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The Synod’s debate on women bishops

by
02 July 2008

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From Mr N. J. Inkley
Sir, — I would like to express my grateful thanks for Mr Oswald Clark’s insightful letter on the Bishops’ proposed motion on women in the episcopate (Letters, 27 June). I am concerned, however, at the labels ascribed by others which are allowed to stand. Their apparent acceptance by someone with the standing of Mr Clark lends them a legitimacy they do not deserve.

Throughout history, “dissenters” have been those opposed to the accepted and established order. As someone who has grown up with and values a long-established male priesthood and bench of bishops, I certainly do not see myself as a “dissenter”. (Nor am I prepared to be called, even more pejoratively, a “conscientious objector”, as was bandied about a short while ago.)

If anything, I am a “continualist”, and the opposite lobby are “innovationalists” or “developmentalists”. We should seek to avoid judgements assisted by inappropriate tags.

One more thing, if I may. In a body like the Church of England, there will be, on a subject such as this, an enormous number of “Don’t knows”. Beware that the innovative faction does not, by implication, count them all as being its own.
NEIL INKLEY
6 Knot Lane, Walton-le-Dale
Preston PR5 4BQ

From the Revd Simon Crittall
Sir, — You quote William Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod (News, 20 June), as saying of the debate about women bishops that there will be “quite a lot of tension and anxiety” at the Synod because nobody is confident about what the outcome will be. Maybe that comment reveals the root of so many of the problems facing today’s Church.

The issue, surely, is what does God want for his Church? The method, therefore, is to seek together revelation of the answer to that question, and that must mean that no one can claim to know the outcome before the process begins. It also means that when a conclusion has been reached, everyone can go away trusting that they have done God’s will, rather than some people going away in the belief that they have won.

The problem is that we humans, even believing Christians, like to think that we know the truth better than God does. People may be drawn to Christ by other means, but they will never be drawn to the Church by the way we currently conduct our disagreements.
SIMON CRITTALL
Broadhembury Rectory
Devon EX14 3LT

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