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Response to Holy Orders Task Force Report -- Six Anglican Leaders Reflect on ACNA Statement

Response to Holy Orders Task Force Report -- Six Anglican Leaders Reflect on ACNA Statement
Prepared for the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America in response to the Hicks Report

www.virtueonline.org
Sept. 24, 2017

Preface: In the spring of 2017 the Anglican Church in North America released a 318-page Task Force Report on Holy Orders. The Report was the culmination of a five-year study. The Response below was written to reply to this Report. It was submitted to the House of Bishops in early August 2017 with the intent of helping the Bishops discuss the issue in their September conclave.

Response to Holy Orders Task Force Report
Prepared for the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America
August 2017

Why we are writing

After carefully reading "The Holy Orders Task Force Final Report," we conclude that while it provides a helpful review of church history, it does not adequately express the convictions of the historic Church on holy orders. We believe the question of women and holy orders is a serious matter of biblical truth that involves God's will for the created order and His Church.

The biggest mistake in the Report is the conclusion drawn by the author representing the Anglican High Church tradition that there is "no clear prohibition in Scripture" to the ordination of women (297). The author representing the Anglican Evangelical Tradition adds to the problem by summing up up the exegesis as a "text jam" (274), which unfortunately reinforces the impression that Scripture is not clear on this matter. We will show below that there is no text jam, and that the new interpretation of Scripture favoring the ordination of female priests contradicts the plain sense of Scripture.

Another flaw in the Report is the suggestion that the Trinitarian argument against women's ordination (WO) is heretical. The author representing the Anglican Evangelical Tradition alleges that in arguments made by some traditionalists the Son is subordinate in "person/nature/essence/being or in his subsistence" (266). In other words, it is suggested that the argument against WO using the Trinity is based on Arianism. We argue that while heretics made such arguments in the early Church, the consistent teaching of Nicene orthodoxy has distinguished between the equal being (ousia) of the Three and the eternal relations among their Persons (hypostases), in which the Father is eternally unbegotten, the Son is eternally begotten, and the Spirit eternally proceeds. The Father is first, the Son second, and the Spirit is third. No Church Father or Creed or Confession ever said that the Son sent the Father or that the Spirit sent the Son. So while we believe that the Trinity has relevance to this discussion, we reject all Arian interpretations of the Trinity.

Therefore the argument below is twofold: 1) Scripture clearly prohibits women from ordination to the presbyterate/priesthood. 2) This can be seen in what Scripture says about the Trinity.

Biblical testimony to a male-only presbyterate

Here are some clear biblical testimonies to a male-only presbyterate.

Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:33-35 (ESV here and elsewhere unless otherwise noted), As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Then he adds that this is not just his own opinion: If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

Note that this is not simply a local rule because of a problem at Corinth that does not exist elsewhere: As in all the churches of the saints . . .

In 1 Tim. 2:11-14 he commands, 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Note that Paul argues from creation--before the Fall and not after: For Adam was formed first, then Eve. For Paul, then, male authority in the Church derives not from a fallen order but from the creation order. Male headship is not from sinful patriarchy but because of God's original order for humanity. In fact, the form of the Fall reinforces male headship. Eve took the initiative rather than Adam, and did not consult with Adam. Adam should have protected her from Satan and reminded her of God's commands.

In 1 Cor. 11:7-16 Paul says again that male headship is rooted in the creation not the fallen order after sin. He appeals to the order of creation of man and woman before the Fall: For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 . . . .16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

When Paul wrote that man was not made from woman but woman from man, and that Adam was formed first, then Eve, he was referring to the creation of the first man and woman in Genesis 2:15-25.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

"This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Several things emerge from this passage. First, God commanded the man and not the woman, suggesting here what is stated elsewhere in Scripture (Eph 5:22)--that the man is head of the family. Second, the woman is a helper to the man to assist him in obeying God's command to work and keep the garden, and to be fruitful and multiply and steward the creation (1:28). Third, the woman is made from man (out of Man), as Paul states in 1 Cor 11:8. Fourth, man takes the lead in marriage: a man shall leave his father.

The same principle of male headship can be seen in Scripture's instructions for the Church's bishops/overseers and deacons.

