Proof of Apostolic Succession


#1

Apart from the bible, how do we prove the Catholic Church historically descends from apostolic succession?


#2

-- Records of succession (imperfect and incomplete though they may be)
-- Testimony of the Church Fathers (I'm thinking in particular of S. Irenaeus Against Heresies, but there are others)


#3

[quote="Augustine3, post:1, topic:323580"]
Apart from the bible, how do we prove the Catholic Church historically descends from apostolic succession?

[/quote]

Clement of Rome writes this in his Epistle to Corinth....

42:4 Preaching, therefore, through the countries and cities, they appointed their firstfruits to be bishops and deacons over such as should believe, after they had proved them in the Spirit.
42:5 And this they did in no new way, for in truth it had in long past time been written concerning bishops and deacons; for the scripture, in a certain place, saith in this wise: I will establish their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.
44:1 Our Apostles, too, by the instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ, knew that strife would arise concerning the dignity of a bishop;
44:2 and on this account, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed the above-mentioned as bishops and deacons: and then gave a rule of succession, in order that, when they had fallen asleep, other men, who had been approved, might succeed to their ministry.

57:1 Do ye, therefore, that have laid the foundation of the sedition submit yourselves to the presbyters, and be chastised to repentance, bending the knees of your hearts.

57:2 Learn to submit yourselves, laying aside the vain and haughty self-will of your tongues; for it is better that you should be small and approved in the flock of Christ, rather than that, seeming to be superior to others, ye should be cast out of his hope

59:1 But if some should be disobedient to the things spoken by him through us, let them know that they will entangle themselves in no small transgression and danger,


#4

I am not sure that I understand the question. Very few people seriously disagree that the Catholic Church descends from the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome. They usually just argue that apostolic succession is unimportant or that the Catholic Church was corrupted at some point.


#5

[quote="Augustine3, post:1, topic:323580"]
Apart from the bible, how do we prove the Catholic Church historically descends from apostolic succession?

[/quote]

Remember that all such attacks also attempt to destroy the validity of the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches.


#6

Thanks guys for your posts, much appreciated :thumbsup:

I’ve been debating a Muslim and he made it clear unless we Christians have an unbroken chain of narrations proving the apostolic succession our claim remains unsubstantiated and suspicious. Through the guidance of DavidFilmer I asked my friend what if the Muslim’s chain of narrations were somehow destroyed would become of the Islam. This was his response:

*You ask would Islam be valid if all historical documents except the Qur'an got destroyed. I will go even further. Would Islam be valid if all historical Islamic documents, including the Qur'an, got destroyed? The answer is yes. How so you might ask. The answer is because we have scholars who know the Qur'an by heart. The scholars have chains of narrations for the Qur'an going all the way back to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Thus they would be able to reproduce the Qur'an and still have a link to the past. In addition, the scholars continue to memorize works such as Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim, and other Hadith (narration/tradition in English) compilations. This includes the chain of narrators, i.e. they do not merely memorize the content of a narration, they also memorize who were the transmitters. As a matter of fact, once a scholar has memorized a narration and taught it to a student, the chain of narrators continues to grow because the student becomes a part of the chain of transmission. But if all historical documents got destroyed, it would be a major, major, major (can't repeat this often enough) setback. However, Muslims would still have a link to the past.

I think there is some confusion here. Islam is not merely based on books. It is based on the oral chain of narrators as well. Muslims have an ongoing process of transmission going on. As I said, there are still people who have chains of narrators memorized, so it is not all just based on books. Christians do not have this since apparently no bishop would be able to trace his scholarly lineage back to an Apostle. All a bishop is able to do is to assume that he comes from a pure line of Apostolic Succession. That's not good enough.

As for how things will be in ten thousand years, I do not know. Only God knows. However, the Prophet (pbuh) has narrated that knowledge will eventually disappear before the Last Hour.

“Before the Day of Judgement, there will be a time (or ‘days’) in which Ignorance will be sent down, and Knowledge will be raised up.”

