Thursday, August 4, 2011

Excerpt from a Paper

I am working on a project, a basic paper on Apostolic Succession. Here's a portion from the introductory section:

Yet when we speak of Apostolic Succession we speak of more than just valid episcopal consecration or historical continuity. We are saying something about our ecclesiology, and we are speaking from our ecclesiology. We can envision the Church at the time of the Apostles through Scripture and recorded history. We can likewise envision the Church today just by looking around us. Apostolic Succession speaks to the reality that the Church of the Apostles and the Church of today is the one, same, and only Church of Jesus Christ. There is not that Church and this Church, but only The Church as it says in the Creed, “and in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” The term Apostolic Succession indicates those particulars that identify how or in what way the Church of the Apostles is the same Church that exists today, the one holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of which our Lord declared, “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18).

The term Apostolic Succession does not denote only a chronological following after the Apostles, but it also indicates the continuous action of becoming co-inheritors with them in Jesus Christ. We follow after them in sequence, but only to become concurrent participants with them in the Paschal mystery of the kingdom of heaven. This means the term Apostolic Succession hints at the Church’s ongoing relationship with (not just to) the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus with our Lord Jesus Himself. St. John the Theologian writes in his first epistle,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. [1:1-3]

This is only a snippet. I hope to have it done by the end of the week, but I'm not sure I write that fast.