This is an e-mail exchange I had with an NT scholar after observing that he had declared Apostolic Succession a false doctrine on his own blog. The main problem is that the Church’s teachings over the years have established Apostolic Succession and thus also have the scriptures. I’m not certain how the Apostles cannot have been granted the keys of the kingdom of Heaven and not have teaching authority in the Church. I want to comment on each segment and also allow myself to be judged as to whether I was too venemous or not…
Me: I am sorry that you thought that was a “debate”. There is no debate about Apostolic Succession. One either accepts the authority of the Church as established by Christ and passed onto his Apostles as is in the New Testament or they sever themselves from the main body of Christ. You know that and I know that.
Further, as you acknowledge yourself that you do not adhere to Apostolic Succession, you have ZERO authority to tell me and to dictate to me how I should and should not approach theological doctrine because YOU punted your authority in the theological category BY severing yourself from the Apostolic Tradition.
If you want to know why precisely it is believed by numerous Christians, you can read about the doctrine via the following links:
http://www.antiochian.org/1123706286 “crucial to the preservation of the Faith” keeps the Faith from being distorted by false teachers via private revelation
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_cti_1973_successione-apostolica_en.html (complete history and explanation of the dogma)
The bottom line is this–IF you want to spout that Apostolic Succession is nullified, then what you are doing is participating in a Satanic act to overthrow the mission of the Church, to decry the Church as not established by God, not the Divine Body of Christ as it in fact is attestified in the Scriptures to be, not to be the Pillar and Ground of Truth (1 Tim. 3:15) and are deliberately throwing doubt on the genuine authenticity of this Institution as it is professed to be by Our Lord and the Scriptures. You instead are substituting something else as the Pillar and Ground of Truth, something other than the Divine Body of Christ and the Communion of Believers. You are spreading and sowing discord within the Church. You are stating private revelations are valid.
The Church is an organism. It isn’t up to one man’s individual beliefs that govern him and what he prefers. It is a group in which the mysteries of Christ have been revealed to all. Learn what the Church is and you will see why Apostolic Succession is not an issue to be trashed but to be loved! I am not going to abandon it because I love the teachings and doctrines of Christ. Only those involved with the doctrines of the Enemy attack Apostolic Succession. This is not a debate but a reality–attacking Apostolic Succession means attacking the Church means attacking Truth means attacking Christ means embracing LIES.
And if you want to defend your heresy, do not sign off with a “blessings” to me. I do not accept blessings from a heretic.
NT Scholar:honestly I don’t know that at all! So no. What I know is that we must be faithful to the Bible, and especially the Gospel. None of the ecumenical creeds— Nicea, Chalcedon, nor the Apostle’s Creed says anything about believing in apostolic succession. So no….. we need to be faithful to the apostolic tradition not the fictional notion of apostolic succession. I like your passion, but its misdirected. Make the main thing the main thing. As Paul says in Rom. 10– if you believe in your heart and confess with your lips that Christ, dead and risen, is Lord, you are saved. It has nothing to do with affirming apostolic succession. And….. N.B. you can’t cut yourself off from the Body of Christ either by affirming or disaffirming apostolic succession. The Bible has things to say about heresy and it has chiefly to do with Christology and nothing to do with apostolic succession. All genuine Christians of whatever denomination are part of the body of Christ. They don’t need to be aligned with a particular Christian tradition for that to be the case.
There were generally things I left out but his understanding on St Paul demonstrates a significant rift on what believing Christ as Lord means. I don’t know any Christian denomination, Protestant or otherwise, that would insist that all you need to do is confess Christ as Lord but most would state you need to grow in that relationship, continue to submit yourself to his Lordship, adopt his teachings. Etc. This part I ignored because it failed to address the main topic–Apostolic Succession.
Me:The main thing is Christ. The Church is His Body. Apostolic Succession IS the main things. You cannot have Jesus without the Church.
Yes you can cut yourself from the Body of Christ by denying Apostolic Succession. Apostolic Succession is one of the many orthodox tenants of the Christian Church. To reject an orthodox tenant of the Church is to reject Christ. You cannot be Catholic and say that a woman can be ordained a priest, you cannot be Eastern Orthodox and reject the sacraments. Etc.
I am not de-legitimizing any Christian here. I am merely saying there is a necessity to draw the line of what is orthodox and what is not and that is where Apostolic Succession comes in.
