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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In case you are wondering

I'm out of town this week visiting my family and spending a lot of time with my 7 month old nephew! This also means I'm limited to dial-up access. I'll be back on Sunday. There have been a couple of bloggers request that they be added to the blogroll. I also have a new conversion story to post. Have a good rest of the week!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Apostolic Succession

I received the following question a couple of weeks ago:
Your article nicely articulates the importance of Peter and even his primacy. However, it's the successor part that seems largely contrived. there seems to be no Biblical backing for Peter passing on the role he played in the infancy of Christ's Church.

And this seems a rather important aspect.

Before I decide a single man can accurate determine how millions of Christians should believe, I would need a bit more evidence that this is how God intended his Church to operate in the days beyond Peter.
I apologize for taking so long to come up with a response. The last few weeks have been pretty busy. I have attempted to answer this question from a bibical view only. I think it is important to note that the succession of Peter is part of the overall concept of apostolic succession applied to the office of bishop including the office of Bishop of Rome held by Peter's successors.

As always, if anything in this response is incorrect please let me know so that I can correct it. Also, if there is anything that you would like to add, please leave a comment or send me an email.

When considering the question of apostolic succession I think it is important to consider the example set forth in the Old Testament. Throughout the Old Testament we are presented with a series of earthly patriarchs leading God’s people. We begin in Genesis 5, which traces the generations from Adam to Noah. Here we also see that Shem was the first-born son of Noah. Then moving to Genesis 11: 10 – 26 we see the line from Shem to Abram. We are presented with our first example of God changing the name of a patriarch while establishing a new covenant in Genesis 17. God says to Abram, “My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations. No longer shall you be called Abram; you name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations.”

After Abraham’s death Scripture tells us that, “God blessed his son Isaac” (Gen. 25: 11). From here we move to Genesis 27, which tells us of Jacob’s deception of his father Isaac. Jacob obtains his father’s blessing and succeeds him instead of his brother Esau. In Genesis 32: 29 Jacob’s name is changed, “You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” After Israel’s arrival in Egypt and as his death nears Scriptures recount for us his last message to his sons. We see that Israel blesses Joseph, calling him, “the prince among his brothers” (Gen. 49: 26).

Looking in Exodus 3 we find God calling Moses to lead his people. Upon Moses’ death, after leading Israel out of Egypt, he is succeeded by Joshua. “Now Joshua, son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands upon him; and so the Israelites gave him their obedience, thus carrying out the Lord’s command to Moses” (Deuteronomy 34: 9). “After the death of Joshua the Israelites consulted the Lord, asking, “Who shall be first among us to attack the Canaanites and to do battle with them?” The Lord answered, “Judah shall attack: I have delivered the land into his power.” (Judges: 1: 1 – 2). Here we see the return of one of the son’s of Israel as patriarch of the Israelites. Looking in Matthew 1: 1 – 17 we see the genealogy of Abraham, through Judah, to Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary.

The Old Testament genealogies are important in that they record the continuity of the bloodline establishing the house of David to which the messiah was promised. They also describe for us the succession of the patriarchs. There are also several other interesting things to be found in this record.

Twice we are presented with examples of a patriarch’s name being changed. We come across this scenario again in Matthew 16: 18 when Christ says to Simon, “and I say to you, you are Peter.” Throughout history there had always been an earthly patriarch in place to lead God’s people and to communicate His Word to them. It was upon these patriarchs that God had built the nation of Israel. Immediately after giving Simon the name of Peter Christ says, “upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16: 18 – 19). Here we are presented with the record of Christ establishing the first earthly patriarch of the New Testament Church.

The next interesting thing from the Old Testament is Joshua’s succession of Moses. Scripture says that Joshua was, “filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands upon him” (Deuteronomy 34: 9). In Numbers 27: 12 – 23 we read of the moment when God designated Joshua as Moses’ successor. Moses said, “may the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, set over the community a man who shall act as their leader in all things, to guide them in all their actions; that the Lord’s community may not be like sheep without a shepherd” (Numbers 27: 16 – 17). In the verses that follow God instructs Moses to transmit his authority to Joshua by laying his hands upon him. There are two important connects to New Testament scripture here. First, let’s look at laying on of hands.

In 1 Timothy 4: 14, Paul tells Timothy, “do not neglect the give you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate.” Paul reminds Timothy of this again in 2 Timothy 1: 6 when he says, “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” If Christ had not intended for apostolic succession to take place there would be no reason for Paul or anyone else to formally transfer authority to others in this manner.

