The cavalry is not coming for reform over women bishops

By Julian Mann, Virtueonline

“Should I stay or should I go?” was the 1981 song by the English punk rock band The Clash. It is the question looming over conservative evangelical members of Reform in the shadow of next week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod in London.

The General Synod elections of September 2010 did see gains for traditionalists but with 42 out of 44 English dioceses having voted for women bishops since then, the bus is now unstoppable.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York would like to supply traditionalists with their own stream of bishops, and that is due to be a major bone of contention at the upcoming Synod.

It is possible the Archbishops will get their way over ‘co-ordinate jurisdiction’, but the current momentum does not favour institutional generosity towards traditionalist opponents of women bishops. The Archbishops need the backing of the House of Bishops at their next meeting in May to change the Draft Measure agreed by the Synod in July 2010, when Canterbury and York saw their last attempt to introduce co-ordinate jurisdiction sunk.

With fears that changing the Draft Measure would mean it would have to go out for consultation to dioceses all over again, thus delaying the advent of women bishops, the Archbishops are likely to struggle to gain the support of their episcopal colleagues.

Conservative evangelicals would therefore be ill advised to bank on a posse of authorised traditionalist bishops riding to the rescue.

Anglo-Catholics have a hide-out in the form of the Ordinariate provided by the Roman Catholic Church. All they have to do is to cross a river to get there.

But conservative evangelical caravans are encircled on the wild plain of an ecclesiastical institution dominated by dogmatic, politically-correct liberals who have rejected the clear teaching of Holy Scripture that leading churches, whether as a bishop or as a presbyter, is a man’s job. The appointment of women bishops means Bible-flouting ungodliness becomes institutionally entrenched in the Church of England.

The conservative evangelical congregation and minister in a diocese is set to be left facing the choice as to whether to accept the ungodly oversight of a person the Lord God Almighty has forbidden to exercise pastoral oversight over the precious flock of his Son Jesus Christ or to leave the institutional Church of England.

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