Chalcedon is not a creed but a council and yes, it is necessary to affirm the teachings of Chalcedon.
I think the problem is that you are trying to speak from the position of one who has rejected the authority of the Church and trying to tell someone who does accept it that they have no authority. Of course I have no authority! I can only speak the belief of the Church. As an organism, as a family, the Church has rules, and it is up to those who are a part of the family to accept these rules or to simply not be a part of the family. And that is their own fault.
The Church, being the Pillar and Ground of Truth [1 Tim. 3:15], is infallible in faith and morals. Is my passion for the Church misdirected? Absolutely not! You reject the authority of the Church because you reject the Scriptures and you are a part of a Satanic plot to overthrow and cast doubt on the authenticity of the Church.
NT scholar:I’m sorry, its not heresy to disagree with you or others about the doctrine of the church. Neither the Bible nor the creeds say anything about apostolic succession. And guess what, Jesus does convert people quite apart from the church. His truth has reached many Muslims through dreams in the Middle East, not through the church. It’s amazing. Indeed, honesty about the truth about the church and its messy origins is fundamental to being a good Christian. I’ll just have to pray that someday you’ll see you are wrong.
I am not certain where I had said it was heresy to disagree. I did call him a heretic for attempting to enforce his wrongful theological opinion on me. As well as for seeking to undermine the authority of the Church. The difficulty is I think we are reading the same New Testament but all over it, Jesus speaks of how the Church is not to be overcome by the gates of Hell, is his body, the pillar and ground of Truth (1 Tim. 3:15), such themes speak loudly. It is difficult to find a Protestant who is willing to even engage such texts that have such high ecclesiology as well as important ecclesiological meaning. Apostolic Succession is a part of this–Christ invested authority to his Apostles who then invested authority to their successors as the successors claimed. The Bible did not fall out of Heaven but in itself was also the result of the Apostles’ successors getting together and deciphering which ones they actually wrote. Which a New Testament scholar ought to understand.
Me:Define “high Anglican”. There are the Oxford Movement Anglicans, the Anglican Papalist Anglicans, Anglo-Catholic Anglicans (similar to those of the Oxford Movement ones), High Anglicans with Lutheran leanings (those are the ones my church has).
Then there’s these so-called “high Anglicans” which are more the Arminian Anglicans who maintain tenants of Reformed and Arminian theology and only have the liturgical appearance.
And further, there is so much other worthwhile stuff I have on my reading list right now as well. If I could read absolutely everything, I could claim myself as God but look, I’m not God. GOD is God.
So I will tell you this much I know about the Apostolic Succession of the Church (WHICH IS REAL!!!)–JESUS is KING and HE founded a CHURCH in Matt. 16 and HE gave his Apostles the KEYS OF HEAVEN in Matt. 18!!!
How did these keys end up in someone else’s hands? They are PASSED DOWN through an unbroken line of tradition that is GUIDED by the Holy Spirit. The Church has made mistakes but that is not what proves or disproves the doctrine of the Church. JESUS says we are to be the light of the world with HIMSELF as the True Light. You attack the Church so much but my question is this–HOW CAN THE CHURCH BE WRONG IF JESUS IS ITS LIGHT?!? It CAN’T! Do you see now how when you state the things you state about the Church how you are participating in a Satanic mission to undermine the Church?
I would suggest you read this instead–
Much better than J.B. Lightfoot since they actually knew the Apostles themselves.
NT scholar:Lightfoot besides being the best Anglican bishop in the whole 19th century bar none, was the best NT scholar in the English speaking world between 1825-89. He deserves your respect. The keys to the kingdom referred to in Mt. 16 probably do not have anything to do with whether anyone can enter the church or not. It has to do with the Kingdom, the final eschatological kingdom. And Peter was the apostle to the JEWS as Gal. 2.7 says explicitly just as Paul was for the Gentiles like you and me. And no Ignatius never knew Peter or Paul, he lived after their time. Polycarp knew John the elder, who was not John son of Zebedee as Papias makes clear and Eusebius quotes.
I’m sorry you are not willing to entertain any view but your own, but you should. The truth is not well served by dogma that conflicts with early church history.
