Discussion in 'Sacraments and Holy Orders' started by kestrel, Feb 21, 2012.
A bishops essential to a Christian community so it can be truly called Christian? Why or why not?
I think it would help if we parse our terms a little. Are bishops essential for a community to be called "Christian"? No. Are they essential for a community to be called the Church? Yes. Any group of people can be considered a Christian community. My family is, in a sense, a Christian community. The nation of France was historically and still is on paper a Christian community. Neither of those entities are the Church, however. The Church is a more specific entity, and while there is a sense in which any group of baptized believers is the Church in part, only that body that is made up of bishops, clergy, and people in communion with Christ and holding the faith of the apostles can be considered the Church with a capital "C."
Very well, Fr. Jonathan, the Church then
They are necessary for churches in the Anglican tradition. Some churches have regrettably discontinued the episcopacy but the definition of the church is a place where the Gospel is preached and the Sacraments duly administered.
Hmmmm even though some churches have discontinued the episcopacy I believe there is still a structure of seniority among the clergy... My thoughts are that those denominations that broke away from the Roman Church and do away with bishops were simply concerned about labels...
If bishop is taken in it's original meaning as overseer then absolutely I think they're necessary. The church needs to lead by godly, wise men. The church has always had overseers.
Whether I think that bishops (in it's current usage) is necessary for the church - well I'm sure you can guess my view
"They are necessary for churches in the Anglican tradition. Some churches have regrettably discontinued the episcopacy but the definition of the church is a place where the Gospel is preached and the Sacraments duly administered. "
Bishops are of biblical provenance and their pronouncements, through the ecumenical councils, with the participation of the Holy Ghost as promised by Christ, are what defines our faith. At least so I was told when I was at school.
Do bishops' pronouncements define our faith? I remember reading in the early church fathers that they've harkened back to the Bible as their standard of faith. Indeed I remember now quotes from men like Cyprian and the like, Augustine etc, saying, 'who are we to tell you what the truth is, go to the Scriptures', no?
You are correct regarding the Bible, by all means go to scripture, I do! Even so ,in my own case, I cannot understand it in its depth and breadth. According to some Bishops, (Bramhall,) we do not reject doctrines based on universal understanding of apostolic teachings, such as,I imagine, infant baptism and the sign of the cross. The Bishops in Council ,"interpret,explain and complete scriptures." This from the foreword to an old Orthodox Catechism I have . The English Convocations in 1537/42/ and 1572 all confirmed our belief in the Seven Councils. Though it is in a convoluted way! Cranmer and at least one of the Oxford Martyrs asserted their belief in them. As did Tom More! The English parliament in the early years of Elizabeth, stated that no one could be prosecuted for heresy unless he went against these same councils. Regularly from that time, at decent intervals, the Church in England has, usually in discussions with our Orthodox brothers, confirmed this stance.
There are seven ecumenical councils , according to Field and the first Four define our Christology, two are explanatory and the seventh and last defines our understanding of the Lady Mary and the Saints!
"quotes from men like Cyprian and the like, Augustine etc, saying, 'who are we to tell you what the truth is, go to the Scriptures', no?"
Interestingly, Both S.Cyprian and S.Augustine challenged the Bishop of Rome's claims through appealing to the Council of Nicea and refused to accept the Roman view.
Exactly, I think we as Anglicans should cling to our Scriptures, and not so much to infallible tradition, which is more a Roman idea, am I right?
But as we Anglicans do not follow ,"Infallible Bishops," and have given Roman pretensions a sound push, we are in agreement. The Church in England has subscribed to the Seven Ecumenical Councils for some twelve hundred years and don't forget it is usually claimed in the old histories that at least one British Bishop attended the Council of Nice. One modern Roman Scholar puts the case for attendance and the Orthodox Timeline agrees with them. If we read both Origines Ecclesiastica, or Jeremy Collier;s Ecclsiastical History of Britain, the idea is not refuted. Also many English theologians including the Martyr , Archbishop Laud and Dean Field positively acclaim it. Remember too, that the idea of Church Councils is of Biblical provenance with the Council of Jerusalem, when James, the brother of Christ, Bishop of Jerusalem closed that Council with the words,"It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us".! Anglicans only accept Councils as Ecumenical when they are accepted by the Church at large, This is why the Roman, or Latin Councils of the west are not accepted as ecumenical, even though we sent delegates to those in the middle ages which sought to put chains on the Bishop of Rome! Remember neither do we accept Trent or either of the Vatican Councils! The Bishops only interpret scripture and explain it, otherwise it would be like pentecostalism with everyone trusting to his own judgment !Let me, please, know what you think further on this?
Bye the Way, Infallible tradition confounds Romanism, there is nothing either in scripture or Holy Tradition that encourages Rome! In fact they are none plussed by the absence of encouragment within Tradition. ! Read Littledale's, Roman Claims, or, Dennie's Papalism, both of which are on Google!
Makes sense to me, that's how I've thought about it myself.
What are good old histories of the Church of England, i.e Jeremy Collier that you cite?
Littledale. The Petrine Claims. Bishop Hickes. Letter to a Priest. Thomas Brett..An Account of Church Government.rd A Harmony of Anglican Doctrine. William Palmer. Doctrines and practice. England & Rome, Dunbar Ingram. OF the Church. Richard Field.
All these are marvellous explanations of Anglican doctrine from the beginning when taken with the two earlier mentioned. They are obtainable from Google Books, but some of them can be got second hand shops and library's.
For the Reformation, the last one is an eye opener and should be on all Anglican shelves as indeed should all the others.
St. Cyprian died in the Valerian persecution, long before the Council of Nicea.
My apology for taking so long to reply and another for my error! Howandever, the principal stands firm, that both S. Cyprian and S.Augustin, looked to Councils to answer major disputes.
All human societies have some form of organization. Bishops are part of ours. They may not do much for us, but I would rather have them than not. Whether the bishops themselves are essential, some of their functions are, and those functions have to be performed somehow. I would not expect abolishing bishops and performing their functions through various ad-hoc arrangements to give us any better outcomes than we have now.
I know that this is nit-picking, but France is a secular state. In contrast, England has an Established Church, with Bishops in the House of Lords.
Sure, bishops are essential to the Church. Of course I contend that bishop=presbyter. <Ducks>