Dan Allyn

Hi Everyone, I live in Oklahoma City and I am 73. I have followed Ravi for years and after the passing of R C Sproul and Walter Martin, Ravi has become my favorite apologist.
I have been all over the world. I am an engineer by trade but have studied apologetics both formally and informally since my coming to Christ in 1983.

Right now I am working on a paper concerning Church History and want to write on what Christians of different traditions have in common.

The issue I would like to discuss is term Apostolic in the Nicene Creed. I believe that the early Church used the term to mean Apostolic Teaching not Apostolic Succession.

Can anyone help me with this?

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Welcome Dan! That is cool to hear that you have studied apologetics and are writing a paper right now. Honestly, I am not an expert in the Nicene Creed, but I am curious as to what you mean by the early Church? Are you debating what the wording of the Nicene Creed actually was when it was first formed? Or is your question more about the meaning behind the wording?

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Perhaps a little background will help. I am trying to write an informal paper calling for Church Unity and Apostolic Succession is one of the major issues.

At the time of The Nicene Creed there were 4 early Church Groups:

1 The Church of The East formed under Thomas and is now known as The Apostolic Church of The East and it separated at the Council of Ephesus 431.

  1. The Oriental Church including the Coptic Church formed under James & Mark. It separated at the Council of Chalcedon 451

  2. The Church of Constantinople formed under Peter, Andrew, Paul and John and is now known as The Eastern Orthodox Church after the Great Schism.

  3. The Church of Rome formed under Paul and Peter and is now known as The Roman Catholic Church after the Great Schism.

All four of these Traditions hold to the Nicene Creed and to Apostolic Succession. And all four do not accept the Churches/Traditions of the Reformation as having Apostolic Succession. It should be noted that leaders of The Reformation attempted to join The Eastern Orthodox Church but talks broke down. Apostolic Succession was one of the primary reasons for the non-agreement.

Thus I have 3 major questions:

  1. How did the Reformers answer the issue of Apostolic Succession? Or more specifically How did the Reformers view the term Apostolic in The Nicene Creed?

  2. The practice of Apostolic Succession is known to have been in existence in the 2nd Century. However was it practiced in the 1st Century?

  3. How do these 4 ancient traditions respond to the obvious God Blessed ministries and people in the Reformation Traditions like Eric Liddell and Billy Graham particularly when compared to Pope Alexander VI?

Sorry for the long response.

Dan

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Welcome @dan0647. It’s such a blessing to have someone here with your experience and knowledge. I trust you will be very helpful in the Q&A here :pray: I see just from this thread that you have already dove right in. I look forward to more of your insight :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hello and welcome Dan. The welcomes you have responded to was informative and will look into it further before I give responce. So glad you are here it will a blessing as we move deeper together.
Mike

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Hi Dan,

Thanks for further explaining yourself! Unfortunately, I don’t think I am well-equipped enough off the top of my head to answer these questions haha. I’d probably do research by looking into books that researchers wrote on these topics. I know one great way to find books on these topics would be to use the University of Oxford’s SOLO library search engine. You can’t rent books unless your a student (and live in Oxford), but you can get an idea of books and journals that were written on the topic and perhaps find them in your local University library? That might help with your general research. Or you could email an Oxford professor. I feel that some of the ones from Wycliffe Hall would be more than willing to respond and recommend readings or simply discuss the topics with you!

Other than that, I am certain there are those on here who can answer your question! It might help to move this question (repost it) to the Bible Question section. You will definitely get seen by more people who can better answer your question or help you find answers!

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Welcome aboard @dan0647. It is awesome having you join connect. I am not an expert in the field that you are making inquiry. But I do appreciate your heart and I hope that someone is able to help you here. @SeanO is a frequent wealth of knowledge. Maybe that connection will be of assistance to you. In the meantime I hope you enjoy. God-bless you and your journey.

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@dan0647 Welcome to Connect :slight_smile: I can’t help you on that specific area of research, but I am curious—how come you want to study that specific word within the creed?

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@dan0647 Nice to meet you!

