House Churches and bishops during the Apostolic Period

I’m enjoying reading an article by Nicholas Taylor in the Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal. I particularly enjoyed his reconstruction of how house churches eventually became congregations that were not just members from one family and the associated slaves or servants, and also of how the local house churches leaders eventually gave birth—early on—to having one house church elder with oversight over other congregations, which is to say a bishop:

It is clear that congregations were, or rapidly became, more than simply the household at worship. As well as itinerant Christian missionaries and other travellers who might temporarily attach themselves to a Christian congregation, and avail themselves of the hospitality of the householders, cities attracted disparate and displaced individuals who, for whatever reason, had temporarily or permanently lost their roots in the household to which they had belonged. If these were converted, they might have attached themselves to an existing church and household, or perhaps have formed a church of their own, apart from the patronage system of household and city. Churches may also have been formed of more than one household, particularly when a person of wealth and status was able to provide a degree of protection and access to Christian teaching not available to a poorer household.

It is precisely at the point at which a church moves beyond the parameters of the household that the emergence of distinctive, defined, and titled forms of hierarchy and ministry should be sought. The most powerful householder in a city or town, who would almost certainly have hosted gatherings of the church, either in his own home or in a public building rented for the purpose, would at this point have emerged as bishop. (p. 32, Volume 2:4, Winter 2018)

The entire journal can be downloaded through academia.edu.

Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I live in Madrid now where I teach and minister. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. I am associate professor at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE) and priest at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. Visit my blog (duanemiller.wordpress.com) or academia.edu page for more information.

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