[...] it has been argued that although there are clearly real problems for evangelical opponents it is far from clear what the specific problems are for them as evangelicals. As a result it is not clear to me that a suitable code of practice is incapable of addressing these (although that way forward does create major problems for those committed to an Anglo-Catholic ecclesiology who seem to require effectively separate structures which amount to a “church within a church”). It is, however, undeniably the case that the current Revision Committee proposal is felt to be insufficient by evangelical opponents. This, however, may be due more to wider and deeper problems which are shaping the response to women bishops and certainly erode trust and foment fear (thus undermining a code of practice solution) rather than inadequacy on fundamental theological grounds.
What, then can be done? First, evangelical opponents of women bishops have clearly and often articulated their grounds for opposing this development. Evangelicals committed to women bishops know these well but have not been convinced. What they have not done to the same extent and would help us now is if an evangelical account could be given of the nature of the problems they will face when the church has women bishops and why, theologically, current proposals are not sufficient. Second, evangelical supporters of women bishops need to engage more sympathetically with such an explanation and with the broader range of conservative evangelical concerns that are perhaps driving their demands for more provision in response to women bishops. If both of these can be done then perhaps a more creative way forward could be developed that can draw support from across a wide range of the evangelical spectrum in relation to this whole nexus of issues, including that of provision for opponents of women bishops which is facing Synod in this next week. Read more