1 Tim. 3:1-2 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?

1 Tim 3:12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.

Titus 1: 5-6 5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you-- 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

Scripture makes clear that the family of the Church is rooted in the family of the home, and that the principle of fatherhood in the home comes from God's Fatherhood:

Eph. 3:14-15 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

In the home the father is the head of the family, just as the Father is head of the divine family of the Trinity, and Christ is head of the Church, his body:

Eph. 5: 22-26 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word

The headship of the husband in the nuclear family, which is a type of Christ's headship of the family of the Church that is His body, is rooted in creation, not the fallen order. In Eph. 5:31-32, Paul points to God's pattern for marriage before the fall in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Paul points to the same male headship in the family in his letter to the Colossians: Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them (Col. 3:18-19).

Peter has the same message about the home in 1 Pet 3:1-2,7, that in the nuclear family the husband is the head, and is to honor his wife.

1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. . . 7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

The principal objections from those in favor of WO

Mark Twain once said, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand." Similarly, it is not difficult to see from these passages that the Bible teaches male headship in the family of the home and the family of the Church, both patterned after God's Fatherhood in the Trinity and His creation. The problem is not that these texts are unclear but that it is impossible to square them with the modern rejection of hierarchy in the home and Church.

Moderns often presume that headship is arbitrary and will always oppress because it involves power. While painful experience in a fallen world might point to this as conclusive, all this changes in Christ's relationship with His Church. Christ is the Head of the Church, and as she submits to His headship she grows in joy and fruitfulness. As E.L. Mascall put it, the fundamental relation of the Church to Christ "is not one of inferiority but of membership and reception of communicated sonship. And behind St Paul's thought about the man and the woman we must surely see the story of the creation of Eve from the side of Adam, in which the fundamental relation is not one of inferiority but of mutual perfection and of derived partnership: I will make him a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:18)."

But while for Mascall Christ's headship means that male headship in home and Church is not inherently oppressive, some in ACNA disagree. According to the "Final Report," they make the following objections to what we believe is a plain-sense reading of these passages--that women are not to become priests/presbyters with authority over a congregation.

1. OBJECTION MADE BY PROPONENTS OF WO: "The 'prohibitive' texts [are] correctives to specific abuses in the early Christian movements" (263).
a. That is, they were local or temporary problems. The women in Corinth and Timothy's churches were interrupting and asking inappropriate questions. They were not willing to learn the Law in silence. They were insisting on teaching in a formal manner that would usurp local authority or lord it over men. (272-73)
b. OUR RESPONSE: Paul wrote that these were his rules in all the churches, not just some, and that this was from the Lord not himself. It is clear that women could speak (prophesying in Corinth, e.g.) and teach (Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos, e.g.) in some circumstances, but not in a way that would exercise authority over a congregation. There is no suggestion in Scripture that these rules were merely temporary. Instead, the foundation is God's creation order.

2. OBJECTION MADE BY PROPONENTS OF WO: These were "tactical and temporary concessions to the ambient Greco-Roman patriarchy in the first century" (263).
a. That is, patriarchy was the order of the day in ancient culture. Paul and Jesus knew of no other social or religious possibility, and both realized that gender egalitarianism would ruin the Church's chances for growth. But their revolutionary treatment of women pointed to future egalitarian roles in the Church.

b. OUR RESPONSE: The ancient world was full of altars and shrines with priestesses. Ephesus was dominated by an enormous temple to Artemis (Diana), led by a female priest and her female assistants. So female presbyters in the early Church would not have been revolutionary. They were all over the Mediterranean world, and particularly in the backyard of one of the early Church's most important centers. Yet none of the elders in the church at Ephesus was female (Acts 20:17-38); all the articles and pronouns designating the elders are masculine. And as we have seen above, every instruction about headship in the church limits it to males. There is not one female priest or elder in either the Old or New Testament. The only female priests we know in the early Church were in its heretical branches--among the Montanists and Gnostics.

Jesus was revolutionary--permitting women to sit at His feet learning from Him, to travel with Him, to talk with Him in public in ways that broke social conventions, and to be His first public witnesses. He could have appointed a woman as one of the Twelve, but He did not. To ordain a woman to headship in the Church, representing Christ at the Eucharist, suggests not only that Christ was wrong to choose only male apostles but also that God was wrong to have chosen His Son to become a man and not a woman. In sacramental ministry the celebrant at the Eucharist stands in persona Christi (in the person or place of Christ), reenacting the Last Supper. For many of the Fathers, he stands in persona Patris (in the person or place of the Father). As C.S. Lewis argued, to say that a woman can represent Christ at the altar is to deny that Scripture is inspired when it taught us to speak of God with masculine imagery.

