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APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION
 
The Jewish Priesthood claimed to be the only true priesthood. Numbers 18:7: “Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.” Priests had to be born into the tribe of Levi.
 
Jesus was not a Jewish priest and could not be as he belonged to the Tribe of Judah. But it is claimed he offered his life to God as the only true sacrifice for sin. So Jesus is supposed to be a priest. That sounds fine until one thinks about it a bit more. The tradition is in the Bible that a priest takes living beings and kills them as a sign that worshipping God matters more than life itself. It is endorsing fanaticism in principle. It says that it is better for all life to perish than for God to be neglected in any way. Even the pagans killed animals as sacrifices in order to indicate that they were giving something supremely valuable to the gods. Some went as far as to sacrifice human beings. So if Jesus was a priest and offered his life then somehow he used others to kill himself. His sacrifice was self-sacrifice - it was suicide.
 
God said that only Levites could be real priests. The Letter of the Hebrews sought to deal with the Jewish argument that since the scriptures didn't say the Messiah was to be a priest that Jesus could not have been Messiah for he is claimed to have been priest. The Church argues according to the Letter of the Hebrews that Jesus was a priest not in the way the Jewish priesthood was priestly but in the way Melchizidek was long before that priesthood was created. So Melchizidek was regarded as very important. He was proof that God can appoint priests without them being of the tribe of Levi. Hebrews says that unlike a Jewish Priest, Jesus is a priest forever just like Melchizidek.
 
Rome says its priests are priests as they share in the priesthood of Jesus. If Jesus is not a real priest then neither are they. Jesus being a priest forever seems to mean that his whole existence is about giving all to God. Even in a trillion years he will still be giving his heart completely to God and offering his death. Catholic priests cannot be that holy that they can manage the same attitude. So even if Jesus is eternal priest that does not mean the Catholic priesthood is the same. So whether Jesus is priest or not, the Catholic priesthood is not a real priesthood.
 
Hebrews argument about Melchizidek is confusing and confused. It is bizarre how it can say that Jesus had a akatalutos that is a unique, untransferable, everlasting priesthood, a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek when the fact that Melchizidek had that priesthood proves that it is none of these. Hebrews imagines Mel had unique, untransferable, everlasting priesthood solely because Genesis does not mention how he became a priest, does not mention that there were any other priests like him and does not mention him losing or giving up his priesthood. That is bizarre desperate logic.
 
But it is useful for proving that Hebrews did not accept Catholic style priests. If Melchizidek shows us that Jesus was never ordained but was a priest by nature and does not share that priesthood for it is unique to him then Catholic priests are not really priests.
 
And if Mel's priesthood really is unique and untransferable then Jesus simply cannot be a priest at all. “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (Heb. 7:3). In other words he has and needs no successor priests which is why he has endless life. 
 
It is a poor honour if Jesus is classed with a bloodletting animal killing priest!
 
Hebrews 7:15-16 states that Jesus did not get his priesthood because of his natural birth but because he is an eternal being. Thsi doctrine teaches that Jesus did not have a presithood as a man - it is not a human priesthood. God did not ordain Jesus for Jesus was a priest ecause he was eternal.
 
Another odd argument from Hebrews is that since Abraham paid tithe to Melchizidek , Melchizidek was superor (7:7-10). Even odder is the argument that as Levi, the founder of the priestly tribe of Israel, was in Abraham's loins (a sperm!!!), he is to be consdiered inferor to Melchizidek.
 
Rome says that Jesus ordained his apostles as the first bishops. They ordained others who ordained others and so on right up until the present day. Only a bishop can ordain bishops, priests or deacons. If a layperson or a priest tries it, the ordination won’t work and so the “ordained” person will not be real bishop, priest or deacon at all. The power to ordain deacons, priests and bishops was inherited from the apostles. It gives the magical power to celebrate valid sacraments. The Catholic Church has priests who supposedly share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ and offer his sacrifice of the Cross with him in the Mass.
 
