The question of the reunion of the divided Church is very much in the forefront of theological thought in Great Britain at the present time. Events such as those connected with the Church of South India have forced this question from the sphere of speculative debate into that of practical politics, and “talks” are being carried on between representatives of the Church of England (Episcopalian), the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and Methodist Church.
¶ A vexed aspect of the question is that of episcopacy and orders. In the June number of the Scottish Journal of Theology Professor J. M. Barkley of Belfast, contributing an article on “The Meaning of Ordination,” remarks that it is noteworthy that the Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1563) and the “Bishops’ Book” (1537) and “King’s Book” (1543) of the Anglican Reformation “all declare the ‘presbyterate’ to be the highest order of the ministry,” and he maintains that it is only since 1662 that a distinction has been made in the Church of England between bishops and presbyters as separate orders. He rightly declares that today, as always, the Reformed Church must “submit herself to the leading and criticism of the Word of God.”
Professor Barkley stresses significantly that ordination in the New Testament is by prayer with the laying on of hands —prayer having the priority: “Owing to the doctrine of ‘lineal’ succession the laying on of hands with prayer was emphasized rather than prayer with the laying on of hands.” He further urges that, according to the New Testament, “the Ministry of Christ is the only ‘essential ministry’ in ...1
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