Would Jesus have approved of women as heads in the home or Church if ancient culture had changed its approach to patriarchy? Not likely, because ancient culture already accepted goddesses and female priests. Furthermore, if the Bible had grounded its rules for leadership in the fallen order, then an argument for female headship might have worked. But the Bible grounds these rules for the family and Church in creation, and makes it clear that these reflect an eternal order.

3. OBJECTION MADE BY PROPONENTS OF WO: The argument made by some against WO is based on an Arian view of the Son (266). Besides, they say, we don't know enough "about the immanent Trinity to say very much at all," and "the analogy between the divine Persons and human beings" is not "remotely apt." (266)

a. That is, some arguments against WO see the Son as inferior in nature and essence to the Father. They also presume that models based on the Trinity can be used to dictate models of leadership in the Church.

b. OUR RESPONSE: We agree that "models of the Trinity" have sometimes been used mischievously, and that these models have at times been constructed in ways that are remote from the clear testimony of Scripture. But we believe that while the Trinity is a mystery beyond human comprehension, Scripture makes clear some things that we can know about the relations among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Among those things is the Father's headship over the Son and the Spirit. It was the Father who sent the Son, not vice-versa (Jn. 4:34; 5:36;6:38; 8:29; 14:24; 17:8). The Spirit proceeds from the Father (Jn. 14:26). Sometimes Scripture refers to the Spirit of the Son (e.g., Rom. 8:9) but it also testifies that the Son sends the Spirit from the Father (Jn. 15:26; Acts 2:33). As both the Creed and Scripture tell us, Jesus' kingdom shall have no end (Lk. 1:33; Rev. 11:15), but after the end of history the Father is still head: Then comes the end . . . . When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:24, 28). Jesus told the disciples at the Last Supper that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom(Mt. 26:29). Paul tells us, The head of Christ is God (1 Cor. 11: 3). Elsewhere he suggests the Father's headship of the Trinity (Eph. 1:3; 4:6), as does Peter (1 Pet. 1:2). In Revelation the Lamb is distinguished from the One who sits upon the throne (Rev. 4:2; 5:1, 6-7, 13).

Scripture makes clear what the creed pronounces, that the Son is "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God . . . one in being with the Father." We reject Arian views of the Son, as Scripture and tradition do.

The upshot, then, is that there is a relation of eternal headship in the Trinity, where the Father is always the head over the Son and the Spirit, with the second and third Persons as equal in essence and nature but under the Father's headship. This is reflected in the home and Church. It should not be surprising. After all, we are made in the image of the Trinitarian God, and it is the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named (Eph. 3:14-15).

4. OBJECTION MADE BY PROPONENTS OF WO: Jesus "reverses the centuries-old deprecation of women in Israel since the Fall" (267).

a. That is, Jesus undoes the patriarchy of ancient Israel by the way He treats women. He accepted Mary of Bethany into the men's part of the house to study and become a teacher herself (Ken Bailey). While all the men fled Jesus, the women were the first at the tomb and so were apostles to the apostles (NT Wright). (267-68)

b. OUR RESPONSE: Bailey ignores the counter-witness of the rest of the New Testament. Jesus chose not to include this Mary or any other woman among the Twelve. Bailey is right grammatically to say that the Greek in Acts 20 could permit women within the scope of masculine pronouns and articles, but he ignores literary and theological contexts. Those contexts strongly imply that Luke did not intend women to be included among the elders.

Wright makes similar moves, but without accounting for Jesus' choice of apostles, Jesus' Jewish context (where female priesthood was unthinkable), and the clear prohibitions in the rest of the New Testament text. Besides, acceptance of Wright's suggestion would violate Article 20 in the 39 Articles, which forbids the Church from "so expound[ing] one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another."

In sum, because the prohibition of a female presbyterate is the plain sense of Scripture, proponents of WO must make one place of Scripture repugnant to another.

