Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Question of Women Priests Must Be Addressed

Alice C. Linsley


Read the comments at Kendal Harmon's blog on my article Impressions of the New American Anglicanism.  Fr. Jay Scott Newman's comments are especially astute. Some of these were deleted at T19, but I have preserved them for my readers (see below). The childishness of the comments at T19 makes it clear yet again that intelligent conversation with revisionists, modernists and those who reject Tradition is nearly impossible.

Matt Kennedy and Sarah Hey call me a liar with a martyr complex. They refuse to address the substance of Fr. Newman's comments and the substance of my article on American Anglicanism. Their attack on my character is a smoke screen. Kennedy's wife is a "priest" and he is hardly objective about women priests. Sarah, as a member of the revisionist Episcopal Church, lacks objectivity as well.

I've written about how I came to recognize that women can't be priests here (Part 1), here (Part II) and here (Conclusion). The priesthood that is found in the Bible is about God acting in His eternal Son. Women standing at the altar as priests obfuscates that pattern by which we are to contemplate and understand who Jesus is.  It is dangerous tampering with Holy Tradition.  As C.S. Lewis has written, "We cannot shuffle or tamper so much. With the Church, we are farther in: for there we are dealing with male and female not merely as facts of nature but as the live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge. Or rather, we are not dealing with them but (as we shall soon learn if we meddle) they are dealing with us." (From here.)

Holy Tradition is about the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The first and last promises of the Bible touch on this.  Genesis 3:15 is God's promise that the Woman's Seed will crush the head of the serpent and restore Paradise.  The final words in Revelation are the promise that He will be with us always.  From beginning to end, the Bible is about the Son of God and the working of the Holy Trinity. This tradition was received by the Apostles, Elders, Prophets, and Ruler-Priests who are named in the New Testament. Tradition in this sense preceded the canon of the Bible. Americans have difficulty with the idea that accurate information can be passed along through many generations that might not also be in the Bible.  As an anthropologist I can point to many instances of this so I can accept that the Samaritan Woman at the well was named Photini and that Joseph of Arimathea came to England and St. Thomas went to India, etc.  That doesn't mean that I accept every legend, only those that can be found to have substance historically, anthropologically and that square with the details of Scripture. Tradition preserves what is important, and, along with the Bible, Tradition protects us from special revelationists.

Before I wrote the article on Impressions of the New American Anglicanism, I communicated with several Anglican bishops. It is my understanding that many recognize the divisive nature of WO.  I've been told that the African Primates are talking through this issue also.

If you've read Louie Crew's Changing the Church, you know that the ordination of women was from the beginning part of the gay strategy. Gene Robinson addressed a conference of gay American Roman Catholic priests and concluded with the following:  "It's too dangerous for you to come out as gay to your superiors, but I believe that if you work for the ordination of women in your church, you will go a long way toward opening the door for the acceptance of gay priests."  Read it all here.

Gay activists pose women priests and gay priests as essential elements of their egalitarian religion. Both represent an attempt to destroy the Christian Priesthood as a unique sign of the Pleromic Blood of Jesus.

Bishop Bob Duncan believes concerning the new American Anglicanism that "The theological center on first-order issues has deep agreement. Most of us hold the issue of the ordination of women to be a second-order issue. We are committed to working with our partners in the communion as we try to come to some lasting agreement. The way I illustrate that is we are now wise enough to understand that we can't settle the issue of reception of the ordination of women. The reason we can't settle it is that East Africa ordains women and West Africa doesn't. We have got to go through this together, and it's going to take a couple generations to do it. There's a deep commitment to one another across this divide." (From here.)

Its time, Bishop Duncan, to address this so-called "second-order issue."

_________________________

Fr. Jay Scott Newman's response to my article on the New American Anglicanism

Fr. Newman wrote: "One of the signal differences, it seems to me, between Evangelicals and Catholics is that the former believe that the nature and number, the origin and efficacy of the sacraments are secondary or even tertiary questions in Christian faith and life, while Catholics hold these questions to be primary because the sacraments are the ordinary means of grace for our justification and sanctification. Get the sacraments wrong, Catholics hold, and you’ll get the Gospel wrong.

This being the case, the truce which has been called on the question of women in the priesthood as a condition for bringing into being the new Anglican bodies in North America seems to me more than a bit like the truce over slavery that was required to bring the United States of American into being. But the latter truce could not hold, and neither can the former. Eventually, the disagreement must be sorted out, and that almost certainly means that the battle must be joined. And when that happens, then the great gulf between Evangelicals and Catholics on the nature and number, the origin and efficacy of the sacraments will once again be a church-dividing gulf.

That seems to me to be the fatal flaw in all present efforts to conjure up new Anglican jurisdictions from the wreckage of the Episcopal Church. Alice Linsley’s impressions only verify my conviction."