The second interesting thing is Moses request of the Lord, “to guide them in all their actions; that the Lord’s community may not be like sheep without a shepard” (Numbers 27: 17). Obviously Moses is concerned that after his death the people would go astray without a leader. This offers a striking connection to Jesus’ discourse to Peter shortly before his Ascension. This exchange is recorded in John 21: 15 – 19. In verses 15 – 17 Jesus says to Peter, “feed my lambs”, “tend my sheep”, and “feed my sheep.” Jesus has set Peter over the community to “act as their leader in all things, to guide them in all their actions” (Numbers 27: 16). Christ does this so that his people on earth will not become like sheep without a shepard.

As we have seen, Scripture suggest that apostolic succession was expected with Paul’s transference of authority to Timothy. Scripture provides further evidence of the intention for this succession to continue after Timothy. In 1 Timothy 3: 1 – 7 Paul give Timothy instructions concerning the qualifications for bishops. In 2 Timothy 2: 2 Paul instructs Timothy, “and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.” Obviously, Timothy was expected to transfer his knowledge and authority to others in order to preserve and spread the Gospel.

Acts 1: 15 – 26 also serves as an example of apostolic succession. Judas, though he turned away from it, was allotted a share of the apostolic ministry. After his betrayal and subsequent death the apostles deemed it necessary to fill his office with another. If the apostles’ offices were limited to their own lifetimes, there would have been no reason to do so.

When we consider all of Scripture we find a wealth of information testifying to the validity of apostolic succession. The succession of Peter and all the bishops is necessary to ensure that the faithful do not become like sheep without a shepard. I decided to stay in within the bounds of the original question and not include any non-Biblical sources in this response. However, there are important writings in existence that speak of apostolic succession, especially the succession of Peter, from as early as the first century. These writings are vital to understanding the early church. Many of the writers from the first few centuries likely had first or second hand knowledge of the apostles and their acceptance of the idea of apostolic succession is an important part of understanding this topic. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue to address this topic in light of those sources in the near future.

Related Article: Papal Infallibility

Welcome Jonathan

First, let me say that I was raised in a house with no spiritual upbringing. My father was raised a strict member of the Methodist Church of North America (Free Methodist) which he rebelled against after he joined the Navy. As a result, my conversion story starts in 1985 when attending World History class at South Grand Prairie High and studying medieval history. Upon further review of Catholicism I went to my local Catholic church which was meeting at the time in Zavala Elementary. Upon meeting them, I felt a kinship that I had not felt from anyone outside of my family. The parish priest, Father John Fowler instructed me in RCIA and made me feel this was the place I belonged. As a result, I was received into the church on 16 March 1986 in a baptism ceremony that was held in the school's office. I also received first communion and was confirmed on that day. Ever since that day I have been a Catholic. One of the first major things I did was go to San Antonio to visit the Holy Father in 1987 with the majority of our parish. I was always strengthened by the words my pastor first told me,"Scandals and troubles will always come and tempt to leave, but if your fervent in your faith and example you willnot leave." Thank God I have not. To paraphrase St. Peter's reply to Jesus, "Lord were else would we go?"
Scrappy Conservatives

Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome Rick and Jason

Rick shares some of the icons that he paints on his blog flesh and blood.

Jason at Always Jason also joins the blogroll and shares his conversion story.

A note about comments

Comments are good and welcome. Being argumentative is acceptable. However, comments should be coherent. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.

If you have different beliefs and views on a topic it is fine to express them here as long as you do so in a respectable manner. If you personally attack another individual, regardless of their views, your comment will be deleted. I really don't want to have to turn comment moderation back on so please be respectful.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Any former agnostics or atheists out there?

A reader has submitted a request for conversion stories from former agnostics or atheists. The reader isn't looking for intellectual or academically argumentative stories, but rather ones of a more personal nature. If you have a story to share please post it in the comments section or email it to All names and email addresses will remain anonymous. Here is the reader's original question with non essential information deleted by me.

I have been attempting to find some stories of people who have come into the church from an agnostic or simply apathetic conscience. . . All atheistic conversions seem to be those of the intellectual bent, those do not interest me as much. The reason I am searching is that I am a recent convert and my wife is not a believer. I am hoping reading some others experiences will help me on our journey together, that I may ultimately help her come into the fold through her own desire.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mary's Children Rosaries

This is a little off topic for this blog, but . . .

I want to draw you attention to Mary's Children Rosaries.

If you are in the market for a new and unique rosary, Stephanie may have just what you are looking for. I believe she also takes custom orders. I haven't bought one of Stephanie's rosaries but I did have her repair mine that had broken. So, I am confident to say that she does quality work.

