Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Gavin Ortlund challenged the Catholic View of Apostolic Succession

Apostolic Succession: Framing the Options (Protestant View)
Truth Unites, 18 June 2021

6:23 A natural compelling reading is not exactly above actual tradition from Church history.

I think there was a convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism* who explained it like this:

  • presbyters were called bishops in the NT
  • bishops had no common name, but were variously called apostles, evangelists, prophets and even presbyters.

Only later when certain special cases of bishops (notably apostles) were no longer around, did one get a common word for bishops.

Part of his case is obviously that St. John is calling himself a presbyter like the receivers of one of his epistles (unless I recall wrong) and St. John would have been one of the twelve, therefore one of the first twelve bishops. Fr. Jean Colson contests this identity, arguing the Beloved Disciple was instead a lesser disciple, like one of the 72, and a Cohen, who could very naturally, once he got orders, have gone only to the presbyterate, not the episcopate.

6:53 Your proof texts for congregational over diocesan, if you don't like to give a recap in a comment, what about time signature?

9:51 Let's suppose for argument's sake that for instance Clement of Rome never judged any important affair personally, but only as a kind of chairman of what would later be called "the college of cardinals" (bishops, priests and deacons of Rome).

Apart from his still being the chairman, the more prominent thing is, he would be consecrator of bishops and ordinator of presbyters. Chief such.

The point is, it is still perfectly compatible with the idea that the apostles laid hands on so and so (St. Paul on Sts Tim and Tite, for example), these on others, these in their turn on others and in order to celebrate the Eucharist or hear confession, you need to have had someone's hands laid on you, which in principle (not always necessarily in historic detail) can trace the lineage back to the apostles.

Since this touches sacramental theology, it is in a way more important than monarchic episcopacy.

B u t ... before you go down that route, check what Mommsen had to say about people heading assemblies convened for deliberation. When Octavian was decreed the lifelong title "princeps senatus" (first partaker of the senate or prince of the senate) this in itself unequivocally involved the monarchic power called being Emperor. A permanent chairman in the ancient world was so much more than just a chairman.

10:36 Not in any tracable way ...

St. Paul was not one of the twelve.

He had hands laid on him by a group involving one Simon Niger. Some Church Father has identified him with Simon Peter, and if this is so, Sts Tim and Tite are in a traceable way successors of the twelve, as are any they laid hands on.

Petros would be in Latin, grammatically speaking, Peter (we see historically Petrus instead, that's another matter). Ater as sounding nearly like Peter, and Niger as less denigrating than Ater, that would have been a great pseudonym for St. Peter if persecutions forced him to be incognito there.

10:36 Btw, Catholics are not bound by "scholars" as scholars, we are bound by bishops (especially in agreement across centuries) as bishops.

11:21 Option 1 = Catholic and Orthodox
Option 3 = Lutheran and Anglican
Option 4 = Presbyterian and Congregational

Option 2 is actually modernist.

12:02 The thing that the convert, whose book** quotes or alludes to Ephesians 4:5 in the title, is:

option 1 as to substance
option 2 only as to usage of terms.

In the NT era, on his view, bishops were never and presbyters always called "bishops" and soon later the usage was reversed. Especially since the most prominent single subcategory of what was substantially bishop (our sense), namely apostles, and the second most prominent, namely evangelist, was no more.

12:41 Yeah, exactly.

Option 4 is impossible.

It would involve "the Church died, and God resurrected Her through Reformers" which is contrary to Matthew 28:16 - 20.

13:20 I think this is a case against your take on icons and Assumption of Mary.

Supposing somehow they were not divine 1st C truth and practise, they could still not be so erroneous as to put a Church practising or believing either into the wrong.

Because all of the historically attested Church at least came to adopt this as correct and as true.

I'm glad you don't take the view of Ruckman that Wycliff had tradition (as we would call it) from Apostles via Circumcellions and Albigensians, via Tondrakians, Iconoclasts and Paulicians.

14:10 The clearer parallel between Higher Criticism is more probably between those pretending Pastorals are post-Apostolic and not Pauline with denial of the necessity of succession in the sacrament of orders.

Sts Paul and Barnabas had received the cheirotoneia, St. Paul handed it on to Sts Tim and Tite, he instructed them how to hand it on to others, and before that, either the group involving Simon Niger involves one of the original twelve, or they very arguably including Simon Niger (confer the request of Simon Magus!) had the cheiroteneia from the original twelve.

14:33 The liberal school, and Markan priority, can be traced for prominence to Prussia of the Kulturkampf.

Otto von Bismarck was both sceptical of the obviously and hands on supernatural and of papal and episcopal claims adding up to "Evangelische Kirche" lacking legitimate and ontologically sufficient means to have what they considered the "Abendmahl" to be. The same is true conjointly or separately for the experts that came to prominence in universities of the time.

16:45 "hey, Ignatius means something different"
vs "the Gospel text is a later accretion"

Well, the thing is, both have one thing in common - reconstructing, painstakingly, what supposedly happened instead of what other people before us said they knew happened because they had it from Apostolic Tradition. In other words "reconstruction over tradition" ...

16:49 What are the churches that seem to be governed by presbyters?

Titus 1:5? 1 Tim 5:17?

Because, in each case, we would consider these are presbyteran parishes within the respective dioceses of Sts Tim and Tite.

For instance, Beroea would have been, necessarily, a parish within the diocese of Thessalonica.

