Ministerial / Apostolic Succession in the Presbyterian Tradition

Status
Not open for further replies.

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Ok, from what I can tell Matt, the OPC allows ordained ministers to serve in other denominations or even non-church organizations so long as they don't compromise their ordination vows in the OPC and they remain under their jurisdiciton. If there is conflict with the vows, they must resign or refuse the call outside the OPC. If they persist (i.e. schism, or refusing to resign from the OPC but accepting the non-OPC call anyway, I think?), it looks like they would be divested of office. They don't specifically address schism from what I can tell. Perhaps Bruce could help us out here. He's been in the OPC longer than I.

[Edited on 3-4-2005 by puritansailor]
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
How could a minister in the OPC or PCA leave either and not be in volation of his vows? PAstor Harry, who just joined the Methodist church (or you pick one) has repudiated the WCF right off the bat. Does that not "dissolve" thier realtions?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by webmaster
How could a minister in the OPC or PCA leave either and not be in volation of his vows? PAstor Harry, who just joined the Methodist church (or you pick one) has repudiated the WCF right off the bat. Does that not "dissolve" thier realtions?

Well, 1st, he stil remains under their jurisdiction, 2nd, they qualify this with the requirement that this ministry in a church outside the OPC would be for the purpose of eventually bringing the church into the OPC or at least into the Reformed Faith (if it's not Reformed already). So it would not contradict the WCF or his vows. If it did contradict he would not be allowed to do it.

[Edited on 3-4-2005 by puritansailor]
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Patrick
Actually they have. Read from the beginning of the thread.

AdamM
All well and good except for the fact that the English Church split with Rome in 1530 and the Council of Trent did not start meeting until 1545 (1545 through 1563.) So presumably when the English Church split from Rome in 1530 (pre-Trent,) so that King Henry the 8th (the "Defender of the Faith") could get his divorce, it (the English Church) became schismatic and thereafter did not have the authority to do valid ordinations?

(1) This is only a question not a proposition. (2) Adam does not claim to represent the belief of ministerial succession, again, he is inquiring about it.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Peter, it was implied that schism invalidates ordination, first in propositioning that we may have to go back to the Anglicans to find a legitimate ordination, second, that Congregationalists and Baptists are not legitimately ordained. If schism doesn't invalidate an ordination, then everything is hunky dorry. But if it does, then were in a big mess and will have to go back to London to get our ordination, after of course we swear our oath of loyalty to the Queen.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
1st of all schism does not invalidate ordination. That was not the position of the authors of JDRE, nor the Westminster Assembly, nor the church of Scotland, nor anyone on this board save perhaps Adam and yourself. 2nd, whether or not the Church of England's split from Rome was schism has yet to be proven. I believe it is lawful to split from a deformed and deforming church whether it be a true church or not.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Peter
1st of all schism does not invalidate ordination. That was not the position of the authors of JDRE, nor the Westminster Assembly, nor the church of Scotland, nor anyone on this board save perhaps Adam and yourself.
I have not argued nor do I believe that schism invalidates ordination. That is what Matt and the Scott's have argued in denying the validity of congregationalist and baptist ordinations. Am I wrong in that understanding of your position Matt? Scotts? Isn't that the whole reason you renounced your baptist ordination Matt? If I'm misunderstanding the argument then please correct me.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Peter
1st of all schism does not invalidate ordination. That was not the position of the authors of JDRE, nor the Westminster Assembly, nor the church of Scotland, nor anyone on this board save perhaps Adam and yourself. 2nd, whether or not the Church of England's split from Rome was schism has yet to be proven. I believe it is lawful to split from a deformed and deforming church whether it be a true church or not.

The Church of England's split from Rome was solely over the issue of Henry's marriages and who would be the head of the Church. Henry did not repudiate transubstantiation or any other Romist excesses. In fact, one could argue that Henry is the very definition of schism.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Perhaps not "solely". Lot's of tax issues, lots of confiscation issues, lots of trade balance issues......

but you're point is good!!!!!
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
It would also be important to note that Henry was not sympathetic to the Reformers at all. That is why he earned the name Defensor Fidei by Rome and why several were martyred under him.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Also, don't forget the problems of succession (there wasn't any really) in many areas of the church in the 2nd and 3trd centuries. And the mess of the anti-popes. And the problem of the succession in the Henry-Edward-Mary-Elizabeth era (Catholic-Protestant-Catholic-Protestant).
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
The questions remain then, is there such a thing as a biblical protocol in regards to succesion. Has this protocol been broken and if so, where and when was it broken and what are the ramifications?

