deliberately withheld the Word of God from the 'common man'so that they were in a position to 'interpret scripture' for them. This would be an open invitation to control and manipulate people for their own purposes(human nature being what it is!)This would give those who claimed to have the 'Keys of Heaven the power of life and death over their 'subjects'. Ultimate control over the masses ( No pun intended)

Of course Jesus said He would sent the Holy Spirit to fulfil this very purpose of edifying the Body of Christ so that no man could gain control over His(Jesus`s) Church.

'As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him'( 1John 2:27)

'But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.(John 14:26)

There is a very clear warning not to add or to take away from the Scriptures(even if you call them 'your traditions')

Revelation 22:18-19
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.(Revelation 22:18-19

6 February 2012 at 23:56  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Thomas: Out of interest, could you cite an example of a protestant tradition/piece of exegesis which you believe to be wrong? Or a teaching of a "great saint"?

How is it you know them to be wrong?

7 February 2012 at 00:09  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

len

"For whereas for the time you ought to be masters, you have need to be taught again what are the first elements of the words of God: and you have become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat. For every one that is a partaker of milk is unskilful in the word of justice: for he is a little child. But strong meat is for the perfect: for them who by custom have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil."
(Hebrew 5:11)

7 February 2012 at 00:15  
Blogger len said...

Dodo, Your point being? (As illusive as ever)

I am a pretty plain speaking person if you have something to say..just say it!.
As long as you don`t descend to your(or the inspectors )usual level of crudeness.Do you speak to your Priest like that or do you put on a 'religious performance' for Him?.Just interested.

7 February 2012 at 00:20  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

len, rather than worrying about what Dodo thinks that passage means, tell us what you think it means. You've just made an argument that Tradition shouldn't be added to Scripture, and Dodo replied with Scripture.

7 February 2012 at 00:28  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Dodo 11.57

You said that if you disagree with the Church's teaching you effectively place yourself outside the Church and cannot partake of the sacraments.

Does this mean e.g. if one disagrees with the Church's ruling on contraception but does not actually practise contraception that one is excluded for having this opinion.

I cannot remember the exact quote but according to a previous quote in another post you made about St. Paul this would appear to be the case.

Did you not say that St Paul said if you lust after another in your mind you have already committed the act or something to this effect?

So I suppose this could apply to anything one thinks which is contrary to Church teaching.

Even you, must understand that it is highly unnatural to agree with every single precept that the Church or any governing body issues.

Tyrants and fascists
practise mind control...how can this be anything to do with Jesus..it all sounds like the fire blood and guts of the Old Testament.

My understanding is that Jesus was sent to countermand all of this horror and show the world a new way of how to live.

A lot of readers here take your word (I do) for the way the Catholic Church operates. I hope you have got it right.

7 February 2012 at 01:04  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

len

I'll let Scripture speak to you about understanding the word of God and how this needs to be approached.

In the Bible there are two kinds of religious tradition - human and divine. When Christ accused the Pharisees He was referring to precepts of men" (Mark 7:7), i.e. to their human traditions and probably to the Talmud which was emerging as more important to Scripture.

Christ wanted divine tradition preserved and honored because He made it part and parcel of the Christian deposit of faith - as the Paul affirmed: "Stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle."
(2 Thess. 2:14).

This divine tradition to which Paul refers - this revealed truth which was handed down by word rather than by letter - is the tradition upon which, along with Sacred Scripture, the Catholic Church bases her tenets of faith - as the Christian Fathers affirmed. St. Augustine wrote: "These traditions of the Christian name, therefore, so numerous, so powerful, and most dear, justly keep a believing man in the Catholic Church."

The New Testament itself is a product of Christian tradition. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any mention of a New Testament.

Catholics recognize that the Bible repudiates your opinion. The true "rule of faith", as expressed in the Bible, is that Scripture plus Apostolic Tradition represents Christ;s message. This is expressed through the Church, entrusted to spread the oral teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly.

The Bible was composed so we can be helped to believe Jesus is the Messiah. It does not say the Bible is all we need for salvation, much less that the Bible is all we need for theology; nor does it say the Bible is even necessary to believe in Christ. After all, the earliest Christians had no New Testament to which they could appeal; they learned from oral, rather than written, instruction. Until relatively recent times, the Bible was inaccessible to most people, either because they could not read or because the printing press had not been invented. All these people learned from oral instruction, passed down, generation to generation, by the Church.

7 February 2012 at 01:04  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Cressida

I'm not speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church! Please do not place that burden on me as I; sure many would agree I'm a pretty poor representative.

To try and address your questions:

Catholics are bound to internally consent to clear and infallibly stated Church dogma and doctrine e.g. Christ is the Incarnate Son of God, Mary was born without Original Sin (Immaculate Conception) etc.

They are required to comply with the Church's teachings on sin e.g. no contraception, no sex outside of marriage etc, even if they don't fully understand the prohibitions. They do not necessarily have to agree.

It was Jesus who pointed out that sin starts in the heart and mind, not St Paul. Most Christians understand this as meaning the nourishing of these desires rather than experiencing the every day temptations that beset us all.

So you see you can agree or disgree with quite a lot of Catholicism and people do.

Hope this helps.

7 February 2012 at 01:20  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Dodo...so what you are saying is that it is not a sin to disagree with the Church's teachings .

What puzzles me is the internal lie. My understanding and possibly one of the few redeeming but important features of Catholicism is its relentless pursuit of conscience and the truth. e.g. you can lie to everyone and possibly fool everybody but you cannot lie to omniescent God. I think this is a very good and healthy strategy to instil in everyone.

However it comes asunder when you are behaving in one way and thinking in another.If your conscience is telling you that something is wrong ( I believe this is God speaking to you) and the Church is saying that it is right then I think the morally correct and truly Christian thing to do is to leave the Church.

Living a lie is the antithesis of truth.
"I am the way the truth and the light"

The Church is comprised and governed by flawed humans who make mistakes all the time.

I realise that there are those who devote entire lives of study to theology etc but the simple point I'm making is anything to do with human involvement is riddled with errors.

Unquestioning belief in anything is so old testament and dangerous...sacrifice your son on the altar and prepare him for death...monstrous concept..at the age of 8 I saw this God as an evil presence and Abraham as despicable and gutless.

The new testamnet came as a welcome relief after this in religious lessons.

7 February 2012 at 02:03  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Cressida, I'll leave others better qualified to answer your questions about Catholic teaching.