We read in the earliest traditions that the community must choose men to make them bishops and deacons (Didache 15:1). We read in Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, that he couldn't do what he wanted without the consent of the community even though he was a bishop (page 155, Papal Sin, Structures of Deceit, Garry Wills, Darton Longman and Todd, London, 2000). From surveying the early Church records, Father Raymond Brown concluded that when the congregation chose a man to be their priest that choice was suffice for considering them ordained (page 155, Papal Sin). See also Priest and Bishop: Biblical Reflections, Paulist Press, 1970. He also observed that in the New Testament, there is nothing in the New Testament about the Catholic doctrine that only bishops validly descended from the apostles can lay hands on people to make them priests (page 156, Papal Sin). Acts 6:6 seems to say differently. There the people choose deacons who go to the apostles and hands are laid on them. But if you read it carefully it doesn't make it clear who lays hands on them. It could be the apostles only, or it could be the apostles and the congregation or the congregation only. Acts cannot be used to defend the Catholic doctrine because the deacons were merely humanitarian workers not ministers.
 
A bishop, Ignatius from the second century said he couldn't command the people to respect their bishop as forcefully like an apostle might (Trallians 3). He said he couldn't give commands like Peter the apostle or Paul the apostle could for they were apostles while he was a condemned criminal (Romans 4). He said this while asking his followers not to save him from martyrdom. He denied the Roman Catholic notion that the bishops have the same authority as the apostles to command. Romanism says that the bishops have special powers and these powers give them special authority and they must be obeyed. What emphasises this even more is how Ignatius refused to command things that the apostles commanded already. It was not as if he was afraid of commanding what they forbid. Rome and her bishops are not afraid to command stuff that cannot be traced back to the apostles AT ALL!
 
Hebrews 7:23 says that the number of priests had to be big in the times of the Old Covenant before Jesus brought in the New Covenant because they were dying and ceasing to be priests and Christ holds his priesthood forever for he doesn’t die again then we see something interesting. It shows that there are no real priests but Christ. And a man being is in danger of death or if death is possible indicates that he cannot be a true priest. It refutes the Roman Catholic doctrine that Christ lets men share in his priesthood so that they can offer his sacrifice, the sacrifice he made of his life on the cross, with him in the Mass. These priests die so they are not priests.
 
This dogma of the apostolic succession is very important to Catholicism. It justifies having a clerical caste with occult powers that must be obeyed and feared.

The sacerdotal or priestly system is a part of Rome’s plan to keep schisms down. If a group of laypeople could ordain real bishops then the Church would be badly broken up. They wouldn’t be afraid that breaking with Rome would divorce them from the power of the sacraments. Rome says that even in cases of absolute necessity nobody can make a bishop but a bishop. Even if Jesus could prevent a nuclear war or the damnation of millions by truly ordaining a bishop at the hands of a mere priest he wouldn’t do it. Isn’t it obvious that it is really about maintaining Rome’s power?

There is not a trace of the apostolic succession doctrine in the Bible.

The Bible says that Paul appointed ministers in the Churches with the laying on of hands but that does not mean that nobody could be a minister or bishop without an apostle doing that. Perhaps good laymen could create a minister or a bishop depending on the circumstances. When the Bible says that the Church is founded on the apostles it does not mean that the apostles had to be replaced by bishops or even that the apostles were ordained. It only says they were to be replaced as administrators and teachers of apostolic doctrine and never as equals or anything else.

The doctrine of magical power being passed down a chain of laying on of hands is suspicious when you look at scripture. Scripture never even says that Jesus laid hands when he allegedly ordained the apostles or even that he ordained them. He told them to eat bread and drink wine in his memory and to forgive sins according to the Catholic Church. But if the Bible says he did this and does not say that he passed the power on to them by putting his hands on them then it shows that laying on hands, the essential rite of ordination according to Catholicism, was not a sacrament. Jesus doesn’t say that it is only a certain caste that will have the power to perform sacraments. Maybe laypeople can celebrate the communion too.
 