Courage to be Catholic

Heidi at Streams of Mercy has written a great post titled Courage to be Catholic.
The post makes several points about having the courage to enter the Catholic Church and having the courage to share your experience with others. This is definitely a good ready for anyone considering converting or anyone who has converted.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Charles and Jackie

Charles is a convert of 15 years and is now a religious of the Franciscan order. Pay Charles a visit at a minor friar.

Jackie is a cradle Catholic who has added us to her blogroll. Visit Jackie at Catholic mom of 10

Monday, May 07, 2007

Welcome Paula

The newest member of the Catholic Converts blogroll is Paula at Receiving Light

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Intercessions of St. Augustine

I thought this was an interesting example of the power of intercessory prayer. Back on January 24th I asked St. Augustine for his intercessions in helping this blog to grow. In the few months since we've gone from having 3 or 4 blogs on the blogroll to 40. And check out this graph showing the page visits since the blog's first day on May 23, 2006 through today.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Catholic Converts Poll #5

The Holy Spirit moves around and through us in many different ways. He often uses other people whom we come into contact with to influence our lives. This poll hopes to take a look at who had the most impact on your decision to enter the Catholic Church.

*UPDATE* For some reason the poll didn't seem to be registering votes. It should be working now.

Who had the most profound impact on your conversion?
Family Member
Religious Brother/Sister
TV/Radio Personality
Total Stranger
See Results

Friday, May 04, 2007

What I said 5 years ago and how I understand it today.

This is a mirror of a post that I made on Calling Rome Home tonight. Since it deals with my conversion experience I though it would be appropriate to post it here also.

For no particular reason I pulled up my old LiveJournal, don't ask because you won't get the link :-), and started reading through it. Check out the first part of a post from April 19, 2002

I've thought about this quite a bit lately....and it really bothers me how people are all about how you should go to one church and not another....and how they can be so critical about it I think as long as you are going to worship God it shouldn't matter what church it is. baptist, catholic, methodist, non-denominational...whatever C.

This was during my junior year of college and a few months after going to my first Mass and by that time I'd probably been to Mass three times. It was also at a very low point in my life when I was looking for some sort of affirmation anywhere I could find it. Well actually not "anywhere". Even though I was thinking about church and God I really wasn't looking to God. Even though I knew he was calling me somewhere and I gave in and went to church a few times I think I was for the most part trying to hide from Him.
It took another year or more before I reached a real turning point and really asked God for his mercy and guidance. It was at that point that I at first slowly, and finally enthusiastically, set out on the path He had been calling me down all along. That path led me home to the Catholic Church.

I read those words from 5 years ago now and realize that my thoughts were very "me-centered". "As long as it's somewhere that you feel comfortable and you are able to worship and have fellowship with God", how much more self-centered can you get? Even though I used words like worship and fellowship the "you feel comfortable" is obviously the operative phrase. At the time I didn't feel comfortable at the Southern Baptist church I had been to in town but did feel comfortable at the Catholic Church. At the same time I felt pretty comfortable at the Southern Baptist church that I had spent my teenage years in whenever I went home from college. I remember thinking that whenever I moved again I would just have to shop around for a church that I felt comfortable in.

Sometime after this things started happening at my old church back home that made me start to feel uncomfortable with it and over the course of time led to my ultimate disenfranchisement with Protestantism. I guess while I was spending all that time trying to find something that made me feel good, God was slowly guiding me to where he wanted me. Even though I was almost completely focused on myself God used whatever bit of true desire that I had for Him to draw me to Himself.

I think this is a pretty good example of God's grace working in our lives. Even though I was very self-centered and looking out for myself alone, some part of me still had a desire for God. This small part was there because it had to be. God created man for Himself. God implants on the heart of every person a desire for Himself. It is by God's grace that no matter how loud we shout or how far we run we can never completely drown out or get away from this inherent desire for God by which he calls all mankind to Himself.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Just some housekeeping

The Catholic Converts blogroll reached a new milestone today. We now have 40 blogs written by converts to the Catholic Faith on the blogroll. We also have 15 conversion stories linked in the sidebar. There is always room for more, so keep those stories coming so that anyone who finds this site looking for such things will have a lot to choose from.
Also, please keep in mind that I am always open to allowing others to have posting privileges on this blog. This blog is all about being a resource for anyone considering converting to the Catholic Faith and I've long thought it would make a good group blog. So if you think you would like to contribute, please let me know. If you write something on your own blog that you think would be helpful to anyone looking for information about the Catholic Church and would like for me to post a link to it, please let me know.

Welcome Sara

I'd like to join your blog roll. I converted nearly 15 years ago (WOW!
I didn't realize) and will post my conversion story soon. Thanks for
the consideration.

The Estrogen Files

Sara Carney