UK: Why No Reform Minister Should Accept the 'Headship' See of Maidstone

David Virtue david at
Thu Dec 18 18:12:14 EST 2014

UK: Why No Reform Minister Should Accept the 'Headship' See of Maidstone

By Julian Mann
Special to Virtueonline
December 15, 2014

Whilst the decision by the Church of England's Dioceses Commission to
fill the vacant suffragan See of Maidstone with a conservative
evangelical 'flying' bishop is well-intended and generous, here are
three reasons why no minister who holds to the biblical view of male
headship should accept the post:

1). Maidstone is expected to be a delegate for conservative evangelicals
in the Church of England. The official press release announcing the move
may have described him as an 'advocate' for those who hold 'a
conservative position on headship' but the expectation is that he would
represent in the College of Bishops those conservative evangelical
churches who have appealed for his oversight, most of whom would be
affiliated to Reform or Church Society or both.

Biblically, minister as delegate is surely problematic. Ministers are
called to be pastoral and prophetic according to the Apostle Paul's
Pastoral Epistles, whose teaching is so faithfully reflected in the Book
of Common Prayer's Ordinal. In this New Testament light, Christ's
ministers owe those in their pastoral care their loving,
biblically-grounded, godly judgement, not their democratic obedience.
The representative expectation on Maidstone would therefore appear to be
theologically flawed from the start.

2). Maidstone's roving national role from a base in the south of England
would make it almost impossible for him to form meaningful pastoral
relationships with the churches and ministers he is responsible for
around the country. That would be to some extent mitigated if a headship
bishop were appointed for the north of England but Maidstone would still
have to cover a lot of geographical ground. This would make it difficult
for him to be rooted in a local church and inevitably over time he would
begin to find his personal support and friendship among his fellow

Those bishops who befriended him and became his peers would hold to a
variety of theological views, some of which contradicted the Church of
England's 39 Articles of Religion. Thus the headship bishop would become
part of an institutional plausibility structure that prizes theological
diversity over confessional commitment to the biblical and Reformed
doctrine of the Church of England.

3). Maidstone might allow conservative evangelical churches to avoid a
challenge that very arguably it would be good for them to have to face
once women diocesan bishops are appointed. Without a conservative
evangelical 'flying' bishop to oversee them individually, local churches
could well sense a more pressing need to form mission partnerships with
other headship churches in their region.

These partnerships could provide a solid regional foundation for a
confessing Anglican Province in England. This development, which could
be facilitated by the Anglican Mission in England, (AMiE) would no doubt
be messy and difficult for churches faced with losing their buildings
and ministers losing their homes. But it could have the effect of
mobilising local Anglican churches for the Lord Jesus Christ's ministry
and mission in ways that would never have happened whilst they were safe
and comfortable

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension,
Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK -

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