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  #1  
Old 10-13-2005, 10:42 PM
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The Sovereign and the Church of England

When the title of Defender of the Faith was bestowed on Henry VIII by Pope Leo X for his defense of Catholicism against Martin Luther, it was a much coveted title. However, when Henry overthrew the Pope's authority and created his own church (albeit a very Catholic one), doesn't it make you think that as a Monarch the title of Defender of the Faith should have been relinquished? It was a title bestowed by the Catholic Pope. This title continues down to Elizabeth II today who is the Temporal Head of the Anglican Church.

I want to hear what others have to say about this issue. This is not meant to be an attack on religion, but the discussion of why the British Monarch retains a title given by the Pope nearly 500 years ago.
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Old 10-14-2005, 12:13 AM
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To be completely honest, I think the title is logical, in a way, considering the fact that the monarch is head of the Church of England. As for the fact the title was bestowed by the pope, I believe, at the time of Henry's split with Rome, he called himself "Head of the Church in England," in being the key word, meaning he considered the church Roman Catholic in all ways save papal supremacy. In many ways, as well, the Church under Henry was Catholic, in practice and ceremony, so, I think, he felt no reason to relinquish the title, due to the fact, in his mind (probably due a need to justify his actions in the dissolution of the monasteries, etc. to himself), he was defending the faith. The monarchy today, I think, uses the title simply for traditional reasons, and I see there to be no reason why the title should be cast aside unless the title of "Head of the Church of England" goes with it. I, personally, think this would be a good move, as, certainly, it complicates things a bit to have the head of your government also be the head of the official church. In America, as in Britain, we've had some problems with that sort of thing, if you know what I mean.
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Old 12-24-2011, 10:26 PM
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The Queen holds the title of "Protector of the Faith" and is the head of the Church of England - the concept of male headship in a christian context is highly relevant to the topic of Equal Primogeniture Sucession... I mean no disrespect to the opinions and religious persuasions of others, but I will put forward my argument.
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Old 12-24-2011, 11:03 PM
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We could argue endlessly about what Jesus meant the status of women to be (as opposed to rulers and Bible-composers), but this is not the place. Much of Christianity has been devoted to the suppression of women - but some of us view our religion as capable of enlightenment and advancement...

There are plenty of Christian churches that have female leaders (take a look around). You may think it is heresy, but the Church of England has long been quite progressive. Women have been ordained as priests (and bishops) since 1992 or so (perhaps due in part to Her Majesty's role and leadership).

I count it a blessing that the British monarchy has survived - and is capable of progressive motion, albeit slowly (which seems appropriate). To imply that Her Majesty is not a proper Christian seems a poor show, especially on a forum dedicated to respectfully discussing her.
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:14 PM
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Many of the details of your previous post reveal a progressive and liberal theology. A common view held amongst members of the Church of England. My views on the other hand are more representative of an evangelical, or (what you might call low church) theology.

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Originally Posted by PrincessKaimi View Post
To imply that Her Majesty is not a proper Christian seems a poor show, especially on a forum dedicated to respectfully discussing her.
Actually, I am not certain what HM beliefs are or what her point of view is in relation to this argument. Any implication was not intended, and if I had wanted to comment on HM - I would have indicated that plainly. Implication and insinuation are tenuous claims in this medium.
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:22 PM
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Further, my point is that Her Majesty is actually head of a Christian Church - which gives her some authority and a different point of view than you or I or anyone else posting here.

Man, you seem to have trouble with others taking a topic where they wish it to go. I never said you said anything about the Queen. Instead, I said that perhaps having a woman as the head of a major religion might in fact change how people view archaic ideas about Christianity.
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by PrincessKaimi View Post
Man, you seem to have trouble with others taking a topic where they wish it to go. I never said you said anything about the Queen. Instead, I said that perhaps having a woman as the head of a major religion might in fact change how people view archaic ideas about Christianity.

If that were the case then the views would have changed somewhat earlier considering that the present Queen is the 5th woman to be Supreme Governor of the Church of England (she isn't the 'head' by the way - Elizabeth I knew she would never ever get that title approved by parliament - they would accept 'Supreme Governor' but would never accept a woman with the title of 'Head' - her father and brother were both the "Head" of - firstly the Church IN England and then the Church OF England but Elizabeth I, Mary II, Anne, Victoria and now Elizabeth have held the title 'Supreme Governor - as have all the male monarchs since Elizabeth I had the Act of Supremacy passed in 1558/59 (the reason for the two dates is that even though it was actually passed in 1559 at the time they dated legislation to the year in which the parliamentary session began.)
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Old 12-25-2011, 10:03 PM
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I believe that views have been changing...gradually, as I believe I mentioned. It did start with the Renaissance - and in England, the Church of England has been much more liberal about the role of women, taking 400 years or so to allow female priests. The Catholic Church has lagged a bit behind, has it not? So have the various Orthodox sects (for the most part).

