In The Name Of Jesus: Gender, Ministry, And The Mediation Of Christ -- By: Joel Scandrett

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 24:1 (Winter 2010)
Article: In The Name Of Jesus: Gender, Ministry, And The Mediation Of Christ
Author: Joel Scandrett

In The Name Of Jesus: Gender, Ministry, And The Mediation Of Christ

Joel Scandrett

Joel Scandrett, Ph.D., is a priest of the Anglican Church of North America and an Instructor of Theology at Wheaton College, Trinity School for Ministry, and Northern Seminary.

Not long after I was confirmed as an Anglican, my then rector uttered words that have proven, and may yet prove, to be prophetic. He said, “The Anglican Communion is going to split: first, over the issue of homosexuality and, second, over the issue of women in ministry.” While the first of his predictions has clearly come true, my sincere hope is that the second will not become a wedge that separates otherwise orthodox, Nicaea- and Chalcedon-affirming Anglicans from living and ministering in unbroken fellowship. So it is in a spirit of hope tempered by fear that I offer the following reflections. And though they apply most directly to the Anglican context, they may also bear important implications for the larger evangelical debate over this issue.

In this article, I wish to address the question of women’s ordination to the Anglican priesthood, a practice already in place in parts of the Anglican Communion but which is hotly contested in others, especially among evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans. While a comprehensive treatment of this question rightly entails a consideration of all pertinent passages of Scripture, such texts do not fall within the purview of this article. Instead, I will focus exclusively on a sacramental theology of the priesthood as it pertains to the question of gender—and I do so for two basic reasons. First, every theological tradition that has retained a sacramental understanding of the role of the priest or presbyter does so on the basis of more than a strictly biblical analysis. Instead, tradition is principally in view here and, therefore, requires a theological approach that engages the question on the same grounds. Second, it is my conviction that many of the interpretive assumptions brought to bear upon the biblical texts most pertinent to the issue of women in ministry are, in fact, deeply shaped by the Western tradition of male priesthood. Consequently, an examination of that tradition may help to disclose operative assumptions that might otherwise remain concealed.

Male Priesthood—A Theological Tradition

In the year 2000, the largely evangelical Anglican Mission in America1 was established by the Anglican Archbishops of Southeast Asia and Rwanda in response to the crisis in the Episcopal Church. That same year, the newly formed Anglican Mission initiated a study2 of the issue of women’s ordination, signaling its rec...

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