[Edited on 3-4-2005 by Scott Bushey]
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
"Peter, it was implied that schism invalidates ordination, first in propositioning that we may have to go back to the Anglicans to find a legitimate ordination, second, that Congregationalists and Baptists are not legitimately ordained. If schism doesn't invalidate an ordination, then everything is hunky dorry. But if it does, then were in a big mess and will have to go back to London to get our ordination, after of course we swear our oath of loyalty to the Queen."

Patrick: As I said, I do not repudiate baptist or congergational ordinations if they were done by previously ordained elders. As I understand from your post on another thread, that is how the Congregationalists of New England ordained elders. That is great.

There are groups that simply gather together and have the congregation as a whole ordain the elders, at least the initial elders. They do not have the elders of the new group ordained by those who were already ordained. The London COnfession of Faith even affirms this as the proper procedure for newly formed churches. This is the error I am really addressing, whether groups who just form and have the laity ordain their own elders have actual authority. Many baptists do just this. Some don't.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't believe you can take it on yourself. I do believe in the ordination by other elders and the confirmation of the call in the church. That is not the issue, at least for me. If what you are saying is true, then there is no way for me to get legitimately ordained unless I go back to Rome, or Greece, or perhaps London, all havens of apostacy and/or heresy.

Ok, let's drill down on this. You agree that a minister's ordination is valid because it was done by previously ordained elders in your church. What legitimated the ordaining ministers' ordinations? Presumably the same reason - namely that they too were ordained by previously ordained elders of the church. What legitimated their ordinations? Presumably the exact same thing. You can see where I am going. We have to go back to the source, the orginal investiture of jurisdiction by Christ, which was to the apostles, who in turn ordained people like Timothy who in turn ordained elders. If the chain of authority does not end in Christ's grant of authority to the apostles where does it end?

That is why I think the definitons put forth thus far from you and Matt are too restrictive and unrealistic, especially in light of the work of the Spirit in our days.

I don't know about Matt, but my definition has been pretty liberal and would include nearly all major denominations, such as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists, and many, many others. It would exclude the Bible church that started up last week and had the laity ordain the elders on the theory that the power to ordain reside in the body of the church. That does not mean that the Bible Church is all bad or does not promote the work of Christ. But so does BSF. The question is whether the ministers are lawfully ordained or are usurpers. Even usurpers can do good things, right?

Apparently it doesn't matter to Him that most churches faithful to the gospel today don't have a legitimate physical succession from the apostles.

So that is your test - the work of the Spirit? Perhaps you do have a fundamentally independent view of what qualifies one as a lawfully called minister. If you are right, it is hard to make sense of the space the Bible spends explaining ordinations, the importance of lawful calls, etc. Under your standard the objectivity of ordinations is replaced with the subjectivity of the evaluation of the work of the Spirit. It is sort of like saying we can identify our mother as whatever woman shows us motherly love, instead of looking at birth certificates and the like. Both have a role but from a legal perspective it takes more than maternal love (as necessary as that is to make the relationship healthy)

Scott

[Edited on 3-4-2005 by Scott]

[Edited on 3-4-2005 by Scott]
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
"Also, don't forget the problems of succession (there wasn't any really) in many areas of the church in the 2nd and 3trd centuries. And the mess of the anti-popes"

What do you mean there was not any? Also, what is your view of what constitutes a lawfully called minister?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Scott
I don't believe you can take it on yourself. I do believe in the ordination by other elders and the confirmation of the call in the church. That is not the issue, at least for me. If what you are saying is true, then there is no way for me to get legitimately ordained unless I go back to Rome, or Greece, or perhaps London, all havens of apostacy and/or heresy.

