Answering Steve Rudd, part 2

Apostolic Succession and Tradition

The numbers 26 and 27* were challenged in a way which might be a bit unfair. Like Catholics and Orthodox being as opposed as Catholic and Protestant or Orthodox and Protestant – which they are not. They are more like as close to each other as Episcopalian Protestants (Luther, Anglicans, Wesleyans) between them, Presbyterian Protestants (Calvinist, Arminian) between them, Baptist Protestants (Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, Foursquare, I am not sure if Vineyard is there too) between them, Adventists (7th Day, Waco, Old Russellians, Watchtower Society, Mormons, British Israelites) between them.

And there is a very simple way for a new convert to Christianity to know he should be Cathodox rather than any of the Protestant things. Apostolic succession is limited to Catholics, Orthodox, Nestorian and Monophysite. And it is Biblical.

[16] And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. [17] And seeing him they adored: but some doubted. [18] And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. [19] Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.**


[18] All power: See here the warrant and commission of the apostles and their successors, the bishops and pastors of Christ’s church. He received from his Father all power in heaven and in earth: and in virtue of this power, he sends them (even as his Father sent him, St. John 20. 21) to teach and disciple, not one, but all nations; and instruct them in all truths: and that he may assist them effectually in the execution of this commission, he promises to be with them, not for three or four hundred years only, but all days, even to the consummation of the world. How then could the Catholic Church ever go astray; having always with her pastors, as is here promised, Christ himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life. St. John 14.**

Even without the comment, we can, once we think of it, see, that it is the Eleven with whom Our Lord promises to abide all days to the consummation of all time. Other Christians obviously have his presence too, but through them. If you say it was a promise for them personally, you have just justified invocation of saints Peter and Andrew, James and John. It is quite justified anyway, but that cannot have been what he meant. Because a twelfth one was added before Pentecost, to replace the one who was a traitor and dead. So the meaning is that any Christian has access to Jesus through his bishop, basically: since the successors of the twelve are precisely the bishops.

That means that Adventist and Baptist families of Protestantism, Presbyterian family are certainly left out, since certainly without bishops. But it may even imply that Lutherans, Anglicans and Wesleyans are cut off, by the fact of not having valid bishops.

All days means that error never reigns over all bishops that descend from the Apostles. And Reformation Theologians, including Episcopalian ones, say that error reigned some time before them. Essential error, or they would not have talked about abomination and superstition in the context. All Apostolic Churches – Chalcedonian, Nestorian or Monophysite, and both pre-Reformation branches of Chalcedonian – regard Mass or Eucharist as a Sacrifice which in a way renews the Sacrifice on Calvary. If that is an abomination or a superstition, there was a time when error reigned over all bishops. A day when Jesus was not with the successors of the Twelve. A day when Jesus broke that promise. This is also brought through by this verse:

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. [1 Timothy 3:15] ***

[with a very obvious comment:]

[15] The pillar and ground of the truth: Therefore the church of the living God can never uphold error, nor bring in corruptions, superstition, or idolatry.***

Meaning that if all Apostolic churches have sacrifice of the Mass, it cannot be superstition, it cannot be idolatry. Whichever of them is the real one.

That is the simple way of stating the necessity of at least generally being Cathodox, even if you do not yet decide whether to be Catholic or Orthodox or some shade in between like Écône (whose founder Mgr Marcel Lefèbvre obviously did not intend it to be a shade in between or renew in practise Bossuet’s view of papacy as opposed to St Robert Bellarmine’s: but what you intend and what you do is not always the same, and sometimes God intends better than oneself). And it is plain dishonest to divide that in two separate questions, as if Catholics and Orthodox were as separate as either from Protestantism.

Also, it is not like looking for a needle in a haystack. You have two – at most four – Churches to choose from. Each of them has Catechisms. Not to replace the Bible, but to make its content readily accessible to beginners. (And, yes, Bible itself contains verses very good for beginners, and Catechisms do quote them).

Now, we do not say that the sacrifice of the Mass is a Tradition-Only truth, one not found in the Bible. We say that to any Roman hearing Tu es Sacerdos in Aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedec, the word sacerdos at least as much as English priest (in contexts where that is another thing than pastor or minister) implies the bringing of a sacrifice. And the sacrifice in question to be made same way as Melchisedecs, at least in main approximation. Now Melchisedec did not sacrifice a lamb, he brought fourth bread and wine. Therefore, the Eucharist is a Sacrifice, otherwise the Bible would be lying in that verse.°

You have given up the Pauline Authorship of Hebrews? Too bad for you (and for the “Catholic” obviously non-Trad scholars who agree with you). But in order for Mass not to be a sacrifice, not only would Hebrews have to be non-Pauline, it would have to be utside Bible Canon. You would have less than 66 books. You would have degraded Hebrews as Rome degraded the Pastor of Hermas. But even so, all definitive Tradition in Apostolic Churches both affirm that Hebrews is by St Paul and Biblical and that Mass is a sacrifice. You would really be giving up on Matthew 28:16-20. That is: you would be giving up the Gospel. That is essentially why Pope Pius IX said that Protestantism is not just another form of the same Christian religion in which it is equally possible to please God. That is why The Pilgrimage of Faith (even before English Church became Protestant, simply by suspecting it might be so sooner or later, and they were right) rose against Henry VIII, and why Niels Dacke rose against the really Lutheran Gustavus Wasa in Sweden – and paid for it on the scaffold.

So, when we say we believe Bible and Tradition, we do not mean that most or the obvious differences between Catholics (or Orthodox) and Protestants are from Tradition alone. We take it from the Bible, as understood by exegetic tradition, just as with Holy Trinity.

*Irrefutable questions that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can’t answer
Steve Rudd

**Douai-Reims Bible Online with Catholic comments, Matthew 28:16-20

***First Epistle Of Saint Paul To Timothy, 3:15

°Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Hebrews

Which says:

So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest: but he that said unto him: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.


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I might be attacking groups - if they see it as attacks. But not anonymously. My name is real, I was born in Vienna, I am Swedish. I did time, for resisting a policeman taking me to shrinks by taking his own gun for some moments (5-II-1998). I started blogging (2001) after release (in 2000).

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