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Featured The Legitimacy of Apostolic Succession and the Christian Church

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Dawnofhope, Sep 18, 2021.

  1. Dawnofhope

    Dawnofhope Veteran Member
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    In this thread I'd like to explore the legitimacy of Apostolic succession within Christendom. It's an important topic that relates to the succession of leadership and authority derived from the Ministry of Christ Himself. Those whom Christ appointed as Apostles were commissioned to carry on His Work The legitimacy of the Catholic Church, the largest denomination within Christianity, is derived in part from the unbroken succession of Bishops or Popes from St Peter's appointment by Christ to the current Pope Francis.

    Different Churches will recognize different bishops and lines of succession, not necessarily recognizing the traditions within other churches. Such lines of succession arguably play a vital role in maintaining the continuity of leadership but also promoting unity.

    Beyond Apostolic succession there are parallels within other faith communities where succession of leaders is recognized and the unity of the community is either strengthened or weakened.

    So how important is Apostolic succession within Christianity? What parallels, if any, can be found in other Faith traditions?
     
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  2. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    Speaking for myself to an outsider it is just an unbroken line of snake oil salesmen I guess.

    In my opinion
     
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  3. The Hammer

    The Hammer Frog Lord
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    I don't find Christianity important in any form honestly.
     
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  4. Dawnofhope

    Dawnofhope Veteran Member
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    Hi Daniel,

    I would consider neither the Apostle St Peter nor Pope Francis 'snake oil salesmen'. Am I to infer you regard the Teachings of Christ Himself 'snake oil?'
     
  5. Dawnofhope

    Dawnofhope Veteran Member
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    Christianity is currently the largest religion worldwide with over 30% of the world's population identifying as Christian and nearly 70% in the USA. It is arguably one of the major influences on the development of Western culture and continues to shape the values and politics of many countries. Whether its founded on any truth is another matter but its influence on the course of history, development of civilization and decision making today is undeniable.
     
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  6. The Hammer

    The Hammer Frog Lord
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    Size does not equal importance. That's just tyranny of the majority.
     
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  7. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Well-Known Member

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    Still, you can’t deny the influence of Christianity on the culture of the world, the west in particular.

    Michaelangelo, Caravaggio, Titian, Dante Alighieri, John Milton, John Donne, William Blake, Keats and Shelley, Leo Tolstoy. These weren’t artists who happened to be Christian, these were Christian artists (including the heretics among them), and they helped define European culture - which is in large part your culture too, if you are an American.
     
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  8. The Hammer

    The Hammer Frog Lord
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    Not denying it. Just not my taste in Spirituality
     
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  9. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    Not in their entirety, mainly in their claims of miracles.

    ETA and in Jesus more egotistical statements, although those statements could have been fabricated by John.

    In my opinion.
     
  10. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough. As you said elsewhere, there are many paths up the mountain.

    But I think the OP wanted to discuss something specific to the evolution of Christianity and it’s institutions.

    On that latter point, I find it interesting that a spiritual teacher who was at odds with the religious hierarchy of his day, now has great institutions operating in his name and claiming his authority.
     
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  11. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

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    Thats true.
     
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  12. Dawnofhope

    Dawnofhope Veteran Member
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    There are many ways of viewing the Gospel accounts, including the Gospel of John. One perspective is that of a theological as opposed to historical narrative. In that manner the accounts of miracles could be viewed as conveying spiritual or moral truths that provide practical assistance to the lives of those who live in accordance with their highest principles. Whether or not certain miracles were historically true is of secondary importance. Clearly none of the miracles can be verified through accepted historical analysis.

    The so called 'egotostical' claims such as those concerning the Sonship and Divinity of Christ Himself are not historically verifiable, anymore than the miracles. However their value may be in their theological import, what they teach about the nature of Prophets and their relationship with God as understood within Hebrew scriptures.

    Of course you could start with the assumption the Gospels should be understood according to the claims of Christian fundamentalists. I am not a Christian fundamentalist however.

