By their fruits ye shall know them - beware!
And some bishops, I grieve to declare,
have permitted to preach
four pineapples, a peach,
three bananas, two grapes and a pear! - Leetle M

I have been hesitant to post about this for various reasons.

Firstly, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Until fairly recently, I had long been a supporter of the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. I have read around and studied this - it was even my topic of choice for one of my modules in 'A'-level Christian Theology. (Mine was the last year to be able to do Christian Theology before it was abolished and the national curriculum went down the "Religious Studies" route). In all of my study, I found little objection to the ordination of women.

In recent months, however, my own personal study has begun to lead me down a different path, but that isn't totally relevant. The reason that I say this is that I acknowledge an authority greater than my own mind. I refuse to be unthinking about such matters, but at the same time, I refuse to have the arrogance to believe that my tiny little mind can somehow overthrow the Truth that God has revealed to his Church and that the Saints have believed and practised for 2000 years before I came to be. The Church, in accordance with Holy Tradition, teaches that this cannot happen, and I accept this, for to accept the Truth of God, and to live in that Truth, is what it is to be Christian. I can do no other.

The second reason that I have not posted about this sooner is that, as somebody drawing nearer and nearer to leaving Anglicanism behind, I am not sure that this is my fight anymore. Part of me is sad that the church that has nourished my faith for 22 years is taking this path, but then another part of me wonders whether this is of any consequence in light of the same church's laxity about other aspects of the Faith. In my first post on this blog, I expressed my inability to accept the sort of approach to Christianity that embraces and affirms mutually exclusive "truths", and this is what I see in the Church of England - the Real Presence, the Apostolic Succession, the Resurrection - these are all aspects of the Faith which I believe ought to be taken as given, but there are open dissenters in the CofE whose positions are affirmed as equally valid to the understanding of them handed down to us through Tradition. How can this be? In light of Christ's promise to send the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us into all Truth, how can the CofE support this heresy? (For that is what it is!)

An all-embracing, false "liberalism" is masquerading as the Christian Faith! That the word Catholic means universal is batted about, with clearly no understanding of the actual meaning of the word. Yes, it means universal, but that is not an indiscriminate universality, in the sense of embracing as truth every whim that somebody has, in the belief that it is Spirit-led. No. Catholicism means just the opposite of that - it means universal as opposed to individualistic. Therefore is the ordination of women really that big a deal in light of everything else? Was the Church of England way beyond redemption before November of 1992?

As somebody who has most of his network somehow based in the Church of England, who has known nothing but Anglicanism as his own, it is extremely painful for me to answer yes to my question above, but in honesty, it is all that I can do.

It is only through reading Richard's recent post that I was moved to say something here, for I was very moved by what is clearly a very difficult time for him and others in a similar position. I can but pray, and I ask you to do the same.

18 responses:

Huw Raphael said...

Many things were not on my list of objections. But then I found the Church... what else to do?

Merseymike said...

My own journey has almost been diametrically opposite to yours - and I sincerely hope you'll be happy within Orthodoxy. But, if I'm honest, I'm glad you and other conservatives, whether they be conservative evangelicals or conservative catholics/orthodox/traditionalist, are on your way out of the CofE.

I want to see a liberal, inclusive denomination, with members at all levels welcomed irrespective of either their gender or sexual orientation, which is willing to challenge ossified traditions and look towards a revisionist, progressive Christianity. For I think it has little to offer without revision. I do not agree with evangelical attitudes towards the Bible. Neither do I share your view of the Church or tradition.

What you and your conservative friends view as the Christian faith is something I rejected when I walked away from evangelicalism some 20 years ago, and it holds no appeal to me at all.

The problem with the CofE is that it is so theologically and ecclesiologically diverse that it doesn't logically or practically hang together at all. I think this no longer has any genuine reason to exist, and that there will be major changes in the future which will lead to definitive splits and hopefully, rather more honesty on all sides. At the moment the 'unity at all costs' point of view appears to be strong, but I sense it becoming weaker.

And although I don't think we would find anything which we would now agree about in terms of substantive beliefs, we may well agree about the impossibility of 'business as usual'

Anonymous said...

Things to note about limerick:

1. It does not specify what church.

2. It does not specify what bishops.

3. It does not specify gender of the respective "fruits".

Our search is only for Truth. If we stay positive, and press forward toward the mark of the high calling, God brings us gently, or perhaps not so gently if we are stubborn, along His way. It really has little to do with the obstacles we encounter. God will take care of those. Even without the obstacles, only God can bring us to the Truth.

Trust Him.

Leetle M.

Mark said...

Hmmm... I think I am glad I am north of the border.

I don't want to "go" anywhere, yet the whole thing leaves me feeling a bit befuddled.

Joe said...

although there is much, much we disagree on--I can agree on three things:

1. Wishing Michael well on his journey
2. the impossibility of business as usual
3. The need for an inclusive church. Christ is no respector of persons as the good book says.

Joe Zollars

Anonymous said...

In my personal veiw formation of COE itself was wrong church should not be established in nationality base or personal needs of kings.Church should not be headed by head of state either.COE walking through a path against the teaching of ancient fathers who were inspeired by holy laws of early x'nity clearly prohibit women from preisthood,so as many other things canon laws cannot be changed according to society needs because its inspired by holyspirit.COE added manythings against early church teaching this is deffo not the right way this will creat a x'n community or church with no relation to its original form.wemon right should be protected but church should not walk away from its orginal teaching.