He also wrote:  "No Catholic, including no Anglo-Catholic, can accept that there only two sacraments, and to dismiss the other five—most especially the sacramental priesthood of bishops and presbyters—is, in effect, to deny the sacramentality of the Eucharist. My point was simple: Evangelicals (including Evangelical Anglicans) and Catholics (including Anglo-Catholics) have a fundamental disagreement about the nature and number, the origin and efficacy of the sacraments. Moreover, for the moment, that disagreement has been set aside in the interest of co-belligerancy against the enormities of the Episcopal Church, but it is inevitable that this disagreement will again come to the fore and prove the undoing of whatever institutional unity is contrived for new Anglican jurisdictions in North America. Put most simply: an Anglican who believes that there is a divinely instituted priesthood in the Church on which the celebration of the Holy Eucharist depends and that women cannot (not should not, cannot) hold this priesthood, cannot receive the sacramental ministrations of an ordained woman. When that dispute returns to center stage, as it must, then Evangelicals and Catholics in the new Anglican jurisdictions will find themselves back where they have ever been—divided by a matter of faith."

"For a Catholic, to say that a sacrament was not instituted by Christ is to say that it is not a sacrament of New Covenant. Also for a Catholic, there is no possibility of the Eucharist without the sacramental priesthood. That is why Catholics insist that it is logically impossible to talk about the Eucharist as a sacrament without also talking about the priesthood as a sacrament. I realize that Evangelicals, including Evangelical Anglicans, do not believe this to be true, and that is precisely my point: these two approaches to the number and origin of the sacraments are logically, ontologically, and theologically irreconcilable, but that fact is simply being ignored at the moment because traditional Anglicans of both persuasions have temporarily set aside their church dividing disagreement about this issue in the face of open war with the Episcopal Church. Once that war is concluded, however, then the old differences will once again be unavoidable. Please understand, my point in every comment on this thread is not to make an argument for the Catholic understanding of the sacraments; it is simply to point out that the Catholic and Evangelical ways of understanding of the sacraments cannot, finally, be sustained together in one church. The Anglican attempt to do so has failed, and the results of the failure are depriving congregations of their property and clerics of their livelihood. Ideas, after all, do have consequences.

The primary category mistake of most Anglicans seems to be a refusal to accept the Principle of Non-Contradiction. For example, either sodomy is a grave sin or the foundation of a sacrament, but it can’t be both. Or, either it is possible that women have the capacity to receive presbyteral and episcopal ordination or they do not, but it can’t be both. Let’s forgot for a moment the authority of Apostolic Tradition which every Catholic must believe is an intrinsic part of the Gospel (no sola Scriptura for us), when a foundational principle of right reason like Non-Contradiction is routinely denied in practice if not in theory, then the only thing left is raw will to power. Hence the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Kyrie eleison."


Related reading: What is a Priest?; C.S. Lewis on Priestesses in the Church, What is the Priesthood?; Passing Conversation with Priestess Kaeton; A Serious Argument Against the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood and Episcopat by Bishop John Rodgers; Rejoinder to Dr. Rodgers by Dr. Peter Moore; Response to Dr. Peter Moore on Women Priests by Alice C. Linsley



15 comments:

Rodd Umlauf said...

Wonderful article !!
I need to send this to a number of people.

Blessings,
Rodd Umlauf ( Artistree from VOL)

Timothy said...

Hi Alice..

I am a cradle Episcopalian with AC tendencies in a Communion Partner parish.

How serious is the intent to introduce WO into the Eastern Church, who are its leading lights, so to speak, and are we finding the Orthodox episcopate bending under the strain.

Remarkable to me is the requirement that only celibate men, monks, I believe, can be elevated to the office of bishop. Does the influx of evangelical converts significantly pressure the episcopate, or for that matter, local priests to consider modifying traditional form and practice? Lots of questions I know. Forgive me. Perhaps you could pick one.

Your blog has been a source of keen interest to me for a while and though I do not actively participate in the blog, I find the content worthy of study and thoughtful reflection. Thank you for presenting your views and more for weathering the storm of controversy and criticism necessarily following. Blessings to you.

Tim

Alice C. Linsley said...

Good to make your acquaintance, Rodd. I enjoy your insights at VOL.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Timothy, There is pressure from converts who are not well formed in Orthodoxy. They take courage from Bishop Kallistos/Timothy Ware's willingness to raise the question. He is British and formerly Anglican. That said, the Orthodox will not budge on this question. Orthodoxy strives under pressure, challenges and persecution!

In his essay "Man, Woman and the Priesthood", Bishop Kallistos recognizes that the question of women priests must be discerned in the context of Holy Tradition. He notes that "Tradition is not to be equated with cultural stereotypes, with custom or social convention; there is a vital difference between 'traditions' and Holy Tradition."

The Church is not a democracy in which leaders may change Tradition according to popular consensus. No councils, even ecumenical councils, can change God’s order in creation. This is God’s message to Job. Who do we think we are to question what God has established? Were we there when God created the world and established, by His grace, the ordinance of the Priesthood?

Timothy said...

Who do we think we are to question what God has established? Were we there when God created the world and established, by His grace, the ordinance of the Priesthood?

