"Bishops are a touchy subject within the Anglican Church. They wield a lot of power and matter more than most people realise, but because of this their origins have rarely been studied in a dispassionate way nor their present functions honestly weighed up in the light of the needs of the Church within a modern society.
This book attempts to do both, looking carefully at the New Testament and the Early Church to see why the episcopate was instituted, how the demands of mediaeval monarchs got in the way of their real purpose, how the Reformation recovered its original pastoral and teaching focus and how the demands of the Establishment in the past three centuries have affected their role. England, Scotland and Wales each have their chapter.
The results of two major surveys are included. The first examines the backgrounds and careers of English diocesan bishops over the century from 1905 to 2005 and the second takes a very detailed look at how the clergy and laity of two English, one Welsh and one Scottish diocese view the bishop's role, as opposed to how bishops who retired between 2000 and 2008 see it.
Recent thinking about the episcopate in the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches is probed and some practical suggestions made to reform the episcopate to meet the pastoral needs of today and to seek a way out of the current conundrum of how to provide a good future for the majority of those who approve of women priests and bishops and the significant minority who do not.
About MICHAEL KEULEMANS
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Published December 19, 2011
Education & Reference, History.