Thursday, April 14, 2011

Antioch - Canon 19

A bishop shall not be ordained without a synod and the presence of the metropolitan of the province.  And when he is present, it is by all means better that all his brethren in the ministry of the Province should assemble together with him; and these the metropolitan ought to invite by letter.  And it were better that all should meet; but if this be difficult, it is indispensable that a majority should either be present or take part by letter in the election, and that thus the appointment should be made in the presence, or with the consent, of the majority; but if it should be done contrary to these decrees, the ordination shall be of no force.  And if the appointment shall be made according to the prescribed canon, and any should object through natural love of contradiction, the decision of the majority shall prevail.

An overseer could not be ordained except by the assembly of a synod and the presence of the metropolitan.  This prevented the possibility of a man ingratiating himself on a church so that they might choose him to be their leader through a congregational election or other consensus-making measure.  A wolf might be prevented from ravaging the flock.  With other godly men gathered, the council could question and discern the acceptability of the potential overseer and with the metropolitan give their recognition and blessing.  The suggestion for written invitations helps to ensure the assembly was done in good order.  All members of the synod would receive the invitation, and no interloper would have access without the it.  There was always a possibility that the metropolitan might "stack the deck" for or against the one being examined, but the hope was that the group might forestall any wrongdoing.

The canon attempted to ensure a quorum be present in one locale.  If this is not possible, letters from the synod invitees were delivered instead with their decisions.  If the synod could not be convened as laid down in the canon, the whole affair was null and void.  No ordination and placement could be recognized and enforced.

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