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He Hath Done Whatsoever He Hath Pleased: A Response to New Kingdom Blog on Women's Ordination

Updated: May 29, 2021

Note: River’s Article can be found here: Responding to Apologia Anglicana on Women’s Ordination. His words will be bolded, italicized, and put in quotations as not to confuse his words with my own words.

Introduction

Yesterday I posted the article, Women’s Ordination and Apostolic Succession. Although it was not a response article to River’s blog post on New Kingdom Blog, Why Women can be Priests, it dealt with many of the same issues that his post did, and attempted to refute many of the arguments that he made. After private discussions with River, we decided that an honest and charitable back and forth on our respective blogs would be most helpful for establishing and defending our respective positions, and informing you, the reader.

I pray that through this means of debate that you, the reader, would come to be illuminated by the truth presented, be given an example of charitable theological discourse to follow, and be led to reverence the great theological tradition that has been handed down to us by many pious, wise, venerable, and learned saints to whom I pale in comparison to. Above all, I pray that my God and your God may be pleased in this service of ours.


Prolegomena

It is a foundational principle of proper debate that those presuppositions which are held in common and will be argued from are laid out openly for the consideration of those who follow the debate. Any inconsistency with these foundational principles reveals a false conclusion and any internal inconsistency within one’s premises reveals falsehood. Further, any fallacies which are committed in one's mode of argumentation reveals a false argument that is of no avail.

Those foundational principles which River and I share is helpfully summed up by the Right Reverend Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester,

“One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.”

Further, this principle is expressed by St. Vincent of Lerins (whose feast day it is today), “what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.” Further, it can be expressed by the term “Reformed Catholicism,” that is, that we seek to return to the “ancient purity of the church” which our Anglican Fathers so often speak of. We seek to take the deposit which we received from our venerable Fathers of the Medieval church and to eliminate those elements which contradict scripture and the ancient teaching of the church catholic, while not daring to touch those elements which do not do so.

The deposit which we have received as fulfilling these requirements is that of the 39 Articles, 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal. My province (The Anglican Church in North America) and his (The Anglican Church in New Zealand) share no other foundational documents of authority.

Further, we share the common deposit of Reason. We may use reason in this disputation in a restricted sense. This restricted sense is in the form of “Mixed Syllogisms.” We are not restricted to the express words of scripture, but in theological disputation can draw consequences. When we draw these consequences we may either A. Use reason as the Major premise and scripture as the minor premise of our argument, or B. Use scripture as the Major premise and reason as the minor premise of our argument.

Further, as a specific point of prolegomena, River has conceded that this debate will work off of the presupposition that scripture and tradition teach that Women ought not to be ordained to the priesthood. As he writes, “It is Christian’s contention that women should not be ordained, and that debate is I think a completely separate one, which is too complex to get into now, and so I will respond to his article by assuming his position that women should not be ordained.”

This is for the good of a profitable and well-ordered discussion on this topic, and for this I commend him. Therefore, an unproved assumption which I will build my argument off of is the presupposition that women ought not to be ordained. This is a valid presupposition to work off of because River has conceded the point, and therefore neither can this be waged as an argument against my position, nor can it be used by River as an argument to bolster his position.


The State of the Question

The state of the question in this debate is not whether women ought to be ordained to the priesthood, or whether they can be ordained to be priesthood, but whether they are ordained to the priesthood in a real and true sense, whereby they are given the gif