Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Where we differ, dialogue is vital

I'm a member of an evangelical network for ordained women, Awesome, who have been meeting over the past 12 months with Reform, a large conservative evangelical network in the UK, for talks over differences between views of the ordination of women as priests and as bishops in the Church of England.

For now, the talks are over, and a final statement has been published on the Awesome website and on the Reform website. From the statement on the Awesome website:

"...it is clear to us that our ongoing differences are not only in relation to the exegesis of the specific biblical texts where we have focussed our studies. Further areas which have arisen in our conversations and which we believe require ongoing discussion among evangelicals include:

1. The effect on biblical interpretation of different understandings of the relationship between exegesis of specific texts in their original contexts, wider biblical theology, and the role of doctrine and systematic theology.

2. The form and significance of creation order in relation to being made male and female, especially as revealed in Genesis 2 and later biblical appeals to it.

3. The doctrine of the Trinity, in particular whether or not language of submission and obedience is to be used for the eternal intra-Trinitarian relationship of the Son to the Father and the significance of any such order within the Trinity for the ordering of relationships between men and women in the church and husband and wife in marriage.

4. The relationship between submission and obedience and whether there is a universal Christ-like mutual submission among Christians or a specific submission of wives to husbands whose position as head is to be understood in terms of Christ-like authority.

5. The connection between any ordering in relationship between husband and wife and any ordering of men and women within the ministries and offices of the church.

6. The nature of episcopal jurisdiction and the provision therefore required for evangelicals opposed to women bishops when women become bishops."

As ever, encouragement of ongoing dialogue is important among God's people, especially where differences result in damage to the body of Christ.

I affirm my commitment to the following ideals from the statement:
•• to sustain each other in prayer
•• to work for charitable best practice in all our relationships and discussions
•• to recognise and nurture the gifts of all fellow evangelicals, both male and female.



  1. Wow, knocks me over! Fabulous that you can remain committed to ongoing dialog! Do you know the book The Word According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own, by Cullen Murphy? I am now plugging through it--it is mostly a history of various hermenutics, tracing some of the key women scholars in the 20th century.

  2. It seems that many people are seeing the benefit of dialogue as opposed to avoidance of the 'other'. Of course, this relates to inter-faith dialogue as well. I must state that I was not present at these talks, but it was representatives from our network that participated. In our local network, we discuss these issues, then bring our views to the annual conference or to the rest of the network via our Facebook member's group.

    I haven't read the book you mention. Sounds good - when time permits!

  3. Of course dialogue is essential but so hard to really engage in!!!!!! Bravo for being on that path.


These comments are moderated by Curate Karen and so there will be a delay between posting a comment and its appearance on the blog. You may need to click on 'Post Comment' twice.