Unity Within Christendom Hinges on the Bishopric!

 In Ephesians 4:10-13 we see that St. Paul the Apostle declares that a primary reason for the establishment of the clergy is for the eventual unity of the Church.  He says in verses 12 and 13 that the ministry is given for the “equipping of the saints…till we all come to the unity of the faith…” We also see in John 17:20-23 that Christ actually prays for unity of the Church. This is very serious! We cannot disregard what Christ is saying here in a very clear and concise manner.

Rev. Peter Toon on Unity:

The third approach is that episcopacy is of the plene esse (fullness of being) of the Church. This view affirms that it is God’s perfect will for the Church that it be led by bishops, and takes its inspiration from Ephesians 4:10–13. The historic episcopate has important pastoral functions (as the bene esse view allows) as well as theological importance (as the esseview overstates). It provides the full embodiment of the Gospel in church order. First of all the historic episcopate provides the effectual sign of unity and, therefore, it embodies in church order the Biblical proclamation that Christ’s Church is truly one. Secondly, it embodies in practical church order the principle of apostolicity. The episcopally ordained ministry is both sent by God to represent Christ to his Church and functions as representative of that Church. It acts as guardian of the Word and Sacraments, of the faith, and the flock of Christ. The historical order of bishops is, therefore, an effectual sign of the relation of Christ to his Church: for it manifests his authority within and care for the Church. As long as the one Church of God is divided on earth the historic Episcopate can never be a full expression and effective sign of the principles of unity and apostolicity. So the plene esse view points us to the future when, in the union of the present churches, the order of bishops will function as God wills that it should. Meanwhile Anglicans should highly value the historic episcopate without claiming too much or too little for it. And they should remember that to present the historic episcopate as belonging to the plene esse of the Church is the view to which the Anglican commitment to Scripture, tradition and reason points us.”

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