I hope the content of my post did not imply otherwise. The point of the monks comment was to suggest their unique position to keep Tradition from eroding by continuing its affirmation in thought, word, and deed in and out of season. If well administered, it is a model worth emulating. Don't see that happening in any flavor of the Episcopal church.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Forgive me, Timothy. I didn't mean to imply that you had it wrong. I slipped into preaching mode there at the end of my comment. :(

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Elf at T19 deleted this comment by Fr. Newman: "The primary category mistake of most Anglicans seems to be a refusal to accept the Principle of Non-Contradiction. For example, either sodomy is a grave sin or the foundation of a sacrament, but it can’t be both. Or, either it is possible that women have the capacity to receive presbyteral and episcopal ordination or they do not, but it can’t be both. Let’s forgot for a moment the authority of Apostolic Tradition which every Catholic must believe is an intrinsic part of the Gospel (no sola Scriptura for us), when a foundational principle of right reason like Non-Contradiction is routinely denied in practice if not in theory, then the only thing left is raw will to power. Hence the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Kyrie eleison."

It was right on topic, so one wonders what motivates the censorship at that server.

Anonymous said...

Alice...

I have been reading t19 for a few years and ignorant of the tendency for censorship there, either by deleting such quotations as above or by exercising editorial discretion in subject material. This truly saddens me as I believed T19 to be a steady breeze of understated orthodoxy and a champion of those who do not have the time or talent for high level independent study. I'd appreciate links to instances of this phenomenon if you have time...or a link to links.....

Tks


Tim

Alice C. Linsley said...

T19 is a great informational site.

Re-read the comments there and you will see that Sarah essentially admits to banning me at Stand Firm. Stand Firm and T19 share a server and common elves/censorship policy.

Fr. Matt Kennedy wrote in a comment here at Just Genesis (2010)that he didn't bann me from Stand Firm. He reports that I was banned after being warned, because I "inserted the issue" where it didn't pertain. The folks at Stand Firm don't seem to understand that WO pertains to, indeed has direct bearing on, many things: soteriology, eccessiology, Christology, the received Tradition of the Church, biblical studies, etc.

Timothy said...

Hi Alice..

Ran across this name, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, who authored "The Ordination of Women: A Point of Contention in Ecumenical Dialogue", Parts I and II. According to her there seems to be serious intent around the Orthodox world to rethink Tradition in light of the "primacy" of the work of the Holy Spirit who is the author of all ministry without respect to gender. I think this is a very difficult argument to counter without sounding condescending both to women who have no vocational call to priesthood and those who feel they do. Perhaps your work ultimately will provide the basis of a sound apologetic just as inspired by the Holy Spirit. I don't think your looney but you might well be way ahead of your time.

Tim

Alice C. Linsley said...

Actually, I'm behind the times, by about 4000 years.

The pattern for the church's priesthood is a celestial pattern that can't be changed by anyone without destroying the church.

Her argument is flawed because it suggests that the Triune God is divided, that God has changed His mind, or that the Holy Spirit is working contrary to the celestial pattern.

She also fails to make distinctions between women as prophets, preachers, teachers, ministry leaders and priests. All but the last are open to women by both Tradition and Scripture.

Timothy said...

Alice..

"The pattern for the church's priesthood is a celestial pattern that can't be changed by anyone without destroying the church."

Would you please be more specific about the celestial pattern you speak of. Are you referring to the pattern of the stars and the gospel they are purported to tell? I seriously doubt you would be referring to astrology.


My understanding of Genesis is woefully lacking. Hopefully that can be corrected.

Thanks for all you do.

Tim

Alice C. Linsley said...

Tim, I'm using the term "celestial pattern" in the sense that it is used by Mircea Eliade in his research on ancient cosmologies and mythological paradigms. The pattern takes its shape from what God has revealed about Himself as the First Priest. Here are 3 essays that might be helpful:

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2010/04/god-as-male-priest.html

http://biblicalanthropology.blogspot.com/2010/10/eliade-was-right-part-1.html

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2009/08/christs-sign-in-creation.html

This is a topic that I hope to address more thoroughly in the near future.

Best wishes,
Alice

Timothy said...

Hi Alice...

Here's the deal. I get lost following the links, just in general. So do I start at the beginning 2008 and simply move forward with each post. Seems logical to me. Topical issues don't seem to be cataloged systematically. So I don't want to jump around before I have somewhat covered the material in a more or less organized way. Obviously this means beginning with reading Genesis first as a survey of the work then follow as your post's lead.

Any thoughts about Hildegard of Bingen whose influence may have been hijacked by the progressive crowd and spun for their own purposes? I know, its off topic...yet maybe you might comment.

Tks

Tim

Alice C. Linsley said...

Read Genesis closely and prayerfully. The text is the important reading. My research is simply to lift up the genealogical threads; to show that the ruler-priest lines intermarried exclusively. These are Jesus Christ's ancestors.

Hildegard of Bingen is a medieval prophet and healer. She is not a priest. She is of interest because of the breadth of her wisdom. Her ideas about plants for healing appear to be based on the doctrine of signatures: that like cures like. I don't doubt that there is something to this. I'm preparing an article on the doctrine of signatures which should appear at Biblical Anthropology the end of May or early June.