среда, 8 февраля 2017 г.

Reinventing the bicycle (Baptist associations and districts)

In Russian the saying, "reinventing the wheel" is translated as "reinventing the bicycle". Incidentally, it would be interesting to research the historical/anthropological question as to whether the wheel was in fact 'invented' in one place or in several.
History, of course, is not just about the past. It is also about understanding the present and coming up with solutions for the future. "Reinventing the wheel" in this case is about how the church can organise at a level above the local church

It is an interesting observation that the historic episcopal (bishop-based) model of a hierarchy of priests-bishops-archbishops (metropolitans)-patriarchs was adapted both by presbyterian church courts (kirk session-presbytery/synod-general assembly-general council), and also by independent/Baptist polity (local church-association-general assembly-world assembly). In other words an episcopal diocese is equivalent to a presbyterian presbytery and a Baptist association - not only geographically, but also in function. This shows not only how church government reflects secular government, but also how particular problems naturally beg a given solution - regardless of other, even theological considerations. 

Within the episcopal polity a diocese is subdivided into deaneries (Roman Catholic and Anglican). This same phenomenon is also referred to as a provostry (Lutheran) or blagochinie/protopopiat (Orthodox). This is the intermediate level between diocese and parish. A deanery is headed up by a dean or suffragan bishop. 

My question was whether this had also been the practice in a Baptist set-up, particularly as the need had arisen in our own context for such an arrangement. It turns out that it has. I have it on good authority that in the British context Baptist associations have been subdivided into districts (a Baptist deanery). In various contemporary contexts this same arrangement is also termed an area (Lairawn Baptist Association, Myanmar) or network (South Eastern Baptist Association, UK). A possible Russian translation might be округ.

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