Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dr Ephraim Radner on OW

One effect of the current struggles within the Anglican Communion has been to bring again to the fore the matter of women’s ordination. Not that it was ever really marginalized as a concern – certainly not for the many Anglicans in especially America and in Britain who have felt betrayed and placed at odds with their own church because of the adoption of a practice they feel is contrary to the Church’s faith and scandalous to the healing of the Church’s brokenness. Many, although not all, of these opponents of women’s ordination have been from the “catholic” wing of the church. More recently some “evangelical” Anglicans (e.g. the AMiA) have chosen to reject women’s ordination in an organized way. Furthermore, the coalitions that have arisen to protest the acceptance of same-sex partnerships and their embrace through ordination, have brought several of these catholic and evangelical groups together, along with some who are proponents of women’s ordination, in partnerships (e.g. “Common Cause”) whose theological coherence may, not only on this issue, prove wishful thinking.

It is at least because of this growing theological incoherence of the “traditionalist” groups in the present Communion struggle that it is worth reflecting more broadly on the matter of women’s ordination. There is lurking confusion over just what the opponents of ECUSA’s sexual revisionism really stand for, especially because, although they all claim that, for instance, ECUSA’s General Convention is “walking apart” from the faith of the Communion (or perhaps already has), there is intense disagreement among self-styled “orthodox” Anglican on a matter deemed, by some anyway, to be critical to “orthodoxy”. Who can one trust with the articulation of a battered faith when its blustery defenders are publicly excoriating each other over women’s ordination? As someone who accepts women’s ordination, yet stands strongly opposed to ECUSA’s path into the wastes of doctrinal and disciplinary autonomy, I have come in for my share of criticism from opponents of women’s ordination. Not to mention the fact that I am married to an ordained Episcopal clergywoman. Called by some a “priestess”, with all the deliberate implications of pagan blasphemy associated with female sacral leadership, my wife’s connection (by marriage anyway) with my own writings has, for many, covered them with an aura of hypocrisy at best. Thus, I try to make sense of all this even in the midst of what I hope is a cooperative ministry on behalf of our Communion.

(Hat tip to Captain Yips)

Read it all here:


Anonymous said...

Dr. Radner implictly adopts a Protestant theological basis when he dismisses ontology in favor of revelation. One cannot properly understand or evaluate the Catholic opposition to OW - or the "bundling" of OW and same-sex marriage - on a Protestant basis.

And, in fact, Dr. Radner does not demonstrate an understanding of the Catholic position. He tries to parrot the "iconic" argument, but he omits a key element of it: the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist and the masculinity of the role of performing the sacrifice. If one does not consider the Eucharist to be a sacrifice or the priest to be performing a sacrifice, then the iconic argument against OW evaporates. Omitting this essential part of the argument (as a Protestant would), Radner easily topples his strawman.


poetreader said...

good observation, sir.
I was going to say something very similar, but you said it better than I could, so I won't.


+ David Chislett said...

I agree with B.A. Lawrence, and quote a succint paragraph from Fr Aidan Nichol's 2002 address to the Forward in Faith National Assembly (U.K.):

"The issue confronting us is not some form of cussed, 'last ditch' opposition to political correctness but obedience to the Word of God. The Word incarnate has already chosen how he wills to mediate himself in his Church-body. That is attested by the constant practice of the Church. The Holy See has made itself the mirror of that practice not only in the doctrinal statements of 1993 and 1994, but in juridical fashion a decade earlier, in 1983, in canons which clearly state the invalidity, and not merely the illiceity, of the insertion of women into the priestly office. The Lord wants his high priestly initiative of salvation to be embodied in the gender where he himself took flesh, for the sake of his Spouse, his Bride – she who, through his grace, will never cease to respond to his redemptive love and to bear fruit from it. These gender symbolics of the Christian priesthood vis-à-vis the virgin mother Church are not something we can abandon without the entire symbolic structure of the saving revelation unravelling. Naturally enough, popular opinion in civil society fails to understand this."

I wonder why American evangelicals on the whole fail to interract with the powerful and intellectually rigorous theologising from a Reformed point of view that emerges from Moore College in the Diocese of Sydney (Peter Jensen's diocese), where I have heard it maintained that an "exegetical slight of hand" is required for evangelicals to support the ordination of women to the priesthood.

My other point is that homosexual practice and women's ordination are both demonstrably manifestations of gender confusion. And while Dr Radner's RC spiritual director makes a cogent point, (i.e. that sleeping with a woman to whom he is married - who happens to believe that she is a priest-, and sleeping with a man are radically different matters) it is also true that that the new hermeneutic, surprisingly popular among American evangelicals, actually DOES give rise to BOTH departures from the Faith once delivered.

poetreader said...

Bishop Chislett,
Thank you for a succinct and clear statement of a point I've been trying to make with some of my Evangelical friends. These are not two separate issues, but manifestations of the same issue, the gender confusion that has permeated contemporary 'post-Christian' society.

I would further maintain that the Robinson consecration, though grievously sinful, does not approach the seriousness of the Barbara Harris consecration a few years ago, since there have always been unworthy ministers (including practicioners of homosexual acts), but never has the Apostolic Succession been broken and denied, as it was in the latter act.

Robinson's consecration, in fact, would hardly deserve notice if it were not for the denial of Scriptural and Traditional teaching on sexuality, a denial first crafted to justify the ordination of women.