    Peace.
     
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  13. Dawnofhope

    Dawnofhope Veteran Member
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    Tyranny is not the exclusive domain of majority groups and can happen anywhere regardless of size. It can happen in relationships between couples where one dominates over the other.
     
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  14. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    As a Catholic I don't consider the RCC the only Christian Church. After all, the Papacy was created to guide the Christian herd.
    So the Pope is just a shepherd and has huge responsibilities.
    Sometimes I think the other Christian denominations are freer than us.
     
    #14 Estro Felino, Sep 18, 2021
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  15. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    It is relevant, fairly obviously, in those traditional denominations that have bishops. That includes the Orthodox and the Anglican/Episcopalian as well as Catholic. I'm not sure if there is any such concept in Protestant denominations that don't have bishops.

    It's significance, for those denominations that regard it as relevant, is these are not sola scriptura churches. They believe the apostolic successors can still be divinely inspired to generate new teaching. In other words, that God still speaks to his church to guide it. So the doctrine of these churches is not set in biblical concrete, as it were.

    You will probably know more than I do about any parallels in other religions.
     
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  16. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    If @danieldemol doesn't, I'll go ahead and say that I regard them that way.

    ... though it's worth pointing out that we don't actually have "the Teachings of Christ Himself (replete with capital letters); we just have hearsay accounts of what people claim those teachings were.

    Most of them were artists living and working in an era when the only way an artist could make a living at art was with commissions to paint Christian religious subjects.

    I know I'm left wondering how much art that might have been made by people like these ended up not being made because they lived in a time that repressed non-Christian thought and encouraged only Christian expression.
     
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  17. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    The main importance, to me, is not the line of succession but the tradition of passing along knowledge of all kinds. When ignorance and illiteracy was widespread, there was a 'Line of succession' of knowledge kept alive. In the times of feudalism when knowledge was disappearing, somebody tried to preserve it.

    The line of apostolic succession I view rather as the keeping and passing of secrets about Christianity, but this is not something I can verify. It seems to me like the priesthood is an inner circle that doesn't think most people are responsible enough to, for example, read scripture without guidance.

    It has a purpose though not perfect legitimacy. I think that usual argument from the gospel is a terrible one and have my own interpretation of why Jesus says to Simon "You are Peter, and on the rock I will build my church." That verse seems too vague to be about Roman pontiffs and chains of apostles, yet I think its purposely a terrible argument. I think that the scripture about Peter indirectly supports apostolic succession in that it implies there is a process of revelation.

    This suggests bishops should use caution before passing the baton, since revelation comes from the Father not from expertise or parentage or who their instructors are. In that secondary way the argument for apostolic succession makes sense as it may be a screen to filter those who don't believe in direct revelation or perhaps who aren't genuinely interested in the church. In its primary sense (that the first Pontiff is Peter) it doesn't work for me.

    I agree that leaders have to be tested before you hand them the baton. How that testing should work I don't know; but that's what I suspect the line of succession is truly about. This is a church which is constantly plagued with politicians trying to gain control, having their children appointed to positions in it and so forth. If I were a sincere priest dealing with such a situation I'd think of some way to preserve the sacred knowledge, and it might involve very stupid arguments about lines of succession. I might throw together some red herring arguments which would please arrogant politicians but be easily seen through by devoted Christians -- a test.

    I wish all churches would be more choosy about their leaders. Better to have no leader than the wrong one.
     
    #17 Brickjectivity, Sep 18, 2021
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  18. KenS

    KenS Face to face with my Father
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    May I call them "Fathers for the faith?"

    They are so important as they give a foundation to wisdom and growth. In the House of God, there may be many rooms (streams of the different gifts of God) but it is still one House and each Apostolic gift (father in the faith) gives it continuity.
     
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  19. KenS

    KenS Face to face with my Father
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    So true... you could say the minority of Nazi's dominated the majority.
     
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  20. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Wait - did you just compare Christianity to the Nazi party?
     
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