Criteria for Bishops

At this point in time, more than one diocese in the Continuing Church is facing or could be facing an upcoming election synod.  It is with that thought in mind I’d like to offer publicly some considerations on advisable requirements for such a weighty office and responsibility.

First of all, of course, come to mind St Paul’s list to St Timothy, which I won’t quote here (1 Tim 2.2-7), as we all own Bibles.

Secondly, for those dioceses in the Traditional Anglican Communion, it is clear that the TAC concordat expects appropriate preparation on the part of those called to be bishops, and it would not only be inappropriate but wicked to attempt to circumvent that requirement.  Therefore no one ought to be considered a candidate who does not hold a graduate theological degree*.  As the office of a bishop is such a weighty office, with such great responsibility and worthy of the deepest respect and reverence, candidates ought to be sought primarily amongst those who hold an earned theological doctoral degree*.

Thirdly, experience ought to be considered to the point that candidacy should be limited to those with at least five years of full-time ministry, which perhaps might be waived to three years for those holding theological doctorates*.  Frankly, this is such a minimal requirement that it probably ought to be doubled.  The logic is plain, however.  If a man has never been a full-time rector for any length of time how could he be expected to be a full-time bishop?

Fourthly, for the dioceses within TAC, considering the advanced state of TAC’s ecumenical relations, it is unwise to multiply unnecessarily the episcopate at this time.  For that matter, no jurisdiction has any business adding to the purple load without good reason.  Therefore, all should seek for a candidate amongst those men already consecrated bishops.

Fifthly, in order to alleviate any unfortunate parochial or insular development, so far as possible, candidates ought to be sought from outside the diocese doing the seeking, or at the very least from among those who have served previously outside the diocese in question.

Finally, a candidate must be a man of prayer.  Some evidence, such as being an oblate or tertiary, would be advisable, as it shows that not only is a candidate acquainted with prayer, but that he is concerned with collegial fellowship with others.

I suspect other people would have additional recommendations to make.  I look forward to reading them.


*By these terms is meant, of course, only real degrees from legitimate accredited seminaries and universities, as listed with CHEA, AUCC, QAA, etc.

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