Other notes in Scripture supporting this Response

1. God's names: God names Himself in Scripture as a "He." In the Old Testament YHWH is masculine in reference. In the New Testament God's name is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father and Son are obviously masculine. The Spirit, while grammatically neutral, often takes a male pronoun. Female pronouns are never used for God in the Bible. While males and females are both made in the image of God and God therefore has female aspects, they are still "His" aspects. He is never said to be a "She." Jesus says He would have liked to gather Jerusalem to Himself as a mother hen gathers her brood (Mt. 23:37), but He never calls God "Mother."

2. Adam names: As the great OT scholar Gerhard von Rad observed, naming in the biblical world was an act of authority. Adam was chosen to name the animals, and God brought Adam to Eve to give her a name. These were symbolic actions that people in the ancient world understood to be signs of Adam having authority over Eve.

3. Adam, not Eve, represents the human race: Throughout Scripture it is Adam who represents all of God's human creation. Christ is the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45); in Adam all die (Rom. 5:12, 14; 1 Cor. 15:22). God uses a man, not a woman, to represent humanity--both in creation and sin, and in redemption and righteousness (Just as sin came into the world through one man . . . much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ; Rom 5:12, 17).

4. Junia (which could also be a man "Junias"; Rom. 16:7): Some think of Junia as a female apostle because Paul says she and Andronicus are epistemoi en tois apostolois. But the ESV translates this phrase, well known to the apostles. Paul might have been using apostolos here to mean "messenger," as he did in 2 Cor. 8:23 (as for our brothers, they are messengers [apostoloi] of the churches) and Phil. 2:25 (I have felt it necessary to send Epaphroditus . . . your messenger [apostolon] and minister to my need). The NRSV rendering (Andronicus and Junia . . . are prominent among the apostles) is dubious because it conflicts with every other reference in the NT to apostles as males, and other translations such as the ESV make better sense of the literary and theological contexts.

5. Difficult situations: There are situations in Scripture as well as modern life where spiritual headship seems ambiguous. Because Barak was not willing to lead without the help of Deborah, she--the prophetess, judge, and mother in Israel--reluctantly joined Barak when he routed Sisera and all his chariots (Jdg. 4-5). There is no indication that Deborah fought in battle, but she clearly strengthened Barak when he needed it. Timothy's mother apparently gave young Timothy spiritual direction because her husband was not a believer (2 Tim. 1:5; Acts 16:1). So while there are difficult and extraordinary situations where women must exercise spiritual headship, the home and Church should always try to return to the biblical order. Hard cases make bad law, and abnormal situations should not dictate regular order.

6. The Biblical model for resolving disputes: The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 is the biblical model for resolving disputes about new rites in the Church. Some Christians wanted new rites for the circumcision of gentile believers. There was much debate. Paul and Barnabas were appointed to discuss this question with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem (v. 12). Resolution was gained only when it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us (v. 28) -- when it seemed good to the whole church (v. 22).

Thus the rule for the early Church in resolving disputes was to accept only rites that accorded with Scripture as understood by the whole church. The early Church leaders believed not only that Scripture was the Word of God, but also that the church of the living God [is] a pillar and buttress of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Their criterion was Scripture as understood by the whole Church.

Rites for WO have been approved without the consent of the whole Church. They have come from a minority of the world's churches, and from churches that are heretical and dying. This is a new and (mostly) Western development. This new way of understanding gender in the home and church deviates from the way the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church has understood home and holy orders for two millennia. For these reasons, WO has been divisive, and will prevent ACNA from full communion with the largest and oldest Christian churches in the world. Therefore we make our argument not only for the sake of fidelity to Scripture but also for the sake of unity in God's church.

What about ministry for women? And their gifts?

In the beginning God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it (Gen. 2:15). Woman was made as a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:20-23) and was given the name Eve, because she was the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20). Adam's task of working and keeping the land was different from the two tasks given to Eve: to be a fit helper for the man in his work and also to mother and care for the living who were born to her. A similar distinction of divinely appointed tasks can be seen in the NT Scriptures, with men and women receiving different charisms to accomplish what was needed for the successful proclamation of the Gospel and the building up of the Church.

