Apostolic Succession Debunk
(this is a 'note dump', a work in progress, fleshing it out as I have time)
What an apostle is
...and what it isn't
(The fallacy of apostolic succession)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Not here to cast stones at Catholics but since Catholicism claims the title of orthodox Christianity, it is our duty to examine the doctrines of Catholicism and it's important to know what their cardinal doctrine is and why.
From the Catholic perspective, the view which says that the succession of the 12 apostles from their time to the present day inherited the spiritual authority and power that was given to them by the apostles and they received their spiritual authority from Jesus.
They believe the 12 apostles knowingly passed down their apostolic powers to the generation succeeding them. They believe this power gives them the right to claim that their traditions should be taken with equal reference with the Bible (1994 catechism paragraph 82). As a result, Roman Catholicism does not derive her certainty about all revealed truth from the holy Scriptures alone. Both scripture and tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.
What we teach is that the authority and power of the apostles was for the purpose of being an eyewitness of the events and oral teaching of Jesus so that they could be written, established in what became the new testament.
There is no evidence in the Bible that there was any power from the apostles to hand down.
Why is this important? Why must the Bible be used to prove this issue? And if there is no successor to Jesus, how does the church exist?
If apostolic succession is not true, then nothing that they established through their bogus power means a hill of beans.
"The full reality of Roman Catholicism does not exist without apostolic succession" -catholic almanac page 193.
If Apostolic Succession is bogus, none of the sacraments are valid because the priest has no power any different from any other person.
This doctrine and this doctrine alone must be proven from the Bible, because all other dogmas come from the people they assume have the power. Does the Bible grant them this power?
They must prove through the Bible that this power was granted to them in order to be passed down.
Catholics do put a distinction upon the original 12, and teach that there are apostles today, but teach that there is some power or authority that emanates from these original apostles. We believe there is a power alright, but that this power does not emanate from a succession of corrupt men, but from an incorruptible God!
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the Gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1-6 )
So this is their flagship scripture:
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
So this is supposed to prove that the office of the apostle was to be passed down through the generations. They say that replacing Judas when he died showed that all the apostles should be replaced when they die.
But this is not what Peter was saying at all-in fact, Peter go to great links here to articulate why they must replaced Judas particularly. He begins by saying the scripture had to be fulfilled-noting the Judas didn't spoil gods plan at all, he actually for filled yet. He shows that God knew all along that Julius would betray Jesus, and Peter referenced it in the old testament where it prophesied about Judas:
Psalms 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted,
which did eat of my bread,
hath lifted up his heel against me.
And also in Zachariah-all of which came true:
12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.
The interesting part is that Peter mentioned two additional prophecies one of which has not yet been fulfilled, quoted from the Psalms: "Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. "
Peter is saying everything had been fufilled regarding Judas except for replacing him.
The prophecies are specific to Judas, his office as one of the 12 apostles.
There is also another good reason that there had to be 12 in their ministry-
It is important to notice that they had not begun their ministry yet because they had yet to receive the power!
At this point they had no power to pass down anyway - that would take place in the next chapter of Acts!
No why 12? What was the significance of 12?
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Number one if the apostles are the foundation of the church, logically they should not have successors-because a foundation is a non-successive structure.
It is the base upon which the rest is built upon.
The foundation does not have successors, nor does it developed over time-it is built at the start of a project and care must be taken to build it right-and that is why Jesus trained his apostles for three years to be a solid foundation.
And that is also why when replacing this apostle Peter made sure they pick someone who had been with them as a witness from the beginning:
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
We can also understand the foundation of the structure of the 12 apostles by studying the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament-this is one of the reasons why there had to be exactly 12 apostles; to for fill the ancient prophetic modeled just as the 12 tribes of Israel were foundational in the old testament, The 12 apostles were the foundation of the New Testament.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
Catholic also use this verse in proving apostolic succession when Paul was writing to Timothy - there are two problems with that though - Timothy was not an apostle, and secondly, it is obviously referring to passing on teaching - not some mysterious power.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
But this has nothing to do with some golden chain of power this is just referring to passing down teaching and instruction.
1 Timothy 4:11
11 These things command and teach.
2 Timothy 1:13-14
13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
The power is not in the person but the power is in the word
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Laying on of hands
1 Timothy 4:14
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
None were apostles to transmit some unbroken chain power
38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
40 For he that is not against us is on our part.
Church is not proprietary
No one can own it
If it is true, who where is our guide??
37 -- In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,
that I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers
in the day that I took them by the hand
to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
which my covenant they brake,
although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;
After those days, saith the Lord,
I will put my law in their inward parts,
and write it in their hearts;
and will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying,
Know the Lord: for they shall all know me,
from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord:
for I will forgive their iniquity,
and I will remember their sin no more.
