Archive for November, 2012

Do English Traditionalists Have a Point?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Some of the few ultra-conservative Evangelicals who voted against the General Synod legislation that would have permitted female bishops have pointed to the example of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

They have noted that Episcopalians who opposed the ordination of women in the 1970’s and later were repeatedly assured that their minority view would be honored. After all, male ordination had been the view of the entire church for almost 2,000 years. 

In subsequent years, however, those same traditionalists have seemed to be less and less free to express their beliefs. In some cases, they have felt hounded out of the church; they have certainly disappeared in the councils of our church. Even the large committees and commissions no longer have any dissenting members.

English conservatives may well have felt they couldn’t trust a progressive majority that was allowed to get its way. —J. Douglas Ousley


English Bishops: No Women Need Apply

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The General Synod of the Church of England has just rejected women bishops, following many years of debate.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, the Synod failed to affirm the idea. For some three-quarters of the delegates voted for the legislation; it didn’t receive the required two-thirds majority only in the House of Laity.

American Episcopalians should remember that the C of E includes sub-groups that are more radically conservative or liberal than our own factions. Thus there were female delegates who voted against women bishops because–believe it or not–the legislation seemed not to realize the different roles that the Bible supposedly ascribes to men and women. (This is the “headship” doctrine, according to which the man is the head of the woman as Christ is the head of the man and the church.)

Supporters of women bishops will be immensely saddened by the vote. And most Anglicans will despair that the wider English world will be able to regard this decision as anything other than the result of hidebound, misogynistic traditionalism. —J. Douglas Ousley 


An Archbishop, Finally

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

After an unexpectedly lengthy process, the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury has been announced: the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham.

Welby is relatively young, at 56; more importantly, he has only been a bishop for a year. Moreover, unlike virtually all previous Archbishops of Canterbury, he is a second-career clergyman, having worked in the oil industry for eleven years before seeking ordination. 

In this respect, he is like our own Presiding Bishop, who was an academic and oceanographer before becoming ordained. Whether this experience in the secular world gives Bishop Welby an edge in his new post remains to be seen.

I will be commenting further on Bishop Welby’s links to the Evangelical party in the Church of England. In the meantime, he deserves our prayers. —J. Douglas Ousley


Broad Church Family Values

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Whatever one says about the election, the moral controversies that have been at the
center of past elections seem not to have been critical. Possibly the contraception
issue—but I think people who voted one way or the other on that issue would not
have changed their vote if the issue didn’t exist. I think the same is true for abortion,
gay marriage, stem cell research, etc.

I may be proven wrong by exit poll analysis, but I’m hopeful that the deep divisions
revealed in the election weren’t made deeper by religious rivalries.  –J. Douglas Ousley