Characteristics of the Petrine charism

Jesus trained His disciples and taught them to do what He was doing by providing them with very specific on-the-job instruction. On the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus commissioned Peter to feed His lambs and tend His sheep (Jn. 21:15-17), to be the shepherd of His flock: to protect them, lead them, take care of them and serve them even as He Himself had done (Jn. 10:14-16). At His ascension, Jesus instructed all of His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you(Mt. 28:16-29).

By the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, Peter and his fellow disciples were empowered to proclaim the Gospel and shepherd Christ's flock, the Church. This Petrine charism can be seen throughout the rest of the NT. Peter, as leader of the disciples, provided leadership for the Church (Acts 1:15-26), preached and baptized those who were being saved (Acts 2:1-41), healed the infirm (Acts 3:1-10), and administered discipline (Acts 5:1-11; 8:20-24).

Through the teaching and leadership of Peter and the other apostles, the Church was unified in fellowship and fed through the breaking of the bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42). Deacons were raised up to help with administration and service, making sure that physical needs of the expanding flock are being met (Acts 6:1-6). They were also commissioned by the Holy Spirit to preach (Acts 7:1-53; 8:4-13) and evangelize (Acts 8:26-40) under the supervision of Peter and the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 8:14-17).

The ministry of Paul (Acts 13ff.) expanded the structure and leadership of the Church through the planting of new churches, preaching and teaching new converts and establishing local leadership in his fledgling congregations. His letters to these new leaders gave instruction on how to shepherd the flock and build up the Church in love. He provided both doctrinal teaching and practical guidance on the right ordering of church relationships, discipline, church practice and liturgy. He also gave instruction on leadership roles.

The pastoral epistles document the passing of this Petrine charism of church leadership on to the next generation, with counsel on the qualities and responsibilities of ordained leadership, the necessity for sound doctrine, the right ordering of church relationships and roles within the Church.

In the West, especially among the churches of the Reformation, virtually all ministry in the church came to be defined exclusively in terms of this Petrine model of ordained church leadership based on Scriptural precedent. The Protestant pastor was always a man, whose ministry consisted of providing leadership; running the church; administering the rites of baptism, communion, marriage and burial; tending to the spiritual needs of the flock through preaching and teaching; and administering discipline when necessary.

Clericalism merely amplified this understanding--that in order to exercise any recognized ministry in the Church, one had to be ordained according to the Petrine model of ministry. Thus if women were to exercise a ministry in the Church, then they too had to be ordained. To limit the ordained ministry to men only would deprive women of their spiritual callings and prevent them from exercising their gifts given for the building up of the Church. But defining the parameters of women's ministry by basing it on a Petrine model of ordination narrowly limits the scope of women's ministry. It inevitably tries to shoe-horn women into what is essentially a male charism for ministry. It is not a comfortable fit.

If Scripture is to be the basis for determining how the Church should best function, what does the NT tell us about women's ministry? The ministry of the Marian charism is far broader than the Petrine ministry. It tends to rise up organically and, unlike the disciples, women are not told specifically as a group what their ministry will be. Their participation is more fluid and they receive their callings and instructions through the spiritual gifts they receive. The many things they do to minister to Jesus and His Church seem to flow effortlessly out of their natural gifting for nurturing and providing support, given to them from the beginning.

Characteristics of the Marian charism

The Marian charism is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. It builds on gifts not necessarily exclusive to women, but innate in them to a greater extent. The Proverbs 31 woman of the OT exercises a wide variety of gifts in praiseworthy ministry both to her family and to the world around her. In the Gospels, the gifts of this feminine charism are exemplified by Mary the Mother of Jesus and many other women.

As a handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:38 RSV), the Virgin surrenders herself completely to the Lord and to a life of spiritual openness (Lk. 1:38) and worship (Lk. 1:46-55). She exercises the gift of prophecy along with her cousin Elizabeth (Lk. 1:41-45). As a woman of deep prayer, she treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart (Lk. 2:19, 51). Other women share in her charism of spiritual openness. Mary of Bethany sits at the feet of Jesus, listening to the Lord (Lk. 10:42). On the morning of the resurrection, it is only the women who see the angels and encounter the risen Jesus (Mt. 28:2-10; Mk. 16:5-9; Lk. 24:4-7; Jn. 20:11-18).

