jQuery Slider

You are here

UK: Why No Reform Minister Should Accept the 'Headship' See of Maidstone

UK: Why No Reform Minister Should Accept the 'Headship' See of Maidstone

By Julian Mann
Special to Virtueonline
December 15, 2014

Whilst the decision by the Church of England's Dioceses Commission to fill the vacant suffragan See of Maidstone with a conservative evangelical 'flying' bishop is well-intended and generous, here are three reasons why no minister who holds to the biblical view of male headship should accept the post:

1). Maidstone is expected to be a delegate for conservative evangelicals in the Church of England. The official press release announcing the move may have described him as an 'advocate' for those who hold 'a conservative position on headship' but the expectation is that he would represent in the College of Bishops those conservative evangelical churches who have appealed for his oversight, most of whom would be affiliated to Reform or Church Society or both.

Biblically, minister as delegate is surely problematic. Ministers are called to be pastoral and prophetic according to the Apostle Paul's Pastoral Epistles, whose teaching is so faithfully reflected in the Book of Common Prayer's Ordinal. In this New Testament light, Christ's ministers owe those in their pastoral care their loving, biblically-grounded, godly judgement, not their democratic obedience. The representative expectation on Maidstone would therefore appear to be theologically flawed from the start.

2). Maidstone's roving national role from a base in the south of England would make it almost impossible for him to form meaningful pastoral relationships with the churches and ministers he is responsible for around the country. That would be to some extent mitigated if a headship bishop were appointed for the north of England but Maidstone would still have to cover a lot of geographical ground. This would make it difficult for him to be rooted in a local church and inevitably over time he would begin to find his personal support and friendship among his fellow bishops.

Those bishops who befriended him and became his peers would hold to a variety of theological views, some of which contradicted the Church of England's 39 Articles of Religion. Thus the headship bishop would become part of an institutional plausibility structure that prizes theological diversity over confessional commitment to the biblical and Reformed doctrine of the Church of England.

3). Maidstone might allow conservative evangelical churches to avoid a challenge that very arguably it would be good for them to have to face once women diocesan bishops are appointed. Without a conservative evangelical 'flying' bishop to oversee them individually, local churches could well sense a more pressing need to form mission partnerships with other headship churches in their region.

These partnerships could provide a solid regional foundation for a confessing Anglican Province in England. This development, which could be facilitated by the Anglican Mission in England, (AMiE) would no doubt be messy and difficult for churches faced with losing their buildings and ministers losing their homes. But it could have the effect of mobilising local Anglican churches for the Lord Jesus Christ's ministry and mission in ways that would never have happened whilst they were safe and comfortable

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK - www.oughtibridgechurch.org.uk

Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top