The ‘raising up of Knowledge’ has been interpreted by the Prophet (saws) himself to mean the death of scholars. The Prophet (saws) said,

‘Allaah does not snatch away knowledge from the chests of His servants, but He takes away knowledge by the death of scholars, until, when there are no more scholars remaining, the people take ignorant leaders (i.e., as scholars). And these leaders will be asked (by the people), and they will respond without any knowledge, and they will be misguided, and misguide others.”

“Islaam will disappear just like the colours of a dress fade away, until people will not even know what fasting, prayer, the rites (of Hajj and charity are. And the Book of Allaah will be lifted up one night, so that not even one verse will remain. And a group of old people will remain, who will say, ‘We found our forefathers on this kalimah: Laa ilaaha ila Allaah, so we too say it.”

I have to point out that Christians still do not have chains of narrations for the Gospels that go back to their authors. This is a major problem from an Islamic perspective. However, I am sure that it would not bother Christians if all documents except the Bible got destroyed. Just look at the Protestants. It does not matter whether they have Apostolic Succession or not. In effect, you have proven that Catholicism is really no different from Protestantism, as it apparently does not matter if we can prove that there is a link to the past or not.*

I don't intend on replying back to him but he got me thinking how would we Catholics respond to this?


#7

One of the largest errors or flaws in Islam, as I see it, is that Muhammad failed to test the spirits (1 John 4:1-6). So did Joseph Smith. Both simply listened to and complied with whichever spirit appeared to them, and there are some surprising similarities between the two religions, both in their fundaments and their histories.

However, speaking to a "true believer" of any system, you will be confronted with such triumphalism. This is observed in various religions, business systems as well as alternative medicines. It is based on the fervency of one's beliefs and subsequently shapes one's opinions.

Catholic Answers' founder Karl Keating was once in the Philippines to debate a man from the Iglesia ni Cristo (cult similar to the JWs). As he began to dismantle their argument, he saw a glassiness in their stares that became frightening at one point. True believers.


#8

[quote="po18guy, post:7, topic:323580"]
One of the largest errors or flaws in Islam, as I see it, is that Muhammad failed to test the spirits (1 John 4:1-6). So did Joseph Smith. Both simply listened to and complied with whichever spirit appeared to them, and there are some surprising similarities between the two religions, both in their fundaments and their histories.

However, speaking to a "true believer" of any system, you will be confronted with such triumphalism. This is observed in various religions, business systems as well as alternative medicines. It is based on the fervency of one's beliefs and subsequently shapes one's opinions.

Catholic Answers' founder Karl Keating was once in the Philippines to debate a man from the Iglesia ni Cristo (cult similar to the JWs). As he began to dismantle their argument, he saw a glassiness in their stares that became frightening at one point. True believers.

[/quote]

That’s all well and true, I agree 100%.

I’m still left unsure how to prove with certainty the apostolic succession. We have an imperfect list of popes and a handful of Church Father writings. It seems it we were to lose those we would be on very shaky ground?


#9

[quote="Augustine3, post:8, topic:323580"]
That’s all well and true, I agree 100%.

I’m still left unsure how to prove with certainty the apostolic succession. We have an imperfect list of popes and a handful of Church Father writings. It seems it we were to lose those we would be on very shaky ground?

[/quote]

After 2,000 years, all is still here. The Holy Spirit still does, and will always guide the Church. That is something that Islam cannot have and will never have. Nothing to worry about. As to Islam, here is a very interesting article on just how fragile of a belief system it really is: thecatholicthing.org/columns/2011/on-the-fragility-of-islam.html


#10

[quote="po18guy, post:9, topic:323580"]
After 2,000 years, all is still here. The Holy Spirit still does, and will always guide the Church. That is something that Islam cannot have and will never have. Nothing to worry about. As to Islam, here is a very interesting article on just how fragile of a belief system it really is: thecatholicthing.org/columns/2011/on-the-fragility-of-islam.html

[/quote]

Thanks, I really appreciate it! :thumbsup:

God bless.


#11

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