A second vital aspect of the Marian charism is ministering directly to the body of Christ as spiritual mothers, nurturing adults and children and showing mercy to those in need. In the Gospels, they minister to the physical body of Jesus himself. His mother Mary carries Him, gives birth to Him, nurtures and teaches Him, raising Him up in the fear of the Lord and in godly obedience to the Law (Lk. 2:51-52). The sinful woman washes Jesus' feet with her tears and anoints them with ointment, pouring out her great love for Him (Lk. 7:36-50). Just before His passion, another woman anoints Jesus' head with expensive perfume, and He commends and praises her for having done a beautiful thing for Him in preparing His body for burial (Mt. 26:6-13).

The women of the Gospels have particular gifts of faith and evangelism. They bear witness to the truth of who Jesus is, they point people to the Lord, and their personal testimony brings others to faith and obedience. At the wedding in Cana, Mary addresses the servants in faith, pointing to Jesus and exhorting them, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn. 2:5). The Samaritan woman hurries to her neighbors, exclaiming excitedly, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did" and she brings a whole village to Jesus (Jn. 4:28-30). Martha is put forward as the model of faith, confessing to Jesus: "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God" (Jn. 11:27). Outside the empty tomb Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Jesus, who sends her to the disciples as an eyewitness to proclaim to them the good news of the resurrection: "I have seen the Lord!" (Jn. 20:18)

The gifts of hospitality and helps of many women, known and unknown, were vital to the ministry of Jesus, providing necessary practical support for Him and His disciples. Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus into their home whenever He was in Jerusalem (Lk. 10:38). The women at the cross with Jesus provided crucial behind-the-scenes support for His ministry: When Jesus was in Galilee, they used to follow him and minister to him (Mk. 15:40-41 NASB). While Jesus was ministering to the crowds, these women were busy taking care of His needs. They also provided financial support: among them were Joanna and Susanna and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means (Luke 8:3 NASB).

These same gifts are evident in the NT church as well. At the beginning of Acts, the women were gathered together with the disciples in the upper room and with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14). The deacon Philip had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). In the pastoral epistles, the widow who has set hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day is honored (1 Tim. 5:5).

Women continued to minister to the body of Christ, now present in His Church, through corporal works of mercy. In the town of Joppa, Tabitha was a pillar of the church, abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did (Acts 9:36-39 NASB). When she died, Peter was called and the weeping widows showed him all the tunics and outer garments she had made for them. When Tabitha was raised from the dead, many believed in the Lord. In the pastoral epistles, elderly widows are to be supported who have brought up their children, shown hospitality, relieved the afflicted, and devoted themselves to doing good in every way (1 Tim. 5:9-10).

Other gifts involve teaching, raising up the next generation of believers, and mentoring younger women as spiritual mothers in the Church. In Corinth, Priscilla and her husband Aquila explained more accurately the way of God to the eager preacher Apollos, who had known only the baptism of John (Acts 18:24-26). Timothy, who had a Gentile father, was commended by Paul for the sincere faith instilled in him by his Jewish mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois and now dwelling in him as well (Acts 16:1, 2 Tim. 1:5). Titus is told to bid the older women in his church to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, and contribute to the growth of healthy families (Titus 2:3-4).

Wealthy women were generous in supporting the ministry of the Church. When Lydia was baptized as one of the first converts in Philippi, she begged Paul to stay at her house, supplied hospitality for his ministry, and helped catalyze the founding of a new church (Acts 16:14-15). Nympha provided her home as a meeting place for the church in Laodicea (Col. 4:15).

These various feminine gifts of the Marian charism continued to be part of the Church's ministry through the post-apostolic age and into the second millennium. Up to the time of the Reformation in the West, there were numerous influential ministries exercised by laywomen in the Church: Macrina (theologian with Gregory of Nyssa), Dominca (spiritual mother, lifelong service to the Christian community, gifts of healing prayer and prophecy), Hilda of Whitby (educator and diplomat), Walburga (missionary work with Boniface), Milburga of Shrewsbury (abbess, gifts of evangelism, pastoral care, physical healing, and spiritual deliverance from sin's power), Clare of Assisi (foundress of Franciscan order to care for the poor), Hildegard von Bingen (mystic, herbalist, spiritual writer, composer), Catherine of Siena (mystic author, nurse of the critically ill, catalyst for reformation of the papacy), Teresa of Avila (mystic, reformer of the Carmelite order, businesswoman, prolific author on prayer).

