Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Choosing apostolic successors

Acts 1:15-26 - the first thing Peter does after Jesus ascends into heaven is implement apostolic succession. Matthias is ordained with full apostolic authority. Only the Catholic Church can demonstrate an unbroken apostolic lineage to the apostles in union with Peter through the sacrament of ordination and thereby claim to teach with Christ's own authority.

Three quick points:

i) If you compare this tendentious summary with what Acts 1:15-26 actually says, the Catholic apologist is clearly getting out of the text what he is putting into the text. Stuffing the ballot box.

ii) It’s noteworthy that Matthias disappears without a trace.

iii) But let’s assume for the sake of argument that choosing Matthias is the exemplar of apostolic succession. Compare Acts 1:15-26 with Universi Dominici Gregis (subsequently amended by Benedict XVI) and ask yourself if the rules for papal election match the alleged exemplar:

If the case of Matthias is the yardstick, then papal elections don’t measure up.


  1. There is a vast chasm between the Biblical account and the practice of Rome. Peter lays out the qualifications for a successor to Judas' place among the Apostles; the person was to have been a disciple from the baptism of Jesus to the ascension - no one fulfills these requirements any longer.

    Matthias was called to be a witness to the Resurrection, the primary role of the Apostles after Pentecost was to evangelize and preach.

    Lastly, though more could be said, Catholics need to tie succession to the person of Peter, Matthias' inclusion as the 12th Apostle doesn't get them home. Instead Catholics attempt to bootstrap claims of Papal Succession by stitching together a number of verses; II Kings 2:9-14, Mt 16:18, Acts 1:15-26, etc... What they need is a Scriptural account of Peter's successor acknowledged by all as having primacy, they don't have it.

  2. "an unbroken apostolic lineage"

    Except for the fact that many popes ascended the papal throne by bribing the college of cardinals.

    "in union with Peter through the sacrament of ordination and thereby claim to teach with Christ's own authority"

    This ignores the fact that Saint Paul was made an apostle quite apart from any Petrine "authority" and acted independently (Galatians 1).

    EA makes some good points as well.