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Author Topic: Apostolic Succession  (Read 5466 times) Average Rating: 0
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troy
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« on: October 28, 2004, 10:06:07 PM »

Is apostolic succession neccessary? Is it provable? I've had some problems talking to some of my non-Orthodox friends about it. If anyone has some links or comments on the subject, I'd greatly appreciate it.  Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2004, 11:19:23 PM »

St Ireneaus in his work "Against heresies" speaks about the apostolic succession of faith (part of the two-pronged concept of apostolic succession).  Basically, you can tell the right church by who passes down the correct, public teaching (as opposed to the Gnostics in his case, who claimed to have "secret knowledge" from the Apostles).  He also lists the succession in the chair of the bishop, which is the other prong of the apostolic succession: a hands-on-heads apostolic succession. The two cannot be separated.

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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2004, 07:37:16 AM »

Forgive me for plugging my own site, but some of these links might be of use...

http://www.holophotal.net/Fathers4.html
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2004, 10:32:48 AM »

Site plugging is acceptable as long as it is relevant. You don't have to apologize for that--presumably you put the stuff up so that people would read it and benefit from it! Smiley

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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2004, 10:14:28 PM »

 Wink  
      Apostolic succession is indeed provable, as any of the ancient sees can attest by a recorded lineage back to a specific apostle; as to your other point, 'is it necessary' , i can only ask, necessary for what? Salvation? If your question is targeted to evangelical protestants then obviously, they might argue against any eucharistic gathering as superfluous...reading the bible, memorizing scripture, are their essentials...but since Christ instituted the eucharist as a participation in his death and resurrection, and entrusted the mystery to his apostles, apostolic succession becomes essential in keeping the mystery from devolving into a protestant memorial or other aberration. By the way, in the time of Constantine, the liturgy became a leading evangelical tool in 'churching' the masses......but my question is this: why would anyone avoid participation in the body and blood of Jesus Christ?Huh??                            joe
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« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2004, 08:55:17 AM »

jdudan54: many in this world -- religious and non-religious alike! -- don't see a small piece of bread sopped in wine as a Man's (or even a man's) body and blood; it's bread and wine to them, and we're just being silly and literalist.  To many confessions of Christianity, the idea that this could be a vital part of our healing and salvation is convoluted and an unnecessary addition by man, post-Scripture.

To add to the things already mentioned in this thread, some Scriptures that the Orthodox see as pointing to a continuation of the guiding and preserving presence of the Holy Spirit of and within the Church are the following:

John 16:13 quotes Christ as saying that the Holy Spirit shall guide all of the disciples into all truth.  So at least there's a good start to the Church.

Matt. 16:18 (very well known in conversations like this w/both RCs and Orthodox) says that God will not allow the gates of hell to prevail against the Church.  Question: if the entire Church embraces a false doctrine, is this not Satan prevailing against the entire Church?  We in the catholic traditions that claim apostolic succession would say so.

John 17:20-1 is part of Christ's beautiful high priestly prayer that says that the prayer for unity and oneness with God that the Church is to experience is not reserved for the Apostles alone, but also for those who would "believe...through their word."

2 Thess. 3:6 moves us away from quotes from the Lord and gives us the words of the blessed St. Paul, who warns the Thessalonians to withdraw from all who do not keep the traditions that were received from "us," meaning from him and the other Apostles.

2 John 10 says that, for example, if someone were to come and not preach the apostolic doctrine of Christ's coming in the flesh, we were not to receive him.

2 Tim. 2:2 says that St. Timothy, who received the grace of the priesthood (though the word priesthood is not used, admittedly) through the laying on of hands*, was to train and appoint men in the teachings of St. Paul -- men who would then in turn train others in the same.  The assumption of apostolic succession in doctrine is seen clearly here.

Acts 15 -- the Council at Jerusalem, at which were present not only the Apostles, but also many whom they had appointed, was considered binding on all Christians re: the entry of many Gentiles into the Church.  The inclusion of others in the safeguarding of the Church and guiding of the same in all truth had already begun.

