Friday, April 20, 2018

Evaluating Roman Catholic Claims Of Apostolic Succession

  • The Catechism Of The Roman Catholic Church Declares:
          -“In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority. Indeed, the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.” (CCC # 77)
          -"The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered." (CCC # 882)
  • Additional Attestation From The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:
          -“…the Church is one moral body, possessing the mission entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Apostles, and transmitted through them and their lawful successors in an unbroken chain to the present representatives of Christ upon earth. This authoritative transmission of power in the Church constitutes Apostolic succession...Hence in tracing the mission of the Church back to the Apostles, no lacuna can be allowed, no new mission can arise; but the mission conferred by Christ must pass from generation to generation through an uninterrupted lawful succession.…Apostolic succession as an uninterrupted substitution of persons in the place of the Apostles…” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, "Apostolicity")
  • Presenting Biblical Arguments Against Roman Catholic Apostolic Succession:
          -Nowhere does Scripture say anything in regards to the Apostle Peter having a position of unique primacy, apostolic successors, and the concept of papal infallibility. He does not even say nothing about these concepts in his two New Testament epistles.
          -There is very little evidence that the Apostle Peter stayed in Rome, apart from the timing of his martyrdom. Nobody can rightly claim to have the same authority as the apostles, since they are not eyewitnesses to Christ's resurrection (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1).
          -The New Testament never records the apostles passing on their authority to successors. They say nothing about apostolic successors.
          -The original teachings of Jesus Christ, the apostles, and their closest associates have been accurately recorded and preserved in the New Testament. Scripture equips the man of God for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Truth can easily be determined when Scripture is exegeted in its respective context.
          -The determining factor of the trueness and faithfulness of a church is its adherence to God's will as revealed through Scripture (Acts 17:11-12). The Scribes and Pharisees claimed to have a physical, traceable lineage back to Abraham, yet Christ still rejected them (John 8:36-45). We do not need a chain of apostolic successors (Matthew 3:7-9). They claimed to posses divine extra-biblical tradition, yet Christ publicly refuted them with Scripture (Matthew 15:1-9).
          -The only known historic record containing the inspired words of Jesus Christ and the apostles is the New Testament documents themselves. That is the remnants of apostolic authority.
  • Is Acts 1:15-26 An Example Of Apostolic Succession, As Roman Catholic Apologists Contend?: 
          -The context of this passage is talking *specifically* about the traitor Judas. Also, Acts 1:15-26 fails to mention anything about the apostles having future successors. If this passage proves anything at all, then it does not provide us with an argument for apostolic succession, but rather, provides biblical warrant for replacing ungodly and unfaithful church leaders with ones who are fit to serve God according to His will.
          -At this point, the apostles did not begin their apostolic ministry and did not even receive the power Christ had promised to bestow upon them earlier in the chapter (Acts 1:8). They did not receive it until the Day of Pentecost. Therefore, this is not an example of the apostles passing on spiritual authority to successors. The apostles did not have any power at this time.
          -This occasion was the actual replacement of an apostle with another apostle. This is very dissimilar with the Roman Catholic understanding of apostolic succession, considering that they teach that only the power is passed on (not the essence of the office itself). These so-called Catholic "successors" are not apostles, as was the case in the Book of Acts!
  • Does 2 Timothy 2:2 Provide Evidence For Apostolic Succession?:
          -The Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to pass on the truth to "faithful men", not to "priests and bishops". We are called to proclaim the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 2:5-9). This passage merely describes the simple process of discipleship and the passing on of apostolic doctrine ("what you heard from me"). In fact, this theme is echoed throughout the two epistles directed to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6-11; 16; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; 3:14-15). There is nothing about passing on extra-biblical oral tradition or infallible teaching authority. Catholics simply read these concepts into texts like these, when in reality they are not present. Notice that Paul does not mention anything about a future successor, but rather points to Scripture as our rule of faith (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He mentions no other rule of faith to turn to in future times of deception. Thus, the apostle only points us to Scripture.
  • Apostolic Succession And The Early Church: 
          -When one finds references to apostolic succession in the earliest patristic writings, it is in reality quite different from how the modern Church of Rome perceives the concept. In other words, both use the term "apostolic succession" to mean two entirely different concepts. The earliest congregations occupied the term as a proof of the preservation of doctrinal truth, whereas the Roman Catholic Church has coined the phrase to describe the passing on of authority in a specific office. The use of apostolic succession as a preservation of truth given by the apostles was used by all of the churches that were established by the apostles in the first century. Apostolic succession was a great argument to use in defense of the truth against Gnosticism.
          -The early church developed creeds which were all constructed on the principle of Scripture. In other words, doctrinal traditions were formed in accordance with Scripture. These doctrinal developments were originally not foreign to Scripture. They were in perfect harmony with Scripture. These apostolic traditions were actually biblical doctrines. New ideas would be tested to see if they would contradict already established doctrines. If any new doctrinal developments would conflict with scriptural principles, then they would instantaneously be rejected. This practice essentially amounts to Sola Scriptura, which teaches that traditions are to be subjugated to the authority of Scripture.
  • The Papacy Is Not Historical:
          -The most primitive Christians were not governed by an overarching church hierarchy headquartered in Rome. The emphasis of lineage in the early church was spiritual. Each congregation worked independently to preserve apostolic truth, but fellowshipped together and cooperated to settle disputes. In fact, it was not until 150 AD that the Roman church even began to develop a one-head bishop structure.