Ok, let's drill down on this. You agree that a minister's ordination is valid because it was done by previously ordained elders in your church. What legitimated the ordaining ministers' ordinations? Presumably the same reason - namely that they too were ordained by previously ordained elders of the church. What legitimated their ordinations? Presumably the exact same thing. You can see where I am going. We have to go back to the source, the orginal investiture of jurisdiction by Christ, which was to the apostles, who in turn ordained people like Timothy who in turn ordained elders. If the chain of authority does not end in Christ's grant of authority to the apostles where does it end?
If this is how you understand it then I think we agree.
That is why I think the definitons put forth thus far from you and Matt are too restrictive and unrealistic, especially in light of the work of the Spirit in our days.

I don't know about Matt, but my definition has been pretty liberal and would include nearly all major denominations, such as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists, and many, many others. It would exclude the Bible church that started up last week and had the laity ordain the elders on the theory that the power to ordain reside in the body of the church. That does not mean that the Bible Church is all bad or does not promote the work of Christ. But so does BSF. The question is whether the ministers are lawfully ordained or are usurpers. Even usurpers can do good things, right?
I'll agree with you here. I don't believe it would be legitimate for congregations to ordain their own.

But again, does ordination remain valid after a minister leaves or is kicked out? How about Machen? How about the Erskines? Is ordination permament or can it be removed?

Apparently it doesn't matter to Him that most churches faithful to the gospel today don't have a legitimate physical succession from the apostles.

So that is your test - the work of the Spirit? Perhaps you do have a fundamentally independent view of what qualifies one as a lawfully called minister. If you are right, it is hard to make sense of the space the Bible spends explaining ordinations, the importance of lawful calls, etc. Under your standard the objectivity of ordinations is replaced with the subjectivity of the evaluation of the work of the Spirit. It is sort of like saying we can identify our mother as whatever woman shows us motherly love, instead of looking at birth certificates and the like. Both have a role but from a legal perspective it takes more than maternal love (as necessary as that is to make the relationship healthy)
I was hypothetically assuming the argument that schism invalidates ordination which I thought you were arguing, and contrasting it to what God does today, with those who are faithful to the apostle's teaching versus those who are not faithful but could trace a legitimate line back to the apostles (without schism). But if you don't believe schism invalidates ordination then I don't think we are in any disagreement.


[Edited on 3-4-2005 by puritansailor]
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
But again, does ordination remain valid after a minister leaves or is kicked out? How about Machen? How about the Erskines? Is ordination permament or can it be removed?

My understanding is that it is permanent. However, I will say that it is fuzzy to me and I probably sound more dogmatic than I really am. The presence of schisms does cause many problems. The Reformers were writing in the context of a much more unified church than we have today. It is a challenge to understand how all this relates together. I will say that I do believe that actual authority and legitimate calls are important (as I think you and most would on this thread would agree). So it is important that we strive to get this right.

[Edited on 3-4-2005 by Scott]
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Isn't this like arguing about genealogies?

I look at succession in a spiritual sense. Really, only God knows who are his men and who are not. We may ordain a man who is not called of God, may we not?

As to which churches may lawfully ordain, isn't this a question of orthodoxy? Does the sin of schism alone take away all authority of a church? May the church not reform? What if a certain denomination like the Methodists were to completely reform? Would they have to cease to be Methodists and disband in order to follow the rules of succession?

So isn't apostolic succession more spiritual than physical? Those who follow the teachings of the Apostles and exhibit the marks of a true church, should they not be considered successors?

BTW, I am not asking these questions as if I know. I really am unsure myself.

In Christ,

KC
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Kevin: I would think that there are at least two elements, the historic succession and doctrine. Both are important. The Reformed understanding was that bodies with historic succession retain the power to ordain until they formally apostasize. So, for example, Rome had many errors widespread through her body before Trent. But it was not until the formal adoption of heresy by the church (through a legall binding conciliar decision) that she actually apostasized and lost the power to ordain (in spite of her historic succession). So, in terms of the thinking of the Reformers that is the sort of extent needed in doctrinal/moral terms to lose the spiritual side of things.

