Had a good Learning Church session this morning on Paul the Apostle and women bishops. Basically running through what Paul thought an Apostle was (witness to the resurrection being key to his own ‘appointment’), touching on the ‘Junia’ question and Mary Magdalene, going via 1 Timothy 2, towards outlining the Forward in Faith arguments for a third province. 36 people in attendance, which was average.
In the discussions there was a question from one of the group (a Quaker in fact) about where the Spirit fitted in. I had been explaining about the Anglican use of authority – from Scripture to tradition to reason, and I said that the Spirit came as part of that process. In other words, that the Spirit could only be found at the end; ie we have to take the historical fruits of the Spirit seriously – that the Spirit has been guiding the church in the context of what has already been done. So, with respect to the consecration of Bishop Robinson in New Hampshire, I could see no resources within Anglican structures of authority to say that this was a wrong move. (NB not that there are no arguments for saying it is a wrong move, only that there is no agreed authority that can be appealed to). In other words, it is impossible, within Anglican understandings of authority, to say that what happened in New Hampshire was wrong. It was enacted in accordance with the ECUSA constitutions etc, and whilst it has undoubtedly led to ructions with the rest of the communion, I can see no theological grounds within Anglicanism for saying that the Spirit was (definitively) not present in that action.
Anyone wishing to correct me on that is warmly invited to comment!!