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Apostolic Succession

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Here we come across yet another Roman Catholic fantasy. (Also read article on Peter). The idea of apostolic succession is built on nothing more than liberal guesswork, as a basis for persuading loyal Catholics (and others) that popes are descended spiritually from Peter. Or (forgive the jocularity), “Pull the other one – it’s got bells on it!”

Why so jocular? Because the claim by Rome is farcical and does not deserve to be taken seriously. Nothing in scripture nor in history proves any link between Peter and popes. The claim is based only on hearsay and Roman hypothesis. (See A-317).

The idea of apostolic succession is vital for Rome to maintain its false claim to be the ‘Mother Church’ to whom all must bow. They say that Peter was in Rome and was the first pope, even though there is no evidence to support either claim.

The notion is that if Peter was the first pope, and he appointed, or was followed by, another bishop, then this is succession, one that can then be traced back to Jesus Christ. But, no such succession is proved. Nor can it be proved, because Peter was not in Rome and was not the first pope!

The fact that every new ‘leader’ must stand on his own merit, spiritually, seems to be avoided. So, any pope, good or bad, is said to be a successor of Peter and so must be obeyed.

It does not matter to Rome, because if people swallow their idea of a succession, it makes it easier to push their other false doctrine – that the Church was built on Peter, who Rome wrongly refers to as the ‘rock’. (See RC-001).

Throughout scripture only God is referred to as the Rock’. By claiming that Peter was this rock, Rome is being blasphemous. It is also teaching very bad exegesis. It is obvious when reading the texts concerning Peter, Christ, the keys and the Rock, that scripture is saying Jesus is the Rock on which the Church is built. There can be no other plausible, Biblical view, unless scripture is twisted to suit an hypothesis.

The reason Rome makes this grave error is not to do with its misconceptions, but with its rank amongst churches – it has none. The Roman organisation is not a Christian church, let alone the ‘mother Church’. Rome began to have ideas above its station in the earliest years of the new churches, and was duly slapped-down by the other churches and bishops. But, as with any cult, it persisted until other churches slowly succumbed to the lies.

It is true that the very earliest Roman church was genuine. At that time it was not ‘The Roman Church’, but only ‘the church at Rome’. It was one amongst all others, with no special claim to authority, especially over other churches. The Bible does not teach that any church will have priority over others, nor is succession taught.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, if anyone could have been a pope, it was Paul, because at least he was known to have been in Rome! He also ordained bishops there. Note that ‘bishop’ is not a title of grandeur, but is equal to the office of pastor, presbyter and elder, and every local church had its own pastor or pastors. Each worshipped in its own geographical area. There was no hint of one church being given a higher status or role.

Rome, then, has made its own rules and its own claims, and they are not scriptural. Nor is there historical proof for its claims to superiority.

Even though most apostles were in the Jerusalem church, after their day the same church declined. This was because the following pastors were not apostles but Christians who had not known Jesus. Like so many, they fell to sin and so the nature of the church changed. As I have said before, a local church is only as Christian as its current members. No local church can pass-on the holiness of its best period, when it was filled with saved people only! Therefore, even if the original Roman church was filed with saved people, it did not guarantee the holiness of the next generation… and ‘holy’ is something later Rome was not. In particular, the idea of succession includes the notion that the popes inherited the spiritual gifts of the apostles. Which is impossible, of course.

Though nothing proves superiority for Rome, Rome itself says “The first Christians had no doubts (as to what is) the true church…” The test was simple: just trace the apostolic succession of claimants. I can only say that anyone who thought Rome had superiority was ignoring the way Christ rejected any kind of superiority or priority for his apostles! The greatest shall be least, etc.

It is certainly true that the apostles trusted their followers to pass on the truth, but this is not the same as succession. But, this oral tradition was very quickly superseded by written records as per gospels, etc., well before the end of the century in which the apostles lived, so any oral succession was very short-lived. What the apostles passed on was not their own authority but God’s word, which has no human superiors. And that same word could be passed on to literally everybody. Apostolic succession, then, is a non-starter… but the gullible know no difference.

And if succession was traced back to the apostles – why should Rome have the best spot? Why not any other city or town inhabited by any of the other apostles? At least we know where some of them lived, whereas we know Peter was never in Rome! It is all an elaborate confidence trick, designed to deceive churchgoers into a false church cult.

© February 2011

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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
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