It may be helpful to remember how bad off the pharisees were. They were white-washed sepulchers and all the rest. Yet, Christ recognized their actual authority, as they "sat in Moses' seat." Matt 23:1-4:


Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"œThe teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Scott....

I do not disagree. But what happens to churches who come back from apostasy? Are we saying this can't happen?

In Christ,

KC
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Scott, Kevin,
Wouldn't that church need to be placed back in sucession? In other words, isn't that where the stand would logically sit?

Maybe I am missing something here...........

[Edited on 3-4-2005 by Scott Bushey]
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Fred, first of all, must seperation from corrupt church be done from the proper motives to be lawful? 2nd, Henry VIII wasn't the only player in the English Reformation. Cramner and Cromwell, to an extent, certainly wanted to purify the church, and even their limited reforms under henry were an improvement from Popish Tyranny. Patrick, sorry for saying you believed schism invalidates ordiniation if that's not what you meant.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Scott
Kevin: I would think that there are at least two elements, the historic succession and doctrine. Both are important. The Reformed understanding was that bodies with historic succession retain the power to ordain until they formally apostasize. So, for example, Rome had many errors widespread through her body before Trent. But it was not until the formal adoption of heresy by the church (through a legall binding conciliar decision) that she actually apostasized and lost the power to ordain (in spite of her historic succession). So, in terms of the thinking of the Reformers that is the sort of extent needed in doctrinal/moral terms to lose the spiritual side of things.

It may be helpful to remember how bad off the pharisees were. They were white-washed sepulchers and all the rest. Yet, Christ recognized their actual authority, as they "sat in Moses' seat." Matt 23:1-4:


Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"œThe teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
Personally, I think this is a shallow argument, and it is virtually the same argument employed by Roman Catholics to justify obedience to the corrupt papacy and priesthood down through the centuries. It seems to betray an uncritical assessment of where this kind of argumentation leads when one uses this passage in the way it has been above. And if we followed it through to its logical conclusion, then the Reformation itself stands under condemnation by the Roman standard of this argumentation. Jesus´ point was that the people of Israel were to follow the Pharisees only insofar was they taught the Law of Moses. To follow the scribes and the Pharisees would be to join in their rejection of Christ Himself. Roman apologists frequently use this passage to argue that the Lord Jesus sanctioned authoritative oral tradition as it was delivered by the official religious teachers of his day, the scribes and the Pharisees. Eric Svendsen very ably answers this Roman contention by setting forth the manner in which the ecclesial authority of the Pharisees is presented in the NT:
1) They [i.e. the Pharisees] were condemned by Jesus (Matt 23:13ff).
2) They were not entering the kingdom of God, and were shutting out those who wanted to enter (Matt 23:13).
3) They made their converts "˜sons of hell´ (Matt 23:15).
4) Jesus told his disciples to beware of their teachings (Matt 16:6"“12).
5) Their traditions contradicted the Scriptures (Mark 7:1"“13).
6) Jesus denied that they were children of the covenant (John 8:39"“41).
7) Jesus called them children of Satan (John 8:44).
8) The majority of them rejected the Messiah.
9) The majority were excluded from the New Covenant and eternal life.
See Eric Svendsen, Evangelical Answers: A Critique of Current Roman Catholic Apologists (Lindenhurst: Reformation Press, 1999), p. 15.

