letters to surfers

Do you believe in the idea that bishops in the Apostolic Succession convey the Holy Spirit to us by the laying on of hands ?

Reply by Robert Brow    March 2000     (www.brow.on.ca)

The answer to this question depends on our interpretation of Acts 8:15-17.

As an alternative to the individual (one by one) receiving of the Spirit by the apostolic laying on of hands, I view what happened as the constitution of the first church in Samaria. "They prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:15) It is the church that begins functioning as a body by the Spirit (Ephesians 4:4) and in that body individuals began experiencing (imperfect) the Spirit.

There is no evidence that confirmation by a Bishop creates a live church. But there is a huge amount of evidence that once a congregation begins functioning as the body of Christ by the Spirit, then individuals are filled with the Spirit. If that is correct then the function of bishops is not to engage in mechanical confirmations, but to encourage body of Christ spirit filled congregations. This is happening right now for example in the Diocese of Albany (Episcopal), and in many examples throughout the world.

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