Embracing both the Petrine and Marian Charisms

After the Reformation, these Marian charism ministries were mostly lost in the Protestant world, leaving only one model of ministry in Church, that of ordained Petrine ministry. Whatever women did for the Church often consisted of such tasks as caring for the children, cleaning, cooking, preparing bulletins, washing altar linens, singing in the choir, tidying up afterwards, and other similar duties as assigned. Women were discouraged or even prevented from doing anything considered "ministerial" -- that was the work of men -- and the message they received was that their mostly mindless work might be necessary for the Church but was not esteemed or honored.

Western society came to hold the same views on the types of work that were appropriate for women. By the mid-20th century, gifted women in secular society began pushing back against the limitations that had been imposed on them. They sought to be treated as equal to men in all areas of life, whether it be jobs, education, family roles, or social relationships. This feminist pushback spread also to the churches and women's rights were soon piggybacked on to civil rights as a first-order justice issue. For women to fully use their gifts in the Church, they said, they must be ordained just like men in order to do what men do. What is missing from this equation is the Church's recognition, acceptance and blessing of the Marian charism of women, without which the Church is incomplete.

Both Petrine and Marian charisms are needed for the Church to be a complete and healthy body. We tend to focus on what can be seen in the Body--the feet, hands, ears, eyes and noses (1 Cor. 12:12-26)--and often forget that it is the internal organs--the unseen ministries--that enable the external members of the Body to function well. In God's economy, that which is hidden and modest is deemed most valuable and given the greater honor (1 Cor. 12:24b-26).

This is a notion that is very counter-cultural in a society which values "men's work" as a "real job" and denigrates "women's work" of nurturing, providing support, caring for the physical and emotional needs of others, raising children and attending to the spiritual formation of the next generation. It was not so in Jesus' day, when rabbis exempted Jewish women from all positive commandments with a specific requirement of time, because whatever they would be doing at that time was more valuable to God and to society.

The concept that men's and women's ministries are not the same and not interchangeable is also counter-cultural in today's world. In the beginning, Adam's task of tending and keeping the garden was a visible work needed to bring forth fruit in the present. The two tasks given to Eve were less visible. She was to provide helpful support for Adam in his work in the present. As mother of all living, her focus was to be on the future and the successful raising of the next generation. Men are called to build up the Church in the present. Women are called to support the present work and plant for the future, laying the foundations of faith for the next generation to build on.

What would the Church look like if it were to restore the fullness of the Marian charism and its ministries that flow like water throughout the body of Christ? What would happen if the Church began to intentionally encourage and honor all the gifts that women have been given to build up the Church from the inside out and to lay foundations for the future? In reserving to men the Petrine charism specific to sacramental ordained ministry, the Church can make space for gifted lay women, support the release of their gifts and encourage them to create their own fruitful ministries in service to the Church, in their own families and within the larger family of God. Their ministries, carried out in partnership with those of men, both lay and ordained, would reflect more fully the order of God's creation and serve to build up the Church both in the present and for the generations to come. The life and witness of the Church in the world would also be stronger and richer.

Summary, recommendation, and considerations

We have argued several things:

1. Scripture is clear on holy orders. In both Testaments it rejects female headship in God's Church and calls for male-only headship. That means a male-only presbyterate/priesthood.
a. This is based on God's creation order, which he established before the Fall.
b. It is also consistent with Scripture's portrait of the Father's eternal headship over the Son and the Spirit.

2. The Western Church has exalted the Petrine charism at the expense of the Marian charism.
a. We need to encourage and honor women's special gifts of nurturing the present Church and planting for its future.
b. These are gifts of spiritual mothering, faith, evangelism, prayer, prophecy, teaching, mercy, helps, hospitality, and various kinds of leadership.

3. The movement to ordain women to the presbyterate/priesthood is recent, (largely) Western, and divisive. It has gone around--rather than followed--the biblical model for resolving disputes.

We recommend a moratorium on the ordination of women to the presbyterate/priesthood until this question is resolved by a Church-wide consensus.

Those who oppose the WO to the offices of priest and bishop on the grounds of Scripture and tradition take one of two views on women and the diaconate.

