Definition: The claim that authority has been passed down to bishops (through the laying on of hands) beginning with the original apostles. In Catholicism, not only are the bishops considered to be in direct line from the apostles, but the Popes are deemed to be the successors to the apostle Peter. The Pope is considered to have primacy based on Christ’s handing the keys to Peter (Mt. 16:19). In Catholicism, the special revelation of God (His Word) is not limited to the Bible, but also includes oral traditions that were handed down by apostolic succession. The Immaculate Conception of Mary, her Assumption to heaven, purgatory, and indulgences are examples of doctrines that are considered God’s revelation through apostolic succession.
Discussion: There is no biblical passage that supports apostolic succession. The apostles had a special, limited role in the founding of the Church. Their writings completed the authoritative canon of Scripture (Rev. 22:18). God attested to the apostle’s authority by allowing them to perform signs and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12, Heb. 2:4, Mk. 16:20). The many Catholic doctrines that contradict the Bible confound the notion of apostolic succession. The history of the papacy, with its sexually deviant, murderous popes is another evidence that apostolic succession is fiction (Mt. 7:16).
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Article by Richard Bennett – History of the Early Church Invalidates Papal Claim
- Q & A by Dr. Joe Mizzi – Apostolic Succession
- Article by Turretin Fan – Unbroken Chain of Succession?