          -No available writings from the first and second centuries affirm that the Apostle Peter was appointed the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. The most primitive sources documenting the existence of the Christian faith say nothing about the necessity of believing in the primacy of Peter and the infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church. What is also interesting, is that the earliest pagans and heretics never objected to the existence of the Papacy in their dialogues with early Christian apologists such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian. What we do find in patristic writings is that congregations were governed by pluralities of elders.
          -For the first three centuries of Christianity, the Roman church was viewed with a position of honor among Christians (a position of honor but not of primacy). First of all, it was located in the capital of the empire, which was also known as the "Eternal City." This church was the largest, eventually totaling around 30,000 by the middle of the third century, despite the persecution by the Roman Empire. The church at Rome was the most prosperous church financially in the western world. It was a center of doctrinal orthodoxy. It was a center for charity. Its huge size greatly enhanced its impact. The Apostles Peter and Paul were viewed as the founders of the Roman church by the timing of the second century. Even though the Roman church was accorded high esteem, it possessed no more authority than the other churches for three centuries. Note that Rome was esteemed because it was custom, not owing to institution by Christ.
          -Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital east from Rome to the city of Byzantium. It was given the name Constantinople. It was regarded as the “New Rome." The political focus of the Roman empire was moved to the east. Consequently, the bishop of Constantinople acquired the status of religious headship. A fundamental cultural dilemma which led up to the split of the Roman Empire was that Christians within the Western church spoke the Latin language and the Eastern church was Greek. This separation increased upon the death of Constantine in AD 337 as his two sons inherited a divided kingdom.
          -In 381, Roman Emperor Theodosius summoned an assembly, where he declared the bishop of Constantinople to be in a position of supremacy, as Constantinople was considered the New Rome. However, the church of Rome reacted in strong disagreement. The Roman bishop Damasus announced for the first time the supremacy of Rome, and argued in the same fashion as do modern Roman Catholic apologists who appeal to Matthew 16:18.
          -In Rome, the leadership position was passed along seven bishops after Damasus up to Leo, who was appointed bishop in 440. He afterward taught on the matter of the Christian church's authority being grounded in the Roman bishop because of the authority of the keys given by Jesus Christ to Peter on which it would be established (which was a gross misapplication of Scripture). Authority was wrongfully bestowed upon the bishop of Rome on this basis— 400+ years after the death of Christ. So, it was not the early church nor was it the apostolic church. The Papacy developed as a result of political tactics as the Roman Empire collapsed
  • Contradictions In Succession Lists Of Roman Bishops:
          -"There are contradictory late second century and early third century succession lists of alleged Roman bishops. Why is this so? Many scholars note it is because there actually was no succession of a single bishop until A.D. 150. This is why such later church fathers contradicted each other on who the earliest single bishops were. Writing around A.D. 180 Irenaeus wrote that Peter and Paul instituted Linus as the first Roman bishop and then Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telephorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, Soter, and Eleutherius followed (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.3.3). However, writing around A.D. 200 Tertullian offers a rival view. Instead of Peter and Paul instituting Linus as the first Roman bishop and then Clement being third in the list as Irenaeus claimed, Tertullian said Peter ordained Clement as the first Roman bishop. Clement went from being the third bishop of Rome to the first." (Keith Thompson, "Absence of Papal Views Among the Earliest Christians")
  • Vatican Forgeries:
          -The Donation of Constantine and Pseudo-Isidorian decretals are examples of fraudulent documents written and latter used by popes to bolster claims of their supremacy over the church.
          -The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online says that the, "Substitution of false documents and tampering with genuine ones was quite a trade in the Middle Ages." The Encyclopedia Britannica affirms that, "the origins of episcopacy are obscure." Joseph F. Kelly said, “The word ‘pope’ was not used exclusively of the bishop of Rome until the ninth century, and it is likely that in the earliest Roman community a college of presbyters rather than a single bishop provided the leadership.” (The Concise Dictionary of Early Christianity, p. 2, originally cited by James White)
  • The Ungodly Behavior Of The Roman Catholic Leadership:
          -Volumes have been written concerning the historical atrocities committed by the Roman Catholic Church. The myriad of pernicious actions perpetrated by the Church of Rome would include crusades, inquisitions, schisms, the burning of Bibles, and even occurrences of religious persecution. All these things were done in contradiction to the commandment of love which was set forth by Jesus Christ. The moral and political corruption that took place within the Catholic hierarchy during the Middle Ages was rampant. History reveals to us that the office of Pope was purchased, was forcefully revoked from predecessors by heathen kings, and even filled with prostitution.
  • We Know That Roman Catholic Apostolic Succession Is A Myth Because They Themselves Have Confessed To Not Knowing Exactly Who Was Pope Or Antipope At The Correct Time: 
          -“But it must be frankly admitted that bias or deficiencies in the sources make it impossible to determine in certain cases whether the claimants were popes or antipopes.” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I, page 632)

2 comments:

  1. There is no record that Peter was ever a Bishop of Rome, so no bishop of Rome could ever be his successor. Irenaeus provided a list of the first 12 bishops of Rome and Peter was not on it; Linus was the first. Eusebius' church history never mentions Peter as a bishop of Rome; he only says Peter went to Rome "about the end of his days" and was crucified there. When Paul wrote Romans, greeting many people by name, Peter isn't mentioned. So there is no "unbroken chain" of apostolic succession in the Papist church.

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