But how does the Church change its mind? How does it square inspiration with democracy?
I think it happens over time. And the first person, or the first few people, who articulate a new understanding never meet with particularly positive reactions. It takes time for any kind of consensus to build.
You go back to Acts, and you have Gamaliel talking about the disciples’ teaching in the marketplace, saying: “You know, we ought to give this some time. If it’s not of God, it will go away. And if it is of God, do we want to be opposing it?” I think we’re in the middle of that now. All of us want it to be over, but the fact of the matter is that it’s going to take us some time to settle this.
But didn’t Rowan Williams say to you that the proper way of doing this was to pose the question, take soundings, and convince people before doing the deed?
What I said to Rowan in that meeting was “Yes, wouldn’t that be wonderful? It sounds so orderly, and neat and tidy, when in fact it rarely happens that way.” We find someone taking action and then we think our way backwards to it.
I pointed out to him that in our own country we had 11 women who were uncanonically ordained to the priesthood before we had sanctioned the ordination of women. I wonder how many years it would have taken us (rather than the two years it took us to the next General Convention to approve that) to ordain women had we gone about that in an orderly process. We might still not be ordaining women.
Read it all.