Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baptists in Disguise and Apostolic Succession...

There is a new movement among Southern Baptists in my area. They graduate from the local seminary or bible college and start a "community church." These community churches usually have names like "Faith" or "Sojourn" or "Gateway" or "Grace" or some other generic name. However, when you read their statement of faith it is distinctly Baptist. Well, Baptist of the hellfire and brimstone type. Young couples come to the churches hoping for a type of open environment where they can learn their faith in this post-Christian world. Often times, they sink into a type of fundamentalism.

The ISM has a similar problem. Yes, I will call it a problem. It is the new influx of seemingly evangelical ministers who claim apostolic succession. These individuals wear the clothes and were ordained by bishops in the apostolic succession, but they have no concept of sacramental theology. This begs the question--why would they want apostolic succession of they do not believe that they are participating in a sacrifice on an altar? Or, sometimes they do believe in some type of sacramental theology but then dually emphasize the Bible and its superiority over tradition.

I believe there is a parallel with the Reformed Episcopal Church. Bishop George Cummins, the founder, stated very clearly that "I act as a Bishop, not claiming a jure divino right, or to be in any Apostolic Succession..." According to traditional Catholic theology (as mentioned previously) there must be an intention to "do what the church does." If you do not intend to ordain a sacrificing priest, do you do what the church does? That is not for me to say. But, it is pertinent given the large influx of evangelicals into the ISM.

Don't get me wrong. I think the ISM is a big tent, and I realize that the Anglican tradition (in particular) has always had a low church camp. But, really, what is the point of advertising one's self as a "bible believing Christian" who celebrates "the Lord's Supper" and claiming apostolic succession? We believe that the apostolic succession is intrinsically linked to the apostolic tradition, a fact elaborated on quite eloquently by one young Joseph Ratzinger. Without the apostolic faith the apostolic succession is problematic.

I have no problem with Pentecostal preachers wearing Catholic garb. If that's your thing, live it up! Well, at least wear them correctly please. But, it's shaky ground then they claim to have apostolic succession without holding the sacramental deposit of faith that is dependent on that succession. Biblical literalism is, after all, only about a century old.

"We are not to credit these men, nor go out from the first and the ecclesiastical tradition; nor to believe otherwise than as the churches of God have by succession transmitted to us." Origen, Commentary on Matthew (post A.D. 244).

 

1 comment:

  1. As a veteran catechist, I am often approached after class by fellow Catholics seeking help on issues of the faith. They usually come forward because someone challenged them to defend their beliefs. Embarrassment ensued when they were unable to offer a cogent reply.

    Apostolic Seminary

    Thanks

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