Posted by: stpowen | November 24, 2012

The Women Bishops Fiasco

James 4:4.  ‘Adulterers and adulteresses!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.’

British readers will be all too aware of the goings-on at the Church of England Synod earlier this week, but for the benefit of my overseas readership, it appears that much of the Synod was taken up discussing whether to ordain female Bishops.  I did hear that the delegates also discussed Youth Unemployment- I’m sure they were against it.  What does not seem to have been on the agenda is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Synod has a rather byzantine structure and voting practices.  It divides itself into three “houses”-  The House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.  A Two Thirds majority is required in each “house” in order for a motion to be passed.  The motion to approve the ordination of woman bishops achieved the necessary majorities in the Houses of Bishops and Clergy, but failed to do so in the House of Laity.

Great has been the wrath of the secular establishment at this failure of the C of E to follow the politically correct agenda.  The Prime Minister has declared that it needs ‘a sharp prod’ in order that it should ‘get with the programme.’  Frank Field, a former minister and Labour M.P., is introducing a private bill to Parliament in order to strip the Church of its exemption from equalities legislation.  Other M.P.s having been queueing up to express their shock and horror at the vote.  It should be said here that the Church of England is the ‘Established’ church in the land, the Queen being its ‘Supreme Governor,’ {1}  so Parliament is entitled by law to express a view on its practices.  Most of the Press has also been loud in its condemnation:  In the daily Telegraph, a lady called Allison Pearson, in what must be the non sequitur of the year, wrote an article entitled, ‘Swaziland has women bishops.  Why not Suffolk?’   Another contributor descibed the vote as ‘a failure of leadership.’  The Telegraph itself however, in its editorial, warned against Parliament intervening to force the change upon the Church.  ‘The purpose of the Church,’ it wrote, ‘is not to accommodate the demands of secular society;  it’s duty is to a higher power.’

The religious hierarchy has also been outraged by the decision.  The outgoing Archdruid of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, warned that the church had ‘lost credibility’ and the Archbishop-designate, Justin Welby declared it a “very grim day,” but insisted that women would become bishops.  “It’s a question of finding a way,” he said.  “There is a real consensus that this is the way forward.”   Lord Carey, a former Archbishop, insisted, “The important thing is to find a way to get the desired outcome that the majority want” (sic).  There was no mention of finding the outcome that God might want.  On the television, various female clergy were pictured in tears after the result was declared.  One prominent lady ‘canon’ (whose name escapes me), who was widely tipped to be the first woman bishop had the reform been passed,  had  told the cameras before the vote, “We are all praying for the right result;” yet afterwards, she was clearly unwilling to accept that God might actually have answered her prayers, as she joined those seeking to get the result changed as soon as possible.

It all makes Martin want to weep.  First of all, the Bible makes it quite clear both by example (Matt. 10:1-4; Acts 6:-5) and precept (1 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:12) that women may not take  the senior teaching role within the churches.  Equally, it knows nothing of ‘Bishops’ as episcopalian churches know them.  The Greek word episkopos (literally, ‘Overseer’) never means someone in charge of a number of churches, but one charged with the oversight of a particular ccongregation.  There was a plurality of episkopoi in the church at Philippi (Phil. 1:1).  More than that, the Church of Christ knows nothing of ‘career paths’  and promotions, nor all the various offices with which the Anglican Church is so encumbered, and which these women aspire to- Canons, Rectors, Prebendaries, Deans, Archdeacons and so forth.  The Christian ministry is a calling, not a career, so ‘equal opportunities’ and ‘gender discrimination’ rules simply do not apply.

Secondly, the whole matter is such a colossal distraction from the one great  important issue that confronts the Church of Christ in Britain today:  the Gospel needs to be preached!  The country is going to hell on a handcart.  Every bastion of British society: Parliament,the police, the financial institutions, the Press, the B.B.C., as well as parts of the professing Church, has been found with serious irregularities, financial, sexual or both.  The prisons are full, STDs are at epidemic proportions, there are around 200,000 unborn children killed by abortion each year.  If ever there was a time for church ministers and preachers to stand up and urge repentance and a return to Christ, it is now.  Also, the senior ministers of the Church of England have acess to the media which the Free Churches do not have.  Their pronouncements are followed by the newspapers and on television,  yet all they can discuss in their Synod is job opportunities for girls!   It would be funny if it weren’t so desperately sad.

At the bottom of it all is the desire to be ‘relevant,’ by which is meant, to have the approval of the world.  There seems to be a great fear of being at odds with popular opinion.  Yet the Lord Jesus Christ  Himself declared, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of Man’s sake.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!  For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets……..Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets”  (Luke 6:23, 26).  Whom does the Church of England fear the more?  God or Man?

The great female evangelist, Amy Carmichael once descibed a dream she had.  One group of people were blindfolded and marching together towards a cliff edge.  It seemed ineviable that they would walk over the edge and be killed.  Beside the cliff edge was another group making daisy chains.  They paid no attention whatever to the first group.  So it seems to be in Britain today.  The vast majority of the population have no thought that they must one day stand before a Holy God who is ouraged by their sins, and give account to Him for all that they have done in their lives.  The very people who are charged with warning the people of this, are either unaware themselves of the danger, or more interested in playing their ecclesiastical power games than in preaching the Gospel.  Someone needs to read Ezekiel 2:16-21 to them.

If Justin Welby does the right thing, he will say, “The decision has been made on woman bishops.  That is an end to it.  Now we need to get on with preaching the Gospel to a perishing nation.”  Alas!  He is saying the precise opposite.  He has failed His very first test.  May God yet have mercy on Britain and send us a man after His own heart to lead us back to Christ.


{1}  Her Majesty has been referred to as ‘Head of the Church of England’ several times by ignorant people.  She is not; she is its ‘Governor.’  Christ is supposed to be Head of the C. of E., though I see precious little sign of it these days.



  1. Dear Martin,

    Though I am not always in agreement with you as a Marprelate on historical, Biblical grounds, I stand with you as a Marprelatess on the said historical, Biblical grounds. There were very many Anglican Christians praying that God would keep their church free of pagan priestesses as I know from my Church of England friends and the Great Unexpected (for the other side) happened. The majority voted against yet another attempt to bring in secular politics into the rule of the Church. Sadly, the Swedish church in which I trained as a minister over forty years ago also voted against priestesses but the government overruled and forced the church which counted then 98 per cent of the Swedes as members, to bow to its minority left-wing party vote and allow women to wear mitres in lieu of Easter Bonnets. During a recent visit to Sweden, I asked several leading ministers what their attitude was to priestesses and they told me honestly, ‘We did not vote for them so we ignore them’. However, the Church of England did have the free opportunity to mitre or not mitre the would-be men and clearly voted against such transvestism. Should we not take this as the Finger of God and not write as if that Finger had no longer His Power?
    Surely, we should not paint the devil on the wall and talk about what might have happened if women not only wore trousers but also mitres or even claim dogmatically that mitres will indeed become the new female fashion. Rather, we should thank the Lord for overruling in this way. Such jeremiads as occurred in your lop-sided Anglican-bashing report, only serve as a devil’s advocate to influence the faithful negatively and put pressure on them to give up. I see the vote against suffragettes who suffer from their own masochistically self-imposed injuries as a motion to be encouraged and be given constant prayer and attention in the assured hope that God will revive his Church. As you make very clear, such a hope is not to be found in Dissenting circles at present as most of them are women-ruled even if they have men of straw as their figure-heads. Let us therefore encourage Anglicans to shake of secular opposition and continue to do the right thing.

    Yours in this Christian duty,


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