But I'm intrigued by your 8-year-old self's point (we should never stop engaging with the 8-year-old in all of us). Do you think that God ever intended Isaac to be offered on the altar?

As an "omniscient God", He was surely already certain that He would stop any such sacrifice from taking place; that is to say, He wasn't caught out or taken by surprise by Abraham's fidelity.

Which rather leaves us to ask why God should desire Abraham to "go through the motions" so to speak. There are lots of reasons, but might I ask a question about how it relates to the central issue of the New Testament (which is always a welcome relief to me too!)? Isn't there something a little familiar about the sacrifice of a Son, and the provision of the sacrificial Lamb by God at no cost to mankind?

Abraham didn't obey God out of madness or spinelessness, he obeyed God because he trusted that God's Will is good - he trusted that God would keep the Covenant He had made with Abraham. The really important thing that, it seems to me, the New Testament attests to is that God has always provided the Sacrifice. That the price He demands is the price He paid in full through His son Jesus.

7 February 2012 at 03:32  
Blogger Albert said...

Cressida,

None of this makes any sense, unless one realises that God is the First and highest Truth; that he speaks through his Church; that we do not have to understand what he says in order to believe it is right. I don't understand much mathematics, but I can believe it if someone who is qualified in the area tells me what the answer is, even if I can't see what the answer is, or think the answer is something else. It's not that God (or the Church) is expressing a private opinion, which is then imposed, it is that as the highest truth, he is the truth and speaks the truth.

7 February 2012 at 09:34  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Cressida

What really troubled me a young child was the idea that Jesus had to die because Adam eat an apple in the Garden of Eden! As a kid I was really taken with Jesus. Truthfully, it just seemed so disproportionate that His Father would require such brutal death to make amends for the piddling offence of eating an apple.

Then, as you get older, you slowly come to realise that Jesus was actually God, that His death was a self sacrifice, an act of love, as well as an atonement to the Godhead. That actually Adam's transgression opened up something much greater for people - becoming one with God through Jesus.

As a Catholic I have always questioned the Church's teachings. Actually, at school I was a real pain and as a young man not much better. Even now I still explore and try as best I can to fathom the reasons behind the Church's doctrines and teachings. Why do I have to do this and why not this?

Bottom line for me - I do all these things and believe all these things because I know in my heart that the Catholic Church is Christ's Mystical Body on earth and that it speaks the Truth because Jesus said it would. You probably think that's a bit lame.

However, in terms of working out what is right or wrong I never 'go it alone'. If I am unconmfortable with a particular doctrine or a particular interpretation of a commandment, I study what the Church teaches and why it has arrived at its position. I then read the counter-arguments - and there are plenty! Then I make up my own mind.

To date I do have some lingering questions about the Church's position on contraception and about divorce. I understand Her reasoning and have to say support it but .... even so, can't there be exceptions? Even the possibility of abortion when a mother's life is at certain risk makes me question.

However, I then go back to the bas=ic roots of Catholic theology and the reasoning behind their teachings and have to say I agree with them on all the above issues - as hard as it is for people facing those choices.

And even if I didn't, I'd still follow the Church because I know it's what Jesus Christ wants me to do and that the Church speaks on His behalf.

7 February 2012 at 11:00  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

len

I'll leave you to reflect on this passage from scripture and it's meaning. It just came to me as being appropriate for you.

"For whereas for the time you ought to be masters, you have need to be taught again what are the first elements of the words of God: and you have become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat. For every one that is a partaker of milk is unskilful in the word of justice: for he is a little child. But strong meat is for the perfect: for them who by custom have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil."
(Hebrew 5:11)

In answer you said:

"I am a pretty plain speaking person if you have something to say..just say it!.
As long as you don`t descend to your(or the inspectors )usual level of crudeness.Do you speak to your Priest like that or do you put on a 'religious performance' for Him?.Just interested."


Of course I don't address my Priest like this. In fact, I rarely address anyone this way outside of this blog! I do it with you to get and keep your attention. Why? Because I believe you're genuine in wanting to know and follow Jesus but have taken a seriously wrong turn following your conversion experience.

As I recall, Paul spent time with Peter after meeting Christ to develop his own understanding of the message. He'd met Christ but had to get to know Him. You're preoccupation with 'pastors' hostile to Catholicism and your evident confusion about some of the very basics in Christianity, is an indication of how unhelpful some of the material your base your faith on really is.

So, there it is. Take it or leave it.

7 February 2012 at 11:38  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert:

Indeed coalescing can happen before the state and the church became unified. However it seems evident, for example, from the NT that there was no centralised structure such as the RCC has today. There was certainly hierarchy, but the church looks less like an institution at this point and more like a movement. However as my knowledge of post-NT church history is sketchy, I defer to yours.

On the issue of the patriarchs- thank you for the correction there, apologies for getting my information wrong. Nonetheless, even having three Patriarchs does seem somewhat detrimental for the case of a central, Petrine authority (and indeed such does not seem to be particularly consonant with what we see either in Acts or Galatians).

“It's pretty obvious that tradition pre-existed scripture, since scripture is based on tradition (e.g. 1 Cor.11). Then it is by tradition that we know which books are scripture and which are not. This is not to say that scripture gets its authority from tradition (it's the Word of God!), it's to say, we need tradition in order to know what's in and what's not.”

I certainly do not doubt that tradition pre-existed scripture. But tradition was not a formalised Magisterium, but rather the content of the gospel. At the close of the Apostolic Age this tradition is completely superseded by Scripture. I reject the idea that we know by tradition which books are Scripture or not. God’s word is self-authenticating. But if it is by tradition that we know which books are Scripture then is this tradition infallible and authoritative?

If so: How do we know? What authentication can we have for this tradition? The church’s own is not good enough here, as it requires circular reasoning to establish this. And if the tradition is self-authenticating, then why can the Scripture not simply be self-authenticating?

If not: How do we know we have it right!?

Dodo:

"Men have for milennia disputed the meaning of passages in scripture. Clearly “Scripture interprets scripture” does not hold. As Christians we believe in the Incarnation and the Trinity, yet these doctrines took centuries to develop and are still not universally held. Indeed, in the end, they were made as authoritive teachings of Church Councils."