But once the Church of England set out on its historic path, it has slowly but steadily changed in a progressive direction toward women. The title "head" is figurative here - is there an actual "Head" right now? I would never say "never" to that title being held by a woman, btw.

The fact that four women have been Supreme Governors of the Church indeed lays the groundwork for the more recent changes - and for the equal primogeniture move. People have to get used to the change slowly. Monarchy, especially in England and Northern Europe, seems to provide a platform for this change, as women end up on the throne. One reason Mr. Obama is in the White House is that so many Americans were unwilling to vote for a woman (or at least, so they stated in polls; the number who believe a woman should never be in charge of anything important was significant enough to make a big difference in the election).

But England has lit the way for women in the priesthood (and the American Episcopalian Church has kept abreast of the changes as well). The past year has been a year of waffling by Anglicans in England over the gay marriage issue (whereas the American Anglicans and Episcopalians do allow it - leaving it up to local bishops, IIRC).

I do not mean to imply that the Queen is the doctrinal head of the Anglican church (I know there's a General Synod and a Secretary General). But the fact that the Anglican church has had four women monarchs as its Supreme Governor (and what, 5 women as monarchs? - I'm not counting Lady Jane Grey). And IIRC, one female Prime Minister. All of this makes equal primogeniture a more natural transition (I hope).

Why is the term "Head" so much more controversial than "Supreme Governor"? The connotation of "Head" in American English is not any more strictly male than "Supreme" or "Governor," does it have a strongly masculine connotation in England?
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Old 12-25-2011, 10:30 PM
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The term Head is controversial because the Bible states that a woman can't take a position of authority over men which is why Elizabeth I knew that to get the new Act of Supremacy passed at the beginning of her reign - her sister having repealed the one passed by their father that had applied to himself and Edward VI - she couldn't use the term Head - she was a woman and there was simply no way that the all male parliament would agree to that idea.

The theological Head of the CoE is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The progressive nature of the CoE has seen increasing numbers of members leave the church and embrace the RC or simply give up on organised religion altogether and it isn't attracting younger members at all.

There have been five Queens who have been the Supreme Governor simply because there have been five Queens' Regnant since 1558 - Elizabeth I, Mary II, Anne, Victoria and Elizabeth II. Lady Jane Grey was never Supreme Governor for the simple reason that she predates Mary's repealing of the Act and there wasn't enough time for her to come up against the men.

400 years to get to the idea is equality in the church isn't right at all - more like 1700 (based on the formalising of the doctrine of the church at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD). So it took 1200 years to allow a woman to have any role at the top in one denomination, and a lot longer in all other denominations and another 400 years to reach some type of equality - here in Sydney the Synod still opposes the ordination of woman so no woman can be ordained in the Sydney Archdioces - a very evangelical branch of the faith based totally on biblical teachings - although a woman ordained elsewhere can be a chaplain in an all girls' school but not in a co-ed or all boys' school - again based on the bible.

I hope the mods will accept that I am trying to explain the History of the church and not the religious, theological issues.
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Old 12-25-2011, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessKaimi View Post
I understand that the Bible (which was not written in English) says (in the words of St. Paul, at least in terms of Christian/New Testament doctrine) that women shall not have authority over men. However, I'd like to know where Jesus actually says that (he doesn't). So churches vary on this point - and that still doesn't explain why Supreme Governor is okay but Head is not. I guess it's a semantic thing.

I have tried twice to explain why Elizabeth I had to use Supreme Governor rather than Head - it is simple - to the men in the 1500s a woman couldn't hold the title of "Head" in a religious institution. Had she insisted on using the word "Head" she would never have got the Act of Supremacy passed. By using the term Supreme Governor she was able to get in passed and ALL English/British monarchs since then have held the title Supreme Governor - men and women. It wasn't a matter of semantics but a clear fact - Head was impossible for a women in 1588 but Supreme Governor was possible.

It was because the Bible said that a woman couldn't be in a position of authority over men. As the CoE has used the Bible as its starting point - not just the words of Christ but those who knew Him and those who were inspired by Him directly - as its law a woman couldn't hold that position.

I wasn't interested in explaining the rest of the history of Christianity in England/Britain as I have simply been stating the Queen's present title - Supreme Governor - and why that title is the one that it is.
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Old 12-26-2011, 02:27 PM
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I am not finding anywhere, in Anglican literature, that the term "head" is still used. There is a Supreme Governor and a Primate.

