You're basing this all off the writings of those whom later history would see as the true church or catholic church or whatever term you might want to use. Later history approved of these folks, so it preserved their writings and continued that lineage. If the writings of the non-"orthodox" church groups were taken into account, the view could be very different.
So you have to sit in the lap of a "catholic" church, in order to slap its face....
Origen and Tertullian were in the catholic church, which is the point. They are a witness to that tradition, and not any of the many other "Christian" groups that existed at the time.
And the lap he is sitting in, is the idea that there was one catholic church which was the ark of truth. If or where that ark may continue today is another separate question. But those fathers appealed to the practice of that church, over and above other "Christian" groups, as decisive in the Canon.
For Jason to then appeal to the unity of _only_ people in that one religious community, whose self-proclaimed foundation was apostolic succession, whilst denying that very foundation that gave them an objective differentiator from those other groups, is to do what I said: to sit in a catholic lap to slap a catholic face.
Now if you want to deny the existence of an apostolic succession through to today, then don't pretend to appeal to a consensus of fathers whose commonality was that very belief in one catholic church. You're going to have to instead throw in every weird heretical, gnostic, marcionite and whatever group into the mix.
Below is my response to David, for the sake of those who aren't following the original thread.
Aside from the fact that you're making assertions that you don't even attempt to support, you're misrepresenting my position and you're raising objections we've addressed in previous threads.
In my last post in this series on the canon, which I've linked above, I cited the example of Donatist agreement with the twenty-seven-book canon. I haven't just appealed to the church fathers or those who are generally considered part of the mainstream of the ancient church. In other threads, I've discussed corroboration of the authorship, and thus by implication canonicity, of some of the New Testament books by various heretical and non-Christian individuals and groups. See, for example, here and the post here along with the other posts linked within it. I've often discussed corroboration of the New Testament canon from heretical and non-Christian sources, and I intend to discuss that issue again later in this series. I neither said nor suggested that this post you're responding to represents the entirety of my case for the New Testament canon.
"And the lap he is sitting in, is the idea that there was one catholic church which was the ark of truth."
Where did I say that I'm "sitting in that lap"? I appeal to the testimony of the fathers and other people you consider part of the "one catholic church" as one line of evidence among others. Even if we limit ourselves to those sources from what you call the "catholic church" for the moment, I don't accept their testimony just because they were part of a church that was "the ark of truth". Their participation in the church, which I don't define as you define it, has some relevance, but these sources are credible for other reasons as well. A person can be credible for more than one reason. A Christian of the second century, for example, can be credible to me because he's a Christian, but also because of other factors, such as when he lived, what sources he had access to, etc.
Steve's citation of Tertullian and Origen is correct, and your response to his comments needs to be argued, not just asserted. As a Montanist, Tertullian was a critic of what Roman Catholics and others would consider the catholic church of that day. Though Tertullian and Origen had some supporters among mainstream Christians, they also had some critics who sometimes referred to them as schismatics or heretics. For example, Jerome writes of Tertullian, "Of Tertullian I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church." (The Perpetual Virginity Of Mary, Against Helvidius, 19) Regarding Origen's treatment by some of his critics, I give some examples here. In light of your claim that "Later history approved of these folks, so it preserved their writings", you may want to take note of the comments, in that post I just linked, concerning the condemnation and destruction of Origen's writings.
Similar observations could be made about other fathers. Hippolytus wrote of a Roman bishop, Callistus, and those who followed him:
"The impostor Callistus, having ventured on such opinions, established a school of theology in antagonism to the Church, adopting the foregoing system of instruction. And he first invented the device of conniving with men in regard of their indulgence in sensual pleasures, saying that all had their sins forgiven by himself. For he who is in the habit of attending the congregation of any one else, and is called a Christian, should he commit any transgression; the sin, they say, is not reckoned unto him, provided only he hurries off and attaches himself to the school of Callistus. And many persons were gratified with his regulation, as being stricken in conscience, and at the same time having been rejected by numerous sects; while also some of them, in accordance with our condemnatory sentence, had been by us forcibly ejected from the Church....And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church!" (The Refutation Of All Heresies, 9:7)
In that same section of the work cited above, Hippolytus tells us that Callistus used the analogy of Noah's ark that you're appealing to: "he affirmed that the ark of Noe was made for a symbol of the Church, in which were both dogs, and wolves, and ravens, and all things clean and unclean; and so he alleges that the case should stand in like manner with the Church" (The Refutation Of All Heresies, 9:7). He rejects Callistus' definition of how the church is like the ark. Men like Hippolytus and Callistus can agree that there's one church, and agree that the church is comparable to Noah's ark in some manner, for example, without considering each other part of the same church and without agreeing with every implication you're drawing from their ecclesiology.
For another example, read Cyprian's Letter 74 to see how much unity Firmilian thought he had with the Roman bishop Stephen.
It's possible to classify all of these men as Christians and as part of the same hierarchical church, but not by using their standards. And if you can accept some of their standards on such issues while rejecting other standards they held, why can't we do the same?
You tell us that Tertullian and Origen "are a witness to that tradition", the tradition of the catholic church as you define it. But they, and others, like Irenaeus, were also witnesses to the beliefs of other individuals and other groups. As Augustine refers to Donatist agreement with the mainstream New Testament canon, so also men like Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen refer to corroboration of various parts of the New Testament canon by heretics and non-Christians. The church fathers aren't just witnesses to mainstream church tradition. They're also witnesses to less popular opinions within the church and the beliefs of those outside the church. Even when they witness to mainstream church tradition, one doesn't have to agree with everything that church believed, or even consider himself part of that church, in order to accept that testimony as historical evidence. I can accept the testimony of Roman Catholic individuals regarding the authorship of a Roman Catholic document, such as a papal decree, without agreeing with all that Roman Catholicism teaches and without being a Roman Catholic myself. Must you be an atheist to accept the testimony of an atheist regarding a historical issue, such as who authored a particular document?
I've addressed apostolic succession and other issues pertaining to the identity of the ancient church elsewhere. You tell us that "those fathers appealed to the practice of that church, over and above other 'Christian' groups, as decisive in the Canon", but different fathers defined the church in different ways, the fathers cited other lines of evidence for the canon as well, and I haven't denied that the church has been involved in the canonical process.
Furthermore, it's not as though every source I've cited makes the appeal to the church that you're attributing to them. Rather, you're referring to what some patristic sources said about some of the evidence for the canon, and you're reading your definition of terms like "church" into what they said, in addition to assuming that they were correct and that I must agree with them on that issue in order to accept their testimony on another issue. If Origen makes a comment along the lines of what you're attributing to the fathers, why should I believe that he's defining the church as you define it, that other fathers, like Justin Martyr and Jerome, agreed with him, and that I must accept his assessment on that issue in order to accept his testimony on other issues related to the canon?
Many of the sources who give us evidence for the canon advocated some form of apostolic succession. But not all of them did. And those who did defined the concept of apostolic succession in a variety of ways. Not everybody who advocated some type of apostolic succession claimed that it was foundational in the manner you're claiming it is. Even if a given source did so, I can consider him credible on some matters without considering him credible about everything. We're all selective in what we do and don't believe in historical sources. Bart Ehrman can believe Clement of Rome's and Irenaeus' testimony about the Pauline authorship of 1 Corinthians without also accepting their beliefs about apostolic succession. Non-Christian scholars frequently accept the testimony of ancient Christians pertaining to issues relevant to the canon, as well as other issues, without agreeing with those sources about apostolic succession and other matters.