Men disputing scripture only confirms their own sinfulness, not a lack of clarity in Scripture. You haven’t dealt with my substantive point, which is this: what is qualitatively different about Encyclicals, tradition etc. that makes them perspicuous and unambiguous, while the Bible remains unclear? As for such doctrines, if you look at men such as Athanasius who had to defend the full deity of Christ against basically everyone then you see that he did so on the basis of scripture, not church authority.

"Even the Church when acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?"

How do we know when the Church is acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and when it’s being disobedient?

"We're back once again to Matthew
16 when Jesus promised:

"And I say to you: That you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.""

I do not consider doctrinal disagreement as the gates of hell prevailing against the church!

I agree that the clear implication of the passage from John you quote indicates additional knowledge to come, hence Acts, the Epistles and the Revelation, plus any fulfilments of prophecy etc of which they had not yet become aware of in the life of Jesus. Out of interest, however, if you believe that Scripture is not perspicuous then why bother quoting it to me?

7 February 2012 at 17:04  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

AnonymousinBelfast:
"Out of interest, could you cite an example of a protestant tradition/piece of exegesis which you believe to be wrong? Or a teaching of a "great saint"?

How is it you know them to be wrong?"

For example, Wesleyanism. Much as I admire John Wesley, I believe that his synergistic and Arminian teachings are inconsistent with the Bible. Particularly:

Prevenient grace is nowhere taught, leaving man unable to escape from his total depravity; the idea of election being conditional on faith is therefore unfeasible, and clearly contrasting to teachings in John 6,10, Romans 8,9, Ephesians 1 amongst others. I believe that it comes from his importing the foreign concept of Libertarian Free Will into the Bible.

7 February 2012 at 17:04  
Blogger martin sewell said...

Albert, Paul in his first Corinthian letter bases his authority as that of being one who was a witness to the resurrection. That is his only " claim to fame" and it's good enough for him to assert that on that basis he is worthy of servant/ leadership.

It is the whole of his claim to equality with the 12.

On the " sauce for the goose" principle, how can he or anyone else deny the authority of others who were accorded the same remarkable -privilege?

It is not his history, or learning or works that can give him authority, only that Jesus saw fit to bless him by this revelation.

Plainly presence at the last supper does not confer authority. First it's significance was not necessarily understood at the time- it needed the perfection of the resurrection appearance before being understood, second It is hard to base authority on something accorded on a collegiate basis to a group that included Judas.

There is no doubt that women came to hold a subservient position, but with the record significantly post dating events in the early church it is by no means clear the mechanism by which this occurred. If Paul did not know of the women's
Witness qualifying them in the same way as him to the title Apostle it might explain his approach.

7 February 2012 at 17:26  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

However it seems evident, for example, from the NT that there was no centralised structure such as the RCC has today. There was certainly hierarchy, but the church looks less like an institution at this point and more like a movement. However as my knowledge of post-NT church history is sketchy, I defer to yours.

The key difference between the era of the NT and every other era is that in the NT they still have the apostles. There's no need for the episcopal college (or any need for an episcopal college) to have something like a Pope (though it clearly has Peter, and he clearly has a special authority), because each apostle has a greater and different charism than bishops do. They were each inspired, the college of bishops is only guided collectively, and thus individuals may err in a way that apostles would not err.

Consequently, as soon as we move beyond the NT period, we find an episcopal structure in place (e.g. Ignatius) and Rome quickly assumes a special position (so Clement and Ignatius) which is expressed explicitly fairly early on (e.g. Irenaeus). This is not to say it was exactly as it is now, but all doctrine has developed since then, precisely in order to remain the same reality.

Nonetheless, even having three Patriarchs does seem somewhat detrimental for the case of a central, Petrine authority (and indeed such does not seem to be particularly consonant with what we see either in Acts or Galatians).

I think you are misconstruing the nature of the papacy within the college of bishops, by confusing Catholicism in its fullness with ultramontanism.

I certainly do not doubt that tradition pre-existed scripture. But tradition was not a formalised Magisterium, but rather the content of the gospel.

Again, I can only understand this if I take you to be misunderstanding Catholicism (I speak as a convert from Protestantism, so I can sympathise!).

At the close of the Apostolic Age this tradition is completely superseded by Scripture.

I can't see that that is true, but I'll let you defend it and then respond.

I reject the idea that we know by tradition which books are Scripture or not. God’s word is self-authenticating.

How is it self-authenticating? Let's say I'm reading Psalm 137.9:

Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!

What's the self-authentication here? Some kind of Wesleyan warm feeling?!

But if it is by tradition that we know which books are Scripture then is this tradition infallible and authoritative?

Have you read Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine? Effectively, he says that a teaching authority follows from the very nature of the Christian revelation (on the one hand it is given for all time, on the other hand, it is too profound to be grasped adequately by private judgment - his knowledge of early Church history in particular was unrivalled and his knowledge of the Bible was outstanding owing to his upbringing in a 19th Century Evangelical family). This enables him to exclude non-Catholic forms of Christianity and leave only Catholic Christianity. Doesn't prove it, but it makes room for faith and certianly excludes non Catholic Christianity.

what is qualitatively different about Encyclicals, tradition etc. that makes them perspicuous and unambiguous, while the Bible remains unclear?

Again, I think there's some confusion there about exactly how the Magisterium works.

7 February 2012 at 18:02  
Blogger Albert said...

if you look at men such as Athanasius who had to defend the full deity of Christ against basically everyone then you see that he did so on the basis of scripture, not church authority.

I wouldn't have thought Athanasius was a good ally for someone wishing to defend sola scriptura! May just a couple of citations suffice?

We were not ignorant, but the fact was well known to us, even before we received the letters of your piety, that the supporters of the abominated heresy of the Arians were practising many dangerous machinations, rather to the destruction of their own souls, than to the injury of the Church. For this has ever been the object of their unprincipled craft; this is the deadly design in which they have been continually engaged; viz. how they may best expel from their places and persecute all who are to be found anywhere of orthodox sentiments, and maintaining the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which was delivered to them from the Fathers.

But if they themselves own that they have heard it now for the first time, how can they deny that this heresy is foreign, and not from our fathers ? But what is not from our fathers, but has come to light in this day, how can it be but that of which the blessed Paul has foretold, that 'in the latter times some shall depart from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, in the hypocrisy of liars; cauterized in their own conscience, and turning from the truth ?'

Okay, one more because it is so pertinent!

