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The progressive critique of fundamental premises of the Catholic faith in the 'Reformation' eventually gave rise—however sympathetically or hostilely you wish to understand this change of mind; as a return or restoration, or as a novelty and heresy*—to a Protestant faith (loosely speaking), wherein there was not priestly class (i.e. as having sacrametnal authority and power to confect the Eucharist as proper only to those made priests by consecration). And yet they (most) retained belief in the role of appointed bishops, with an at least pastoral role, and various (we might still say) liturgical functions.

Therefore, isn't the bishop of Rome (a.k.a. the Pope) just a wayward (i.e. according to Protestantism's ideals of the faith), at worst evil, bishop—but a bishop nonetheless?

I ask this because virtually all Protestants I have interacted with act as though he were simply not a bishop at all, in any sense—I presume because he doesn't teach what Protestants would describe as the true faith.

(This doesn't just apply to the bishop Rome, but any Catholic province or country.)

Question

In Catholicism, such a bishop is a betrayer of the faith, and a wolf, but still a bishop. Why isn't this the case in Protestantism, generally speaking?

Or, put another way, what gave Protestants the right to simply disacknowledge the bishops who were legitimately appointed in their day, and found a Congregation without them? This is a serious question, because its answer must distinguish between heretics who do the very same thing!*

*To be clear, this is not an attack on Protestantism, or Protestants, but a question about fundamental church government and epistemology.

  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – disciple Jan 13 at 19:39
  • What do you mean by "act as though he were simply not a bishop at all, in any sense"? – curiousdannii Jan 13 at 21:26
  • I mean not considering him a bishop of the Church. – Sola Gratia Jan 13 at 21:32
  • Can you add some quotes of Protestants doing this so we can better understand what you're asking about? – curiousdannii Jan 13 at 23:31
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    There would be lots of opinions, and nothing approaching a consensus. That's why quotes matter, otherwise there's really not a lot to evaluate. – curiousdannii Jan 14 at 0:39
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As a lifelong Protestant, by baptism into the Church of Scotland at the age of five, sixty three years ago, by baptism into that which is called Protestant and Evangelical at the age of sixteen and by further acceptance into fellowship, in adulthood, I would say the following :

It is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick (επισκοπην, episcopen) let another take. Acts 1:20 [KJV]

When Judas, by covetousness and betrayal fell, not only was he, himself, regarded as a transgressor, but his office was removed from him and another took that office. Initially, it was taken (by lot) by Matthias, then (arguably) by James the Lord's brother, but (finally and most suitably) by Paul the Apostle.

Who was sent, not to baptise (as he says himself in Galatians) nor to administer the 'Eucharist' but he was sent to preach the gospel, unashamedly, wherein is the righteousness of God (not man) revealed. Romans 1:17.

That Judas went and hanged himself, is irrelevant. His bishoprick had already been removed from him.

The Reformation rejected the whole idea of Jesus Christ being conveyed by a ritualistic sacrament (in bread and wine) and centred on the preaching of the gospel and on justification by faith.

Those who rejected the Reformation were, themselves, rejected by the Reformation. Not only their person was rejected but the office which they held.

There is no place in Protestantism for priests. They are redundant. Redundant by two thousand years, as it happens. And Jesus Christ, himself, is exalted as Priest - alone.

Neither is there any place for a bishop to govern priests - since there are no priests. Nor is there a Mass for bishops to monitor and govern. Nor any 'presence' of Christ in material artefacts to administer.

The whole thing has gone - lock, stock and bishoprick.

But a born again, justified, overseeing elder - now that's another thing !

  • "The Reformation rejected the whole idea of Jesus Christ being conveyed by a ritualistic sacrament" I'm not sure early Lutherans would agree. Don't they believe in consubstantiation? Anywho, you said, "Those who rejected the Reformation were, themselves, rejected by the Reformation. Not only their person was rejected but the office which they held" but how is this different from a heretical group re-interpreting the Bible and establishing a new church based on newly elected bishops of their own? The Apostles had authority to depose a bishop and appoint another (by the laying on of hands). – Sola Gratia Jan 13 at 19:41
  • Protestants specifically did not have this, if they rejected all former bishops from whom to receive bishopric. Or do you believe a layperson can make someone a bishop? These are real questions; I'm not being rude or anything, I genuinely want to know how this is justified by Protestants. There has to be a better more concrete answer than 'God works through his people,' which to be clear, I view as a direct evasion, and disingenuous equivocation. Under every 'God works through his people' there is a specific set of means He did, with history behind it. – Sola Gratia Jan 13 at 19:42
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    @SolaGratia I understood the answer as saying that there are no bishops in Protestantism, so the issue of "newly appointed bishops" doesn't seem to arise, I guess? – kutschkem Jan 14 at 8:25
  • "there are no bishops in Protestantism" What? How aren't there bishops? Or even elders? Even considering them one office, the question still stands. – Sola Gratia Jan 14 at 13:42

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