How Necessary Are Bishops?

Discussion in 'Sacraments, Sacred Rites, and Holy Orders' started by Lowly Layman, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I feel like this has been discussed before but I couldnt find it, so...the lambeth quadrilateral lists adherence to the "historic episcopate, locally adapted" as one of the essentials of Anglican Unity. But even the last pope conceded that in early christianity, the offices of priests and bishops were indistinguishable with the hierarchy of a threefold ministry developing later (and extra-biblically). Are bishops essential to the Anglucan faith? What was the opinion of the Anflican Reformers?
     
  2. Mockingbird

    Mockingbird Member

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    I think your "last pope" has it sideways. As I read the history, there was no "office" of presbyter in the earliest church. Bishop and deacon were the formally-defined offices. One became an elder simply by being spiritually older than others. Bishops and deacons would normally have been chosen from among these informally-recognized elders. Only later did the office of presbyter become formally defined. I think this was necessary. Having a formally-ordained presbyterate helps keep things somewhat less bad than they could otherwise get.

    However that may be, every human community has leaders, will it or nil it. If we scrapped bishops we would end up with the approximate equivalent one way or another, and it is not obvious that this hypothetical new system would work any better than the old. So for the time being I'll continue an Episcopalian.

    It is true that bishops are not "essential" in the way that the scriptures, creeds, and sacraments are. The proverbial small band of castaways on an uninhabited island could presumably form a functioning Christian community without formally-designated bishops. Though, as noted, some form of leadership would emerge in any case.
     
  3. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    It might be helpful to consult the opinions of bishops Bancroft and Andrewes here:

    http://www.anglican.net/works/richard-bancroft-sermon-preached-at-pauls-cross-1588/

    http://www.anglican.net/works/lance...three-epistles-of-peter-moulin-answered-1647/

    The latter document may be especially germane, as the Presbyterian Pierre Moulin argues that the episcopacy was an post-apostolic development, and Lancelot Andrewes speaks for King James I, himself and the whole church, in saying that it was an apostolic and divine institution. It must be confessed that by the end of the debate Moulin appears won over by the array of arguments that bishop Andrewes had brought forth.

    We also have in the pipeline quite a few more Anglican treatises on episcopacy which in the future may shed further light on our historic opinions of this matter.
     
  4. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    For classical Anglicans, not necessary at all. Beneficial, apostolic, and generally profitable for the Church. It has been part of the Church's discipline since 1662 that all ministers be episcopally-ordained but this is not the Church's doctrine.
     
  5. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    which classical anglicans?
     
  6. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    All of them.
     
  7. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    Of course they're necessary. Who are we without our bishops?
     
  8. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    What arguments could one possibly bring against the necessity of bishops? We are anglicans here, come on!
     
  9. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    What/who is a "classical Anglican"?
     
  10. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    For what my opinion is worth as an outsider, without bishops there is no Anglicanism. the episcopacy runs through the whole history of the Church of England and in my opinion is foundational. It is one of the major distinctions between Anglicanism and the Protestant churches on the continent.
     
  11. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    An Anglican , is one who follows the teaching of that faith revealed by Christ, [Jude,] recorded in scripture and interpreted, explained and completed by the Fathers[Bishops,] of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Funnily enough my neice asked me if ,'they,' were ,'all Americans'? I would say they were Laudians.
     
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  12. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    If by "foundational" you mean part of the discipline of the Church of England since 1662, you are very correct. It must be remembered that the Church of England was presbyterian for the years of the Interregnum and the C of E in the Colonies was functionally congregationalist for 175 years. Additionally, episcopacy is not unknown on the Continent, for instance, the Reformed Churches of Hungary and Poland both have bishops, and, whilst not on the Continent proper, the Church of Sweden also has an episcopal government.
     
  13. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    It's also important that episcopacy be defined. For instance, the Episcopal Church (until the present regime) has rejected the monarchical episcopacy found in England. For this reason, PECUSA does not have archbishops but a presiding bishop.
     
  14. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    Does the present Archbishop of Canterbury meet your definition?

    PS To Admin. This is a question. No way is it a "derogatory comment"about the Archbishop, of whom I have a very high opinion.
     
  15. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    ???
    The Church of England at one time was Roman so Romanism is right too. And the Church of England at one point was also Celtic pagan, and therefore paganism is right as well. Where does this insane logic end?

    The church of England is one thing and one thing only. It is the Church England had in 1540, with a correction of some doctrinal points that were corrupted from the Continent. It is not whatever faith, (or the Church of Atheism today) that happened to be present in England at any given time. Our church was not an Arian church even when most bishops were Arian. Our church was not gnostic even when most early Christians were gnostics. You are winding down a dangerous alley with your logic.
     
  16. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    If the interregnum Presbytery was a valid Church of England, there would be no need for a Restoration, would there? The celebrations of the Cavaliers, then, were mistaken, the exultations of the bishops were unnecessary, and the 1662 Prayerbook excluding the Presbs from having a valid clergy was misguided?

    No the Cavaliers were right, the bishops were right, the Prayerbook was right, the Presbyterians were laymen and heretics and the church was in exile until its return.
     
  17. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    i) I think you mean the Church in England

    ii) Was it?

    iii) I think it was the Church resulting from the Elizabethan settlement, with modifications over time.

    iv) I am unaware of such a Church.
     
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  18. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    I notice that you use the past tense. Good. I do hope that you do not regard the Church of Scotland, the national church of that country, as heretical. That is rather strong language for the 21st century.
     
  19. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    England had quite a few majority faiths over time. As did the larger Christian world, which was my point.

    England groaning under pre-Christian pagan rites was, in a certain perspective, "a church of England" i.e. the politically dominant faith in England at the time! Yet we would no more consider it valid than the larger Church being held in hostage by the prevailing majority of Arian heretics. The true Christian faith during the great heresy was in the single person of St. Athanasius, who was even excommunicated by Rome, and the the heretic pope who sat there, for professing the true faith.

    So our faith was persecuted and hounded in England during the Interregnum by the presbyterians who our church said may well have been laymen as far as we're concerned.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
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  20. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    I apologize if my language was more abrupt than is comfortable to some. I just didn't expect to find a self-professed member of the Faith trying to undermine one of its most essential and vital distinctives! Especially in such perilous times.