Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Christianity In The Change Timeline

I value works of science fiction written by Poul Anderson or SM Stirling for their imagination, speculation and extrapolation and also for their discussions of ultimate concerns like cosmology and theology. Some of the posts on this blog are themselves discussions of issues arising from these concerns.

In Stirling's A Meeting At Corvallis (New York, 2007), the tyrant Arminger's antipope is said to be legitimately a bishop, able to ordain priests. Further, he and two cronies can validly consecrate other bishops.

If I were a Christian, I would disagree with bishops. Churches were founded by Apostles who claimed to have witnessed the Resurrection. See here. Each Apostle appointed ecclesiastical assistants. When an Apostle died, his church elected one of his assistants as his successor. These successors were the first bishops. The other assistants remained priests or deacons. In the absence of a witness, the next best thing was someone who had known the witness and heard his testimony. Their acquaintance with the Apostles was the only basis for the first bishops' preaching and teaching authority. Nowadays, anyone consecrated bishop is no nearer to evidence for the Resurrection than anyone else. He can only read the New Testament like you or me so I do not think that he has any special authority and we do in fact hear bishops saying very different things.

How was the Church meant to last beyond the first generation? It wasn't. Paul expected Jesus to return as soon as he, Paul, had completed his mission to the Gentiles. Jesus had fulfilled an Abrahamic tradition, not intiated a new tradition. Some of Paul's converts became impatient because their fellow believers were dying and Jesus had not returned yet. Paul replied with a letter saying that those still alive and those who had died, having been resurrected, would be raised up and would meet in the air, thus giving rise to the idea of the Rapture. Two thousand years later, we can say that it didn't happen.

There is more but not tonight.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Interesting picture. An image of the real Mt. Angel Benedictine monastery? Now, I have to imagine that complex surrounded by massive post-Change protective walls and fortifications.

Hmmm, if you were to, hypothetically, again believe in Christianity, it would be by agreeing with those non-Catholics and Orthodox who don't believe in the apostolic succession and holy orders as a sacrament instituted by Christ? I would argue that the Catholic view of holy orders goes straight back to the NT, where we see Christ appointing Peter and the other apostles as his chief disciples. And, of course, how Catholic believe Christ also appointed Peter as the first of the popes in Matthew 16. And, as time passed, we do see the apostles ordaining bishops, priests, and deacons as their assistants and successors.

I would argue that, in addition, the Catholic view of holy orders, apostolic succession, and the authority of the Bishop of Rome is supported by the evidence found in such early Christian works as 1 Clement, the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Irenaeus' treatise AGAINST HERESIES. Both of the last two stressed the need for orthodox Christians to believe as the Church in Rome taught. And St. Irenaeus laid particular stress on the apostolic succession as well.

Yes, I knew some of the earliest Christians believed or thought Our Lord would soon return, in their lifetimes. But they should have remembered how Christ warned His disciples that no man knew the hour of His second coming.


Paul Shackley said...

That is the real Mt. Angel.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Good. I thought so!