Spring 2013

Editorial

'Women Bishops ’, or the lack of them, have been much discussed in both Ireland and England of late. Many in the Church of Ireland had expected the usual “translation” to Meath and Kildare in January, which would have left an episcopal vacancy that could have given us our first woman bishop and offered an example to our English neighbours. So we lead this issue with a reflection on women’s leadership in the church by Bishop John Neill, who led the Lambeth ’88 debate in this area.
Human sexuality remains a crucial issue. With further General Synod debate on the agenda for May, it cannot be ignored, however much ink it has absorbed already. Having considered it from three different angles in our last issue, we now offer Sandra Pragnell’s disciplined consideration of the key biblical texts in the light of 21st century biological and sociological understandings. Debates in this area have tended to generate more heat than light, so Rob Clements’ plea that we consider the truth of our emotions and our bodily existence as well as “pure reason” is a timely one. The variety of our ideas about God and how to understand his Word for us today is a challenge to our unity in Christ and gospel love for one another. As James Dunn pointed out long ago, there is both unity and diversity within the New Testament. Jean Mayland in her article “After the Covenant” urges that we make room for diversity according to culture, customs and convictions within our unity as Anglican churches. In the area of care and conduct of clergy, Maurice Elliott and Maria Jansson offer much matter for reflection – these areas also being on the agenda for May’s General Synod. And opportunely, in view of recent conflict in Belfast, our Book Review section opens with a consideration of Johnston McMaster’s recent title “Overcoming Violence”.

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