The Ordination of Women as Presbyters

From the Dean

A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.

Originally Published:
9th October 2006

Tagged: church ministry ordination presbyters women

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Once again the issue of the ordination of women as presbyters has hit the public media. This is the result of a private members motion in the forthcoming Synod.

It is sad that this matter is being raised in Synod again. No other matter has been so fully canvassed and debated over such a long period of time. The results have always been the same. Repeatedly synod has accepted the Bible’s teaching on this issue. This has kept us in line with 2000 years of church history and the overwhelming majority of Christians in denominations around the world. It is hard to see any reason to raise the issue in Synod again.

Nothing has happened of recent times that would suggest that we re-open this issue. Those things that have happened are all negative. Wherever the ordination of women as presbyters has happened the results have been disastrous.

The Church has been divided.
Since the national church accepted the practice in 1992, we have seen the church divided. There are now “no-go zones” of ministry. Some people are acceptable in some part of the national church and are unacceptable in other parts. A recent classic public example was the election of the Archbishop of Melbourne. The selection panel refused to nominate any candidate for Synod’s consideration unless he believed in women’s ordination.

Bible believers have been excluded.
Evangelicals have been excluded from many dioceses that accept women’s ordination. Candidates, who oppose women’s ordination because their consciences are bound to the word of God, are often considered unsuitable for ordination.

Homosexuality has been accepted.
The cultural arguments that were used to propose ordination of women are identical to the arguments used by the homosexual lobby group. Wherever these arguments were accepted there has been the logical and inevitable slide into the acceptance of homosexuality. Practising homosexuals have been ordained as ministers and bishops. This has almost led to the collapse of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the open persecution of orthodox faithful congregations and ministers.

The Church has declined.
The ordination of women as presbyters has not led to a great revival of church going. There has been no great increase in attendance. Just the reverse, it is the dioceses that have accepted women’s ordination that have seen the greatest decline. The dioceses that have not accepted this practice are the ones who have seen church growth.

The Candidates for ordination have declined
The numbers of ordinands across Australia has decreased. Meanwhile the age of ordinands and the age of ministers have increased. Theological colleges are tiny compared to previous generations and several are struggling to exist. This is opposite to the trend that was predicted when the ordination of women as presbyters was introduced. It is also opposite to what has happened here in Sydney where the ordination of women as presbyters was rejected. Here Moore College has more than doubled in size and the number of ordinands is at all time record numbers. Last year Sydney had more ordinands than all the other 22 dioceses combined. Last February we had the largest ordination in Australian history. At the same time we are enjoying the ministries of a growing number of young, able and theologically trained women.

There is no practical reason for reintroducing a change in the diocesan policy. There are lots of practical reasons against such a change.

However the decision about women’s ordination should not be based on pragmatic outcomes but biblical teaching. Our Synod has always made its decision on this issue on the basis of the Bible’s clear teaching. There have been no new discoveries about the Bible or theology that would indicate any reason to change our opinion or the opinion of our predecessors on this issue.

At the climax of the ordination of presbyters the bishop places a bible into the hands of the ordinand and says “Take thou authority to preach the Word of God ...”. In the Bible God says “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man…”. (1 Tim 2:12). We have little option but to follow God’s command on this matter.

The public media do not understand this way of thinking. They never will. We must not be bullied by public debate conducted by people who do not come to church and have no intention of ever coming. Church people need to make the decision based upon the word of God. The Church is to speak God’s message to the world rather than have the world speak its message to the church