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Hello again Dan, some words needed clarification or better understanding. So I looked it up.

ap·os·tol·ic suc·ces·sion

  1. (in Christian thought) the uninterrupted transmission of spiritual authority from the Apostles through successive popes and bishops, taught by the Roman Catholic Church but denied by most Protestants.

I spent eight years in Parochial School being taught that very thing but did not grasp the full meaning of it.

We where taught the Pope was the ultimate authority and when he spoke it was law. To violate his word was a sin against the Catholic Church that he represented.

This is what they use today in liturgy

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Webster Dictionary
The Word catholic comes from the Greek word for universal. It was first used by Saint Ignatius of Antioch. It originally meant Christianity as a whole opposed to a section which could also be called a Church .

We know for a thousand plus years the Catholic church controlled the Christian church as established by Jesus, and basically took control and taught a ritualistic form of religion that appealed to man in the name of God.

While my opinion is not important as some a person would have to be blind not to see that they wanted a monopoly on the Church.

We need look no further than the Martyrs of the reformation.

In reality they were no different than what the Jews did to Jesus., who also thought in thier minds was teaching a heretical doctrine.

See below

([https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Protestant_martyrs_of_the_English_Reformation])

I have probably given you things you already know.

This is a passionate subject for me.
What I learned as that young boy I found out reading and studyinig the bible as I know it now, not the Catholic bible of my youth which I am saddened to say I was never encouraged to read back then.

As a 65 year old man who for the past 28 years as a born again believer found many discrepancies in what they taught me.

I will end with two scriptures.

Galatians 2:6 NKJV
But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; **God shows personal favoritism to no man—**for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.

John 14:6‭-‬7 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

There is only one Holy Father, and His son Jesus is my only advocate.

Thanks for your study on this I would love to read more.
Mike

Thanks Mike. Sorry for not responding sooner. Computer issues.
Maybe we should start this as a subject as it seems that it is one of those subjects that crosses over a lot of areas. My experience is that it is a huge background voice adding to noise from the Church and interfering with The Church’s Mission to bring all peoples to Jesus. It’s hard enough dealing with questions from non-believers without adding Church disunity to the mix.

I too was raised Roman Catholic and actually attended seminary to study to be a priest. There are many reasons why I became a committed “Protestant” (do not like the word and prefer Reformist) but Apostolic Succession as taught by Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy was one of them.

Recently I came across some information in my study of Church History that has had a profound impact on my thinking. I always understood that there were 7 Ecumenical Counsels accepted in The Church at large but there are only 2: The Counsel of Nicaea and Counsel of Constantinople 1 in the 4th century. There were 2 schisms, The Church of the East and The Oriental Church, in the 5th Century which were in part over the nature of Mary. It should be noted that these two Traditions were never under Roman Empire influence and both hold that James was the physical brother of Jesus through Joseph.

The discovery of this information is in stark contrast of what I was taught and understood about Church History. It is true that all 4 traditions (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental, and Church of the East) hold the same view of Apostolic Succession. That is that for someone to be legitimately be a member of the clergy they must be ordained by a bishop who traces their linage of bishop hood back to one of the apostles. Anyone else, specifically those of the Reformist Tradition, cannot claim to be legitimately of the clergy. Roughly this puts about 20% of the world’s Christians outside of legitimacy. (There are about 2 billion Roman and Orthodox Christians and 500 million Reformists). Add to this fact that approximately 50% of the world’s Christian Missionaries are of the Reformist Tradition, a major problem has been created within The Church at large. These problems fundamentally attack new believers with issues like: Are they really baptized, Are they really participating in communion/Lord’s Supper, Are they really Christian, etc. This is a consequence of internal squabbling in The Church at large. I believe the heart of this matter is Apostolic Succession. The 4 ancient traditions I mentioned are cooperative while at the same time holding to and respect each others individual theologies. Only The Reformist Church is ostracized with its traditions and theologies looked as being “in error” at best and “apostate” at worst.

Consequently this often overlooked issue is a major one and should be looked at and dealt with in depth. Not to justify the theology of The Reformist Churches, but rather to promote the spread of Jesus Christ in the world.