2 Thess. 2 -- not only does this contain the famous "hold to our traditions, whether by word or by epistle verse" that favors oral and written tradition together, but the entire chapter contrasts those who would keep these doctrines pure against those who would be deceived and fall away.  Many would be so deceived and fall away, St. Paul said, but the faithful would remain, the Church would continue to exist. Question: if there is no record of anyone ever contesting apostolic succession who still exist today (before the Waldensians in Italy many centuries later, that is), could it not be reasonable to conclude that this doctrine was assumed and taught by the Apostles?

*1 Tim 1:14 and 2 Tim. 1:6 are both verses that mention the laying on of hands of the eldership as the method by which "the gift" was given to St. Timothy.  We see (and, as Paradosis' link shows, the early Church Fathers confirm) this to be the grace of the priesthood in order to baptize, to celebrate the eucharist, to formally anoint the sick for healing...in short, to administer the sacraments of the Church.  

Again, as anastasios has said, this anointing and appointing of other elders by the Apostles, as well as by those who were appointed by said Apostles, was considered just as vital as the doctrine itself; the faithful were not to admit or have fellowship with those who were from outside this fold.  This was the intention of the Apostles.  Whether the Apostles thought that God could appoint someone through supernatural means other than physically through the Apostles is immaterial (this certainly could happen, and did initially in the case of St. Paul, who nevertheless eventually was given the "right hand of fellowship" into the Apostles' fold).  The understanding in the early Church was that the Apostles would appoint leaders, who would then in turn appoint leaders, etc., through the laying on of hands and a common confession of faith, and the preservation of the Church through the grace of the Holy Spirit would continue on, and the gates of hell would not prevail against Her.

We see this as Scripture's clear testimony, kept even to this day.

Hope this has helped.
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2004, 03:00:24 PM »

Thank you all for your great responses! I especially want to thank Pedro for making an excellent use of scripture and logic to provide evidence for Apostolic Succession.

Thanks again,
Troy
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2004, 09:41:21 PM »

"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. 41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."  (Mark 9:38-41)

How is this reconciled with the necessity for apostolic succession? Or is this a whole different kettle of fish?

Kim
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2004, 04:01:21 PM »

"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. 41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."  (Mark 9:38-41)

How is this reconciled with the necessity for apostolic succession? Or is this a whole different kettle of fish?

Hey, Kim....

Yeah, this verse is interesting.  I don't claim to have any Father's opinion on this to back it up -- just my own thoughts, FWTW -- I think it's much easier here to look at other people outside of the Apostles as going out in the name of Christ because 1) the Apostles were still "in training," as it were, and hadn't been commissioned yet, like we see in Matt. 28 and Acts 2, and 2) Christ was still on the earth at the time; He was the Christ on earth and didn't yet "need" an apostolic group to be His Body.  A bit more detail, I guess:

1) The apostles didn't have the "exclusive rights" to the spreading of the gospel yet.  They were sent only on specific missions at certain times, and those only to a specific people (the Israelites).  Perhaps at that time the HS moved on certain men to do things in the name of Christ.  So, groovy.   Grin

2) Christ had mentioned in another place that, when the Bridegroom is with you, you don't fast, you don't mourn...but when the Bridegroom is taken from you, then you fast.  As you said, it's a completely different "kettle of fish," I think, since Christ had not yet appointed a specific group to be His Body on earth...He could pretty much move here and there (which can still happen today, and I'm sure does, in some instances, as God's not limited to His Church) doing what He willed to do.  But after the ascension and coming of the HS, Christ was no longer on the earth, and He then appointed the Apostolic Church to be His Body -- there was now a specific "successor" to Christ, as it were.

I do think, though, that this verse still has something to say to the Apostolic confessions...I think we'd do well to at least acknowledge that, even though they accept the triune God and divine Christ of the Councils without recognizing the authority of the Church that convened them, many Protestant groups deserve our charity as having at least that much in common with Orthodoxy.  I'd rather work with a Protestant than a Muslim or Jew or Hindu any day.
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2004, 08:36:56 PM »

I do think, though, that this verse still has something to say to the Apostolic confessions...I think we'd do well to at least acknowledge that, even though they accept the triune God and divine Christ of the Councils without recognizing the authority of the Church that convened them, many Protestant groups deserve our charity as having at least that much in common with Orthodoxy.  I'd rather work with a Protestant than a Muslim or Jew or Hindu any day.

