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After women bishops, what next?

After women bishops, what next?

by John P Richardson
July 11, 2010

I've not had time to follow the Synod debate on women bishop's much less to comment. However, I was having a discussion with some of our own folks on Thursday night, where I observed that the introduction of women bishops is by no means the end of the line, for there are explicit indications amongst the chief supporters of the consecration of women that our theology and liturgy are also in line for changes.

Just to give an idea of what this entails, I have simply cut and pasted the following from a paper on the WATCH website:

2. Language and theological issues:

God, Christology and the Church

The constant and uninterrupted use of language which is exclusive and used repeatedly can be intimidating or even aggressive: Almighty God, Lord of Power and Might, Everlasting Father, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. Intimidation and aggression do not give life to the people of God called to grow in wisdom and understanding. We need to use the full range of biblical images for God, the tender and nurturing as well as the powerful.

Yet we must recognise that our growing includes encouraging fresh expressions of language for each new generation. The gospel always has a reforming, reinterpreting edge to it. "Almost all of the language used in the Bible to refer to God is metaphor, with the possible exception of holy...There is no point in pontificating what metaphors like "God as father" ought to mean.

If God metaphors become problematic for a significant group of people, it is pointless and patronising to tell them they ought to understand differently". (What Language Shall I Borrow" by Brian Wren). God reveals the Godself to us throughout the scriptures as mother, father, friend, love, wind, fire. And for some God is more than static noun: God becomes dynamic verb. We may leave words behind entirely: "The more I walk with God, the less words about God will do" (John Spong). The best God metaphors are those that move us deeply and enable us to encounter and be encountered by the dynamic dance of incandescent love that Christian experience names as Trinity.

Interesting to see a quote there from John Spong, someone whom no less a personage than Jeffrey John has dismissed as lacking any Christian credibility.

Now it would be wrong to suggest - and I am not suggesting - that all supporters of women bishops think this way. But the point is that some do, and that they have clearly signalled their intentions, and that therefore this is the next big area with which the Church will have to deal, alongside (of course) homosexuality.

As they say, "Discuss".


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