After all this vain babbling by Dan (a term my wife has used when I am on a subject), how do I broach this subject in this forum to bring about knowledgeable discussion and answers to new comers to The Reformist Tradition.
Dan

Welcome to RZIM Connect Dan @dan0647 I am happy to meet you. I am praying to be an engineer someday too and wondering since you travel the world. Just one question for you, you haven’t been to Nigeria, have you? :grinning::grinning::grinning:
I trust that you will find connect to be fulfilling.
God bless you.

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Hello Dan, well said, since you initiated the topic you could ask a Moderator to move this discussion to the proper category. That alone will garner more input from others on connect.

Totally agree with the schism thoughts.
To quote someone from my younger days, I was told to stay away from those Pentecostals though they used a different terminology. After being saved some held disdain for those in my former religion.

With our multi- Denominational landscape and myriad of beliefs the quest requires a Divine solution.

A ecumenical outcome I think would foster yet another problem.
Each can be very dogmatic in thier specific beliefs.
On a personal note I know people in Catholic circle who are saved and display fruits of the Spirit.

Enjoying this discussion
Mike

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John No I have not been to Nigeria. However my wife and I are godparents to the children of the Anglican Suffragette Bishop there from when he was in the USA.
Dan

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The word apostolic in the ancient traditions implied apostolic succession however in the Reformist Tradition it implies transfer of the teaching of the Apostles and Jesus. I believe that it is important for The Church at large to begin to come together and one of the major barriers is the issue of apostolic succession.
Dan

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@dan0647 Do you mean for different denominations to work together or literally for the Church to become one organization? Even Protestant Churches who largely agree on most issues still splinter into different denominations over secondary issues and don’t tend to rejoin one another, at least at an organizational level.

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I believe Scripture teaches that the Church already is one body (organization) with Jesus Christ as the Head of the body. As such, different denominations/traditions should work together in the place God has placed them (1Cor 12). Jesus prayed that we would be one in The Great Prayer prior to His suffering and death. Currently my experience shows me that the Church at large is interfering with one of The Church’s primary missions: Evangelism. This is done by questions to new converts like: were they were “properly” baptized, did they ask Jesus into their heart in the right format, etc. etc. Rather than simply accepting them into The Church and discipling these newcomers.

One of the main issues is Apostolic Succession. It is the issue separating 4 ancient traditions (80% of Christians) from those of the reformist traditions (20% of Christians). This is going on while the 20% is providing over 50% of evangelism seeking new believers. One interesting thing to consider is that the congregational evangelical traditions comprising only about 7-8% of the total worldwide Christian Community provides over 40% of the worldwide missionary efforts. And this particular group is singled out by the 4 ancient traditions as being the most in error because of the lack of apostolic succession, which in turn means that 80% of the Church does not accept 40% of the worldwide conversions as real. I think God does not see this as His Will for the His Church.
Dan

@dan0647 Do you think the best approach to unity in the Body is pursuing new exegetical arguments, building relationships across denominational boundaries, or something else?

While I am not Catholic, I find one particular thing Pope Francis said intriguing. He said that unity in the Body is a higher priority than unity in theology.

Catholics and Evangelicals should not wait for theologians to reach agreement before praying and working together, Pope Francis recently told a group of Pentecostal Anglican bishops in Rome.

To continue to focus on differences between Christian denominations is “sinning against Christ’s will,” the pontiff said, because “our shared baptism is more important than our differences.”

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Sean You may have noticed that our thread is now under Bible Questions - Church Unity and Apostolic Succession.
I answered Mike as he wanted to know more about the Pope meeting with the Evangelical Anglican Bishops in the article you sent me. You may want to read my response to Mike. I hesitate reposting it because as you probably noticed I get a little wordy.
Short version is that the Anglican Communion claims Apostolic Succession from John through Polycarp and Rome is having a difficult time refuting this claim. Consequently the relationship between Rome and The Anglican Communion is fairly close. I will have to research it but I do not think the Pope was speaking about the Protestant Traditions at large, BUT there may be an opening.
Dan

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