Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Priesthood in a New Millennium: Toward an Understanding of Anglican Presbyterate in the Twenty-First Century

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Priesthood in a New Millennium: Toward an Understanding of Anglican Presbyterate in the Twenty-First Century

Article excerpt

Priesthood in a New Millennium: Toward an Understanding of Anglican Presbyterate in the Twenty-First Century. By R. David Cox. New York: Church Publishing', 2004. ix + 473 pp. $39.00 (paper).

R. David Cox has written an ambitious book. In the first part, he aims to provide a thorough overview of Anglican thinking on ecclesiology and its relation to ordained ministry in the twentieth century. In the second part, he moves toward an understanding of Christian ministry (presbyteral, diaconal, and non-ordained) in the contemporary world.

The greatest strength of this book is its history of Anglican ecclesiology over the last century. Cox traces the root of twentieth-century Anglican thinking about the church to the work of R. C. Moberly. From Moberly comes a central focus upon the doctrine of the Incarnation and its employment in support of understanding the church as the body of Christ. Cox follows the development of the body of Christ metaphor through the work of Anglican ecclesiologists and into the life of the larger Anglican Church. A noteworthy accomplishment of this book is the inclusion of very careful research into the revised liturgies of various provinces in the Anglican Communion.

Cox focuses upon the complexities surrounding the meanings of the words "lay" and "ordained" and their relation to the laos, the people of God. He also draws our attention to the difficulties in the relationship between the individual and the community. These come to the fore as Cox discusses the beginnings of departure from the body of Christ metaphor, with the Trinity becoming the image upon which an understanding of the church is to be built and with William Countryman's more radical effort to think of ministry as something which everyone does, whether formally "churched" or not.

The second part of Cox's book turns to the contemporary situation. Cox argues for an understanding of the presbyterate as eldership, following a "canonist" approach (p. 239), which seems to mean a reliance upon Scripture as mediated by the tradition and understood in the light of contemporary scholarship (new term, old Anglican method). Cox likes the term "elder" because it carries the sense ofpresbuteros and projects the image of leadership which Cox regards as important to the role of the presbyter. …

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