This is the second of three blog posts responding to the appointment of Philip North, an opponent of women priests, as Bishop of Sheffield.

In the first I described Martyn Percy’s argument that the appointment should not proceed as long as Philip rejects the priesthood of the women priests in Sheffield Diocese, because it would put the women priests in Sheffield in an impossible position.

John Sentamu and Philip North

Outcry all round. Philip North, the suffragan Bishop of Burnley who opposes the ordination of women, is to become the next Bishop of Sheffield. This is the first of three posts on the subject.

It is a diocesan post, so he will have oversight of all the priests in his diocese. A third of them are women.

Last Tuesday, on the eve of the General Synod debate on marriage and same sex relationships, I was heading for the launch of OneBodyOneFaith (a merger of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude) when I saw this slogan on a poster on the Underground:

Take me as I am, or watch me as I go

We are only fully human when we forget to take ourselves seriously.The same goes for solemn occasions involving large numbers of serious individuals.

In fact, one could argue that serious individuals coalescing  into solemn enclaves create what we call a self interested and self sustaining system. Systems are not fully human, and this week’s Church of England Synod gathering was an example of how inhuman systems can ultimately be their own undoing.

The debate continues. In my recent post about same-sex relationships I accused Susie Leafe, Director of Reform, of making five errors about the Bible. In the comments at the bottom of the post on my own website is a defence of Susie by Philip Almond and an invitation to continued dialogue.

I’m torn. Part of me feels angry that anyone should use such complicated systems to make the Bible mean what they want it to mean. The other part welcomes dialogue as our best hope of the two sides making progress. So I offer a general overview of the two most common ways to interpret the Bible, leaving to the end – as a kind of appendix – my detailed replies to Philip.