Joe said...

The COE has prayed and this is what they have come up with. Not all will agree of course and there will be those who leave--just as there were those who left over this or that in the past with the Anglican Communion.

However the Anglican Communion will struggle on, serving God and bringing the faith once delivered for all to the masses.

Joe Zollars

Anonymous said...

Joe, I see what you're saying (the post just above yours, marked "anonymous", was not mine--I sign my posts).

I believe in looking at the C of E with love and praying for her every chance we get. We mustn't leave "over something", but rather to open ourselves to the Lord so that He may increase our faith and draw us nearer to Himself.

Best wishes,

Leetle M.

Ian said...

Richard's post was moving for me as well.

I'm rather thankful at times like this that God gave me the smallest brain he had available; for intelligent folk like yourself the struggles seem hard. Please know my prayers remain with you and petitions were made before an icon of St Michael for you at Liturgy today.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

"for intelligent folk like yourself the struggles seem hard." said Ian...

Well, I went through it in '74, and shed many tears. Not that I was intelligent, but I know what love is, and as the silly old song says, "breaking up is hard to do."

To hang on in the US Ecusa after 1974 would have been something like watching your Mum die-- very, very slowly-- of leprosy, to tell you the absolute truth. The C of E (and in that I include the US ECUSA) still has so much beauty, so much glory, and yet....

In the end, as you press forward toward the mark, you just have to carry your dearest friends who are still waiting for God to show them the way in your heart, praying for them daily, helping them when you can and when they want your help (and not until they =do= want your help!).

The amount of work and effort you have "invested" can be an obstacle, but only if you allow it to become an obstacle. After all, the apostles had big fishing businesses, yet they dropped their nets without a backward look and followed Him.

May God bless you and care for you tenderly on this difficult journey!

Leetle M.

Ian said...

Wise words LM. I too was very sad to leave Anglicanism, but I knew, for me, there was no option.

Perhaps living in Sydney gave me an easier means. While the evangelicals are strong on the Bible, tradition and liturgy takes a back seat to "wot the yoof want", i.e. loud music and 'hip and happening' "meetings". I knew as the older A/Cs passed on, the time of any meaningful A/C presence was running out. But, more than that, I saw the truth of Orthodoxy. There could be, for me, no denying it. I knew I had to go.

[But I still play my Anglican Psalm chants, hymns and motets on my CD player regularly ;-)]

Anonymous said...

I still play mine too, Ian. I am taking very good care of the recordings--they may be worth a lot of money some day.... sigh.

Leetle M.

Mark said...

Ian: While the evangelicals are strong on the Bible, tradition and liturgy takes a back seat to "wot the yoof want"...

Thank heavens our Church isn't like that here. Not that I don't understand what you're all saying, but I must gladly live in an odd little bubble, where I can't see faults like that within the Scottish Episcopal Church, despite them seriously having to exist there.

I think I will remain a happy ostrich just now! After all, I would like to actually stay in this religion, unlike previous encounters with others.

Joe said...

No family is without its own case of serious dysfunction. Neither is any Church. Since problems exist everywhere in one form or another, nothing is gained by running from them.

That is not to say that there are those who are not justified in their leaving the Anglican Communion. However one should not go elsewhere due to troubles at home, but rather because they no longer feel that tradition cares for their spiritual needs adequately.

Joe Zollars

Ian said...

Amen Joe.

Nothing worse than a grumpy convert taking their baggage with them. They will most likely not find rest.

I learnt a similar lesson in my A/C days: I kept defining myself as an A/C as opposed to an evangelical: I defined myself by what I wasn't. I disagreed with evangelicals simply because they were evangelicals. Thankfully God in His Graciousness showed me the error of my ways.

May all grow, wherever they are planted.

Anonymous said...

Now, Ian, you're the wise one! Bless you for saying that! We certainly cannot leave a church because we don't care for the rite, or for the people who celebrate whatever rite that is!

My late, great Dad, of eternal memory, was a Baptist. Now, there are Baptists, and there are Baptists.... when we moved to this area in my early childhood, my parents automatically went to the nearest Baptist church. My Dad came home one Sunday and simply said, "I'm not going back there--the pews are too hard!" So he just didn't go to church until my mother decided to become a Presbyterian. Then he went with her--the Presbyterians had red velvet cushions on their pews.

Many years later, I became Orthodox. I took Daddy to church with me, and he really enjoyed going, maybe for the first time in his life. He said to our pastor, "I really enjoyed your service! It wasn't the least bit boring. I used to say, I don't like going to church because the pews are too hard, but you have solved that problem--you don't have any pews!"

And my nephew, who had been raised to be Jewish (long story, don't ask) when he went to church with me, said to the priest (who was a former Lutheran), "I really enjoyed your service! Everything was beautiful and =you= aren't at all boring like the rabbi at _______synagogue is!" You had to be there--the expression on the Orthodox priest's face was priceless!

Leetle M.

Anonymous said...

Michael, What a beautiful, mature thoughtful spirit you have. I am a woman and I myself do not support the ordination of women. It was with an battle I finally conceded to myself that view based on what I had read from Scripture. And I myself am a woman. German speaking but not from Germany nor England. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Can I say I am a woman again?
Blasted errors and not checking.
Just shoot me.

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