A briefing sent to
General Synod members in advance of the debates
on women bishops in July 2006
- Until the last third of the twentieth century, almost no church
groups admitted women into presbyteral ministry (priests and
bishops in the C of E), and the great majority still do not.
- Few mainstream denominations that have women presbyters have
grown as a result of the innovation. Moreover, these denominations
often reject other aspects of traditional Christian doctrine
and morality which creates division and undermines their
- It is eunlawfulf for
the Church of England eto ordain any thing that is contrary
to Godfs Word writtenf. It is likewise eunlawfulf to eso expound
one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to anotherf
- Therefore, Scripture
is our supreme authority, and tradition and reason, which
both belong to the human sphere must be subject to Scripture,
which we believe to be God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). As Richard
Hooker asserted, ewe have no Word of God but the Scripturef.
- God created us male
and female, equal but different, with complementary roles.
Though the Fall led to abuse of these differences, it was not
- Jesus, who was revolutionary
on many matters, did nothing to overturn this ordering of things.
- The roles of ministry that Jesus gave to his disciples,
men and women, were consistent with this ordering. Those appointed
by Jesus as leaders within the new covenant community were
- When new churches
were established the qualifications required of elders/presbyters
included that they be men (1 Tim 3, Titus 1).
- Consistent with all
this the Apostle Paul required that the authoritative presbyteral
role of teaching from the Scripture should be exercised by
men (1 Tim 2, 1 Cor 11), and argued that such was the practice
of all the apostolic churches (1 Cor 14).
- Neither Jesus nor
Paul, nor any other early disciple or Christian, saw anything
unjust or oppressive in this divine ordering.
- The concept of justice
presupposes an understanding of what is right and wrong. This
understanding derives primarily from the revelation of the
will of God. To require men or women to occupy roles incompatible
with the will of God revealed, in Scripture is to act unjustly.
- There are many roles
for womenfs ministry in Scripture, but not as the presbyterate
(eg. Lk 8:2-3, Acts 18:26, Acts 21:8-9, Rom 16:6).
- This understanding
of the plain teaching of Scripture is nothing new, it is
how Christians through the ages have understood it (eg. Tertullian
against Marcion 5.8, Apostolic Constitutions 3.4, Chyrsostom
Homily 31 on Romans 16.6, Hooker Book 5 62.2).
- The Church of England cannot require anyone to accept something
that cannot be read in Scripture or proved from it (Article
- It is clear from our history and from the plain teaching
of Scripture that presbyteral ministry of women is not taught
in Scripture and cannot be proved from it.
- If the General Synod and Parliament are determined to go
ahead in contravention of Scripture then they must make provision
for those who cannot accept the innovation. This is not because
they are an awkward or extremist minority, but because they
continue to be of the same mind as the historic church and
the vast majority of professing churches today.
- The ePriests (Ordination of Women) Measuref 1992, enshrined
in law the principle that a Bishop, Parish or Governing body
of a Cathedral could not be required to accept the presbyteral
ministry of women, thus recognising the validity of such
- The Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution III.2 called on
Provinces eto make such provision, including appropriate
Episcopal ministry, as will enable them to live in the highest
degree of Communion possiblef.