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September 01, 2005

Ch. XXIII. Q. 131. What is the Apostolicity of the Church?

THE APOSTOLICITY of the Church is its visible continuity and identity with the Church which was established by the Apostles, secured by means of the Apostolic Succession of the Historic Episcopate (S. Matt. XXVIII. 18-20: S. John XX. 21: Acts II. .12: XX. 28:1. Cor. XII. 28: Ephes. II. 20: I. Tim. V. 22: II. Tim. I. 6: Rev. XXI. 12-14). Palmer on the Church, Vol. I. p. 133:1. iii: Forbes' N. Creed, 280-284: Mason's Faith of the Gosp., VIII. 8: Maclear's Introd. to the Creeds, 233-236: Schouppe, III. 258-263:
Haddan's Apostol. Succes., esp. pp. 9-19, and ch. Ill: Gore on the Ministry, ch. II.

2. The continuity of the Church appears, not only in the unbroken succession of her Ministry from the Apostles, but also in (a.) her Apostolic institutions and Sacraments, which she has preserved in their integrity from the beginning:(b.) her Apostolic form of worship or Liturgy (Acts. II. 42), which is preserved with the same fundamental outline which it had in primitive days in every true Communion of the Church throughout the world. Wilberforce, Holy Eucharist, 32-41: (c.) her Faith once for all delivered to the saints through the hands of the Apostles (Jude 3: cf. I. Cor. IV. 1,2: Gal. I. 8-12: II. Tim. II. 2: II. John 10), and preserved without change of substantial contents through all subsequent developments of theological phraseology (Q. 13). Hall's Historical Position of the Episcopal Church,
esp. pp. 7-47.

3. This continuity is secured by means of an unfailing perpetuation, from generation to generation, of the Ministry which Christ ordained to represent Him until His second coming—i. e., by means of the Apostolic Succession. This succession is essential for the preservation of the Divine constitution of the Church and of the authority and sacramental powers committed by Christ to her Ministry. This authority and power is supernatural, and comes from above; and the means by which it is received and transmitted must be that which was ordained by Christ in the beginning, viz., Apostolic transmission. That such transmission has taken place is one of the most certain facts of history. N. Y. Church Club Lectures of 1895, Lec. V: Palmer, Vol.1. 161-178: Sadler's Church Doc., ch, VII. esp. pp. 301-313: 316, 317: Haddan's Apostol. Succes. esp. ch. V: Grueber's Kingdom of God, 9-14: Church Militant, 13-20: Churton's foundation of Doc., 84-95: Eagar's Ministry of the New Testament: Timlow's Plain Footprints: Blunt's Theol. Dic., "Apostolical Succession."

4. This transmission has been through an order of men called Bishops. The titles of Presbyter and Bishop appear to have been variously applied in the first century; but, so soon as their use had become fixed, the term Bishop, eπiokoπos, signified one who had in fact received the power of exercising and transmitting the Apostolic Ministry. The term Presbyter, πpeoButepos, thenceforth signified one who had received the power of exercising but not of transmitting that Ministry. It is unnecessary to go back into remote antiquity to decide whether non-episcopal bodies have perpetuated the Apostolic Ministry. The question to be answered is, Did the founders of these bodies receive the power of ordaining successors to the Apostles? They did not, for they were called Presbyters simply, and the title by which those were signified who were, in fact, given such power was that of Bishop. The issue is one of modern facts as well as of ancient names. Sadler's Church Doc., pp. 313-316: Haddan, ch. IV: N.Y. Ch. Club Lec. 1895, V: Lightfoots's Dissertation on the Ministry: Gore's Ministry of the Christian Church, ch. III-VI: Hook

5. The Communions of the East which accept the seven Ecumenical Councils, the Roman, and the Anglican Communions are true branches of the visible Church founded bv Christ and His Apostles. They possess a generic likeness to each other, and the schisms which prevent inter-communion are internal simply (Q, 128. 5). They all set forth the holy life and dispense the mysteries of sanctifying grace, seeking and saving those who are lost. They have retained the Catholic Faith in its entirety and embrace all sorts and conditions of men. Finally they retain the Apostolic Ministry, which they have received by unbroken succession from the beginning, and preserve the Apostolic institutions, Sacraments and worship. This cannot be said, however, of Protestant sects, which, therefore, in their organized capacity, are not parts of the Church of Christ. Palmer, p. 133: I. xiii. 4: Hammond's Christian Church: Enq. Nonconformity and Christ's Christianity. As to the doctrine of the Church of England and her maintenance of Apostolic Succession, see Haddan, ch. VI-VIII: Denny, Anglican Orders: Smith, English Orders: Denny and Lacy, De Hierarchia Anglicana: Butler, Rme's Tribute to Anglican Orders.

Posted by Trevor at September 1, 2005 06:18 PM


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