The historic episcopate: a response

Glenn Davies

I appreciate the feedback on the historic episcopate, following my blog of last fortnight, reflecting upon article 3 of the ACNA constitution.

3. We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.

If I may reiterate my understanding: when the ACNA's constitution states that the historic episcopate is an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, I defended this claim on the grounds that the only historic episcopate identified in the New Testament (and hence identifiable with apostolic faith and practice) was the office of episkopos/presbyteros. From within this model of "oversight" or "episcope", Timothy and Titus appear as apostolic delegates, who, while not performing the office of apostle, appear to have certain responsibilities with regard to the selection and ordination of ministers of the gospel (as only in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus do we find the explicit qualifications for elders and deacons). From these examples of "oversight", the ancient church developed the office of "bishop", as we call it now.

If the ACNA means to describe what later developed, what I described as monarchical bishops, then it is difficult to see how this "development" could be seen as inherent to the apostolic faith. I was not privy to the debate, so am unable to comment, but if, as Robin Jordan maintains, the debate on the constitution was centred around the post-apostolic development, then I would not be able to defend such a claim as being "an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice".