Sunday, October 29, 2017

Prooftexting apostolic succession

Acts 1:12-26 is a traditional prooftext for apostolic succession. I recently had an impromptu debate with a Catholic apologist over that appeal:

There is succession in the Apostolic offices (Acts 1:12-26).

That's about maintaining the symbolism of the Twelve after Judas defected. Which disproves your argument, since that means there can't be more or less than Twelve at a time. 

Whether the transfer of office was motivated, in part, by symbolism, this no way diminishes the fact that transfers of office occurred, and that the Apostles went on to install bishops. You know the history of the early Church, for goodness sake.

You're trying to ride two horses at once.

i) The Twelve is a closed number. Judas was replaced to maintain the symbolism. By definition, you can't extrapolate from a closed number (the Twelve) to an indefinite number beyond twelve at a time. The Twelve constitute a self-contained unit. There can only be changes within that unit. 

ii) You then play a shell game by switching from that to apostles appointing elders, as if that flows out of the appointment of Mathias. But that's categorically different.

Never claimed that 12 is a closed number, just that it had symbolic significance, which I grant may have motivated the transfer of office.

No transfer of office. To the contrary, the Twelve is, in the nature of the case, a self-enclosed numerical unit. You can't legitimately expand from that to more than twelve at a time. So your prooftext disproves your contention.

Pretty clear from the New Testament that 12 is more symbolic than a strict number.

Pretty clear that there were originally 12 disciples, corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel, and when Judas defected, he was replaced to maintain that numerically closed unit.

Also, clearly Paul was an apostle, so no evidence 12 was a contained number.

A category error. The Twelve is not synonymous with the Apostolate. The fact that each of the Twelve might be classified as an apostle doesn't imply that all apostles are disciples in the exclusive sense of the Twelve. 

You can't even read your prooftext. Look at the qualifications for candidates to replace the seat vacated by Judas: "21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection."

That's a very restrictive pool to choose from. And that generation died out. So you can't very well use that as a paradigm for apostolic succession, since that disqualifies virtually member member of the Roman episcopate! But I do appreciate you unwittingly disproving the Roman episcopate.

There is no category error here. Paul was an apostle and not a member of the 12.

Which proves my point: the Twelve and the Apostolate are not equivalent. Keep in mind that "apostle" is a term of art in NT usage. Sometimes it has a more specialized meaning, sometimes a more generic meaning. 

The issue was whether an office could be transferred, and I substantiated that claim. We also know, historically, the apostles took as their mission to establish new Churches and ordain bishops, etc. So this idea that offices were not transferred, created, or established through the original 12 is just bizarre, frankly.

You're so blinded by traditional Catholic prooftexting that you can't even think straight. You prooftext is counterproductive to your thesis. At best, the appointment of Mathias would be an example of one apostle replacing another apostle. 

But Catholics don't think there's a permanent apostolic office with successive incumbents. They don't think apostolic succession means one apostle succeeding another apostle. Rather, they think bishops in union with the pope are the true successors to the Apostolate. Therefore, Daniel's prooftext either proves too much or too little. 

Acts 1 involves replacement of the same kind whereas apostolic succession involves a shift from apostles to bishops. Different principle.
It is the replacement of an apostle that is the matter here.
Replacing one apostle with another apostle isn't any kind of precedent for replacing an apostle with a bishop. You persist in your fallacious inference.

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