The entire point of dogma is that it is not my dogma I am entertaining but in actuality, someone else’s–in this case, the Church. But it has yet to be seen that Apostolic Succession conflicts with early church history. On the contrary, that the apostles appointed successors is very well established in the book of Acts, in extra-Biblical hagiographies of the apostles, and also testified by the fact that it wasn’t people who had no experience with the Apostles who deciphered the books to include in the Scriptures. It was a full-blown investigation based on which line had the Apostolic legitimacy and this is actually testified in history. And also, I didn’t say St Ignatius knew Sts Peter and Paul but rather he knew the Apostles–he was an apostle of John the Evangelist, St John the Divine. It depends on which church father you read this but for the most part, the Church has decided to recognise St John the Apostle (son of Zebedee) and St John the Divine (the elder) as the same. St Ignatius was a fellow disciple of this St John though. And lived in the time of the Apostles. But Apostolic Succession is all based entirely on history. And it is not a view of my own I made up either…
Me:It is not “any view but [my] own”–it is the Church’s view. Biblical scholarship was primarily a Protestant practice in the 19th century. The conclusions of Biblical scholars do not and cannot substitute for the teachings of the Church–EVER! I don’t care if the guy is the best Biblical scholar in the 8th century! He still needs to be approved and to have his teachings approved of by the Church! Otherwise, it’s private interpretation.
Matt. 16:19-I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Matt. 18:18-Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Sts Peter and Paul were apostles for both Jews and Gentiles. Who they were sent to hardly makes a difference. You are simply talking nonsense right now. Were their writings both included in the inspired Scriptures? Yes. Are they consistently read in all Universal Churches? Yes. So their teachings apply to both you and me as well as the elderly gentleman at my Church who is of Saphardic Jewish descent and always likes to read the Epistles for us when he’s there.
St John Chrysostom writes–
“the Son gave him to sow that of the Father and that of Himself in every part of the world; and to a mortal man He entrusted the authority over all things in Heaven, giving him the keys; who extended the church to every part of the world, and declared it to be stronger than heaven.” (Homily 54 on Matthew)
Jesus is giving St Peter and by extension the rest of the Apostles the Teaching Authority of the Church. THAT is what the keys of Heaven are! Not who can and cannot become a member. EVERYONE can become a member but they MUST submit to the Teaching Authority of the Church of the Apostles because that is where the Church STARTED.
I’m sorry that you feel that I am un-open to other views but you are really failing to understand the main point I am trying to make. I do not embrace theology that I made up. I embrace the theology of the Church. You do not have authority over the Church.
NT scholar:this will be my last response. The view you are talking about is not the teaching of the universal church. It’s not even the teaching of all orthodox Catholics or Orthodox Orthodox teachers. It just isn’t. Have you ever read Bentley-Hart? And of course, it is not the teaching of the Protestant Church, except for a few Anglicans. My last email explained to you that Jesus had in mind for Peter and the Twelve to have a mission to the Jews, and they did. Indeed, he tells them they will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel at the eschaton! It makes quite clear what their main roles are—- Jesus even tells them at one point in the Gospel ‘go nowhere among the Gentiles’, and Jesus says himself ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel’. After Pentecost Peter’s main mission was to evangelize Jews in the Diaspora (see 1 Pet. 1.1-2 and the Galatians verse I previously mentioned). So….. you need to take seriously the entire witness of the Gospels and the Epistles and Acts.
And I’ll say once more, the kingdom of God is not= to the church, even the Orthodox Church. The term baseleia refers to the divine saving activity of God which produces believers and also to the eschatological realm which we will inherit, enter, obtain when Christ returns. It does not refer to the church, of whatever stripe. The binding and loosing referred to there has to do with whether one gets to enter the kingdom or not. Not whether one gets to go to the ‘correct’ church.
I have not read Bentley-Hart. However, if this is true, I would like to know where he flat-out denies Apostolic Succession. And further, the reading of the kingdom of God by the NT scholar isn’t innaccurate but it isn’t the whole picture either. The problem I have noticed with Biblical scholarship these days is how it tends to try and zero-in on one interpretation and then hail that interpretation as the only interpretation. On the contrary, the Church tends to see the Bible as fluid, can bear numerous interpretations at once, etc. Such to the extent that the Kingdom of God is not just eschatological, but here and now, with us, over the map. It is Christ himself who is the Kingdom of God and the Church, being his body, is by extension, the Kingdom of God. That the Church is the Kingdom of God is not a wrongful interpretation but one right interpretation among many. The Church itself is called “ecclesia”–gathering–in the Greek. It is a gathering of the faithful people who acknowledge Christ as Lord and King. I guess you could call the ecclesia the “Kingdom of God”. And further, if it has to do with who gets into the kingdom, it has to do with which Church has teaching authority still. Because since the Kingdom of God is the Church, the teaching authority belongs to the Church. But there is a lot of this in Protestantism that many people presume the whole “correct church” ideology is insisting too much. Of course it has to be Christ’s Church that you enter. How can you be a part of the “gathering” if you are not “gathered”?
