Friday, April 20, 2018

Evaluating Roman Catholic Claims Of Apostolic Succession

  • The Catechism Of The Roman Catholic Church Says In Regard To Apostolic Succession:
          -“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)
  • Apostolic Succession As Defined By 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")
  • Biblical Arguments Against Roman Catholic Apostolic Succession:
          -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 properly exegeted.
          -The determining factor of the truthfulness and faithfulness of a church is its adherence to Scripture (Acts 17:11-12). The scribes and Pharisees claimed to have a physical, traceable lineage back to Abraham, yet Christ rejected them (John 8:36-45). We do not need a chain of apostolic successors from Christ and the original apostles to preserve divinely revealed truth (Matthew 3:7-9; Galatians 3:7). The scribes and Pharisees claimed to posses divine extra-biblical tradition, yet Christ publicly refuted them with Scripture (Matthew 15:1-9).
          -The only known historical record containing the inspired words of Jesus Christ and the apostles is the New Testament itself. That is the remnants of apostolic authority.
  • Is Acts 1:15-26 An Example Of Apostolic Succession, As Roman Catholic Apologists Claim?: 
          -The context of this passage is talking *specifically* about the traitor Judas. Moreover, Acts 1:15-26 does not 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. Rather, it provides biblical warrant for replacing ungodly and unfaithful church leaders with ones who are actually fit to serve God.
          -At this point, the apostles did not begin their apostolic ministry. They did not even receive the power Christ had promised to bestow upon them earlier in this chapter (Acts 1:8). The apostles 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 dissimilar with the Roman Catholic teaching of apostolic succession, considering that they teach that only apostolic authority is passed on (not the essence of the office itself). Papal "successors" themselves are not apostles.
  • Does 2 Timothy 2:2 Provide Evidence For Apostolic Succession?:
          -The Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to pass on the truth of the gospel to "faithful men," not "priests and bishops." This passage merely describes the simple process of discipleship and the passing on of apostolic doctrine (i.e. "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 no mention in this context of passing on extra-biblical oral tradition or infallible teaching authority. Catholics simply read these concepts into Scripture. Note that Paul does not say anything in reference to a future successor for himself. He instead pointed to Scripture as our rule of faith (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He mentions nothing else for us to turn to in times of deception. Thus, Paul only points us to Scripture.
  • Apostolic Succession And The Early Church: 
          -When one finds references to apostolic succession in the earliest Christian writings, it is in reality quite different from how the modern Church of Rome perceives the concept. 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 founded by them in the first century. Apostolic succession was used as an argument against Gnosticism. 
          -The Jewish people had lists of successors for their priests and teachers. So the early Christians would have already been familiar with such a concept. The early church developed creeds that were based on the principles of Scripture. Doctrinal developments were formed on that standard of revelation. They were not originally foreign to Scripture. New ideas would be tested to see if they would contradict already established doctrines.
  • The Papacy And Its Historical Development:
          -The earliest 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 had fellowship together and cooperated to settle disputes. In fact, it was not until roughly A.D. 150 that the church at Rome 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 (distinguished from a position of primacy). 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 persecution by the Roman Empire. The church at Rome was the most prosperous church financially in the West. It was a center of doctrinal orthodoxy. It was a center for charity. The church of Rome's 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. However, Rome possessed no more authority than other churches for three centuries. 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 A.D. 337 as his two sons inherited a divided kingdom.
          -In 381, Roman Emperor Theodosius summoned an assembly in which he declared the bishop of Constantinople to be in a position of supremacy, as Constantinople was considered the New Rome. However, 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)

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

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.