Monday, December 03, 2012

Maybe We Should Consider Other Qualifications

There is not the slightest chance that I will be allowed to post the following over at the Episcopal Cafe, so as to this reflection on the selection of the next presiding bishop, I would like provide my synopsis of the last three occupants of the office:
  • Edmund Browning: Sterling Holloway with a head cold
  • Frank Griswold: Frank, what exactly are you trying to say?
  • Katherine Jefferts Schori: Her Majesty
As you may guess from this, I don't think any of the last three PBs covered themselves with glory. And when George Clifford says that "TEC has cleared her decks for action," surely anyone not committed to the purge implied in those words must smile ruefully at his choice of metaphor. I'm not terribly surprised by Clifford's call for a Rehoboam, but I have to wonder why provoking further rounds of "to your tents, O Israel" is thought to be such a fine idea.


Jon in the Nati said...

Fleming Rutledge said something earlier this year that really stuck with me. Speaking of the Roman Catholic bishops and their response to, among other things, Obamacare. She writes:

"The Episcopal bishops today could not produce a document like the recent one from the American Catholic prelates. With all due respect, most of them are not as learned. The academic rigor required of Catholic clergy far outstrips the Episcopal Church’s standards. The Catholic bishops are able to articulate their positions with reference to the great figures in their tradition. They understand their role and responsibility as teachers of the faith."

I am afraid, sometimes, that TEC does not elevate its best, most learned people to the bishopric. This may be a problem in the Catholic church as well, though I don't think it is as widespread if it is.

I would suggest that any candidate for the bishopric must have at least two qualifications. The first would be a long period of time in parish ministry (hopefully this would exclude late vocations to the priesthood). The second would be that the candidate has theological education and work above an M.Div, such as a PhD, DD, or STD. This will ensure, on the one hand, that the candidate has a real and palpable understanding of parish ministry, and also that the candidate is able to engage in the intellectual and theological heavy lifting we should expect from a bishop of any denomination. These are, of course, not the only criteria for a bishop, but they are a starting point.

Frair John said...

An MTh is past an MDiv and is an excellent degree that one would think a Bishop would have. It's two years after the MDiv and concentrates on a field of interest: Liturgics, Systematics, Ethics etc.
DD's in the United States are honorary degrees, not academic. The ThD, STD, and DMin all fulfill it's former role, as the MDiv has replaced the old BD.