Such are the machinations of these men against the truth: but their designs are manifest to all the world, though they attempt in ten thousand ways, like eels, to elude the grasp, and to escape detection as enemies of Christ. Wherefore I beseech you, let no one among you be deceived, no one seduced by them; rather, considering that a sort of judaical impiety is invading the Christian faith, be ye all zealous for the Lord; hold fast, every one, the faith we have received from the Fathers, which they who assembled at Nicæa recorded in writing, and endure not those who endeavour to innovate thereon. And however they may write phrases out of the Scripture, endure not their writings; however they may speak the language of the orthodox, yet attend not to what they say; for they speak not with an upright mind, but putting on such language like sheeps' clothing, in their hearts they think with Arius, after the manner of the devil, who is the author of all heresies. For he too made use of the words of Scripture, but was put to silence by our Saviour. For if he had indeed meant them as he used them, he would not have fallen from heaven; but now having fallen through his pride, he artfully dissembles in his speech, and oftentimes maliciously endeavours to lead men astray by the subtleties and sophistries of the Gentiles.

7 February 2012 at 18:04  
Blogger Albert said...

Martin,

I think this is special pleading:

that can give him authority, only that Jesus saw fit to bless him by this revelation

as it seems to me plainly to contradict 1 Cor.15 & Acts 1. Seeing the risen Lord is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for being an apostle.

women came to hold a subservient position

There is no evidence that women were ever apostles. They were not among the 12, they were excluded from selection in Acts 1, and Paul's writings indicate women just didn't have such roles in any of the churches. All you have to go on is the fact that they saw the risen Lord, but I have now shown more than once and from more than one passage that this does not suffice to make an apostle. The very writings that you might appeal to to show make the connection are the ones I can appeal to to show no such connection exists.

but with the record significantly post dating events in the early church it is by no means clear the mechanism by which this occurred.

Because it didn't occur! And remember, Paul's letters are among the earliest writings we have, possibly within just a few years of the resurrection. There's no evidence for what you are saying, nor time for the events to have taken place.

7 February 2012 at 18:13  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Thomas Keningley

We're going around in cirles a bit.

!You haven’t dealt with my substantive point, which is this: what is qualitatively different about Encyclicals, tradition etc. that makes them perspicuous and unambiguous, while the Bible remains unclear?”

Sacred Tradition is what the Church is built on. The New Testament came after Tradition. Jesus’ commandment to the Apostles at the end of Matthew’s Gospel logically assumes the necessity of Sacred Tradition:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
(Matt. 28:19-20)

Jesus didn’t tell the Apostles to write down everything he had taught them. He simply commanded them to teach it. Much of this teaching later made its way into Sacred Scripture, but every bit of it was and still is considered Sacred Tradition.

In fact, we know that not everything Jesus taught was committed to writing. John tells us as much at the end of his Gospel:

"But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written"
(John 21:25).

Luke reinforces this too:

”Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed."
(Luke 1:1-4)

Luke, then, commits to writing what has already been taught. That teaching is Sacred Tradition just as surely as Luke’s Gospel will later be recognized as Sacred Scripture.

St Paul makes several comments about Tradition:

"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you"
(1 Cor. 11:2).
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us"
(2 Thess. 3:6).
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter"
(2 Thess. 2:15).

Paul instructs Timothy to pass down that Sacred Tradition to others:
"[A]nd what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also"
(2 Tim. 2:2).

So you see, Church Councils and Encyclicals are based on the life and teachings of Christ as passed on in Sacred Tradition and in the writings which cameto be accepted (by the Church) as canonical.

The Church explains the meanings of passages that are disputed or ambiguous. That’s how dogma and doctrine has always developed - word of mouth, written letters, the Gospels, teaching and instruction and, where necessary, authoritative statements by those in positions of leadership.

What alternative would you put in its place?

7 February 2012 at 20:36  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

(cont)
Thomas Keningley

”I do not consider doctrinal disagreement as the gates of hell prevailing against the church!”

Surely there is no greater threat to the Church than the corruption and distortion of Christ's message?
I think it is probably Satan’s point of attack to undermine the Gospel message and confuse the teachings of Christ and the meaning of His life, death and resurrection. To sow discord and disagreement amongst Christians.

Just think, sinful men attempting to comprehend the incomprehensible through the medium of human language. Throughout the Bible there are repeated warnings about false teachers and false doctrines and the road to perdition.

”I agree that the clear implication of the passage from John you quote indicates additional knowledge to come, hence Acts, the Epistles and the Revelation, plus any fulfilments of prophecy etc of which they had not yet become aware of in the life of Jesus.”

And you base this judgement and conclusion on what?

”Out of interest, however, if you believe that Scripture is not perspicuous then why bother quoting it to me?

And why not?
If it were so patently clear in meaning we wouldn’t be disagreeing about its meaning, now would we?

The dogma and doctrines of the Catholic Church are the deposit of faith revealed by Jesus Christ, taught by the Apostles and handed down in their entirety by the Apostles to their successors. Since revealed truth cannot change, and since the deposit of faith is comprised of revealed truth, expressed in Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the deposit of faith cannot change.

Here's an example for you taken from a post on another thread. Tell me what it means:

"Amen, amen, I say unto you: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.
He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will raise him up in the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
As the living Father has sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, the same also shall live by me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers ate manna and are dead. He that eats this bread shall live for ever."

Literal or allegorical - and how do you know?

7 February 2012 at 20:47  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

Men disputing scripture only confirms their own sinfulness, not a lack of clarity in Scripture

Well, I am sure scripture is clear enough to God. But if it is not clear to sinful men, then pro nobis, it is not clear for we are all sinful men. For whom is scripture intended, if not sinful men? And who is not a sinful man who would qualify as having clarity? My guess from 1 Pet.1.12 is that scripture isn't even altogether clear to the angels.

Thus if scripture is intended for sinful men, but it is not clear to sinful men, it needs a divinely guided teacher, or it is unclear. But God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

7 February 2012 at 21:02  
Blogger len said...

Anon in Belfast.(7 February 2012 00:28)

Tradition is mentioned in the bible and its seen in two very different contexts. The two forms of tradition illustrated in the bible consist of :

1.) The traditions of men - which nullify scriptures or are not supported by the holy writ.

2.) The traditions from God which are in accord with, and recorded in, scripture.

8 February 2012 at 18:46  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

I agree, except where is it stated that traditions from God are all recorded in scripture? Where does scripture say this? Or is this belief a tradition of men?

8 February 2012 at 19:15  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

"But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written"
(John 21:25).

