Church of England and the consecration of women bishops

York Minister © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

York Minister © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

Church leadership for women is changing. What with female activists and activist goals, the culture has been shifted by the media and many people have been persuaded by rhetorical speeches and sensuality. On 3rd July 2015 a second woman bishop was consecrated at York Minster. The Church of England remains divided upon this ‘unbiblical’ practice and during the consecration at York Minster, the Rev Stephen Holland Protested, walking through the Minster calling for the “Church of England” to “return to the Bible”. The Rev Holland is not an Anglican minister but there are many within the Church who disagree with the way things are going.

Since the 4th century AD to the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bible has been the dominant book of Western society, and in some sense, it still is. The relationship, which could be likened to a marriage between the West and the Bible has been interrupted by the gradual appearance of another lady. Society has become like a man who wants to keep parts of his wife while embracing the fancies of his sensuality. The situation we face today in the Church of England is a political structure which is attempting to re-define the Church in order to keep itself alive and financially secure. In doing this it ignores the Bible when it contradicts the liberal and feminist agenda, and merely re-interprets the rest to fit with changing times.

Closed Church door © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

Closed Church door © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

The door is closed to the polemical position of women bishops. The majority C of E elite recognize Ecclesiastical history but merely look upon it as past, and claim ‘we need to move on from that now’. The problem is however, people can’t change things when there is no backbone to keep standing upright to witness the fall.

In 2008 a published study claimed that should the current decline of Anglican congregations continue, by 2050 Sunday service attendance could fall to 87,800. This seems to me the motive behind the current winds of change. By using the influence of historically significant and controversial changes and twisting them to suite the current agenda’s, the Church of England has merely lowered itself from integrity to rhetorical intellectual dishonesty. Repeatedly we hear the intellectually dishonest claims that modern liberation movements are mere continuations of great historic works such as ‘the Abolition of the Slave trade’ and those who oppose them are merely the same ‘sort’ as those who opposed freedom back then.

Intellectual dishonesty is not the way forward if you are in the right!

The facts remain that some of the greatest works the West has ever known have been established by fundamentalist Christians. And the establishment of the Church of England would do better to hold fast to its long standing historical tradition, than to have tasted Truth and turned its back upon it.

The very reason the 19th – 21st century decline of the Anglicanism came about was because of the spread of liberalism. A movement which dramatically failed to bring about evangelism to the salvation of souls thus giving people a reason to go to Church. Thus, the Church of England was swept away into irrelevance. Biblical Christians either attending or moving on to other more Biblically loyal Denominations, thus understandably bringing about more divisions for which they are not responsible.

Jesus’ command was for His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” not mere Church goers. The true soul winning Church has historically been anything but liberal. In fact, the Church of England was founded by people who would now be labelled ‘fanatical fundamentalists’.

The establishment of the Church of England dates back to the 6th century and was led by Augustine of Canterbury and in the 16th century when the Church broke from Rome, could either of these these foundations have been laid by anyone but ‘fanatical fundamentalists’? The facts remain that this establishment was once grounded upon the Biblical text and the historic writings of the Church fathers and ecclesiastical creeds and devout evangelical Christianity. Fair enough the Church of England/Anglican Church has many Godly people within it and has many devout Christian bishops and because of this the Church is divided on issues such as women bishops, but today, it seems that the elite ‘society for the prevention of Christianity’ has become so liberal and politically motivated, that the liberal lobby have trampled upon 2000 years worth of Ecclesiastical history and even Cannon Law. Thus making the present Church of England either irrelevant or illegitimate and guilty of intellectual dishonesty.

Cannon Law reads like so;

  • “The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in the teaching of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church, and is particularly contained in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.” (The Cannon Law of the Church of England. Of the Doctrine of the Church of England. V)

The Holy Scriptures read like so;

  • “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity…(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3: 2-5)
  • “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” 1 Timothy 2: 11
  • “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Timothy 2: 12)
  • “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” 1 Corinthians 14: 34

The writings of the Church fathers states the following;

  • “Even if it is granted to a woman to show the sign of prophecy, she is nevertheless not permitted to speak in an assembly. When Miriam the prophetess spoke, she was leading a choir of women … For [as Paul declares] “I do not permit a woman to teach,” and even less “to tell a man what to do.” (Origen, Fragmenta ex commentariis in epistulam i ad Corinthios)
  • “It is not permitted to a woman to speak in church. Neither may she teach, baptize, offer, nor claim for herself any function proper to a man, least of all the sacerdotal office.” (Tertullian. On the Veiling of Virgins. 2nd century)

Finally the 39 Articles states the following;

  • “And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” (39 Articles of Religion. Article XX. OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH)

What has become clear today is that we are living in strange times. The Church has become like the world and seeking to appeal to it, which is contrary to Scripture (Romans 12: 2) But where does that leave the Church of England? In light of Scripture she paints a very bad picture of herself. As Thomas Cranmer once wrote;

  • “But if the church proceed further to make any article of the faith, beside the Scripture, or direct not the form of life according to the same; then it is not the pillar of the truth, nor the church of Christ, but the synagogue of Satan, and the temple of antichrist which both erreth itself, and bringeth into error as many as do follow it.” (Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Works of Archbishop Cranmer, Parker Society I, p 377)

So what I ask is where does this historical yet eternal reality leave the Church of England? What of our modern liberal bishops who have choked the breath of historic reliability? I can understand that some bishops are genuinely working for the survival of the Church, but they are going about it the wrong way. It was Jesus Himself who said “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”. If the bishops were willing to submit to Scripture then Jesus would draw His flock to Shepherds true to His word. But in reality, too many bishops are not going to change for they are not willing. They have set themselves up as rulers and gods. They are not following any measuring line but their own ideas. The argument is not even about Scripture anymore, it has gone beyond that. They merely use Scripture to promote their own agendas. So in reality, there can be no way forward but to outnumber the liberals and win back the majority. In doing that, there needs to be an outpouring of true evangelism throughout Britain and the unbreakable power of the Holy Spirit. Then and only then will the Church be returned back to the truth, when Christians, not political spin doctors, are in the pulpits.

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  1. #1 by Simon Peter Sutherland on July 10, 2015 - 9:31 PM

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