DCSIMG

Sad day for the Church

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editorial image

Of course some women should be bishops, as indeed they are in several Anglican provinces world-wide.

I am wearing a black tie until Christmas Eve, in shame and sorrow at the hijacking of the C of E General Synod by a coup, like the ‘New Labour’ one of Blairism which is now being dismantled. Though I have good friends in the “No” camp, and am keen to provide for those who simply want a niche to which they are accustomed, this cannot be at the price of allowing hard-line bigots to set up a separate church within ours! They seem unaware that Christianity is the New Covenant faith of “love above law”, albeit one which honours law as a loving gift of God for the guidance of the faithful.
Let them please look afresh at the New Testament’s “Letter to the Hebrews” addressed to encourage those Jews who had embraced the new apostolic faith. Their prophet Jeremiah had declared that “10-commandment legalism” had failed; and ‘Hebrews’ quoted him in full, saying (chapter 8, verse 10) that the hallmark of the new understanding is God’s laws put and written directly in human hearts and minds. Not - and this is vital - like the old covenant with Exodus-forebears (8, verse 9), with its regulation for worship (9.1) and its “Aaronic priestly line”, all-male and self-perpetuating, now voided as weak and unprofitable (7.18)!
Among your oldest readers there will be some who will recall the name of Joe Butterworth, and may have met him and/or attended his services as a Halifax vicar in the 1930s and briefly in Todmorden beforehand. I have never forgotten his sermon on the nature of the Christian church. Taking his text from St Peter’s first letter, chapter 2 verse 4, which in the ‘New International’ translation reads, “As you come to him (Jesus)... ye also as living stones are being build into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood...” (see also 2.9), he said that the Christian Church has a priesthood of all believers, who differ in their gifts and abilities but not in honour due. Like all branches of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus, the Anglican Communion appoints bishops and/or other ‘leaders’, and so achieves long-term stability but their rules can’t be ‘set in concrete’ and imposed mechanically for all time. Article 34 of our 39 declares that “every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies...ordained only by man’s authority”; so ‘traditionalists’ are entitled now to expect our bishops to go ahead and appoint new bishops on ability alone, without discrimination over irrelevancies of bodily feature.

Frank McManus

Reder Emeritus, Todmorden parish Church
Longfield Road
Todmorden

 

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