Can you point me to a place where the term "Head" is used by the Church of England? If Elizabeth were male, would the term come back into use?

I understand that the British view of the Bible was identical to that of the Catholic church, hence the view on women (which is certainly not an uncommon one).

Isn't Supreme Governor listed as being above Primate? So, when there is no "Head" of the Church - isn't the Supreme Governor on top?
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Old 12-26-2011, 06:33 PM
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There is no "Head" because the men would allow Elizabeth I to be the "Head" in 1558/9.

That is when the Act of Supremacy was past and it hasn't been changed since so ALL English/British monarchs - male and female - since that date have been the Supreme Governor.

The Primate is the theological head and the one who has been ordained etc.

There therefore is no 'head' of the Church of England at all hence not mentioned in the literature as the position doesn't exist - as the men wouldn't allow a woman to have that title.

The title wouldn't change with a male monarch as that would take another Act of Parliament and it isn't necessary. The Supreme Governor is on top and officially appoints all bishops, archbishops etc although in effect it is done by the PM - so the next time a bishop needs to be appointed Mr Cameron will make a recommendation to The Queen who will then make the appointment.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:04 AM
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The Head of the Church of England is Jesus Christ. The Monarch is the Supreme Governor, and the Archbishop of Canterbury is the Primate.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:57 AM
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The Head of the Church of England is Jesus Christ...
Exactly, well said.
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I am not finding anywhere, in Anglican literature, that the term "head" is still used.
That may well be true. The term headship is applied in scripture when describing the relationship between Christ and the Church, and husbands in relation to their wives. Headship differs from leadership, executive authority, governance and administration precisely in the personal and inseparable nature of the relationship. The concept of headship is so strong that, the two are said to be bodily connected - they are "one flesh". Which means that role of head includes within it, a duty of care - a head cares for his wife as though she were a part of himself.

A head is therefore one that has complete authority - combined with an ultimate responsibility and complete duty of care. It was no doubt a good thing that the language was removed from the relationship of Monarch and Church. Regardless of whether that monarch were male or female.
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:04 AM
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To be perfectly honest though. Even though I am a Christian, I think that the crown should be made an entierly secular institution. The title "Protector of the Faith" I believe should not be made plural (as HRH Prince Phillip seems keen on doing), but instead be removed. The Church of England should then seek to make it's own appointments of bishops, cardinals and primates. Without the need for recommendation from the PM of a secular government... I think then you would see that a lot of the issues regarding male headship and discrimination of faith would become a lot less relevant, and consequently see my argument evaporate.

The Substance of the Contrary Argument

The contrary perspective on this issue is quite simply that it is better to have a King and Queen, whenever possible - which was the main objective of semi-salic primogeniture. As I believe this combination of King and Queen was in the best interests of the commonwealth, and the discrimination against any female heir was incidental; and secondary to the needs of the commonwealth. The natural consequence of equal primogeniture will be that the office of King is destined to be vacant half the time.

Whilst past and present Queens Regent have proven quite capable at exercising executive authority. The mantle of leadership is unrealised duriing her reign. In the minds of the male half of the population, a female leader lacks legitimacy... and always will. Why do you think it is that most of the contributors to TRF are currently women? Beyond the exercising of executive power, the Royal family in its current form is of little consequence in the eyes of most men today.

There is also an intrinsic role reversal between any Queen Regent and her husband - which confuses the line of authority, making a husband subserviant to his wife and is thus not biblical. It would be difficult for any Godly man to live in such a way that does not honour God.
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:53 AM
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There is also an intrinsic role reversal between Queen Regent and her husband - which confuses the line of authority, making a husband subserviant to his wife and is thus not biblical. It would be difficult for any Godly man to live in such a way that does not honour God.
How cute, such an old fashioned opinion that has no real relevance in life today.
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:29 AM
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How cute, such an old fashioned opinion that has no real relevance in life today.
There are some people that still consider these things relevant, and some that do not.
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:58 PM
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Makes sense, LauraS. Supreme Governor is listed in text above the Primate (and doesn't she have a say in appointing the Primate - but not the other way around?)
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:17 PM
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Makes sense, LauraS. Supreme Governor is listed in text above the Primate (and doesn't she have a say in appointing the Primate - but not the other way around?)

Officially yes but in practice no she has no say - the appointment is a political one and so the PM makes a recommendation to the Queen who can't refuse to agree to that appointment.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:48 AM
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Got it. It's interesting that the appointment is (still) a political one rather than primarily a religious one.
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