Me:Some people go astray from the traditional teachings of the Church. But it is and I am glad this is going to be your last response though I wish you would apologise and recant and affirm that I have been right because I, unlike you, obediently submit to the Church.
IFF you do respond, I expect an apology for your lies to me tonight. You have been in league with Satan.
MOST Protestants have cut themselves OFF from the Church.
Last time–is Apostolic Succession true? YES! Is it the view of the Universal Church? YES! Is it Satanic to attack it? YES! Is Ben Witherington III a follower of Satan? YES!!!
Is this just simply Daniel’s opinion? NO!!! Is it the Truth? YES!!!
Further, the Kingdom of God IS the Church. Only a Satanist would suggest the Kingdom of God is not a Church. You clearly accept New Age nonsense that has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity if you think otherwise–that is NOT my opinion but is CHRIST’S opinion.
As I’ve said before and will again to you because you appear to be brain-dead–everything I have told you is NOT my opinion. It is the teaching of the Church’s. If you reject the Church’s teachings, you reject Christ and are lost. Since you clearly reject the Church’s teachings, you DO NOT have the right to TELL ME WHAT I OUGHT NOT TO BELIEVE!!!
Now, my last statement–
DO NOT BLESS ME YOU SATANIC HERETIC!!!
May God reprove you for your extant errors you shameful Satanic bigot.
Read about it–
Again, you can either agree with the Church of which teachings I have explained sufficiently to you that Apostolic Succession is real and that to deny it is Anti-Christ since the Church is the Body of Christ (hence is Christ) or you can deny it.
But I am revulsed that you would suggest that the Church of Christ is not the Kingdom of God. That is heretical and you have deeply troubled me by this. You are wrong and that is your wrong. I am correct in asserting the following:
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS THE CHURCH
I can PROVE I am wrong–
BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES
I can PROVE the Church is right–
BECAUSE 1 TIM 3:15 SAYS THE CHURCH IS THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF TRUTH
I can further PROVE I am right–
BECAUSE THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST WHICH IS INCORRUPTIBLE AND CHRIST IS TRUTH
I do not have to read any one who says otherwise. As a Protestant, you can make up your own rules about the Church but how does this unite us? We need Christian unity! Christian unity cannot be achieved if there are people trying to claim to be members of the established Church of Christ who reject Apostolic Succession.
Do I believe that people who reject Apostolic Succession are members of the Church? They could be mistaken heretics. But if they are doing it wittingly, no.
Bottom-line: You cannot dictate how I ought to believe because there is no authority.
I feel incredibly disrespected by you right now thinking that even though you lack authority for your teachings you can tell me how I ought to not believe. I will be posting this entire discussion with you on my blog so everyone can see that you are foolish.
ALL heretics are foolish.
NT Scholar:May the Lord have mercy on your soul. Even if you just tried to fulfill the commandment love your enemies, then you would not have written the last two emails. I am not apologizing for my views but you certainly owe me an apology. Your emails are full of anger and unkind words. Is it impossible that you are right about apostolic succession? Impossible is too strong a word. But the historical and Biblical evidence is solidly against it, and it is the responsibility of any good Christian to correct his brother when he strong persuaded he is wrong.
I said he was a heretic for trying to enforce his faulty belief on me. As it is well-established that heretics are disruptors, I do not make an apology for this. But some of these Christians seem to be so self-righteous here that they cannot see mistakes on their own end. They like to slam and tear down. I’m not entirely certain where the unkind words were seeing as Christ himself called people a “brood of vipers” one point in time. And further, the Biblical and historical evidence suggested strongly “against” it was not sufficiently demonstrated. There was much anger toward his falsities.
Needless to say, I am no hypocrite–I have blocked this guy so that I no longer have to hear his lies again. But there does seem to be a rift between not just NT scholars but also with Protestants. One of these things starts around Church authority and the view of the Church. I for the most part, cannot understand how any one reads scriptures and does not include there is not some sort of infallible authority granted it. Some say the church does not matter. But if an ecclesia is a gathering, then shouldn’t we gather?