Saturday, 15 December 2012

Useless theology

About 4 weeks ago I engaged in a minor debate on +G with a friend and a stranger over the rejection of women as bishops by the CofE general synod. Those who've known me through the blogosphere for a long time will know that my views are quite conservative and orthodox in this area, and also fairly strongly held. The final comment in the discussion came from the stranger asking why I thought what I did.

4 weeks passed before I answered.

Now I've been busy, true, had stuff to think about etc etc. So I'd been putting off preparing an answer although genuinely meaning to do so, until the same question (sort of) come up again and I had an hour free to cobble stuff together.

I've come to realise that this is 'useless' theology, and as such, I've gradually un-burdened myself of it over the last few years. Not that it isn't important or true (as far as I'm concerned). But it is also not a central doctrine of the faith - no-one is going to be saved through holding fast to complementarianism and no-one will go to hell because they refused to renounce a liberal or egalitarian interpretation of the role of women in church government. No-one will see their life turned around from wickedness to righteousness by taking one particular side or another and we won't see miracles or healings because of our stance on this.

So I've been gently and unconsciously disconnecting myself from the immediacy of this piece of useless theology.

Now, having called it useless theology, it's still important to understand, but it's one of those issues that for me, once settled doesn't normally need re-visiting time and again. The recent debate and subsequent failure of this motion through the CofE ruling hierarchy, and in particular the reaction of some leaders, has caused me to drag it back out and ask whether the understanding I had seemed to be what God wanted. I'm reasonably convinced it is, and I'm happy to set the whole business aside and forget about the whys and wherefores of it.

So aren't I compromised to death by being part of a church organisation that actively promotes women into government and is pushing this change? To an extent, yes, but I also feel that the shame of it isn't from the women. God frequently asks "who will step up and serve me?" and if few men respond, is He going to send those faithful women away? So the shameful state of the Church of England is the shame of those men who have not stepped forward - not a shame brought upon it by having women in government as such. On that understanding I have to fulfill what God has called me to do where ever He's called me to do it.

Is that an end to it then?

And the obvious answer is *not quite*. Last summer the church called St Georges Tron in Glasgow seceded from the church of Scotland over the ordination of clergy who were practicing homosexuals. They seem to have been treated badly - arguably unrighteously - by those who they could no longer be covered by, and the whole thing has been a mess. Where's the connection? When we start finding ways to explain away odd bits of scripture because they don't match the enlightenment of the age, then we start a path of our own. So for me, there is a very direct connection.

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