8 February 2012 at 19:51  
Blogger Albert said...

Well said Dodo. It seems then that number 2 (above) not only fails its own test, it also fails test number 1 as nullifying the scriptures.

8 February 2012 at 20:11  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Albert

Not my words!

8 February 2012 at 21:28  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 February 2012 at 21:35  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Oral history quicky descends into chinese whispers.
Writing from different sources is always riddled with conflicting statements.

I would like to know why something as crucial as spreading of the gospel was not better organised with less allowance for error.


Why was there no visual representation of the resurrection
such as rock carving etc to preserve for posterity?Followers of Jesus should have been ordered
to carve simple drawings everywhere. Carbon dating would have been the proof. Other cultures managed to do this BC.

The unclear factor for me is why something of this importance was not done more effectively,particularly as the apostles were supposedly the best men for the job(so to speak)

Dodo said it's the devil who is churning all this confusion with scripture. It would not be the case if they had done it better.

8 February 2012 at 22:40  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Cressida asked ...

"I would like to know why something as crucial as spreading of the gospel was not better organised with less allowance for error."

Catholics believe it was well organised - that God knew just what He was doing.

Apostles were personally chosen and commissioned by Christ, with the assisted by the Holy Spirit, to preserve and spread the Gospel until the end of time. And, actually, for centuries the Church has done a fine job.

Of course, being a human organisation and men being sinful, the Church has not been not perfect and, at times, it and its leaders have gone astray. However, the Truth of God's message has been preserved not withstanding this.

What better evidence is there than personal eye witness accounts to testify to Christ's death and resurrection? Accounts actually writtten by those present during those events.

"Dodo said it's the devil who is churning all this confusion with scripture. It would not be the case if they had done it better."

Surely the Apostles, Church Fathers and the the Church itself has done a miraculous job? For two thousand years the Church has faithfully preserved and shared the Gospel message.

The division and acrimony between men is a sign of human weakness. Human rebellion is a constant in the history of redemption.

Remember people have to be given space to come to a knowledge and acceptance of Jesus. Thank God the days of phyically eliminating those who refused to believe or to follow defined Church dogma is behind us. That opens the door to confusion and competing and conflicting messages and alongside the rise of atheism and secularism is the test of our times.

All this was known to Our Lord which is surely why He appointed Church leaders and placed in their hands the job of leading future generations to Him.

8 February 2012 at 23:42  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Cressida:

From a purely academic perspective, oral cultures have been consistently shown to be rather good at preserving knowledge, both in terms of its content and form.

One of the things that we have an enormous difficulty in grasping in our literate age is just how pre-literate cultures not only survived but thrived without widespread use of documents.

When things were written down, there tended to be an expectation that what was written had a certain amount of authority (hence the central role of scripture in almost all ancient religions). More specifically within the Church, we have a relatively high number of documents, letters and epistles from which it is possible to trace the development of a canon of writings. The early Church really was rather heavily invested not only in formulating doctrine, but preserving its fidelity. You see glimpses of this in the chronologically-later works of the Bible (especially Revelation), but much of the activity which is documented concerns dealing with the various heresies that plagued the Church.

Not the Christian Scripture is unique in this, but for ancient writings there is a fairly high level of agreement between texts; not only in terms of manuscript variants, but language, theology and content. This is not to say that Christianity came "pre-formed"; it developed and evolved, and as a consequence when you read the NT, you are seeing a progression of certain ideas. But it's crucial to note that everything we know about the early Church suggests that in matters of doctrine, considerable effort was made to ensure that the body of the Church as a whole was represented when it came to disputes, rather than being the shadowy elite that Dan Brown conspiracy theorists are always rather eager to invoke.

The idea that the production and dissemination of the Gospel was 'badly organised' simply fails to take into account the comparatively large number of manuscript survivals and the comparitively strong fidelity they have to one another. There are literally tens of thousands of manuscripts all told (including later Latinate editions and partial mss), and about 5,000 Greek mss. When you take into account that survival rates for manuscripts are typically very low (sometimes estimated to be well under 10% of total works), the picture of New Testament manuscripts is hardly the realm of speculation that, say, the lost works of Aristotle are.

9 February 2012 at 02:27  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Again, there is something of a barrier to overcome when looking at it from a print-culture perspective. I work with hand-written manuscripts, and it takes a bit of time to understand that, scribal errors aside, manuscript transmission could be as much a work of translation into local idiom, as it could be a word-for-word copy. Likewise, physical constraints (such as not having enough papyrus; or later, having holes in poor-quality vellum) could influence decisions to cut and edit texts. The critical thing we need to remember is that scribes and scholars of the age were absolutely aware of the limitations and practicalities of manuscripts. Far from being dupes, historians then (much as today) would seek out credible sources, note discrepancies, and dismiss copies that were plainly in error.

So although your concerns are very often voiced, and are perfectly understandable from a modern print-based and literate-culture, they really aren't particularly compelling reasons to dismiss the textual fidelity of the NT.

On the issue of early paintings, it's important to remember two things: firstly that Jewish culture was not big on visual representations of the divine. Secondly, that across the ancient world Christians were very often persecuted in the early years, and were thus not in a particularly strong position to build monuments for our convenience. However, even in spite of these things, there are surviving pieces of visual evidence. There are very small survivals of Christian graffiti; of which the Fish is perhaps the most famous. There's also some very early paintings in the undercrypts in Rome (which if you're interested there are widely available pictures for on the web). But unquestionably, the wealth of the early Church, both spiritually and materially, was its writings.

Now all of that is not to say that many experts don't still take the view that Christianity is a load of bunkum - even a perfectly preserved copy of the hypothetical writings of Jesus would fail to persuade some. But then Christ himself was rejected by many in life, so this will hardly come as a surprise.

9 February 2012 at 02:27  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

@ Anonymous In Belfast.
Firstly thank you for the effort you have made in providing explanations some of which I was unaware of.

I am not of the bunkum group. I am a thinking Christian with certain reservations.This is my own classification.

There are a lot of unconscious Christians leading a life of a Christian ethic.One (if you are not a church goer) only becomes aware of being intrinsically Christian when living exclusively in a non Christian culture for a significant period of time which I did.It was through this experience that how I realised how defined and different our approach to life is compared to others.I found it hard to comprehend that there are cultures where concepts and words such as 'guilt' and 'atonement ' do not exist.

