Friday, September 05, 2008

Clement and Augustine on Apostolic Succession

As I have hinted at, I plan to begin a series on the early church fathers. Since I am no patristics scholar, my approach will be to reproduce a couple of relevant quotations per post, perhaps make a comment or two myself, and then let the real action take place in the comments box. What I'm looking for are arguments for or against the view that (1) The present day Catholic Church faithfully embodies the post-apostolic church, or (2) The Reformers recovered the doctrines and practices of the post-apostolic church which had been lost or obscured during the Middle Ages.

Leading off, then, is Clement of Rome:

"The Apostles received the gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus, the Christ, was sent from God. Thus Christ is from God and the Apostles from Christ. In both instances the orderly procedure depends on God's will. And so the Apostles after receiving their orders and being fully convinced by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and assured by God's Word went out in the confidence of the Holy Spirit to preach the Good News that God's Kingdom was about to come. They preached in country and city and appointed their first converts after testing them by the Spirit to be bishops and deacons of future believers." Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 42, c. 96 AD.
Secondly we have Augustine of Hippo:

"For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom... there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house." Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, Chapter 4, c. 397.
Off you go, then....