My personal opinion regarding Kim's quote is more along these lines.  There are people in the passage who, while not part of Christ and His company (the Church), are nevertheless doing His work (casting out demons...cf. Mk. 16.17), and Christ does not forbid it.  I think this has something to say first to the Orthodox and to the other "apostolic confessions", and secondarily to the Orthodox and the Protestants, about those who do Christ's work without abiding in Him in His Church.  It reminds me of what Saint Paul has to say to the Philippians:

Quote
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of partisanship, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice.

Somehow, in spite of it all, Christ triumphs.
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2004, 11:42:56 PM »

Somehow, in spite of it all, Christ triumphs.        

Exactly. Christ triumphs, NOT just the Christ of the "Orthodox Church"
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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2004, 11:59:48 PM »

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Exactly. Christ triumphs, NOT just the Christ of the "Orthodox Church"

Indeed, but the Orthodox Church is THE Chuch and It alone is Christ's Church.
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2004, 12:02:51 AM »

Indeed, but the Orthodox Church is THE Chuch and It alone is Christ's Church.

Totally illogical statement. How is that possible if the Grace of God allows others not affiliated with the Orthodox Church (as in the scripture)  to heal in Christ's name?

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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2004, 12:06:23 AM »

Christ is only known through the Orthodox Church.  You can't have a generic, plain-vanilla Christ.  Any extra-Orthodox activity is still mediated through the Church, as a concession.  We can't use exceptions to build rules.

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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2004, 12:08:42 AM »

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Totally illogical statement.

How so? If I did not believe it to be true, then I would not be a catechumen in the Orthodox Church and my seeking to enter the Orthodox Church would be a farce if I believed otherwise.

Quote
How is that possible if the Grace of God allows others not affiliated with the Orthodox Church (as in the scripture)  to heal in Christ's name?

I never said that others outside the Orthodox Church did not have grace, no one can truly say where God's grace resides, He alone knows and no human being can say where God's grace is and works. If they did that then God would not truly be God, instead He would be man made, an idol.

I am not so sure what you mean about others healing in CHrist's name, would you be so kind as to elaborate this for me?

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2004, 12:09:01 AM »

Special grace.  It's like the saying for the sacraments, "God is not bound to the sacraments, but we are."  God can save whoever He wants, and work healings wherever He wants.  That's the view from His side.  The view from our side is that there are things which God has instituted and commanded, namely the Church and the sacraments, and these are not optional for us.
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« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2004, 12:11:49 AM »

I am not so sure what you mean about others healing in CHrist's name, would you be so kind as to elaborate this for me?

See MsGuided's post above.

Special grace.  It's like the saying for the sacraments, "God is not bound to the sacraments, but we are."  God can save whoever He wants, and work healings wherever He wants.  That's the view from His side.  The view from our side is that there are things which God has instituted and commanded, namely the Church and the sacraments, and these are not optional for us.

I see. So you will admit that God works in any way he chooses. So then, it is only PEOPLE who insists on binding him to a specific Church?
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« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2004, 12:23:45 AM »

Quote
How is that possible if the Grace of God allows others not affiliated with the Orthodox Church (as in the scripture)  to heal in Christ's name?

Quote
See MsGuided's post above.

Ms. Guided's post was in regards to Apostolic Succession. I'm not sure what you mean...?

Quote
How is that possible if the Grace of God allows others not affiliated with the Orthodox Church (as in the scripture)  to heal in Christ's name?

I'd still to know in what context the above question was asked.

 
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« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2004, 12:25:40 AM »

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I see. So you will admit that God works in any way he chooses. So then, it is only PEOPLE who insists on binding him to a specific Church?

