Thursday, 29 November 2007

John Gladwin: Bishops rule, OK?

[...] In Hooker's day Bishops were weak and too dependent on the Crown and too little assertive of their fundamental authority in the provision, care and ordering of ministry. The Bishop, within the bounds of what is properly lawful, sets the conditions for ordination and for the pastoral oversight of clergy and all who hold his licence. No one, under their oath of obligation, can turn round and say that they are not willing to accept the rule the Bishop makes and expect, nevertheless, to proceed to ordination. Furthermore, I hold that Ministry Review and Episcopal Review fall within the boundaries of what reasonably a Bishop should expect from people in licensed ministry and under oath.

The Church of England has held firm to the Episcopal shape of its life in good times and in difficult times. Hooker had learned well from Bishop John Jewel. These foundations, laid through his thinking, were built upon through the theological and spiritual inheritance of the Carolingian divines and in the restoration of the order of the Church of England after 1660.

There is a dangerous drift within Anglicanism today to look for Bishops after our own image. If we do not like the one we have we must look for another and more congenial one. All parties in the church have a habit of speaking and thinking in this way. I have increasingly come to the conclusion that it matters less and less what back ground Bishops come from provided they have a grip on what their office is for in the good ordering of the life of the church. What is it that God has called me to be and to do that belongs to my role as Bishop? Seeking vocations, watching over the formation of people for ordained and lay ministry, ordaining and licensing people for ministry and ensuring both the effective deployment and oversight of that ministry is at its heart. That is one of the crucial ministries which I believe I can offer to enable our mission today. Through that ministry we seek to ensure that the Gospel is proclaimed and the faith of Jesus Christ taught across the diocese. We do this in that open and quintessentially Anglican way of reasoned and careful Biblical theology engaging with the contemporary life of our people today. Read more
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