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Switch to Forum Live View McBrien column - Apostolic succession
9 years ago  ::  Sep 22, 2008 - 5:44PM #11
jane2
Posts: 14,295
Wavering and Tamayo

There is so much insanity afoot on this topic.

Much of the nonsense comes under the heading of Apostolic Succession.
Somehow of late this has come to mean a continual laying on of hands
from the apostles forward. That is not what it means.

From THE CONSISE DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY, by O'Collins and Farrugia, both SJ. Apostolic Succession means:

"The unbroken continuity in essential belief and practice between the church today and the church founded by Christ through the Apostels."

Good grief, Charlie Brown.
:rolleyes:
discuss catholicism
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9 years ago  ::  Sep 23, 2008 - 10:00AM #12
danman916
Posts: 2,627
Wavering,

Ok, I read it. Here are my comments:

To say that the church is “apostolic” means that it continues to be faithful to the word, worship, witness and service of the apostles.


There is nothing wrong with his statement, except that Fr. McBrien’s statement is not complete.
To say that the Church is Apostolic, the Catechism says:

The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:
- she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles,"362 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;363
- with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,364 the "good deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;365
- she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor":366
362 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.
363 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.
364 Cf. Acts 2:42.
365 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.
366 AG 5.


Now, before you go off on the Catechism as the “rules and regs” as you like to call them, they are referenced by Scripture as well as the conciliar teaching in Ad Gentes.

The church preaches the same Gospel. It celebrates the same sacraments. It is the sign and instrument of God’s saving presence in our midst. And it carries on the ministry of the apostles on behalf of the poor and those in need.


Of course it does those things.

But it is one thing to affirm the connection between the present-day church and the church of the apostles. It is quite another to explain the basis of that connection. In what sense is the church of today in “apostolic succession” with the church of the first century of the Christian era?


Lumen Gentium 20 explicitly states that the Apostles appointed successors.

Before all else, we must reject the simplistic, mechanistic notion of apostolic succession, what some have derisively referred to as the passing-the-baton theory.


Did you know that there is a distinction between the terms “Apostolic Succession” and “Episcopal lineage”? The Apostolic Succession is historically verifiable. We cannot trace the Episcopal lineage of Bishops because the records simply do not exist anymore. In the Roman Rite, most Bishops can trace their Episcopal lineage back about 500 years. That doesn’t mean that there is no lineage previous to that. It just means that the records no longer exist. McBrien does a very sloppy job in this article because he uses the two terms interchangeably, when, in fact, he should not. Apostolic Succession is not the passing-the baton-theory. Episcopal lineage is. Both are valid beliefs, but they are a bit different.




First, the apostles were not bishops in the present-day meaning of the word. They were missionaries and founders of local churches. There is no evidence, nor is there likely ever to be any evidence, that any of the apostles took up permanent residence in a particular church, or diocese, as its bishop.


While this is true, it is an incomplete statement. They appointed Bishops / Presybters wherever they went.

Second, although some local churches had pastoral leaders who were called bishops (see the Acts of the Apostles 20:17-35, especially verse 28), it remains unclear whether these “bishops” were actually appointed or ordained by the apostle Paul or by any other apostle.


Yes, it remains unclear. However, when we look at the history written at that time, the witness is a laying of hands of lines of Bishops in the major sees, not appointments. So while McBrien’s and Sullivan’s opinions are valid to hold, they do not represent the only possibility.

“The New Testament,” Fr. Sullivan writes, “offers no support for a theory of apostolic succession that supposes the apostles appointed or ordained a bishop for each of the churches they founded.”


The key word is “New Testament”. Other writings do attest to the apostolic succession, however.

Nor does the Didache (“The Teaching”), an ancient book of basic instructions for Christians, contain any “suggestion that such pastoral officers would derive their authority in any way from a founding apostle.”


The didache was a catechism so there wouldn’t be any reason for the Didache to do so.

Pope St. Clement’s letter to the Corinthians, known as 1 Clement, written 30 years after St. Paul’s death, indicates that the church in Corinth was being led by a group of presbyters (priests), with no indication of a bishop.


