"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Anglican Trilemma

I recently read a comment somewhere in which an Anglican claimed to be committed to the ideal of parity among the bishops.

If no man can serve two masters, i.e. two persons having equal authority over him (cf. Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13), then a fortiori no man can serve three masters (i.e. three persons having equal authority over him), or four, or five, or six, or however many (so long as the number is greater than one) bishops there are. But then it follows that a man can have only one highest ecclesial authority. Yet if there is nothing that gives one bishop more authority than all other bishops, then it follows logically that no man can serve any master, i.e. egalitarianism is true, and no bishop has any authority. Therefore, either Jesus was mistaken when He said that no man can serve two masters, or no bishops have any authority, or one bishop has more authority than all other bishops.

Anglicans are deceiving themselves if they claim to believe that all bishops have equal authority, for they obey and trust their Anglican bishop over the bishop of Rome. "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this argument can be taken too far along these lines. For instance, as a non-Christian may object to the headship of the husband in a family - (i.e. in their minds the kids DO serve two masters, neither is more authoritative than the other) I'm sure the Protestant would quickly resort to that type of reasoning (even if it is fallacious and even if the Protestant is a traditional one).

I'm not saying the argument isn't valid, but to the anti-authoritarian world view that Luther, Calvin and American idealism has molded the minds of the great majority of Protestants, this argument may not work very well.

Then again, I guess you're talking about Anglicans which I don't know enough about to speak of.

Bryan Cross said...


If someone thinks that we can simultaneously serve two masters (each having equal authority), then I wonder how they reconcile that with Christ's words.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan