To overcome the assault on faith posed by the modernist heresy we need a fresh generation of Christians displaying greater fidelity to Christ, renewed zeal for the Gospel and living lives of obvious holiness in pursuit of sanctification. And nowhere is this need greater than amongst the church hierarchy. A flourishing church needs bishops who are un-compromised men of God.
It has been said that every church crisis is a crisis of bishops. Because bishops exist to guard the deposit of faith, preserve the church from error and thereby ensure unity and peace. Confusion and division only take root when bishops fail in their duty. A bishop should be a shepherd who lays down his life for the flock, not a hireling who slips away to the shadows when the wolf strikes. Bishops should be pastors to clergy and laity; supporting, guiding, disciplining and encouraging that parishes might flourish in accordance with God’s will. They should be amongst their people, speaking for the faith and standing up for Christ.
It is sad then, and a major factor in the present crisis, that bishops have largely lost sight of these most basic spiritual functions. Only a handful speak for the faith- witness the silence when gay marriage was debated or during the recent Irish referendum. On matters of morality and faith, when bishops should speak out, there is often nothing. But on matters of politics, when bishops should be silent, there is noise; modern bishops seem very comfortable banging on about the environment, immigration issues and/or favoured political agendas. Why do so many seem to care less for traditional faith than left leaning causes?
And few bishops today get amongst their people regularly. The modern prelate is tied up in meetings because the trend is to turn what should be a primarily spiritual office into an administrative function. Thus bishops are turned into men of the human institution of the church at a cost to being true men of God. And that has ramifications. When a bishops is akin to a business manager then the decision to close St. Edna’s and cash in on the land- to boost diocesan coffers -makes sense. The spiritual value of sacrificially keeping open a place in which the faithful worship and a Christian presence is at least visible is dimmed. This corporate model of Episcopal life is unhealthy and has led to the promotion of ‘safe hands’ and men whose first love is their own ambition. A vanilla presence emerges that ensures the boat is never rocked, and the world is flattered – for the supper invitations are pleasant- but at cost to speaking out for Christ with zeal.
We must pray for our bishops. Many of whom are good men trapped in a poor working out of what this office means. Our bishops must be freed from a corporate working out of sacred ministry. Let the laity take on that task! Then they might be enabled to be true men of God, living first for Christ and second for the world. Then they might care less about rubbing up against the elites and enjoying the perks of high office than preaching the Gospel to the world. We do have some wonderful prelates but too many seem devoid of burning faith and integrity. We really do need better bishops.