To the list we would add this. In Matthew 23, the Lord called them, "˜hypocrites´ (vs. 13, 14, 23, 25, 27, 29), "˜blind guides´ (v. 16, 24), "˜Fools and blind´ (vs. 17, 19, 26), "˜serpents and brood of vipers´ (v.33), and charges them with murder (vs. 34"“35). To follow the teaching of the Pharisees because they occupied Moses´ seat would lead one to reject Jesus as the Messiah. Hence, the logical conclusion of this argument would lead one to sanction their murderous plot, which ultimately found vent in our Lord´s crucifixion and death. Jesus did not sanction all the oral traditions of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:3, but commands the people to follow what they say in accordance with the law of Moses; and that law was transmitted by means of Holy Scripture. Our Lord´s discourse in Matthew 5-6 contained one repudiation after another of the Pharisaical traditive interpretations that had been imposed upon the law of Moses. We see, then, that by means of their oral traditions, the Pharisees had misinterpreted the law of Moses, and therefore were unreliable, spiritual guides. Interestingly, Jesus appealed to men to exercise private judgment in assessing the truth of his judgment against the religious rulers of his day. The religious leaders were to be followed only when they did not contradict the law of God. Jesus said, "˜He who has ears to hear, let him hear.´
And so argued Calvin from this very passage...
It may now be asked, Ought we to submit to all the instructions of teachers without exception? For it is plain enough, that the scribes of that age had wickedly and basely corrupted the Law by false inventions, had burdened wretched souls by unjust laws, and had corrupted the worship of God by many superstitions; but Christ wishes their doctrine to be observed, as if it had been unlawful to oppose their tyranny. The answer is easy. He does not absolutely compare any kind of doctrine with the life, but the design of Christ was, to distinguish the holy Law of God from their profane works. For to sit in the chair of Moses is nothing else than to teach, according to the Law of God, how we ought to live. And though I am not quite certain whence the phrase is derived, yet there is probability in the conjecture of those who refer it to the pulpit which Ezra erected, from which the Law was read aloud, (Nehemiah 8:4.) Certainly, when the Rabbins expounded Scripture, those who were about to speak rose up in succession; but it was perhaps the custom that the Law itself should be proclaimed from a more elevated spot. That man, therefore, sits in the chair of Moses who teaches, not from himself, or at his own suggestion, but according to the authority and word of God. But it denotes, at the same time, a lawful calling; for Christ commands that the scribes should be heard, because they were the public teachers of the, Church.
The Papists reckon it enough, that those who issue laws should possess the title and occupy the station; for in this way they torture the words of Christ to mean, that we are bound to receive obediently whatever the ordinary prelates of the Church enjoin. But this calumny is abundantly refuted by another injunction of Christ, when he bids them beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, (Matthew 16:6.) If Christ pronounces it to be not only lawful, but even proper, to reject whatever of their own the scribes mingle with the pure doctrine of the Law, certainly we are not bound to embrace, without discrimination or the exercise of judgment, whatever they are pleased to enjoin. Besides, if Christ had intended here to bind the consciences of his followers to the commandments of men, there would have been no good ground for what he said in another passage, that it is in vain to worship God by the commandments of men, (Matthew 15:9.) hence it is evident, that Christ exhorts the people to obey the scribes, only so far as they adhere to the pure and simple exposition of the Law. For the exposition of, Augustine is accurate, and in accordance with Christ´s meaning, that, "œthe scribes taught the Law of God while they sat in the chair of Moses; and, therefore, that the sheep ought to hear the voice of the Shepherd by them, as by hirelings." To which words he immediately adds: "œGod therefore teaches by them; but if they wish to teach any thing of their own, refuse to hear, refuse to do them." With this sentiment accords what the same writer says in his Fourth Book of Christian Doctrine: "œBecause good believers do not obediently listen to any sort of man, but to God himself; therefore we may profitably listen even to those whose lives are not profitable." It was, therefore, not the chair of the scribes, but the chair of Moses, that constrained them to teach what was good, even when they did not do what was good. For what they did in their life was their own; but the chair of another man did not permit them to teach what was their own.