I am not questioning the whole of the NT. Just a few worrying sections which if taken literally
I cannot accept. Then again translations are not always good in that they so often do not convey what is meant to be said correctly. Any linguist will testify to that.I will give an example of this in another post(unlike you I do not have bible quotes at my finger tips)

I did not suggest the building of monuments to Christianity..just a few carved stick figures. Everyone knows about the fish (Cecil B de Mille:)

Just a thought..if all these meticulously written historical accounts of what happened were so compelling wouldn't it then follow that everyone would want to be a Christian?

On a personal note I'm not convinced that God is the guiding hand in what is happening in the Church or indeed on this planet.God does not seem to be interested in controlling humans as much as his representative Church does , in his name.For 2000 years the gospel was preserved by the tyrannical force of the Church.
It worked but I would not call that miraculous as Dodo did.

@ Dodo
I think that secularism(lack of spirituality and atheism are problematic. However most who call themselves atheists are not. I have had discussions with atheists who simply had no idea that God was not a bearded man in the sky. I know , it's hard to believe.

It seems to me that a significant part of Christianity is dependent on the gift of faith. One is required to accept things that cannot be proven and may be alien to logical thought..I do not doubt that it exists as there are many splendid, brilliant
inspired human beings who have embraced Christianity. However I don't believe the gift of faith is given to everyone. For some it is easy and no struggle and for others it does not fit.I do not believe the latter group should be bludgeoned into believing with the threat of damnation.

I heard Cardinal Pell say to a congregation at Christmas once that he believed that most of the human race would be saved and only a few would be damned.I remember it vividly because I was so shocked at this utterance But then Dodo, was he being guided bu the Holy Spirit, because according to you if he was not, he could have been incorrect. After all he is still human and what is worse an Australian to boot:)

9 February 2012 at 03:54  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Cressida

What is the gift of faith and how does one know one has rceived this gift? Most Christians would confess to having periods of doubt in their life about the reality of the Christian message. It just sounds too good to be true! We do know that if we genuinely search for Truth the odds are we will find it.

And, of course, no one should be forced into accepting any faith. Who knows how God will receive those who cannot believe. There are many barriers to faith and Cranmer has touched on some of them in his article. We do know that a wilfull and deliberate rejection of the Gospel will have a bad outcome.

Any Cardinal, Australian or otherwise, can express his personal views on salvation so long as he remains within the limits of Catholic teaching. I too think that God will welcome those who have been unable through no fault of their own to accept His Son. Unfortunately, we also know that eternal damnation is a possibility too. The Church would be failing souls if it did not teach this.

9 February 2012 at 08:47  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Cressida; I'd certainly be wary of reading Scripture in an uncritical and literal way. Some of the sections which I suspect you may have reservations about tend to be at their most controversial when read without reference either to the body of early Christian theology, or in a manner that seeks to be triumphalist over other people in a most un-Christian like manner. So, like you, I'm always in favour of thoughtful, considered and prayerful reflection, especially with regards to issues that are likely to be particularly contentious.

As to your other point: "Just a thought..if all these meticulously written historical accounts of what happened were so compelling wouldn't it then follow that everyone would want to be a Christian?"

We'd be remiss not to observe that they were compelling enough for a great many people to die in painful ways for them, and remain compelling enough that people die today for them. That said, quite clearly the Bible is not a "magic text" that converts upon reading. You do get the odd Christian who started out reading the Bible critically and subsequently got converted, but these days particularly, that seems to be quite a rare occurrence. There will be various psychological, cultural and sociological explanations that might be brought in to explain conversion, but the theological one which underpins much of the understanding of the New Testament is quite simply that in all cases of genuine conversion, the Holy Spirit is present.

Because the nature of the Holy Spirit is not compel against people's will (God desiring that people come to faith in Him through their own will rather than being forced to comply); this does mean that there are many who read and do not "understand", and many who hear but do not listen. Approaching Scripture with a heart closed to God, or even a heart that has decided to be in rebellion against God, is not going to produce inspired interpretation of Scripture. Likewise, those given over to their own sins tend to produce distorted interpretations because they do not have the "Spirit of Truth" dwelling within them. It's never a surprise to me when the most intemperate and vitriolic preachers turn out to be secretly sinning and not seeking out redemption.

Just as we are taught that Scripture is "God-breathed" in production; which is to say that man's imperfect language and thought comes through revelation to express God's perfect Will; so too all true teaching is inspired by the Holy Spirit at the point of reception. When we disagree about things, this is why it's so important for Christians to confess their sins to one another and come before the Spirit in unity.

---

Out of interest, why would stick figures be more compelling?

Some links that may be of interest (there are probably others, but I'm afraid my knowledge of early Christian art is pretty scant):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcophagus_of_Junius_Bassus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Rome#Christian_catacombs

9 February 2012 at 15:01  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Further to that comment, the issue of what determines the "success" of the Gospel in people's hearts was far more eloquently explained by our Lord:

Mark 4:1-20; Matthew 13:1-23; Luke 8:1-15.

The seeds stay the same, but it's the nature of the ground which determines whether they will take root and grow.

If I might extend Christ's parable, we might also observe that the work of the Holy Spirit is to rake over soil prior to sowing, to break up hard ground and remove the rocks.

9 February 2012 at 15:06  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Cresside

AIB has given a very eloguent and compelling account of the work of the Holy Spirit. No doubt much is based on his own personal experience.

What I would add is that there are many paths to God. Reading scripture is not essential for salvation and neither is understanding the nuances of theology.

Not everybody has a single, life changing 'conversion moment' where they are 'born again'. Some do and some don't. For some it can be a slow and gradual journey. So don't wait on an overwhelming sense of a mystical union with Christ.

What's perhaps critical is to think and reason as well as experience. This means listening to the Gospel message, or reading it if you prefer, and being a part of community that discuss and share it meaning.

And, one last thing - prayer! Some time simply praying for the gift of faith can work wonders.

9 February 2012 at 16:33  
Blogger Albert said...

Cressida

One is required to accept things that cannot be proven and may be alien to logical thought.

Certainly, the claims of Christianity transcend rational demonstration - most beliefs do (whether religious or not) or they rest on beliefs that transcend rational demonstration at some stage. But where is Christianity alien to logical thought?

I heard Cardinal Pell say to a congregation at Christmas once that he believed that most of the human race would be saved and only a few would be damned.I remember it vividly because I was so shocked at this utterance

I'm assuming you are shocked at the possibility that someone might go to hell. Quite right, the thought is horrifying. Horrifying enough to God that he became a human being for us and died for us, so that no human being, however sinful need go to hell.

