Friday, May 25, 2012

Wrecking amendments and modern heresies

The term "wrecking amendment" refers to a parliamentary tactic where an opponent of a piece of legislation introduces an amendment which, if passed, would likely ensure the legislation is defeated.

The Church of England House of Bishops seem to be determined to maintain themselves as an all-male club since they've introduced wrecking amendments that may to lead to the defeat of the measure allowing the appointment and consecration of female bishops in the Church of England.

Like the proposed Anglican Covenant, the Women Bishops Measure had to win the approval of a majority of English diocesan synods.  Unlike the Anglican Covenant, the Woman Bishops Measure was wildly successful, carried by 42 of 44 dioceses.  What's more, each approval saw a following motion demanding additional "protections" for opponents - and in the vast majority of cases, these following motions were defeated.

Pretty clear, you'd think.

Apparently not to the pointy hat brigade.

The Church of England House of Bishops had a last opportunity to "tweak" the draft Measure.  They did so, seemingly determined to prove Dean Stanley's observation:

Whenever bishops have met in councils, even in the earliest times, they have almost invariably done an infinite deal of mischief.

Of course, the tweaks are not sufficient to assuage the concerns of the intransigents.  But it seems they may be sufficient to defeat the measure since they essentially ensure that any female diocesan bishop would not be the equal of her male colleagues, but rather would be a second-tier bishop.  And because General Synod cannot simply undo the epicopal mischief making, there are few other options available.

There are, to be sure, sincere and credible opponents of the ordination of women.  This isn't really about them.

You see, the loudest opponents of women bishops are demanding the appointment of a parallel episcopacy with bishops who are not only male (which would be a legitimate conscession to their consciences), but are also opponents of woman bishops (which isn't).

Of course, this parallels what they had under the idiotic "flying bishops" regime after the Church of England started ordaining women to the diaconate and the priesthood.  What was truly wierd about that scheme was that a male bishop wasn't good enough for them.  They needed a bishop who also opposed the ordination of women.

This is a modern heresy - the unprecedented belief that every Christian is entitled to have a bishop who agrees with them on whatever particular issue happens to be their personal obsession.

I've had four bishops.  I've disagreed with all of them over something or another.  (I also had a retired archbishop as an honorary assistant, but that's another story.)

Mr. Pusey did not, so far as I know, ever get a "flying bishop" appointed to agree with him, nor Mr. Keble nor Mr. Neale.  I don't recall Mr. Newman ever writing about how the lack of a bishop who shared his prejudices motivated his departure to Rome.  Indeed, I don't recall the Oxford Fathers ever claiming that they were entitled by right to have a bishop who agreed with them.  Perhaps that was to be the subject of Tract 91 - or perhaps not.

Fr. Green, Fr. Dale, Fr. Enraght, Fr. Cox and Fr. Tooth all ended up in jail for lack of bishops who agreed with them, yet not once did they submit that as part of their defense during the ritual trials.

Many of the heroes of the evangelical revival likewise found themselves in disagreement with their bishops.  None of them ever proclaimed this novel entitlement.

No, what the opponents of female bishops are demanding is not a secure place in the Church.  Their fear of girl-cooties has driven them to embrace a principle so inherently unprincipled as to be entirely laughable.

And the English Bishops have abandoned any pretence of wanting to see their ecclesiatical treehouse go coed.