Scott, I am seeing in your posts here a uncritical tendency to accept the same kind of arguments that Roman Catholics use. Now, I understand that you make an exception for the Reformers, but the truth is that you go back and forth between the Reformers and this nebulous appeal to ecclesiastical authority. You don´t seem to understand the inconsistency here, when for all practical purposes spiritual discernment and responsibility on the part of the laity is negated, and plays no real role in the reception of doctrine. That is the danger of the views you are espousing on this board. Maybe you´re just over-compensating for the problems in present day evangelicalism, but the remedy is not to be found in swinging the proverbial pendulum to the opposite extreme.
Moreover, Calvin himself repudiated that any such succession is to be found in the possession of bishops. He argued that an apostolic succession was to be found in those who adhered to apostolic doctrine...
We certainly deny not that the Church of God has always existed in the world; for we hear what God promises concerning the perpetuity of the seed of Christ. In this way, too, we deny not that there has been an uninterrupted succession of the Church from the beginning of the gospel even to our day; but we do not concede that it was so fixed to external shows "” that it has hitherto always been, and will henceforth always be!, in possession of the Bishops. And how, pray, do they prove this to be necessary? No promise can anywhere be found. Nay rather, when Peter admonishes us that there will be false teachers in the Church, as there were among the ancient people, (2 Peter 2:1) and Paul declares that Antichrist will sit in the temple of God, (2 Thessalonians 2:4,) they point not to foreign enemies who by violent irruption and for a little time disturb the Church: they speak of what is called the ordinary administration of Prelates, that no one might dream of a tranquil and flourishing state of the kingdom of Christ. Therefore, if the Church resides in the successors of the Apostles, let us Search for successors among those only who have faithfully handed down their doctrine to posterity.
I know that this continuous Succession is extolled by Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine, and some other ancient writers. But it is mere imposition to attempt to employ their testimony in defense of the tyranny of the Papacy, which has nothing in common with the ancient form of the Church. Irenaeus and Origen had to do with base miscreants, who, while they advanced monstrous errors, gave out that they had received them by divine revelation. This falsehood was easily refuted, as many were still alive who had been familiar with the disciples of the Apostles. The remembrance of the doctrine which the Apostles had delivered was recent. The very walls, in a manner, still re-echoed with their voice. Is it strange that those holy men cited as witnesses the Churches which had both been constituted by the Apostles, and had, without controversy, retained their constitution? Augustine was contending with the Donatists, who, inflated with frantic pride, boasted that they alone possessed the Church, though there was no reason why they should dissent from others. Augustine objects to them, that the Churches which they repudiated, and from which they had become schismatics, had flowed in uninterrupted succession from the Apostles. This he did on the best grounds, as the Donatists acknowledged that these Churches had persevered in the doctrine which they had originally received.
Very different is our case: for we deny the title of Successors of the Apostles to those who have abandoned their faith and doctrine. Those perfidious mediators who confound light and darkness are not ignorant how unlike, or rather how contrary, the present perverted government is to the ancient government of the Church. What effrontery, then, is it to use the name of the Church herself as a cloak for oppressing the Church? Would that the Succession which, they falsely allege had continued until this day: with us it would have no difficulty in obtaining the reverence which it deserves. Let the Pope, I say, be the successor of Peter, provided he perform the office of an Apostle. Wherein does Succession consist, if it be not in perpetuity of doctrine? But if the doctrine of the Apostles has been corrupted, nay, abolished and extinguished by those who would be regarded as their successors, who would not deride their foolish boasting? By the same kind of argument I might prove that all tyrants have been the best supporters of freedom, since there was an uninterrupted transition from the republic to their monarchy. Whether it now be so let fact determine. But our mediators purposely endeavor to prevent this estimate from being made, by raising a prejudice in favor of the doctrine from the honor which they bestow on the persons.