1. Since deacons do not preside at the sacrament and do not exercise headship of a congregation, women may continue to be ordained to that order.
a. The diaconate is an assisting and supporting ministry, uniquely suited to the Order of Deacons as traditionalists see it.
b. Paul refers to Phoebe (Rom 16:1) as a diakono[s].
c. In the first centuries of the Church, women were set aside with special prayers and liturgies for what appear to be diaconate ministry.

2. Both the discipline and the liturgy of the Church throughout its early history insisted on a very clear distinction between male deacons and female deaconesses. Based on this early Church model of ministry, women cannot be ordained as deacons but may be set apart for ministry as deaconesses. They would exercise a variety of ministries under the authority of the rector or bishop, such as pastoral care, counseling, caring for the sick and poor, teaching, spiritual formation, prayer ministry, preparing candidates for baptism and confirmation, assisting at baptisms, leading Morning and Evening Prayer, and conducting other forms of social and educational work.

a. Scripture speaks of Phoebe as a diakonos or servant (Rom 16:1) but limits the diaconate to men: Deacons are to be honorable men . . . husbands of one wife (1 Tim 2:8, 12). The word diakonos is used by Paul to refer to the office of deacon only in Phil 1:1 and 1 Timothy where it is used in conjunction with episkopos. Elsewhere it is the generic term for "servant."

b. In the early Church, the ministry of deaconesses was separate from that of deacons. They were not ordained as deacons but were set apart as deaconesses for ministries in keeping with their Marian charism.

i. Apostolic Tradition (c. 215): Only bishops, priests and deacons were ordained by the laying on of hands. All other ministries--widows, lectors, virgins, subdeacons and those with healing gifts--were expressly forbidden to receive the laying on of hands because "ordination is for clerics destined for liturgical service." The diaconate was limited to men. Women in other ministries were set apart for service to the Church by the bishop with prayer only and were excluded from liturgical functions.

ii. Council of Nicea (325): Canon 19 (on receiving Paulinists back into the Church) states, "Clergy must be rebaptized and then ordained by a bishop of the Catholic Church . . . . The same thing must be done with respect to the deaconesses [but] they have received no laying on of hands and are thus therefore to be counted among the laity."

c. Later ordinations made very clear distinctions between the ordinations of deacons and deaconesses, using different prayers and ordination rubrics for each order to specifically identify and distinguish their different charisms and ministries.

d. Only the heretical Montanist sect ordained women to the same diaconate, presbyterate and episcopate as men.

3. We all agree that since the vestry is responsible for "the temporalities of the congregation" and not "spiritual leadership" (ACNA Constitution and Canons c.6 s.5), women may serve on vestries.

In the meantime, we should consider several things.

1. Christian boys and girls today are given almost no instruction in biblical manhood and womanhood. A moratorium will stimulate exploration and teaching of this biblical anthropology--which is essential for the health of the family and society.

2. Recent experience in the West has shown that men are generally unwilling to serve under the spiritual leadership of women. This is sometimes for the wrong reasons, but it is also because men are created by God to lead spiritually. If ACNA sustains female headship in the churches, many men will feel they have good reason to leave a feminized church to women altogether.

3. Courage will be needed to follow the biblical ordinance on holy orders. This will offend many, but it will also attract many. True evangelism and faithful obedience always run the risk of offense.

4. Not to decide is to decide. If ACNA decides to continue the present practice of permitting WO in some dioceses, there will be pressure on every diocese to ordain women. The election of every new bishop will raise the question again. The world outside ACNA will see our Church as one that ordains women. The conservative Christian world outside ACNA, which is still the majority of the Christian world, will see us as having joined the liberal churches--no matter what we say on other matters pertaining to salvation.

Rt. Rev. Dr. John Rodgers
President and Dean Emeritus, Trinity School for Ministry

Dr. Barbara Gauthier
Editor, Anglican News Update

Rev. Dr. Gerald R. McDermott
Anglican Chair, Beeson Divinity School

Dr. Jennifer Hayden Epperson,
Director of Research and Learning, Moody Radio (Chicago, IL)

Rev. Alex Wilgus
Logan Square Anglican Church

Katherine Ruch
Writer, teacher and conference speaker

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