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26 -- Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God
The purpose of the Apostles is clear in scripture - to be a witness of the resurrection which IS the Gospel, and to secure it in writing.
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
Eyewitnesses; Luke himself was not an eyewitness, but neither was he an apostle. He wrote his account FROM eyewitnesses.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
Peter WAS an eyewitness.
2 Peter 1:15-16
Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Afflict but don't touch his life
I believe with all the chaos, turmoil, forgeries, and fakes, the word of God has remained unscathed.
Tradition indeed plays a role, in times, cultures or particular circumstances.
But tradition must ALWAYS limit itself to scriptural integrity otherwise it is a wild card.
No apostolic tradition to afford some carte blanch power to add doctrines that have no biblical basis
Prayer to the dead
Immaculate conception of Mary
It was also important that there be TWELVE apostles, to reflect the pattern of the Old Testament 12 tribes of Israel. Revelation 21 clearly makes that distinction.
We know that Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven to the Apostle Peter. We also know he USED those keys to unlock the door of salvation to the Jews in Acts the 2nd chapter, the Samaritans in the 8th chapter, and the gentiles in the 10th chapter of Acts. Other than that, Peter was subject to his brethren, even being wrong on accounts.
All of this alludes to one thing - and that is, we are complete in scripture.
The idea that Jesus intended teaching to be entrusted to a succession of leaders that are fallible is absurd. I do not make the claim that ALL Catholic generations of leaders have been corrupt. But there are indeed enough of them through the centuries that there remains no credibility.
Trinity - is error.
Infant baptism is error
Theotokos - Mary - mother of God is a FABLE as is immaculate conception. This is purely man made.
Prayer to the dead is a FABLE
All the apparitions of the those that are dead, like Mary are FABLES
Mary is indeed blessed among women
No where does scripture say she is "full" of grace. Jesus is full of grace.
One mediator between God and man. Praying to the dead is not going to get us anywhere. But I could ask you to help me pray for a certain something. You're not then a mediator - you're joining with me in my prayer.
But prayer to saints - Mary, or whoever is moot.
And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
And Mary said,
My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:
for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Apostolic Succession notes
Dr. Eddie Hyatt
One of the major doctrinal divides between Catholic and Protestant is the Catholic concept of apostolic succession. According to this Catholic doctrine, the authority of the original apostles has been passed down to the Catholic bishops through a mechanical, religious rite called "Apostolic Succession."
Since Peter, they argue, was the chief of the apostles whom Christ gave the keys, and since he founded the church in Rome, his authority over all the church has been passed along to the bishop of Rome (the pope) through this rite of apostolic succession. Beginning in the latter part of the second century, lists began to be made of this succession.
According to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Inquisition), since Protestant "communities" do not hold to this Roman Catholic doctrine and practice of "Apostolic Succession," or maintain a "sacramental priesthood," they cannot be called churches.
Being able to trace a mechanical, institutional succession back to the apostles is, according to Catholic doctrine, what makes Roman Catholicism the true church and is what disqualifies Protestant "communities" from being called churches.
No Biblical Evidence of Such a Succession
There is, of course, no evidence that either Jesus or the first apostles established permanent church offices that were to be occupied by a succession of church leaders/bishops. Judas was replaced out of necessity because he had been one of the 12 and by his apostasy he had reduced the number to eleven.
When James, who is also one of the 12, is put to death by Herod in Acts 12, there is no attempt to replace him. He held no continuing office that another must fill, nor does any Christian leader in the New Testament. Instead of establishing permanent offices, Paul and the 12 understood that the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit in the church guaranteed that He would raise up leaders when and where they were needed.
The Idea of an Apostolic Succession Began in the Second Century
The idea of permanent church offices occupied by a succession of bishops did not surface until the latter part of the second century with the church father, Irenaeus, who used it as a tool to combat heresy. Irenaeus pointed the heretics to the apostolic churches of his day—the churches of Antioch, Ephesus, Philippi, Rome and others that supposedly had been founded by Paul or one of the Twelve. According to Irenaeus, if the heretics were not in communion with one of these churches (or a church in communion with those churches), then they had no claim of Christian legitimacy.
The Roman Catholic Church claims that Peter founded the church in Rome and passed his authority along through a succession of bishops down to the present pope. The Eastern Orthodox Church, on the other hand, claims that the true apostolic succession has continued in their churches, through their bishops. They assert that, with the division between the eastern and western sectors of the church in 1054, the true succession continued with them, while the western Church (Roman Catholic) veered from the true faith into heresy.
