September 10, 2003
Headship, bodyship, and speaking in church

Telford has the first draft of his defense of women's ordination up, and is inviting feedback. And if you like warring Biblical analyses, compare and contrast with David Heddle on the same subject.

Posted by Camassia at September 10, 2003 06:20 PM | TrackBack

Telford's piece is brilliant but he works so hard to help God out. His work is an excellent illustration of the burden that "inerrancy" places on humans and God. Drop it. Admit that scripture reveals not unanimity and constancy on many issues but division and change. The status of women is one of those. Admit also the cultural context of the text: rigid patriarchy with occasional subversive feminist tendencies.

The problem with all this is that it eliminates the Bible as rulebook on questions of whether women or monogamous gays can be pastors. We have to figure that stuff out on our own as best we can. Oh horror! We must think for ourselves!

Telford's points, if understood as cautions that scriptures must be considered in the course of this effort, are right. But if we really read scripture and consider its many voices, its context and its evolution, the task is much more complicated than picking "proof texts" for one position or another.

Good stuff, Camassia.

Posted by: Allen Brill on September 10, 2003 10:37 PM

I agree 100% with Allen. Telford makes a great attempt to work within the bounds of "inerrancy," but I think that once you've drunk that particular kool-aid, Heddle actually has a stronger argument.

It's not possible, in my opinion, to read the bible as the inerrant, unchanging, always-relevant literal word of God, and not be sexist.

I am much happier with an understanding of God and the bible that lets me not be a bigot but still value and cherish the words of the bible.


Posted by: Kynn Bartlett on September 11, 2003 12:42 AM

"There is an ideology that fundamentally traces all existing institutions back to power politics. And this ideology corrupts humanity and also destroys the Church. Here is a concrete example: If I see the Church only under the aspect of power, then it follows that everyone who doesn't hold an office is oppressed. And then the question of, for example, women's ordination, as an issue of power, becomes imperative. I think this ideology produces a totally false point of view, as if power were the only category for explaining the world and the communion present in it. If belonging to the Church has any meaning at all, then the meaning can only be that it gives us eternal life. We are not in the Church in order to exercise power as if in some kind of association."--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Posted by: TSO on September 11, 2003 06:07 AM

I read Telford's piece rather quickly, but I did not see where he said Scripture was inerrant (by that, do you mean literally?) He did say this:

"Moreover, if we begin editing the Scriptures, we cut ourselves away from some of the canonical heritage of the apostolic Church, according to some criterion besides the Church's own faith. Believe me, I appreciate that it is tempting to make this move when that heritage seems mistaken. But doing it ultimately makes us masters rather than trustees of the faith. It is the exegetical equivalent of killing the heir of the vineyard and taking the inheritance for ourselves (Matt. 21:33-41). And that is suicide, for the Church, not just the Son, now shares the inheritance."

Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems as if he is just saying we must wrestle with Scripture and take it seriously, even the parts that trouble us. Also, I think he did address the cultural context of Paul's writings. Other than those small points, I agree with both of your comments.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 11, 2003 06:10 AM

Jennifer is right. Telford is not a literalist in the sense of looking at the Bible as the "inerrant, unchanging, always-relevant literal word of God" -- for instance, he is perfectly happy to call Genesis 1-3 a "fable." And he treats the letters of Paul as letters written by Paul to specific people. But he does treat the early church and the people in it with a huge amount of respect, for the reasons Jennifer quoted.

And T.S., he makes basically the identical point to Cardinal Ratzinger, in case you didn't see ... it's not an ideological argument he's making.

Posted by: Camassia on September 11, 2003 07:48 AM
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