But this charge of 'subordinationism', which included the grave allegation that conservative evangelicals are in breach of the Church of England's 39 Articles of Religion, is thoroughly torpedoed by the Athanasian Creed.
This ancient Creed, published probably in the mid-5th century AD, affirmed by Article VIII as 'proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture', and included in the Book of Common Prayer, clearly expresses the complementarian view of the Trinity upheld by 21st century conservative evangelicals serving the Church of England. It declares:
The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.So there is, according to the received teaching of the Church, a complementary, 'economic' ordering of relationships within the Trinity, which does not vitiate the 'ontological' equality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as divine Persons. The Father is not begotten, but the Son is. The Holy Spirit is not begotten but proceeds. It is therefore quite legitimate and indeed necessary to argue that the complementary nature of the Trinity is reflected in the way in which God has ordered the relationships between men and women in the family and in His church.
Will a retraction be forthcoming? The youth group, none of whom (your curate is confident) is a gambling man or woman, would be ill-advised to put money on it.
A couple of other thoughts emerging from the Sheffield debate:
- Is it wise to predict that the Church of England will lose conservative evangelical candidates for ministry if women are made bishops? That may be true but the revisionists are equally able to say that it will lose their candidates if women are not. Would it not be better to point out that our conservative evangelical constituency has a responsibility to deploy confessing Anglican candidates whom God is calling into Word ministry? That should not be used as a threat but presented as an urgent spiritual and moral responsibility incumbent on our UK constituency in partnership with the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
- The tone of the Sheffield debate showed the limitations of the declaration of love in the women bishops' measure for opponents. There may be some in the institutional hierarchy who genuinely want our churches to 'flourish'. But the unrebuked smear at Sheffield Diocesan Synod against conservative evangelicals is surely indicative of deep hostility towards our constituency amongst the revisionist power-brokers.