How to Answer Protestants Forum: Apostolic succession
Apostolic succession QUESTION from Raymond Jensen on June 18, 2002 Why does the Catholic Church that there is an apostolic succession? When in the book of Acts it states that the apostolic succession has been fulfilled?
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on July 22, 2002 Dear Mr. Jensen:
First, I have absolutely no idea why you think that Acts shows that the Apostolic Succession ended. The only possible reference I can find is during the time between Jesus' Ascension and Pentecost when Peter -- leading the Apostles -- called for someone to be chosen to take Judas' place.
Rather than showing the end of Apostolic Succesion that shows us the very beginning. Matthias is chosen to take on the role of Apostle to continue the mission that Christ gave to the Church -- Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. His election to the office is the prototype for the appointment of Bishops (episkopos in Greek, occasionally translated as overseer in English) to guard the Faith in each region.
For more on the formation of the first generation after the Apostles, read St. Paul's Letters to Timothy (both) and Titus. It is also helpful to know that in Eusibius' History of the Church (written ~300 AD), Saints Timothy and Titus are acknowledged as having been anointed Bishops over their territories. For further documentation on the continuing reality Apostolic Success through the unbroken line of Bishops (in communion with the Bishop of Rome), read the Early Church Fathers especially St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch.
But then, if you seriously study the works of the Early Church, you would find that they were unanimously and unquestionably Catholic in their teaching and beliefs. That should not be a surprise though, since they merely transmitted what had been handed on to them through the Apostolic Tradition of the Church protected by direct succession from the Apostles to their (and our) day.
Jesus did tell the Apostles that He would be with them until the end of time and that the Holy Spirit would guide them to all truth didn't He? Forgive me for being a simple Catholic, but I take Jesus at His Word and believe His promises.
By the way, without Apostolic Succession where did your Bible come from? It was by this authority that the Church was able to declare INFALLIBLY which books were inspired and which were heretical. If you reject the Apostolic authority of the Catholic Church, how do you know that your Scriptures weren't the fabrication of heretics? The canon (rule) of the New Testament was not definitively proclaimed until 382 by Pope Damasus after the Council of Rome. If he did not the authority to bind and loose (see Mt 16 & 18) handed down to him from the Apostles, why do you accept his canon of Scripture.
Face the facts, the Scriptural and historical record clearly show that the Apostles chose successors and anointed them with the laying on of hands. This was never even questioned until decades after the Protestant Revolt (also known as the Reformation), and then even most Protestants accepted Apostolic Succession as a historical fact. Only in our modern era when people are so poorly trained in history and reason can such arguments hold sway with so many. May God have Mercy on us all.
Praying that all find the Peace of Christ, Troy
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