This is easily explainable if one understands that, during the first century Church, there was little distinction between the word Presbyter and Bishop. There were Bishops and Deacons. The distinction between a priest and a Bishop didn’t develop till later when Christianity became more widespread.
So while McBrien isn’t wrong, his statement is incomplete.

Not even St. Ignatius of Antioch, who is a major source for our knowledge of the organization of the early church, suggests that “he saw his episcopal authority as derived from the mandate Christ gave to the apostles. ... He never invoked the principle of apostolic succession to explain or justify the role and authority of bishops.”


Nor would he have to, because it was understood by everyone that their authority came from the Apostles who laid hands on them. This is attested to in Eusebius’ history.

“One conclusion seems obvious,” Fr. Sullivan writes. “Neither the New Testament nor early Christian history offers support for a notion of apostolic succession as ‘an unbroken line of episcopal ordination from Christ through the apostles down through the centuries to the bishops of today.’ ”


I disagree. I have read Eusebius, and it is spelled out pretty concisely. This is the basis of the 5 patriarchial sees of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. I am amazed that McBrien would assert this unless he thinks that Eusebius is not a valid historical account. While the Episcopal lineages are not given, the Apostolic successions are. The article is terribly sloppy because it does not recognize this distinction.

Consequently, Catholic theologians today would insist that Vatican II’s declaration that apostolic succession is “by divine institution” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) should not be taken to mean that Christ explicitly determined the episcopal structures of the local churches, or dioceses.


He may claim this, but I’d like to see the list of theologians who would support this statement.

It is true that no Bishop today can directly trace the succession of Bishops in laying on of hands, back to the Apostles. Records were lost during much of the middle ages. While we do not know the lineages, we do know the successions.
McBrien should know better than to miss this important distinction.

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9 years ago  ::  Sep 23, 2008 - 10:22AM #13
danman916
Posts: 2,627
For anyone interested:

Here is the Episcopal Lineage of John Paul II
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucgbmxd/johnpaul.htm

Here is the apostolic succession of John Paul II
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

Notice, that they are different.
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2008 - 12:43AM #14
angpuppy
Posts: 520
[QUOTE=WaveringCC;768652]Interesting column by McBrien on apostolic succession.

http://ncronline3.org/drupal/?q=node/1862

From the introduction -

"To say that the church is “apostolic” means that it continues to be faithful to the word, worship, witness and service of the apostles.

The church preaches the same Gospel. It celebrates the same sacraments. It is the sign and instrument of God’s saving presence in our midst. And it carries on the ministry of the apostles on behalf of the poor and those in need.

But it is one thing to affirm the connection between the present-day church and the church of the apostles. It is quite another to explain the basis of that connection. In what sense is the church of today in “apostolic succession” with the church of the first century of the Christian era?
Before all else, we must reject the simplistic, mechanistic notion of apostolic succession, what some have derisively referred to as the passing-the-baton theory.

This understanding of apostolic succession, which many Catholics continue to believe, assumes that each validly ordained Catholic bishop can trace his episcopal consecration in an unbroken line back to one of the original apostles or to the apostles collectively.
Jesuit Fr. Francis Sullivan, my former professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and currently professor at Boston College, offers two reasons for opposing such a view....."[/QUOTE]

Wavering, what exactly of the Nicene Creed do you actually believe?
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2008 - 12:52AM #15
angpuppy
Posts: 520
[QUOTE=danman916;778545]For anyone interested:

Here is the Episcopal Lineage of John Paul II
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucgbmxd/johnpaul.htm

Here is the apostolic succession of John Paul II
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

Notice, that they are different.[/QUOTE]

Thank you!  :D
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2008 - 9:45PM #16
friendofsaints&angels
Posts: 1,327

danman916 wrote:

For anyone interested:

Here is the Episcopal Lineage of John Paul II
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucgbmxd/johnpaul.htm

Here is the apostolic succession of John Paul II
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

Notice, that they are different.


Hey danman, Thank you for posting that info. I'd also like to add some more info for all parties interested.

www.scripturecatholic.com

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