Friday, September 3, 2010
Anglican order requires an Anglican magisterium
That title is something I am thinking about, but have little time at the moment to develop. Here is a sentence or two in the meantime: the one thing which Anglicans around the Communion seem to value as being in common and not different is the validity of our orders; if a Bishop of Member Church X in Good Standing ordains Y and Y moves to Member Church Z in Good Standing then Y is an ordained minister acceptable without question in both places (other things being equal around being 'safe to receive' because Y has not run off with the offering or the parish secretary). But why is it 'without question'? I think the answer is that there are a series of presumptions involved about the character of Member Church X: it is faithful to the doctrine of Christ, it is an Anglican church on at least some kind of broad definition of Anglican and that definition is agreeable to X and to Z, it follows common order re the orders of ministry (e.g. the 'bishop' is a bishop and not, say, a 'lay president for ordination'). These presumptions, in fact, constitute an informal magisterium. My question, whenever I can return to it, is this: can the informal magisterium of the Anglican Communion continue ad infinitum? Does it need to become a formal (and therefore transparent) magisterium?