What is Apostolic Succession?

tomgroeneman's picture

the deposit of faith

Your question appears to me to imply that the differences in application of Apostolic doctrine proves that no real succession has occurred. It is also leading to assume that in order for adherence to Sacred Tradition to be valid it must be infallible. How Irenaeus and the other Church Fathers who taught Apostolic succession understood and taught on the faith is not in my capacity to judge. Your question also confuses the issue of Sacred Tradition with Apostolic Succession both of which I am guessing you are opposed to.

To answer I would say that I hold both to be equally important to my walk as a Christian. I trust in the deposit of faith that has been passed down through the centuries in the Bishops and Priests God has called and ordained. The teachings of the Apostles about God, Christ, the Church etc. are for my guidance, protection and benefit and I firmly believe that same charism of truth is imparted by God in the Pope and hierarchy of the RCC. If a specific tradition (which you have not yet identified) is set aside or not used that does not negate the spiritual authority invested in God's shepherds.

If you see a particular doctrinal inconsistency in Irenaeus' 'Against Heresies', and that proves to you that Apostolic Succession is wrong, there is nothing I can say to convince you otherwise. When we get to heaven we can both ask Irenaeus what he meant exactly. In the meantime, I would say that most Protestants reject Apostolic Succession and Sacred Tradition a priori because they do not understand them and are religiously prejudiced.

Several times now Jeff, I have read your posts attacking the truths that Catholics consider essential to their spiritual life. Repeatedly, you will cite the sins of the Roman Catholic Church over history but ignore the tremendous contribution the Church has made to education, medicine, the sciences and civilization in general. What about the sins of the Protestant Church? Is there a history there? Or have all Protestant ministers been perfectly faithful to the example of the Savior? Personally, I have learned a great deal from both branches of Christianity and do not think that those truths are invalidated by the sins of some of the leaders of those Churches. The miracle of Christianity is that God takes sinners, imperfect, weak people and uses them to advance His Kingdom and fulfill His plan.

In Protestantism, and especially contemporary evangelicalism, any person can pick up a Bible, invent their own system, and start a Church. Catholics believe that Jesus and the Apostles started the Church and authorized His chosen Bishops and Deacons and Priests through the means of Apostolic Succession to do the work Christ commissioned. The deposit of faith guarantees that the Apostle's doctrine is faithfully and responsibly administered. That is how I understand it anyway.

Tom Groeneman