The Lutheran Church also traces a succession, although their succession of bishops changes at the time of the Reformation. Lutheran historian, Lars Qualben, says, "The Lutherans did not form a new Church after the schism with Rome. They merely formed a continuation of the early Christian Church, as we know it from the New Testament and from the early Christian Fathers."
The Anglican Church's claim of apostolic succession would be similar to those above. In fact, all the older churches that claim an ecclesial, organizational succession have continued the model begun by Irenaeus with modifications to fit their own unique historical situation.
No Institutionalized Apostolic Succession
There is, of course, no Biblical basis for an institutionalized, apostolic succession. The New Testament writers, in fact, show very little concern for church offices and organizational structure. This is why the New Testament scholar, Dr. Gordon Fee, says that the New Testament is full of surprises, "but none is so surprising as its generally relaxed attitude toward church structures and leadership." He and others point out that, excepting Phil. 1:1, Paul never addresses himself to a leader or group of leaders in any of his letters to the churches.
Lists of succeeding bishops, such as that begun by Irenaeus, tend to be based on dogma and expediency rather than factual history. Dr. Hans Kung, who is the most widely read Roman Catholic theologian in the world today, says, "An uninterrupted sequence of 'laying on of hands' from the apostles to the bishops of today, an unbroken chain of succession (of the kind cited in later lists of succession) cannot be demonstrated historically."
John Wesley, who as an Anglican minister, initially held to an apostolic succession through the Anglican bishops, found his views refined in the fires of the 18th century Methodist revival, which he spearheaded. Through his diligent study of the New Testament and after observing the Holy Spirit raise up powerful ministries from the ranks of the common people outside the Anglican Church, he declared that "neither Christ nor his apostles prescribed any form of church government."
In his classic work, The Primitive Church, Professor Burnett Streeter agrees with Wesley and says: "Whatever else is disputable, there is, I submit one result from which there is no escape. In the primitive church there was no single system of church order laid down by the apostles. During the first hundred years of Christianity, the Church was an organism alive and growing—changing its organization to meet changing needs. Uniformity was a later development."
True Apostolic Succession is a Thing of Faith and of the Spirit
The idea that there can be no church without this Catholic rite of Apostolic Succession, diminishes both faith and Christ. It makes a doctrine—and a tenuous one at that—to be predominant and central. It makes both church and the apostolic appear mechanical and doctrinaire.
Jesus, on the other hand, said that where two or three are gathered together in His name, that he would sanction that gathering with His presence (Matthew 18:20). Is His presence not adequate? Paul echoes this in Colossians 2:9-10 where he says that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ and that you are complete in Him.
For many Protestants, the Catholic approach to Apostolic Succession, wherein the authority of the apostles is passed along by a programmed religious rite, does not make sense or pass the test of Scripture.
I would ask my Catholic friends to consider the following questions. Should not Apostolic Succession be a thing of substance—of faith and of the Spirit? Should it not be a succession in apostolic faith, apostolic commitment to Christ, and an apostolic experience of the Spirit? Are we not all responsible for adhering to the faith and vision of those first apostles?
Apostolic succession as a thing of the Spirit cannot be restricted to a religious ritual that is mechanically repeated generation after generation—as though the Holy Spirit could be confined to a particular ecclesiastical order. The wind blows where it wishes, Jesus said (Jn.3:8). This is why Henry P. Van Dusen, former president of Union Theological Seminary, declared, "The Holy Spirit has always been troublesome to Church officialdom, because He does seem to be unruly, unpredictable and radical."
The Whole Church Is Apostolic
The apostles recognized all gatherings of believers as true churches. Although neither Paul, Peter, nor any apostle had been to Colosse, Paul recognized the believers there as forming a true ekklesia—a church. Even though the church in Antioch was not under Peter's authority, as evidenced by the fact that Paul publicly rebuked him when he came there and waffled on the issue of the Gentiles equal acceptance in Christ, there was no question of Antioch being a true church.
Apostolic succession is the responsibility of the whole church—of every Christian. A church is not apostolic because it has a leader who calls himself an apostle, bishop, or pope. Every believer must seek to walk in the same selfless devotion to Christ as those first apostles.
Every believer must live in the same selfless love toward others that characterized the early apostolic church. And every believer must live in a radical dependence on the Holy Spirit as did those first followers of Christ. Only then can the church today make any claim to being apostolic.
Apostolic succession is neither mechanical nor automatic. Apostolic succession is a succession in apostolic commitment to Christ and apostolic life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian and Biblical scholar. This article was derived from his book, Pursuing Power: How the Quest for Apostolic Authority and Control Has Divided and Damaged the Church, available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. To read about his vision for another Great Awakening, visit his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.