The Bible would not teach half of a doctrine and then leave out the essential. It would not say that ordination happens and fail to lay it down that laying on of hands is necessary. So, the Catholic Church is wrong to assume that laying on hands is ordination.
 
Some would say that Jesus left it to the Church to decide the essential rite of the sacrament. But a sacrament is an outward sign of a grace that God gives you in your heart. It is a symbol that does what it symbolises. If the Church has to make the rite then the sacrament was not instituted by Christ. For Christ to be the origin would require that Christ lay down the rite.
 
Christ didn’t say we must use the words, “I baptise you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
 
Christ didn’t say we must say bread and wine is his body and blood. He only said we are to share them in his memory.
 
He didn’t give a formula for priests forgiving sins.
 
He didn’t give formula for marriage. In his day, only the man made the vow for the woman was his possession.
 
All the sacraments are inventions of the Church.
 
It follows that when the sacrament of ordination by the laying on of hands is an invention of the Church that most bishops at the time this was invented couldn’t have been properly ordained. This error means that there could be real bishops and priests.
 
Apostolic succession in the Catholic sense is not in early tradition. Ignatius regarded the bishop as representing the apostles and therefore to be obeyed. But he did not say that he could only become a bishop if the person who ordained him could trace his authority back to the apostles through the laying on of hands. When Ignatius was so desperate to get people never to go against the bishop he would have brought the doctrine of apostolic succession to the fore if it existed and was practiced. What he said was that the bishop gets his authority not from men but the Lord. Cyprian and the rest said that the laying on of hands was needed but never attributed any sacramental efficacy to it.

Even in the third century, there were some sections of the Church, notably at Alexandria where the priests ordained bishops and no visiting bishops were called in to do the job (page 50, The Early Church). The fact that the bishops were voted for by the people and that was how they were chosen shows that the Church then was just a loose organisation and certainly not what was thought to be the only true Church of God. Had it seen itself in terms of only right religion there would have been tests of orthodoxy and an oath to test if the bishop elect was willing to give unconditional obedience to the pope. There was not so this organisation was not the Roman Catholic Church which would require bishops to accept papal supremacy.

The apostolical succession doctrine was too foundational to be unmentioned or not stressed so it wasn’t known. The early Christians were in hiding. Because of their trouble a few main dogmas would have been all the “Christian truth” they had. There would have been a lot of misunderstanding, ignorance and confusion about Christianity among them. Many things they heard wouldn’t have been worthy of trust. Clergy were not trained very well. Many were barely trained. Few could rely on the tradition that only bishops could ordain if there was one. Logically, consecrations and ordinations which are invalid by Roman standards today must have taken place. The laying on of hands is the essential rite for ordaining.  This isn’t in the Bible or early tradition either. There must have been lots of invalid ordinations. If the traditions existed then people had the right to reject them for they were not infallibly defined which more than anything else backs this up.

The Roman Catholic Church holds that even an unbeliever can be ordained a bishop validly as long as he is consecrated by a valid bishop. Second century top theologian, St Irenaeus said that heretical bishops or even orthodox ones who were only after money and honours were not part of the apostolical succession and so not ordained which totally contradicts Roman doctrine. For the early Church orthodoxy and decency were the most important requirements and the chain of ordinations going back to the apostles, the physical apostolic link regarding the authority, was secondary (page 26, The Catholicity of Protestantism). The rite of laying hands was not enough which shows that there were many invalid orders in the Church so Irenaeus could not agree with the Catholic doctrine and would have to believe that if a bishop was consecrated by a fake bishop that ordination would work if the candidate was orthodox and godly.

So there could be a lot of fake ordinations. Rome teaches that a heretical bishop who is only pretending to ordain cannot really ordain then. All Rome has to say about this is that God looks after the Church so well that at least almost all its ordinations are valid. This is nothing more than a denial of free will and exaggeration of divine providence. The Church blames man and not God for sin so God has not got that much control. Their answer is very lame.