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Bristol University's Christian Union Bans Women From Teaching At Meetings

(106 Posts)
ecclesvet Tue 04-Dec-12 20:56:42


ChristmasFayrePhyllis Wed 05-Dec-12 07:53:10

AIUI the canon of the Bible evolved fairly organically by consensus between different Xtian communities, and was largely in place by the end of the 2nd century in the Western church. The first church council to formally declare a canon was the Council of Trent in 1546. Nicea was about the Creed and squashing Arianism.

The husband bit is presumably modelled on the husband and wife teams who led churches in NT times.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 08:16:43

People definitely argue about the canon and do draw up lists well before Trent; I'm not sure it was 'organic', since it was certainly formalized.

I can see the links between people (men) declaring they have authority to decide which bits go into the Bible and people in this CU decide women don't get to teach, since it's all a bit circular, but I tend to assume (maybe wrongly?) that this sort of CU is probably less about revisiting old theological controversies and more about finding a way to justify 'traditional gender roles' which they're assuming are therefore scriptural. I could be being unfair.

It just seems that a fair few Christian groups seem to imagine the Bible must promote the kind of gender roles the 21st century celebrates as 'traditional' (ie., 1950s-that-never-were) and don't really bother to check it out properly.

HolofernesesHead Wed 05-Dec-12 12:23:00

The first Roman canon of Christian Scripture was compiled in 190CE, way, way before Trent. Athanasius' Easter letter of 367CE (NB after Nicaea) was pretty authoritative in terms of defining the canon too.

Anyway, I am unashamed of my love for St Paul. As a Gentile Christian, it'd be incredibly rude of me not to love him. 'In Christ, there is no longer...male and female...' as he says.

TeiTetua Wed 05-Dec-12 13:30:09

'In Christ, there is no longer...male and female...' so anyone can speak in church, with anything on their head, right?

The Quakers have it right. God is inherent in everyone, so we must treat each other as if everyone is holy. We mustn't harm another person, and we mustn't assume superiority over anyone. There ought to be Quaker meetings alongside these so-called Christian groups.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Wed 05-Dec-12 14:26:24

Thing is, while it's no surprise that a lot of Christians are misogynistic fucknuggets, I would be inclined to think that the University's remedy would be to encourage the less-misogynistic Christians to form a breakaway union of their own.
It's a kind of public/private/free speech issue as much as a feminist one, because if the University kicks these tossers into next week and pulls their funding, then the decision will be used as a precedent to sabotage any kind of women-only group or association.

Because these silly little sods and their imaginary friend and their superstitious shit should be percieved as a private members club that is not actually denying women-in-general or christian women anything they can't get elsewhere.

HolofernesesHead Wed 05-Dec-12 18:05:14

IMHO what needs to happen now is that the chaplaincy team needs to address the issue by hosting a discussion on the subject of women in religious leadership. Bristol has a large multifaith chaplaincy team with no doubt quite a range of experiences and viewpoints. So I'd open it up as a discussion, if I were there, and invite the CU to take part so that they can have the opportunity to contextualise their own beliefs, and try and understand how things might be understood differently by other believers. They might not come,'s always worth trying, and it'd still be v. valuable anyway.

ChristmasFayrePhyllis Wed 05-Dec-12 21:13:12

Sorry, I may have got it wrong on the canon - but what I meant was the Trent was the first council that specifically addressed the canon AIUI.

There are other Christian student federations aren't there? Student Christian Movement etc? I wonder if they have a presence at Bristol.

I just find it so utterly depressing that there's even a debate to be had on women's ministry. That we are such a controversy that people of good sense could be prepared to pander to this nonsense by hosting 'discussions' on women leaders. That isn't meant to be a go at you, Holofernes, by the way - it's just I'm very down about it all in general at the moment and I find it heart-breaking that we are still at this stage.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 21:19:03

Oh, goodness, it's all incredibly arcane, isn't it? I'm quibbling because I am a horrible pedant and a (bad) armchair theologian and I think - with respect and amusement - that Holofernes is similar! grin

But yes, you're right, to get back on target, I would like to know what other Bristol students or student Christians made of it.

My mate is a postgrad at Bristol, who happens to be married to a woman and therefore unable to bring in her husband as sanction for her teaching hmm, and I want to know what she makes of it but not got a reply yet.

It is depressing. And I don't think the people debating it know the slightest bit of the theology/church history, do they? They're just being sexist.

HolofernesesHead Wed 05-Dec-12 21:58:08

Armchair theologian, absolutely! smile The comfier the better!

It is depressing that we need discussion of this, yes I agree Phyllis, but I'm quite Pragmatic, I guess. Tbf these CU members are young, probably from conservative evangelical backgrounds and gave never really had their views challenged, so on that basis I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them like equal conversation partners in the hope that they'd see a different way...maybe I'm a pragmatist and an optimist! smile

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 22:00:33

grin I'm glad you didn't mind that, I thought I'd seen enough of your posts to now you were one of the fellowship!

