Incarnation, Trinity, And The Ordination Of Women To The Priesthood -- By: John Jefferson Davis

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 24:1 (Winter 2010)
Article: Incarnation, Trinity, And The Ordination Of Women To The Priesthood
Author: John Jefferson Davis

Incarnation, Trinity, And The Ordination Of Women To The Priesthood

John Jefferson Davis

John Jefferson Davis, Ph.D., an ordained Presbyterian minister, is Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., where he has served on the faculty since 1975. He is the author of Theology Primer (Baker), Foundations of Evangelical Theology (Baker), Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today (Presbyterian and Reformed), Frontiers of Science and Faith (InterVarsity Press), and numerous articles in scholarly journals. He received the Templeton Foundation award for excellence in the teaching of science and religion.

In my earlier article1 on 1 Timothy 2:12 and the ordination of women, I argued that Pauls contextual and church-specific reading and application of the creation texts indicates that the limitations on womens teaching roles in the church are circumstantial rather than universal prohibitions. Now, I wish to address arguments in a specifically Anglican2 context that were not addressed in the first article, namely, arguments based on the incarnation and the Father/Son relationship within the Trinity that are thought to bar the ordination of women as priests and bishops. For the purposes of this study, I will focus on two documents as sources for the main arguments to be considered in this Anglican context: the essay “Priestesses in the Church?” by C. S. Lewis,3 and “A Report of the Study Concerning the Ordination of Women Undertaken by the Anglican Mission in America,” Rev. John H. Rodgers, chairman.4

It is not my purpose to discuss three other sets of arguments that are here considered secondary to the primary theological issues being addressed: the canonical irregularity or illegality of the first ordination of women to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) in 1974 and 1975,5 issues arising from the feminist movement and the “culture wars,” or the argument against women priests from patristic authority and church tradition. With regard to “culture wars,” cultural conservatives tend to see the ordination of women as symptomatic of a feminist movement that destabilizes the family and society generally;6 cultural progressives and egalitarians tend to see male-dominant readings of Scripture as increasing the dangers of domestic violence and abuse.7

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