Wednesday, 20 May 2015

An obsession

I have never for a moment doubted that I lie within the Apostolic Succession  though I don't imagine anyone else could care less.
Apostolic Successsion! [ that is: the idea that Jesus chose disciples who chose disciples, who in turn chose disciples who chose the next generation of  disciples  ( what's called in Maths a Geometric Progression!)....and so on for 2000 years!]

It is a way of keeping in touch with the idea that what we are supposed to be on about is not our business but the business of Jesus, as Jesus handed it down.

Some have interpreted this very mechanically;
in particular Jesus chose his apostles who chose other people who chose others and they chose others..........and so on.

I don't even begin to suggest that Jesus had this idea in mind!

This "choice" is signified by the laying on of hands  by  a person who has (in their turn) had hands laid upon them,  who before that had hands laid upon them..... (A Bishop)

It is not hard to imagine that all this has got out of our  imagining.
There are people who can list their succession, like a complex family tree, back to the Apostle Peter. And you can find certain sites where these are listed  with incredible detail ; detail that we must understand is more wishful than truthful!  
[But there is ultimately  no credible documentary evidence for the Bishop Martyrius (457 CE) and the subsequent transition to Peter II (464 CE).... and many more of the lines 

There is every now and then an attempt to correct the "succession" by ensuring that present at a Bishop's consecration is someone who is clearly in "the line of succession". In particular, Anglican/Episcopalian Churches have linked up with Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht who have 'regularised' Anglican Orders. There is in my mind no real need to do this.....the objections of the Roman Church as stated in the rather shallow Papal Bull Apostolicae Curae...that Anglican Orders were "Absolutely Null and Utterly Void!" have been seriously critiqued  by prominent Romans ( eg Cardinal Basil Hume )
And the great Scholar JJ Hughes argued that it was essentially a good thing for the Roman Church to formally invalidate Anglican Orders; as it exposed the paucity of scholarship  and process, and indeed the whole idea of Apostolic Succession as a mechanistic transition of God's grace.

While there is some  sense in the ideas, in the end God is not going to be confined by the sort of legalism that mechanistic transmission conveys.

And, as I said in line 2... I don't imagine anyone else could care less. Certainly not God!

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