Briefly to conclude this part of our subject: We are in search of the Church of God. We all admit it to have been so propagated from the beginning, as to have continued through an uninterrupted series of ages down to our day, and to be diffused at present over the whole world. Another question remains, viz., Is it tied down to persons? Although we see how perilous it is to admit this, still we are unwilling to be so very solicitous in taking precautions for the future. But when the name of the Church is usurped by those who, as far as in them lay, have utterly destroyed it, how dastardly were it not to reclaim at least against the present evil? Hilarius, even in his time, said that the Church rather lurked in caverns than shone conspicuous in primary sees. What lamentations can suffice to deplore the fearful devastation which stalks abroad everywhere in the present day? The knowledge of the Church must therefore be sought elsewhere than from the titles of men; and in vain do we go round searching for it while the truest method spontaneously presents itself. Who of us, to recognize a man, would look at his shoes or his feet? Why then, in surveying the Church, do we not begin at its head, seeing that Christ himself invites us to do so? he says, "œWhere the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together." (Matthew 24:28.) Wherefore, if we would unite in holding a unity of the Church, let it be by a common consent only to the truth of Christ.
When they come to the authority of the Church, whatever be the false colors with which our mediators delude the eyes of the ignorant, they are at last reduced to this, that instead of the word of God, human license alone is to prevail. Their threefold chime is well known. It belongs to the Church to discriminate between spurious and genuine Scriptures: she also has the right of interpreting Scripture: her traditions have the force of
oracles. Where these foundations have been laid, it is plain that the power of which God has been robbed is transferred to horns and mitres. Be their conduct what it may, provided they are adorned with an episcopal title, they constitute the Church. Moreover, boundless license will be given them, if they are to interpret Scripture at will, frame Articles of Faith, and impose laws on the conscience. In such a case, what will be left for God? This is more than manifest treachery to the kingdom of Christ, sound doctrine, and our salvation.
And will they cry out that we are fomenting discord, hindering and disturbing peace, if we do not forthwith assent That it is the proper office of the Church to distinguish genuine from spurious Scripture, I deny not, and for this reason, that the Church obediently embraces whatever is of God. The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd, and will not listen to the voice of strangers. But to submit the sound oracles of God to the Church, that they may obtain a kind of precarious authority among men, is blasphemous impiety. The Church is, as Paul declares, founded on the doctrine of Apostles and Prophets; but these men speak as if they imagined that the mother owed her birth to the daughter. John Calvin, Selected Works, Vol 3, Tracts, The True Method of Giving Peace to Christendom and Reforming the Church (Dallas: Protestant Heritage Press, 1995), p. 243-246.
Calvin´s argument is that any claim to apostolic succession must be measured by its apostolicity. It was clear to him that Rome could not do so. Elsewhere in a letter to the King of Poland, written in 1554, Calvin stated...
The question, however, is not yet resolved, because if it is not right that any persons whatever should without distinction aspire to the pastoral office, it follows as a necessary consequence that those should be duly called to it and instituted who wish to prove themselves legitimate pastors, and worthy of such an honor. And here I confess it were to be wished, that an uninterrupted succession lent us its sanction that the function itself were transmitted as it were from hand to hand. But let us keep in mind what I have already cursorily mentioned, that since purity of doctrine is the soul of a church, it is vain to look for the peculiar qualities of a church and whatever depends on the state of its purity, among those men who are beyond all question the avowed enemies of the gospel. But because by the tyranny of the Pope, the continuous line of ordination has been broken, a new expedient is requisite for the restoration of the Church. Vainly indeed do the Papists pride themselves on that chain, which, as I have said, they themselves have broken. For is the Papacy anything but a revolt from Christ? With what front, then, can apostates boast themselves successors? But God himself brings the remedy in raising up fitting and upright teachers to build up the church, now lying deformed among the ruins of Popery. And this office, which the Lord laid upon us when he made use of our services in collecting churches, is one that is altogether anomalous. Those then who in an unwonted manner, and so contrary to the expectations of men, appeared as the defenders of pure religion, ought not to have their vocation judged of by the common rule. They were divinely called for this special purpose, that churches being duly constituted, they might substitute other pastors in their own room. Selected Works, Vol 6, Calvin´s Letters 1554-1558, Letter 374 (Dallas: Protestant Heritage Press, 1995), p. 109.
I don´t see any succession of persons in the arguments of the Reformers. For them, apostolic succession was to be found in adherence to apostolic doctrine. Tertullian and Gregory of Nazianzus argued the same way, quotes provided upon request.

