Men and women in ministry: how will the vote go #3


I’ve posted this week on the various views on women and bishops and now putting the two debates together, gender and episcopacy, we can get a rough guide to how people will vote.  It is fascinating.  If there are enough people in synod who care about a neat and tidy episcopacy, then the church will vote for women bishops and against the following motion to allow the grassroots to choose their own bishops, thus leaving us with an impoverished church.  If enough care about women bishops but not about the episcopacy and so vote for the following motion then the door is opened for all sorts of interesting developments as the grassroots shape the way bishops lead and who they choose who to follow, as the table below shows.

On the legislation for women in the episcopacy, there are two motions before synod, a primary motion and a secondary, or following motion, which amends the first.

  • the first to give women the equal opportunity to be bishops and for diocesan bishops to delegate responsibility to network bishops

  • the second, and following motion, to allow women bishops but to provide permission for the grassroots to follow which bishop they want without going through the diocesan for permission.

Assuming that the nature of the episcopacy takes priority over gender in the minds of voters then the voting will fall like this:

Egalitarian Complimentarian Hierarchical
Constantinian Main motion For Against Against
Following motion Against Against Against
Augustinian Main motion For For/Against Against
Following motion Against For For

A member of synod committed to the geographical, Constantinian model of episcopacy will want to protect the diocesan structure and so vote against the following motion. With this view of episcopacy, only egalitarians would vote in favour of the opportunity for women bishops.

A member of synod who is committed to missional networks, fresh expressions, will think differently. An Augustinian view of episcopacy will not change the position of the egalitarian, who sees this largely as a matter of justice for women. The complimentarian may vote for the main motion and for the following motion as the matter is a secondary issue when choice of bishop is permitted. Or she might vote against the main motion if committed to the complimentarian view of men and women would also vote for the following motion. The hierarchical member will always vote against the main motion but, assuming he might lose the vote, will vote against their Constantinian theology of the church for a pragmatic Augustinianism.

I really hope people on synod have an Augustinian view of the need for mission in our time (800,000 Anglicans in a nation of 52,000,000, there are plenty fish in the sea) to allow all faithful Anglicans to flourish in co-ordinate networks rather than little, impoverished, neat and tidy dioceses.

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