Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hearing her voice

It was enriching tonight to attend St Andrews Roseville to hear God’s Word proclaimed.  The invitation came via John Dickson’s popular Facebook feed as:

Just to be absolutely clear on my focus of attending in priority order was:

1: God’s Word was to be boldly proclaimed,
2: In the form of a testimony of Jesus Christ,
3: By a woman preacher,
(4: Under control of a responsible shepherd, a male Senior Minister.)

Point 4 being of least importance as to my choice to attend, yet nonetheless it was a credible feature.

Stephanie Judd delivered a solid message.  The text was Romans 5:12-21. Stephanie’s talk was kept relatively tight to this text.  The key point of the message was the binary nature of either being in Adam (with the result of death) or being in Christ (with the result of life). 

Those in Christ have a seat in heaven, they enjoy being part of the heavenly family, their sins are accounted for. 

It seemed apt that there was a focus on the binary as Stephanie stood below an overhead projected slide that indicated her message to be last in a series of world faiths.  The binary message is particularly appropriate as, say, anyone who heard the message on Hinduism in a prior week of the series would have recognised that it is a polytheist religion. 

As a former Opera Singer, I appreciated how Stephanie drew from the timeless song Amazing Grace.  Using a verse from that song Stephanie drew out how the wonderful thing of the Christian walk is that one's position in Christ remains as the “hour you first believed”. 

I’ve read John Dickson’s position on women’s preaching and have come to summarise it as:

 “the Bible supports women preaching
(following the laying down of written scripture)
 under guidance of a male senior minister”.  

That summary will undoubtedly not sit well with some – arguing it too simplistic or too poorly digested – yet it serves this pewsitter well.  I tried to follow the debate that followed publication of John’s book  Hearing Her Voice: A Case for Women Giving Sermons. That debate was too hair-splitting and too clerical for my liking.  It seemed absent one vital element – that of the discernment of pewsitters – their insight in challenging the speaker.  To that end, I support Hearing Her Voice in that I’m inclined to believe that the debate opponents did not find adequate discernment (nor perhaps engender appropriate levels of discernment) amongst their pewsitters.  In any instance his opponents seemed largely to be fellow Sydney Anglicans – sigh! a church divided amongst itself! 

Pewsitter discernment has been a regular feature of this blog.

My local suburban Anglican church, which is also on the North Shore, does not support women preaching - the mandate of the Senior Minister rather than any form of democratic process.  I am aware of Sydney Anglican churches other than St Andrews Roseville that receive women preachers.  It seems a strange posture for so many good quality women leaders to come through the Moore Theological College only to have their access to the pulpit held to the whim of a single man.  The Anglican Diocese of Sydney would do well to have a consistent position across all its venues.


Note: all links current at 11 September 2016

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