Hell is horrifying, but is it objectionable? A good God must be just. Now (at the risk of proving whatever that alleged law is that says all internet conversations eventually mention the Nazis) let us suppose that some ghastly concentration camp guard (who has tortured small Jewish children for fun and done all sort of other things) dies.

Now, is the grace of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice big enough to deal with his sins? Yes it is - far, far more so. St Therese tells us that even if we committed all the sins in the world, they would be nothing more than a drop of water in the great furnace of God's love.

But let us suppose this Nazi is not repentant. For all eternity he will not give up his sin. He still hates Jews and is pleased with what he did. He recjoices in the unjust suffering he inflicted on innocent children. How can someone holding such a view not be in hell? Can a God of love (let alone a God of justice) just say to said Nazi "Okay then, old chap, I don't really mind about the holocaust, you come on in and receive the reward of righteous!" Indeed, how could a person receive such blessedness while willingly holding fast to such terrible sins? It's contrary to good logic!

In other words, what can really be left for evil-doers who have rejected God's loving mercy, if not God's justice?

It's horrifying, but not objectionable - especially not to reason. This is why we should work and pray for the salvation of the whole world.

9 February 2012 at 18:02  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

AIB and Dodo
Everyone can draw stick figures..my idea was that if stick figures ascending up into the sky were discovered and (there were lots of them)at that time, then that would be compelling evidence rather than totally rely on the written word.

I was shocked at the idea of only a few people going to hell. Through my own personal life experience I thought the place should be stacked.The Cardinal is a nice man but not very worldly.Just as well he is not in charge of the selection process.

I think one of you mentioned confessing.I do not know of one non Catholic who understands confession. It is presumed that if
confess your sins you are automatically forgiven and you can just turn up time and again for a rerun.

I am suprised that neither of you have ever mentioned this in your posts that forgiveness is not an automatic response .That if you are not sincerely determined not to commit this sin again at the time of confessing you are not forgiven and compound the offense.

EG all those chuch going Catholics who are having pre marital sex with their boyfriends and girlfriends, who go to confession and take the eucharist...these people have no intention of remaining celibate until they marry...the same issue applies to all the Catholics who use contraception.

This hypocrisy and blatent flouting of the rules does not seem to be of great importance to the priests.They should be hammering from the pulpits. This is one of the reasons that Catholics receive a lot of criticism from other Christian denominations.

If the Catholic Church is the only true Christian church and all the others are pale imitations then you must expect your adherents to be under scrutiny and I think exemplary behaviour should be encouraged (at least from the top end)

I think to believe in God is a gift of faith. I know lovely people who do not. I think they would have if left to their own devices but unfortunately they have been soured so much by organised religion and its fanatics ...it has contaminated their thinking.

I am interested in Christian theology because it is the framework of my culture and my ancestors. I like my culture.I am not in accord with everything in the scriptures and when I have the time I will formulate this with considered thought.You two guys are the ones who will have some interestin explanations.

The only problem with corresponding with both of you is the atavars. It is difficult to broach these serious topics with Santa Clause and a plump goose.

10 February 2012 at 01:37  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Cressida: There is a drawing (the Alexamenos graffiti), not of Christian providence, which has traditionally been understood as mocking Christian religious belief. The picture has a donkey-headed man on a Cross being worshipped by a man. What's really interesting about the image is that it uses a cross where surviving Christian images contemporary to it, do not. Some (including, in part, the Jehovah's Witnesses) have taken the absence of cross-imagery to be suggestive that the cross is a later development "added in" to Christianity by the naughty Catholic Church. What the Alexamenos graffiti perhaps helps to demonstrate is that the cross retained a strong social stigma of criminality: it would be rather like us choosing to paint modern icons using the style of the "FBI's most wanted". What it also suggests, though, is that the cross occupied a central place in how Christianity was understood, even if it was not central to visual expression.

Some of the images from the Roman Catacombs are pretty in line with what you're looking for. Again, you're better off seeking out some proper literature on the subject, as I'm not an expert, but trawling the net has produced these nice examples. Let me know what you think of them (all of them are from the Roman Catacombs):

An image of the Virgin and Child

Another image of the Virgin and Child (this one, in the Catacomb of St. Priscilla is from the early 2nd Century, and is purportedly the earliest such representation of the Virgin Mary)

An image of the woman being healed by touching Christ's cloak (in Luke 8 & Mark 5)

A picture of the Eucharist feast being celebrated

An image of risen Christians in paradise (the figures are labelled with the names: "Dionysia, Nemesius, Procopius, Eliodora, Zoe and Arcadia" suggesting that these might be the people originally interred at the site)

10 February 2012 at 12:56  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Just sticking to the catacombs though, it's worth remembering that many of the catacombs were not exclusively used by Christians for burial. Alongside these images, there are many more of Hercules and Jupiter. As Christianity became accepted, it became easier to express religious iconography and imagery, and post-fourth-century you see a massive boom in the production of such art. Prior to that, Christian imagery seems to have been very simple; often it is identifiable as Christian only by the presence of the Chi-Ro symbol or the Icthys Fish (I gather the Anchor is another one). Quite simply, elaborate visual representations of Biblical scenes on permanent medium which would survive for us to see today (i.e. walls) were not going to be a smart move in a culture where believing in Christ could result in your torture and death.

The stick figures from other ancient religions were made when those religions were dominant, or at least accepted in society. When Christianity becomes legal, there is a corresponding proliferation of visual art.

10 February 2012 at 12:57  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Cressida

How dare you!

I am most certainly not a plump goose but a proud Dodo - the Raphus Cucullatus.

And I agree, issues like the ones you raise are best addressed personally with someone you trust and who is informed about the Christian faith.

On confession quickly, again you are correct. To receive absolution there must be genuine remorse, a 'firm purpose of amendment' and a desire to put right any harm caused. One cannot turn up, have a quick shower, so to speak, and then jump right back in the mud!

10 February 2012 at 13:10  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

With regards to the questions of theology and spirituality.

I don't think any of us knows how full or empty Hell is. When we hear different people making pronouncements about its population ranging in numbers from all except the 144,000 to being outright empty, the extent to which we believe them is not really something we can base on evidence: who besides God, after all, truly knows?