The injunction is to assemble every Lord's day for the "breaking of bread" - and Beroeans certainly couldn't do that by walking to Thessalonica. It's 73 km or 45 miles.

16:56 You do not find "college of presbyters" anywhere in the Bible, those specific words.

In the Douay Rheims (which uses "priest" for both kohen / hiereus and for presbyteros), searching the internal search engine, you find no "college" at all, but you find "assembly of priests" - in the OT, more specifically Maccabees. 1 Machabees 14:28.

Even the next verse containing both words is distinguishing priests from assembly. 2 Paralipomenon (2 Chronicles) 30:25.

We know for a fact, priests during most of the OT were not ruling collegially, but you had priests and levites below the High Priest.

So, your finding Church after Church ruled by "a college of presbyters" is clearly an interpretation of the texts, not the naked text itself. Even if the interpretation were prima facie reasonable, possible, this does not add up to it being compelling - and a fortiori, not to its being as compelling as Church tradition.

17:24 We Catholics tend to hold, based on tradition and on reasonable interpretation of its terms, that St. Matthew wrote 42, St. Luke 53.

17:53 The problem we have is, you seem to suppose that Church rulership is as complex as actual detailed events. It's not. Unlike events, it can be expressed as a diagram.

So, if the Church was unable to keep Her original Church structure intact from Apostles to ...

Against Heresies can be dated to sometime between 174 and 189 AD, as the list of the Bishops of Rome includes Eleutherius, but not his successor Victor.[8]

... to 189 AD, about 156 years - what else could She have got wrong? Authorship and original genre intent of Gospels? Matthew and biography vs unknown and fantasy novel?

A bit later on you mention St Irenaeus and Tertullian contradict in minor detail, but you find at least apparent discrepancies between genealogies in the Bible too.

18:00 "Irenaeus is not in Rome"

Here is wiki:

During the persecution of Christians by Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor from 161 to 180, Irenaeus was a priest of the Church of Lyon. The clergy of that city, many of whom were suffering imprisonment for the faith, sent him in 177 to Rome with a letter to Pope Eleutherius concerning the heresy of Montanism,[5] and that occasion bore emphatic testimony to his merits. While Irenaeus was in Rome, a persecution took place in Lyon. Returning to Gaul, Irenaeus succeeded the martyr Saint Pothinus and became the second bishop of Lyon.[14]

So, whether he did or didn't see Rome between Smyrna and Lyons, he certainly saw Rome between serving in Lyons as a priest and serving in Lyons as a bishop.

18:00 I think you could actually make a stronger case against Apostolic succession.

City after city seems to have insufficient bishops to fill in Late Antiquity.

If Paris had as first bishop the Areopagite, St. Denys being a disciple of St. Paul, the bishops between Denys and Victorinus don't add up to the time. That's the reason why others have put Denys of Paris in around 250 AD, incompatible with him being the genuine areopagite.

?–c. 250: Denis (died c. 250), believed to be the first bishop of Paris[4]
c. 346: Victorinus

At least in the Western Roman Empire, you have the kind of bishop lists, that:

  • start late, like above (reconstructive, not traditional) view of bishops of Paris
  • have gaps
  • or show (as one has suggested) that our historiography has "ghost years" that never really occurred.

If you go, as I do against revisionism of chronology, if you deny the theory of places having gaps in bishops, and being served very sporadically by priests from other dioceses, which is mine, you need to say bishops start late. If you say bishops start late, either you say Christianity started late in many places, or you say early Christians did without monarchic bishops, which is obviously your theory.

As my alternative one is, sees have episcopal gaps, I would say the gaps between St. Denys Areopagite and Victorinus, contemporary of St. Athanasius and directly attested in this context in 346, part of the time, Christians may have been wiped out in Paris, part of the time they were served from other dioceses, including as far off as Rome or even Smyrna. (Yes, Pothinus, like Irenaeus, came from Smyrna, from Polycarp). Imagine having internet working in a war zone where the enemy is shutting down server after server by violence, and the sites keep working thanks to very different servers in different locations still being up, and each being connected where set up thanks to those still in work. In theory, at least, episcopacy can work like that. I think it did in the West for the centuries of persecution.

18:00 Note in this context, the see is from the firs referred to as that of the Parisii, not that of the locality Lutetia.

Crete had many poleis, but Thessalonica was a polis comprising Beroea which was three days' walk away, just as Athens is a polis comprising the locality of Troezen 156 km by land (via isthmus of Corinth) or 63 km by boat.

18:14 Would St. Joseph have known his ancestry? Can Matthew 1 be trusted?

Getting the episcopal list from Pope St. Eleutherus (Eleutherius?) is no less trustworthy than St. Luke getting the ancestry of Christ from Mary.

18:46 You find apparent discrepancies between Matthew 1 and the kings of Judah succession in III and IV Kings.

18:50 "Peter or Peter and Paul together"

As a Catholic, I'd argue both are true, depending on theological emphasis.

For Rome as a see, I see the sixties as a dyarchy - St. Peter comes in belatedly, starts collaborating with St. Paul, significantly approves but with caution his epistle to the Romans, presumably. For Roman see as papal see, St. Peter is the key, since when Sts. Peter and Paul were in other places, Peter was and Paul wasn't the pope (including in Galatian context, if the Cephas in Galatians 2 is in fact Peter, which is disputed).

* See below, comment to 12:02
** See above, comment to 6:23

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