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 Issues | Women Bishops | Synod Checklist 2006-07

Women Bishops ?

A briefing sent to General Synod members in advance of the debates on women bishops in July 2006

Our roots

  • Until the last third of the twentieth century, almost no church groups admitted women into presbyteral ministry (priests and bishops in the C of E), and the great majority still do not.
  • Few mainstream denominations that have women presbyters have grown as a result of the innovation. Moreover, these denominations often reject other aspects of traditional Christian doctrine and morality which creates division and undermines their witness.


  • It is eunlawfulf for the Church of England eto ordain any thing that is contrary to Godfs Word writtenf. It is likewise eunlawfulf to eso expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to anotherf (Article 20).
  • Therefore, Scripture is our supreme authority, and tradition and reason, which both belong to the human sphere must be subject to Scripture, which we believe to be God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). As Richard Hooker asserted, ewe have no Word of God but the Scripturef.


  • God created us male and female, equal but different, with complementary roles. Though the Fall led to abuse of these differences, it was not their cause.
  • Jesus, who was revolutionary on many matters, did nothing to overturn this ordering of things.
  • The roles of ministry that Jesus gave to his disciples, men and women, were consistent with this ordering. Those appointed by Jesus as leaders within the new covenant community were men.
  • When new churches were established the qualifications required of elders/presbyters included that they be men (1 Tim 3, Titus 1).
  • Consistent with all this the Apostle Paul required that the authoritative presbyteral role of teaching from the Scripture should be exercised by men (1 Tim 2, 1 Cor 11), and argued that such was the practice of all the apostolic churches (1 Cor 14).
  • Neither Jesus nor Paul, nor any other early disciple or Christian, saw anything unjust or oppressive in this divine ordering.
  • The concept of justice presupposes an understanding of what is right and wrong. This understanding derives primarily from the revelation of the will of God. To require men or women to occupy roles incompatible with the will of God revealed, in Scripture is to act unjustly.
  • There are many roles for womenfs ministry in Scripture, but not as the presbyterate (eg. Lk 8:2-3, Acts 18:26, Acts 21:8-9, Rom 16:6).
  • This understanding of the plain teaching of Scripture is nothing new, it is how Christians through the ages have understood it (eg. Tertullian against Marcion 5.8, Apostolic Constitutions 3.4, Chyrsostom Homily 31 on Romans 16.6, Hooker Book 5 62.2).

On process

  • The Church of England cannot require anyone to accept something that cannot be read in Scripture or proved from it (Article 6).
  • It is clear from our history and from the plain teaching of Scripture that presbyteral ministry of women is not taught in Scripture and cannot be proved from it.
  • If the General Synod and Parliament are determined to go ahead in contravention of Scripture then they must make provision for those who cannot accept the innovation. This is not because they are an awkward or extremist minority, but because they continue to be of the same mind as the historic church and the vast majority of professing churches today.
  • The ePriests (Ordination of Women) Measuref 1992, enshrined in law the principle that a Bishop, Parish or Governing body of a Cathedral could not be required to accept the presbyteral ministry of women, thus recognising the validity of such a position.
  • The Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution III.2 called on Provinces eto make such provision, including appropriate Episcopal ministry, as will enable them to live in the highest degree of Communion possiblef.


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Related Links
Consecration of Women Bishops
BulletNature and role of Bishops
BulletShould women be bishops?
BulletIssues to do with women bishops
BulletRochester Commission
BulletSynodical Process
BulletProvision for opponents

BulletSubmission 2009 (CS Council)
BulletSubmission 2009 (CS Trust)
BulletJoint Submission 2007
BulletJoint evangelical submission
BulletOpen letter to Bishops
BulletRochester Submission
BulletSubmission to Guilford Group
BulletPetition to Guildford Group
BulletSynod Briefing July 2006


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