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Coming in to this discussion four pages and a few months late. Quick personal background: I joined this forum in July 2005 while I was investigating the Orthodox Church. In May 2007 I was received into the Orthodox Church, and since then have been an infrequent commenter and lurker on these boards. I am one of the handful of (so-called) Eastern Orthodox Church members (i.e., Orthodox Christians) on these boards. I'm grateful for the board administration's continued allowance of our participation.The position on apostolic succession given here in these threads is the Roman Catholic teaching. Orthodox teaching is not dissimilar but does have some significant differences. For example, Rome's position on apostolic succession has always (since around the fourth-fifth centuries) tended to focus on the tactile/juridical aspects of apostolic succession, whereas the Orthodox position has always tended to focus on the collegial/synodal (and dogmatic) aspects of apostolic succession. One can see these differences between the Roman and Orthodox positions in this thread itself where my brother advocates for apostolic succession have focused on the tactile ordinational "streams." We Orthodox would have focused more on the synodal continuity of dogma.That said, I do not want to give the impression that these two views are opposed or that Orthodox do not take seriously the canonical norms of episcopal tactile consecration (ordination) or that Roman Catholics do not make much of dogmatic continuity.For example, though critics (or honest doubters) of apostolic succession have taken exception to the seeming diversion to discussion of the Holy Eucharist in a thread on apostolic succession, we Orthodox would agree that one of the key aspects of apostolic succession is precisely the continuity of the Lord's Supper under a (properly) consecrated bishop in apostolic succession to the apostles. As St. Irenaeus of Lyons stated in the late second-century A.D.: "But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion." (Against Heresies IV.xviii.4, 5) (Note: if one reads the context one sees that the passage references what is a proper Eucharist, which is both valid dogma and valid succession.)Now critics/doubters will decry the logical circularity here. But this is not the import of the passage. That is to say, St. Irenaeus isn't demonstrating a syllogistic of valid Eucharist or episcopal orders. His point (in the larger context of the entire work as well as this passage) is that: a) Christianity is a public faith (not a secret society), b) her leaders are publicly known and the experience of the community of believers can trace back the family lineage of leaders to the apostles, c) her dogmas are publicly known (and thus there is no resort to secret/gnostic doctrines), and both the history of these ecclesial families and their dogma are a continuous whole with the apostles.So, to address one commenter's questions (or a part of them): what is apostolic succession? It's essence and life is precisely what St Paul states in 2 Timothy 2.2: "what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (ESV). Public (in the presence of many witnesses), dogma (what you have heard from me), succession (entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also).Apostolic succession guarantees what mere writings (even Scripture) cannot: continuity of faith and practice. (Cf. the illegitimate letter that had circulated and fooled the early Christians that it was from St Paul: 2 Thessalonians 2.2)Apostolic succession is NOT a continuation of the office of Apostle (in the sense of the Twelve). It is, rather, a continuation of the teachings and traditions of the Apostles by men entrusted to lead their church families. Apostolic succession is not about an organization, it is about a family. Just as I know I'm a Healy because I can trace my family connections (biological and traditions) back to County Cork in Ireland, so apostolic succession helps us know if we're "part of the family" as it were.
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