People do not bind Christ to a Church, the Orthodox Church is Christ's Church, He is the one who has bound Himself to a Church.
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« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2004, 12:28:09 AM »

People do not bind Christ to a Church, the Orthodox Church is Christ's Church, He is the one who has bound Himself to a Church.
True.  It is God who instituted the Church.  Think of an analogy of an absolute monarch.  The monarch passes the laws, and the people are bound to follow them.  But the monarch can make whichever exceptions he chooses.
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« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2004, 12:31:59 AM »

Exactly. Christ triumphs, NOT just the Christ of the "Orthodox Church"

When you say this, can it be assumed that you just mean "Christ doesn't work solely within the Orthodox Church"?  Or do you mean something different, or in addition, to this?
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« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2004, 01:26:02 AM »

See MsGuided's post above.I see. So you will admit that God works in any way he chooses. So then, it is only PEOPLE who insists on binding him to a specific Church?


Again, exceptions don't prove anything. Christ made a Church, St Paul warned people to flee from teachers of false doctrine, and the Church Fathers who inhereted the teachings of Christ publicly (See Irenaeus's Against Heresy) continued this teaching.  If every once and awhile God graces someone outside Orthodoxy that is his business but he did not GIVE US the permission to rule on that. It's HIS grace and HIS ruling. We have to stick to the Church that He gave to US.

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« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2004, 01:28:06 AM »

Again, we only know Christ through the Gospels (a product of the Church) which are already theologically reworked to present his life in the context of the Passion (works not showing this were rejected, such as the Gospel of Thomas).*  Basically, that boils down to the fact that only through the Church can we know Christ, in a temporal sense. Christ can break out of that mold but it is an exceptional thing since He himself established this mold--the Church--to keep people like Tom from going astray.

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« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2004, 01:33:55 AM »

I know I have already suggested to Tom publicly and privately numerous books that would take months to read, but here is another for the record:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0195084365/qid=1099373538/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/002-9735938-5640848?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

It shows how the very concept that Protestants use for assessing knowledge and truth is more akin to Gnosticism than small-o orthodoxy.

Anastasios
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« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2004, 09:35:35 AM »

When you say this, can it be assumed that you just mean "Christ doesn't work solely within the Orthodox Church"?  Or do you mean something different, or in addition, to this?

I mean that "Christ doesn't work solely within the Orthodox Church" and that the Orthodox Church does not have any special "dibs" on Christ.
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« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2004, 09:37:37 AM »

I know I have already suggested to Tom publicly and privately numerous books that would take months to read

And I thank you. But they are all so darn expensive! This one is around $35.00 USED.
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« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2004, 10:09:39 AM »

Maybe if you're a good boy someone may give them to you for Christmas...but only on the new calendar Wink
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« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2004, 09:59:54 PM »

It reminds me of what Saint Paul has to say to the Philippians:[quotes Philippians 1:15] Somehow, in spite of it all, Christ triumphs.

I've enjoyed where this thread has gone...Phil, I'd forgotten about that quote.  Good point.
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« Reply #28 on: November 03, 2004, 12:10:29 AM »

 Wink  
       Fr. John romanides has some interesting comments on this theme: "... Outside the church there is no salvation. Christ offers the saving grace to all human beings. When one is saved outside the visible church, this means that christ himself saves him. Even if such a person happens to be a heterodox member, he is still saved because of christ, and not by the "splinter group" to which he belongs. Salvation in this case is not granted by the church to which he belongs, because there is only one church that saves..."  
       On the eucharist: "...For the calvinists, Christ after the ASCENSION dwells in heaven, and consequently, the change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is impossible. Christ then, is totally absent from the eucharist. The Papal view is somewhat similar, inasmuch that it stresses through the prayer of the priest, Christ, who was not present, now becomes present. ( The conclusion is that christ is absent from the church) The fact is however, ... the members of the church have the pledge of the spirit and are participants in theosis." ............................................peace, joe
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« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2004, 09:37:03 AM »


Apostolic Succession is not simply a side doctrine of Christianity.  It is a pillar upon which the Church exists.  The foundations of the Apostles and their successors are the key to finding where Christ's Church truly is.  It is this Apostolic Charism, transmitted from Pentecost down to our own time, that enables Bishops, and the Priests they ordain, to manifest the terrible and awesome Mysteries of Christ for the benefit of His Body... and without these, could any be saved? 

Where the Bishop is, there is the Church.  Why?  Precisely because of this power.
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