Friday, June 29, 2012

Sydney Anglicans III. Complementarian ministry

Some of the most insistent critics of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney are those who oppose its complementarian approach to the ministry of men and women. A number of those critics feel personally injured by the repeated decisions of the diocesan synod to reject measures authorising the ordination of women to the presbyterate. Others go further and insist these decisions arise from a deep-seated misogyny, perhaps related to the peculiar conditions of the early colony, but in any case fuelled by a way of reading the Bible which is authoritarian and androcentric. Yet men and women in Sydney respond that they are seeking above all else to be faithful to the word which God has given us. It is the Bible which teaches us to celebrate the differences between men and women and the way attention to those differences enhances our unity rather than undermines it, not least as together we seek to serve Christ and his gospel. This is not an authoritarian reading but a submissive one.

In the last quarter of the twentieth century measures promoting the ordination of women to the presbyterate were brought before the diocesan synod on a number of occasions and defeated each time. A succession of reports on the subject were commissioned, not least from the Sydney Diocesan Doctrine Commission. Each of these argued that the teaching of Scripture supported the equal dignity of men and women, equal access to salvation and all the blessings brought to us by Christ and through his Spirit, and yet celebrated a difference between men and women that should not be erased and which has a direct bearing on what is appropriate in the exercise of Christian ministry. This has become the settled position of the diocese, though this should not be taken to mean there is absolute unanimity on either the principle or its implications for practice. Read more

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