Scripture and Tradition, here as always, are inseparable and correlative, to use the language of the Anglican-Orthodox Agreed Statement signed at Moscow in 1976.(13) Tradition is nothing else than the internal continuity that exists between the new Testament and the subsequent thought and life. The ordination of women as priests is excluded precisely because it confiicts with this living continuity. But, if this appeal to Tradition is to be properly understood, three underlying presuppositions need to be rendered explicit. (1) Jesus Christ is not only complete man but true and perfect God. He is within history, but also above history. We do not see in him merely a human teacher, bound by the conventions of his age; he is the word of God, from whose lips we hear not private opinions soon to grow outdated, but the eternal truth. Indeed, far from being subservient to contemporary customs, Christ often showed a striking independence. He told his disciples, you have heard what was said by the men of old; but I say to you.
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Faced by the unanimous and unvarying practice of Christs Church from apostolic times up to our own, we in the twentieth century have no authority to alter the basic patterns of Christian faith and life. Our appeal as Orthodox is not to Scripture alone nor to Tradition alone, but to both at once.(l2) we do not appeal simply to the fact that Christ chose only men biography to be apostles, but to the fact that for more than nineteen centuries Christs. Our appeal is to the total life of the Church over two thousand yearsand not only to what was said but to what was done. It is of course true that the apostles whom Christ chose were not only males but circumcised Jews. Almost at once, however, in the lifetime of virtually all the chief eyewitnesses of the word, of all those who were qualified in a unique sense to share the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16 the Church decreed circumcision and the other requirements of the jewish law to be no longer binding (Acts.23-9). All ministries were henceforward open to jews and Gentiles equally. But neither the apostles themselves nor their successors have admitted women to the priesthood. The difference between the two cases is immediately apparent, and it is enormous. Our arguments against the ordination of women, then, are not based solely upon certain statements in the pauline Epistles, taken in isolation, such as 1 Corinthians.34-5 or 1 Timothy.11-12, important though these texts undoubtedly are. We appeal rather to the manner in which the scriptural revelation as a whole has been interpreted, applied, and lived.
Do we accept the givenness and finality of you the revelation in Jesus Christ, and do we believe in the apostolic character of the Church? Do we wish to belong to the same Church as that which Christ founded? In the words of a leading Orthodox theologian, Fr John meyendorff: The Church today claims to be apostolic. This means that its faith is based upon the testimony of Christs eyewitnesses, that its ministry is Christs and that it is defined in terms of the unique, unrepeatable act of God, accomplished in Christ once. No new revelation can complete or replace what Jesus Christ did when the fullness of the time was come (Gal. The gospel of Christ cannot be written anew because the fullness of time came then and not at any other time. There is a sense in which all Christians must become Christs contemporaries. Therefore, the very historical conditioning which characterizes the gospel of Christ is, in a sense, normative for. The twentieth century is not an absolute norm; the apostolic age.(11) Here, then, is the first and fundamental argument that the Orthodox Church employs.
In the words of a french Calvinist. Jean-Jacques von Allmen: The new Testament, in spite of the chance of total renewal which it provides for women as well as for men, never testifies that a woman could be, in a public and authorized way, representative of Christ. To no woman does Jesus say, he who hears you, hears. To no woman does he make the promise to ratify in heaven what she has bound or loosed on earth. To no woman does he entrust the ministry of public preaching. To no woman does he give the command to baptize or to preside at the communion of his Body and Blood. To no woman does he commit his flock.(10). We are confronted here by the question of our obedience to Christ: are we as Christians to remain faithful to his example or not?
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In the write words of Vladimir Lossky, tradition is the critical spirit of the Church.(8) It is not simply a protective, conservative principle, but primarily a principle of growth and regeneration. It is not merely a collection of documents, the record of what others have said before us, handed down automatically and repeated mechanically; but it involves a living response to gods voice at the present moment, a direct and personal meeting on our part, here. Authentic traditionalism, then, is not a slavish imitation of the past, but a courageous effort to discriminate between the transitory and the essential. The true traditionalist is not the integrist or the reactionary, but the one who discerns the signs of the times (Matt. 16.3)who is prepared to discover the leaven of the gospel at work even within such a seemingly secular movement as womens lib. Yet, even when full allowance has been made for all this, it seems altogether insufficient to justify such a drastic innovation as women priests. If there is dynamism in Holy Tradition, there is also continuity.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever (Heb. The Spirit is always active in each new generation of the Church, yet it is the Spirits role to bear witness to the son (John.13-15 the Spirit brings us not a new revelation, but the eternal and unchanging truth of Christ himself. Nove, non nova, enjoins St Vincent female of Lérins 9) we are not to do or say new things, for the revelation imparted by Christ is final and complete; but, guided by the Spirit, we are ever to act and speak in a new way, with. What does this imply, so far as the ordination of women is concerned? Although Jesus never said anything about this, either for or against, his actions speak for themselves.
