What is Apostolic Succession?

tomgroeneman's picture

Authority and Love

The salient issue when discussing Apostolic Succession is the question of authority. Many people ask today: with so many Churches, all claiming to be Christian, which one is the true Church? This is the question I asked myself many years ago when I first committed my life to Christ. As a result, I was a member of several different Protestant Churches over time and grew spiritually but something was missing. I heard a lot of anti-Catholic propaganda from many people and bought into some of it but I could not completely deny the Catholic faith of my upbringing. When I read passages about the unity of the Body of Christ and the bond of love we have, I could not understand why the Church was so divided. Then more recently, I began to study Church history and look at John chapter 6 and Matthew chapter 16 seriously and in depth. When the reformers broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, they did so mainly over perceived doctrinal differences that have yet to be resolved. However, that did not change the fact that they were rejecting the authority invested by God in the Pope and the Magisterium. The reason some people rail against the authority of the Church is because they do not choose to submit to that authority. They may hide behind sophisticated arguments about the relationship between Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the doctrine of infallibility, the gift of salvation and various other subjects but ultimately it boils down to the question of whether or not one is willing to submit to God’s plan and order for mankind. Apostolic Succession is taught in the Scriptures, the Early Church Fathers, history, tradition and is the fundamental claim of the Church today regarding her spiritual authority to bind and loose, discipline, teach and preach the gospel, ordain her ministers, establish local Churches and arbitrate disputes. It would be hypocritical of me to speak of love between brethren and at the same time deny the doctrinal foundation of my brother’s belief. That is why I do not debate these topics but rather assert my conviction despite what others may think of my motives and position. The Bible says in Ephesians chapter 4 that we are to speak the truth in love. Truth has a tendency to divide and offend people so if we can acknowledge that the truths we speak are difficult to embrace but nevertheless spoken in love we have done our duty. All my comments in this thread were not intended to make non-Catholics feel any less loved than any other Christians and were made solely as a fellow participant in these forums and not in any official capacity.

Submitted as a poster,

Tom Groeneman