I wonder if the CU are all young, though. Being rather cynical, I'd be interested to know how much of Bristol CU is run by (undergrad) students and how much by people who've long since ceased to be students.

I take your point, though.

HolofernesesHead Wed 05-Dec-12 22:14:37

Well, I was on the committee of my UCCF affiliated CU as a young scallywag, and tbh I think I was quite lucky with mine; we had Roman Catholics and Protestants (lots of Anglicans) of all stripes, so it was relatively 'union'ish, although the Orthodox churches didn't really get a look in. One of the things I did was to install a female President of the CU (I was Vice Pres), so I guess we were relatively progressive. Far from perfect, though.

Anyway, as far as I remember, the committee of a CU is the decision making body, and is pretty much made up of undergrads, so I think it's feasible that these people in Bristol are basically, well, young fogeys. I find so often that older people are so much more progressive than younger people; maybe that's the result of the 'university of life.' hmmm!

weegiemum Wed 05-Dec-12 22:17:13

I was involved quite heavily with the CU when at edinburgh uni. Very young, very dogmatic, very sure they were always right, never had had a female president, and with a bit of a holy persecution complex to be honest. Almost entirely undergrad and also a hotbed of seething sexual tension! This was late 80s/early 90s, but I doubt much has changed tbh. Packed with medical students, too, overwhelmingly from N. Ireland.

Dh's best friend from school went to Bristol and their CU was very similar to ours, at that time.

I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole now but I did make some very good friends there and my husband too

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 22:17:17

Oh, that sounds nice, yours, then.

It's of course possible the Bristol lot are Young Fogeys. OTOH I do know of CUs that were effectively run by people who weren't at university, so I'm not speculating without precedent.

The reason I'm suspicious here isn't so much their views, as the fact it's claimed they've made progress from the situation of 7 years ago. 7 years seems an awful long time in undergrad-years.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 22:18:40

Whoops, cross post! grin

Sexual tension, weegie?! Gosh.

I know the sort of thing though - one of my good mates is ex CU and now a fervent athiest (among other things). Still just as dogmatic, though, in a different way. confused

weegiemum Wed 05-Dec-12 22:24:29

Notice that the decision has now been changed, women allowed to be anything.

LRD it was the most hormonal environment I've ever been in, and I taught in secondary schools! Everyone desperate to get married so they could have sex and pretending to be praying together when they were really snogging. Looking back, it's actually quite sad.

HolofernesesHead Wed 05-Dec-12 22:30:25

Weenie, that is so true! smile goodness, all that repression!

I thought that UCCF had become more hardline conservative evo in the wake of Steve Chalk's book in which he rejects penal substitionary atonement? I might well be wrong on that, though.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 22:33:38

Oh, no ... that sounds so like a mate of mine, who is an absolutely lovely woman any man would be fortunate to know, and who's convinced she'll never marry and can't have sex before marriage. sad

It does trouble me.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 22:33:57

What's penal substitutionary atonement, btw?!

HolofernesesHead Wed 05-Dec-12 22:50:25

Oh goodness, that's a can of worms, LRD! It's the belief that Hod punished Jesus instead of punishing us; hence Jesus' death on the cross. As an idea, it's - well, terrible, really!

HolofernesesHead Wed 05-Dec-12 22:50:53

God, not Hod! smile

ChristmasFayrePhyllis Wed 05-Dec-12 22:56:59

PSA is a particular doctrine of salvation/atonement - the idea that Christ's death was him voluntarily taking on the punishment of sinners in their place - as a substitution to appease God.

I resisted saying this further up the thread when LRD said that the husband and wife thing was odd, but I'm going to say it now - in my experience too, CUs are always OBSESSED with sex. The one in my college was constantly having talks about sexual purity and kept a lending library of books that were almost entirely about sex. And then they all got married the instant they graduated, so they could have sex. So perhaps lots of people at Bristol got married because they were all desperate to have sex and there are lots of married couples there ... ? <uncharitable Phyllis>

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 22:57:02

Oh, yes, I know. Not by that name.

It's Christ taking on the sins of the world, but from the point of view of a punishing God not a sacrificing Christ. It's a problem for us because God is outside time and omniscient, isn't it, and because we don't really understand the Trinity? Because He knew what He'd do to Himself, only he's outside time and knows it already, so it was done, in a timeless period coexistant with God making man with free will.

<confuses self mightily>

Thank you! blush grin

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 22:58:31

Cross post ... damn, I knew I should have gone to CU for sex! grin I had a lovely group of luvvie/stoner mates who wouldn't have known sex if it bit them. Bless them.

I did know a couple who married immediately after university but I can't really lecture since DH married me not much after he graduated.

Pilgit Wed 05-Dec-12 23:53:33

Apologies for my incorrect statements about the Nicene council - arm chair theologian and historian. <wanders off mumbling that she must get her facts straight next time>......

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 23:57:05

We'll sit on the same bench and the others can fill us in, right?

I think this makes me think of my issue with CU btw - IME they don't ever chat about different perspectives like Catholicism or Protestantism or all the different ones we all obviously have, they just assume they're right. I'm not keen.

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