Apostolic Constitutions, when discussing the ministry of women, term the akolouthia tés physeos.(6 but, when employing these three interdependent lines of argument, it is essential to make careful distinctions: (1) Tradition is not to be equated with custom or social convention; there is an important. (2) The ministerial priesthood or priesthood of order is not to be confused with the royal priesthood exercised by all the baptized. (3) The order of nature does not signify fallen human nature, which is in reality profoundly unnatural; it signifies true human nature as first created by god, the undistorted image as it existed before the fall. The Appeal to Tradition, we should hold fast, writes St Vincent of Lérins, to what has been believed everywhere, always and by everyone.(7) If ever there was a practice that contravened the vincentian Canon, it is certainly the ordination of women to the priesthood. Christ, the apostles and ministers of the early Church, as well as their episcopal and presbyteral successors throughout the ages, were men and not women.
In a matter of such grave importance, do we have the right to act differently from them? This appeal to Tradition requires, however, to be handled with care. The new Testament, we are sometimes told, does not encourage Christians to think that nothing should be done for the first time. Loyalty to Tradition must not become simply another form of fundamentalism. Tradition is dynamic, not static and inert. It is received and lived by each new generation in its own way, tested and enriched by the fresh experience that the Church is continually gaining.
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And in Orthodox eyes, spondylolisthesis at any rate, it is a chasm of horrifying dimensions. The ordination of women to priesthood, writes Fr Alexander Schmemann, is tantamount for us to a radical and irreparable mutilation of the entire faith, the rejection of the whole Scripture, and, needless to say, the end of all dialogues; and he goes on to speak. The decisions taken by the Episcopal Church in America at its General Convention in Minneapolis. Can only be considered by an Orthodox Christian as disastrous.(5) These are strong words. Yet Fr Schmemann and Fr Hopko are both of them priests with a long pastoral experience in the west, who have within their own communion the reputation of being, in the best sense, progressive and open-minded. Why do they and other Orthodox feel so deeply? In common with the recent Roman Catholic statement on Women and the Priesthood (Inter Insigniores, we Orthodox are influenced chiefly by two factors: the witness of Tradition and the iconic character of the Christian priesthood. Beyond this we appeal also to the order of nature, to what the.
Orans on the engineer walls of the catacombs, representing the Christian soul waiting upon the Spirit, should take the form of a woman. But the widows, although they intercede and receive revelations, do not act as celebrants at the eucharist. On this point the. Apostolic Church Order is entirely clear: When the master prayed over the bread and the cup and blessed them, saying, This is my body and Blood, he did not allow women to stand with.(2) Here the. Apostolic Church Order agrees with the constant testimony of the universal Church, eastern and Western, from apostolic times onwards: women are entrusted with a wide variety of ministries, but they do not perform the consecration at the eucharist. To" the standard code of Eastern church law, the. Nomocanon of Photius: A woman does not become a priestess.(3). To an Orthodox Christian it seems not so much ironic as tragic that, at the very moment when Christians everywhere are praying for unity, we should see a new chasm opening up to divide.
Next we see that the ministry includes women as well as men. The three widows are not just elderly ladies who arrange the flowers and prepare cups of tea, but they constitute a specific ministry or order recognized by the Church; they are more or less equivalentalthough not actually given such a titleto the deaconesses mentioned elsewhere. While one of the three is entrusted with charitable or social work, the other two have tasks immediately connected with prayer and worship. It is noteworthy that the particular role assigned to them is the ministry of intercession and prophecy. Although it is the calling of every Christian, male as well as female, to pray for others and to listen to god, yet woman by virtue of her gift for direct and intuitive understanding seems especially blessed to act as intercessor and prophet. It is no coincidence that the symbolic figure of the.
The Three widows, if we had been visiting a church beside the nile soon after the year 300, what kind of a parish ministry engelsk might we have found? For an answer, let us turn to the fragmentary document known as the. This begins by mentioning the bishop, who is not yet a distant administrator but still the immediate head of the local community, the normal celebrant at the sunday eucharist. He is assisted in the parish worship by two or more presbyters, by a reader, and by three deacons. Thus far there are no great surprises, except that the reader seems to rank higher than the deacons. The parochial staff is larger than is customary today; but, apart perhaps from the bishop, most of the others are doubtless earning their own living with ordinary jobs. Apostolic Church Order does not stop, however, with the deacons. After them it goes on to speak of three widows, two to persevere in prayer for all who are in temptation, and to receive revelations when such are needed; and one to help the women who are ill.(1).
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Check the url for typos or visit the site's home page at: m, and use the navigation to find what you are looking for. By kallistos Ware from, man, woman, and Priesthood,. 68-90, edited by peter moore, spck loyalty london, 1978. Republished on our website with the necessary permissions. 1934) studied at Magdalen College, oxford, and is a member of the monastic Brotherhood of St John the Theologian, patmos, Greece. Since 1966 he has been priest in charge of the Greek orthodox parish in Oxford and Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox Studies in the University of Oxford, and from 1970 Fellow of Pembroke college. He is joint secretary of the Anglican-Orthodox joint Doctrinal Commission. Author of The Orthodox Church (1963) and various related studies.