Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What is a Bishop?

A characteristic view of the Episcopate from the Restoration period of the Church of England; it is both remarkably simple and fairly “high” in its understanding. Yet, it does not mention the maintenance of the Apostolic Faith – something largely assumed at the time. It also seems (to many today, at least) rather concerned with maintaining a pyramidal structure. The focus on the bishop as one who keeps deception and heresy from becoming ‘normative’ is significant; then, as now, many different denominational traditions had sprung up, some with highly peculiar perspectives on the Gospel.

A bishop is a pastor set over other pastors. They were to ordain elders. They might receive an accusation against an elder. They were to charge them to preach such and such doctrines; to stop the mouths of deceivers; to set in order the tings that were wanting; and lastly, this was the form of Church government in all the ages. So that to reject this, is to reject an ordinance of God…. Every true and lawful bishop is the representative of Christ in his own Diocese.

Thomas Watson (1663-1755), in Sacra Privia

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