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  1. Rev Tony Buglass

    Reading Diarmaid McCulloch’s “History of Christianity” does broaden the horizons somewhat. I had previously looked on the non-Chalcedonian churches as just another breakaway from the Nicene mainstream. However, it appears that they were a much larger and more widespread set of branches in the family tree than the usual Western readings of history would suggest. And most of the northern European hordes that brought down the Roman Empire in the 4th C were Aryan Christians, not pagans.

    Cyprian’s comment about the unity of the Church being expressed through its bishops is worth considering. The big question is which bishops. The situation was changed by Constantine’s making bishops into imperial civil servants and governors. I suggest that pre-Constantine, the episkopos was comparable to the present-day superintendency of British Methodism. Mr Wesley (a keen student of the primitive church) dismissed the historic episcopate as ‘a vain myth’; but our current relationship with the Church of England has reached an impasse because they Anglicans insist that we should take the historic episcopate into our system, while the Methodist people have voted at every evel to say they don’t want bishops. We already have our own: they’re called superintendents. I am one of the two Methodist bishops of Calderdale 😉 but I don’t bother with the purple shirt.

    The point is, if the churches would agree to work together by accepting each others leaders as bishops, it would make a much more visible sign of our unity, while not losing the treasures of our diversity. We were nearly there in 1983 in Britain, but General Synod fumbled it over the issue of women priests. So the saga continues, of churches working in close co-operation, while pouring resources into competing structures. And mission and witness are hindered by perceived disunity. Ho, hum…


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