Blessings,
DTK
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Amen to Calvin! :up:
Thanks for the quotes David.

p.s.- you have a U2U. Upper right hand corner.

[Edited on 3-5-2005 by puritansailor]
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
A few select quotes from Calvin do not undermine the unanimous testimony of the 2nd reformation. If you are a pastor in the PCA you've probably taken vows to uphold the Westminster standards. How should the standards be interpreted? By the light of those who wrote them and their peers. Jus Divinum, the Due right of Presbyteries, Peacable Plea For Presbytery, Aarons Rod, all affirm this principle, explicitly or implicity.

But forget ministerial succession for a moment. Who is the first receptacle of the power of Church government, given by Christ?
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Peter
A few select quotes from Calvin do not undermine the unanimous testimony of the 2nd reformation. If you are a pastor in the PCA you've probably taken vows to uphold the Westminster standards. How should the standards be interpreted? By the light of those who wrote them and their peers. Jus Divinum, the Due right of Presbyteries, Peacable Plea For Presbytery, Aarons Rod, all affirm this principle, explicitly or implicity.

But forget ministerial succession for a moment. Who is the first receptacle of the power of Church government, given by Christ?
No one has tried to undermine "the unanimous testimony of the 2nd reformation." The quotes from Calvin provide us with the general view of the Reformers on this matter. I would recommend for your careful perusal, James L. Ainslie, The Doctrines of Ministerial Order in the Reformed Churches of the 16th and 17th Centuries (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1940). His argumentation is broad.

What Jus Divinum sought to repudiate was the notion of the independents who held that the authorization of a minister was based solely on an independent congregation. Thus by this scheme, when a minister went elsewhere, even among his fellow independents, he was not regarded as a minister at all. The Reformed churchmen in the Westminster Assembly opposed such views/tenets, which as Ainslie points out "were practically destructive of the Ministerial Order." As for Gillespie, he argued why a minister must not receive his authorization from a single congregation. His point was that "It is not res propria to that congregation, but common to many since he is a member of the Classis." Gillespie's point was that a presbytery's act of ordination was to be seen as an act of the whole church, not any particular congregation. And that doesn't have anything to do with a succession of persons. Thus, there is no need for you to imply I denied what I affirm, viz., ministerial succession. But ministrial succession is not the same as Apostolic Succession, as it has been defined and argued earlier here, namely, at the very beginning of this thread...
The most interesting thing was the Presbyterian response. They essentially agreed that historic succession was necessary for legitimate ministerial authority and simply argued that ordinations through the English Church can be traced back to the apostles. Roman corruption did not void Rome's ordinations until after Trent. This historic ministerial succession gave Presbyterians valid ordinations and Presbyterian ministers coming out that church did not need reordination.
The word "historic" is the misleading term here, as though it was the main concern of the Westminster divines. It is true that they argued for a continuation of a true Church in England, but that was predicated on the belief of a succession of true doctrine and therefore a succession of true ministry. But none of this was predicated on a succession of persons historically. Again, the main argument of Jus Divinum is to establish the right of Presbyteries to ordain on behalf of the whole church in opposition to independency. See Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici (Dallas: Naphtali Press, 1995), pp. 254ff. The summary of their position is stated on p. 257...
1. What we have asserted, this Querist has not answered, but by diversion to a new question evaded. 2. The Succession of Ministers, though derived through the Church of Rome is not annulled. 3. And yet the Ministry of England need not be beholding to the Church of Rome for their Vocation. 4. Nor finally, does our Ruling Elders' pretended Non-ordination, conclude their power from the Magistrate or People.
Thus, while there was no need to reordain, Jus Divinum repudiated explicitly any notion that these lawfully ordained ministers were "beholding to the Church of Rome for their Vocation." Their concern was against papal, Erastian, egalitarian and democratic sentiments of individuals and/or individual congregations.

And as I indicated, our Lord's words in Matthew 23:1-3 is no argument to bind the consciences of men to blind obedience to whatever ecclesiastical authority may seek to impose. And Calvin's exegesis of this passages underscores that position. That's why we have church courts, with the right of appeal. That's why the checks and balances of Presbyterianism is necessary. But that does not support some kind of prelacy or view of apostolic succession which has been preserved in and by men through the imposition of hands. The Jews contended that they had a succession of persons, "We are Abraham's seed." And yet Jesus said, "œHe who is of God hears God´s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God." John 8:47. And John the Baptist warned the Pharisees who resisted him, Matthew 3:9, "œand do not think to say to yourselves, "˜We have Abraham as our father.´ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones."

I really think you missed my point.

Blessings,
DTK
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
DTK, No one is arguing for the Popish notion that apostolic succession is the necessary mark of the invisible church or that we should yield obedience to any false teacher who claims such succession. We believe, with the Westminster Divines and the Church of Scotland, that the power to ordain officers belongs soley to officers. The implication is that those not ordained by lawfully ordained officers are not truly ordained. "Ministerial succession" is a natural outgrowth of that belief.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top