What we can hold to, though, is the doctrine that faith in Christ is the sole means of reconciliation with God, and a guarantee of eternal life through Christ's blood. In that sense, we have confused the work of the Church when we focus on analysing the end state of humanity rather than focussing on calling people to repentance and salvation.

---

Religion can indeed be perverted by men and women who are given over to sin. There are several passages in Scripture that make it quite clear that if we have been the reason for someone falling into sin, the penalty for that rests on our heads (Ezekiel 3:18; Matthew 18:6).

Satan misused Scripture to tempt Jesus, and I'm pretty sure he's been able to find uses for churches over the centuries; but that doesn't mean that Scripture was itself corrupt, or that the Church is itself perverted. That's not to excuse crimes that go on in both Protestant and Catholic churches where the structure of those churches is implicitly involved in the crime, or to suggest that one can always respond with "it's just evil individuals". We do have a responsibility both as Christians and citizens to insist that our churches are held to account where it is clear that they are culpable; but from a Christian stance, we do so because the Church is eternal and perfect - the Bride of Christ should not ever have Her honour slandered or Her countenance stained.

10 February 2012 at 13:34  
Blogger Albert said...

EG all those chuch going Catholics who are having pre marital sex with their boyfriends and girlfriends, who go to confession and take the eucharist...these people have no intention of remaining celibate until they marry...the same issue applies to all the Catholics who use contraception.

This hypocrisy and blatent flouting of the rules does not seem to be of great importance to the priests.They should be hammering from the pulpits.


Clearly, someone can only be absolved if they are penitent. Penitence means resolving not to do the sin again. Priests are required not to give absolution if it is clear that the person is not resolving to amend their lives. The confessional is the place for dealing with this. It would be counter-productive to "hammer" it from the pulpits. People would just say "Well then, I won't go to confession" or "I won't confess that sin." It's an approach that doesn't move anything on at all.

If the absolution is given and the person had no intention of amending their lives, then, as far as I can see, the absolution was invalid.

10 February 2012 at 13:48  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Albert: you clearly haven't answered Cressida's accusation that you're Santa.

Plonker ;)

10 February 2012 at 14:18  
Blogger Albert said...

I missed that Belfast! Is Cressida's avatar a rose or squashed beetle?

10 February 2012 at 14:43  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Albert

I thought it was cat It maybe a black rose though.

10 February 2012 at 15:31  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

I know I really shouldn't but this discusion about Confession reminded me of a joke I once heard. It does have a serious side too it - I think!

In 1990 an elderly Italian man went to his parish priest and asked if the priest would hear his confession.

"Of course, my son," said the priest.

"Well, Father, at the beginning of World War Two, a beautiful woman knocked on my door and asked me to hide her from the Germans; I hid her in my attic, and they never found her."

"That’s a wonderful thing, my son, and nothing that you need to confess," said the priest.

"It’s worse, Father; I was weak, and told her that she had to pay for rent of the attic with her sexual favors," continued the old man.

"Well, this was a very serious sin but it was a very difficult time, and you took a large risk – you would have suffered terribly at their hands if the Germans had found you hiding her; I know if you are sorry that God, in his wisdom and mercy, will balance the good and the evil and forgive you," said the priest.

"Thanks, Father," said the old man; "That’s a load off of my mind. Can I ask another question?"

"Of course, my son," said the priest.

The old man asked, "Do I need to tell her that the war is over?"

10 February 2012 at 16:03  
Blogger Albert said...

Great story!

10 February 2012 at 16:22  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

This one's a bit more risqué.

Catholic humour!

An old priest became sick of all the people in his parish who kept confessing to adultery. One Sunday, in the pulpit, he said, "If I hear one more person confess to adultery, I'll leave the priesthood!"

Well, everyone liked him, so they came up with a code word. Someone who had committed adultery would say they had "fallen". This seemed to satisfy the old priest and things went well, until the priest died at a ripe old age.

Soon after the new priest arrived he visited the Mayor of the town. The priest said, "You have to do something about the pavements in town. When people come into the confessional, they keep talking about having fallen."

The Mayor started to laugh, realising that no-one had told the new priest about the code word. Before the mayor could explain, the priest shook an accusing finger at the mayor and said, "I don't know what you're laughing about, Your wife fell two times this week."

10 February 2012 at 22:12  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

My black rose avatar does not ressemble a squashed beetle or a cat. This 'tit for tat' behaviour is unacceptable from two 'goody two shoes' Catholic boys.

11 February 2012 at 00:04  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Cressida

You called me a fat goose for goodness sake. My honour was at stake!

(You do know the black rose is a symbol of Irish Nationalism and of Anarchy?)

11 February 2012 at 00:23  
Blogger Dodo the Poly Nominal Dude said...

Ps

And sometimes I'm a brightly coloured gay little fish.

11 February 2012 at 00:35  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Cressida de Nove, Black Rose
Could play any music she chose
One day when she sneezed
A musical breeze
Came out with a thousand crescendoes

11 February 2012 at 00:44  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

i'm pleased my rose means anarchy
i didn't know at all
i don't mind you being a gay little fish
am not at all appalled

i don't have any smart gay fish friends
so you will be my first
as long as you don't want to marry
any ole hick tom dick or harry
in the consevative catholic church

11 February 2012 at 01:56  
Blogger Dodo the Gay Dude said...

A happy fish named Dodo,
Refused to stay in a silo,
Alas, it appears,
Some now think he’s queer,
Because of his bright coloured deco!

11 February 2012 at 10:06  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 February 2012 at 12:59  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

some think he is queer
because he just said
'i'm a gay little fish'
to fill me with dread
and if he's not gay
well that is okay
but if he is bent
self sacrifices for Lent
then he shall be saved
even though has has strayed

13 February 2012 at 02:08  
Blogger Oswin said...

Cressida de Dodo: Hell, I'll stick wih the 'Vogon' stuff, if this is the way it's going to be. Enough already!

13 February 2012 at 17:26  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

13 February 2012 at 18:52  
Blogger Dodo the Gay Dude said...

Whilst Dodo is happy and affable,
He's most certainly not homosexual.
He’s lived all his days,
Without any such phase,
Or need for the Catholic Confessional.

13 February 2012 at 22:06  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Oswin,you started all this silliness.

Saint Dodo and I
are sparring in rhyme
but this is the end
free verse is my thing
on with the gloves
back out in the ring.

14 February 2012 at 00:38  

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