The typical EO argument against sola scriptura runs something like this:
There was no canon of Scripture approved by the Church for the first 400 years of its existence. The New Testament writings that we find in our Bible today were completed between approximately 60 -100 A.D., the last being nearly 70 years after the death of Christ. These writings were used during the liturgies, just as they are in the Church today, and were presided over by ordained priests who were in submission to ordained bishops in each of these ecclesial communitites. Due to logistics and the lack of any sort of printing press, these writings were not wide spread and all of them certainly did not exist in every community at one time. They relied on Sacred Tradition, for the most part, in order to receive the word of God. Sacred Tradition possessed the fulness of truth that they had received from the Apostles, regardless of whether or not they had a copy of any of the sacred writings. Any writing was held up to scrutiny based upon the Sacred Tradition, and if it passed the test, it could be used.
Actually, my typical argument against sola scriptura is the sheer number of Protestant denominations, each with different dogma and doctrine, and each claiming to follow the Bible alone. Sola Scrpitura is like Communism- nice in theory, horrible in practice.
However, explain how all of the various gnostic communities scattered throughout Asia Minor were capable of procuring copies of the gospels and Paul's epistles.
Seeing as how, with the exception of the Epistle to the Romans, all the other Epistles were written either to cities in Asia Minor, or just a short hop across the isthmus from Asia Minor, it doesn't seem like a huge leap that these Epistles would be widespread throughout Asia Minor fairly early in the Church's history. Also take into account that the Gospels were among the first books to be taken to new church communities, Jerusalem was not all that far from Asia Minor itself, Asia Minor was an early center of Christianity, and the Gospel of St John was written in Ephesus. Now, if you had evidence of the Gospels and the Epistles of St Paul in early 2nd Century Britain or India, my mind might be properly blown.
Also, apostolic succession is a myth crafted to direct Christian discourse into "arguments by appeal to authority" and to set up images of Christianity in which a particular tradition's adherents may always claim the upper hand in debates about "right" dogma.
Two things- Apostolic Succession was extremely useful for establishing the Orthodoxy of certain teachings within the early Church. If one "church" was interpreting Scripture, apart from Apostolic Succession, in a strange light, Churches with Apostolic Succession could (and were) be appealed to as the basis for the correct interpretation. Thus, even a church in Britain, founded by St Joseph of Arimithea and without use of the Gospels, could say to a gnostic denying the bodily resurrection "That doesn't quite work."
The other thing- Churches that claim Apostolic Succession are pretty close in matters of dogma. The only divergence arise after those churches leave communion with one another. The churches are all almost spot-on in matters of practice (at least before 1960).
It's predicated on the fallacy of ipse dixit and it is inevitably also based upon circular logic.
And Protestant private interpretation isn't?
The remainder of discussion in this thread will prove that and I won't need say anything more.
So we might as well call this thread closed and go home.
Biblical support for apostolic succession is tenuous, at best. It takes some creative interpretation to start from "on this rock I will build my Church" and "binding and loosing" and end up with Apostolic Succession,
It takes less creative interpretation to read through the Acts of the Apostles, where Sts Peter and Paul set up Churches, as supporting Apostolic Succession. The Epistles to Timothy and Titus act as pretty good linchpins.
and even then, as the honest historian will note,
Read: "as the historians who agree with what I am saying will note,"
preferring to dispense with
"orthodox mythology," history
Fixed that for you.
such interpretation was inconsistent and only eventually consensual.
Yep. So inconsistent that churches spanning from India to Britain both claimed Apostolic Succession from an early time, despite being out of communication with the main body of the Roman Empire (India never being in the Roman Empire) from fairly early on. So "only eventually consensual" that every record from an actual Christian Church appeals to Apostolic Succession in some form or another dating to the early 2nd Century- just a few years after the death of St John.