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  #1  
Old 28th June 2008, 02:31 PM
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Anglican Apostolic Succession

I don't want Albion to think I've forgotten the thread over on the Apostolic forum.

But since semantics seem to be getting in the way, I'd like to ask what exactly is the Anglican understanding of Apostolic Succession.

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Old 28th June 2008, 09:32 PM
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As usual there is a range. From low to high:
-It doesn't exist, there is a priesthood of all believers, and who remembers what all the official anglican titles are anyway?
-The church has an order whereby when someone is given a important position, the book of common prayer should be used and there should be other important people at the service.
-It determines when mystical validity is posessed by a priest, this validity imparting validity to services he presides at, necessary for the offer of forgiveness received by the congregation to be valid.

Last edited by CSMR; 28th June 2008 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 29th June 2008, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by JasonV View Post
what exactly is the Anglican understanding of Apostolic Succession.
It would depend upon who you are asking, Archbishop Cranmer would have argued, and most evangelical Anglicans argue, that the succession is doctrinal:
2 Timothy 2:2 "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."
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Old 29th June 2008, 09:11 AM
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I think this is where some fancy Latin words actually helped my understanding:

It is my understanding that within Anglicanism there are three general opinions on the apostolic succession/historic episcopacy: Esse, bene esse, and plene esse.

Those who believe it is of the esse (think essence) of the church believe, as CSMR said, that it is necessary for the existence of the church and for a valid ministry to exist.

Those who believe that it is bene esse (for the good of the church) believe that apostolic succession is a good tradition, but not essential to the existence of the church.


Those who believe that it is plene esse (for the fullness of being in the church) believe that the church can exist without apostolic succession, but the fullest expression of the church is found where there is apostolic succession.
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Old 29th June 2008, 09:18 AM
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I should add that I think that the plene esse view is the belief that served as the basis of the full communion agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church. Previously ordained ELCA pastors who were not ordained by a bishop in succession were not re-ordained because it was acknowledged by the Episcopalians that such a pedigree is not absolutely essential to ministry. However, the Episcopalians required that future ELCA bishops receive the laying on of hands by a bishop in succession as that is the norm for the church to exist in its fullest state.
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Old 29th June 2008, 09:21 AM
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But what is it?

Originally Posted by IowaLutheran View Post
I think this is where some fancy Latin words actually helped my understanding:

It is my understanding that within Anglicanism there are three general opinions on the apostolic succession/historic episcopacy: Esse, bene esse, and plene esse.

Those who believe it is of the esse (think essence) of the church believe, as CSMR said, that it is necessary for the existence of the church and for a valid ministry to exist.

Those who believe that it is bene esse (for the good of the church) believe that apostolic succession is a good tradition, but not essential to the existence of the church.


Those who believe that it is plene esse (for the fullness of being in the church) believe that the church can exist without apostolic succession, but the fullest expression of the church is found where there is apostolic succession.
  #7  
Old 29th June 2008, 10:52 AM
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a very concise definition from here

The first Christians had no doubts about how to determine which was the true Church and which doctrines the true teachings of Christ. The test was simple: Just trace the apostolic succession of the claimants.

Apostolic succession is the line of bishops stretching back to the apostles. All over the world, all Catholic bishops are part of a lineage that goes back to the time of the apostles, something that is impossible in Protestant denominations (most of which do not even claim to have bishops).
Our Roman brothers and sisters have provided us with this excellent definition. They do claim that, due to a change in wording in the ceremony at one point, that the Apostolic Succession of the Anglican Communion is no longer valid. They also argue that "intent" plays a part in this lack of validity in that the Priests and Bishops of the Anglican Communion lack the proper intent to carry on The Apostolic Succession in a proper manner.

I suspect that the real reason behind the condemnation of the validity of Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Communion from Rome is our stubborn propensity to refuse to acknowledge and submit to the Papal authority of the Church of Rome.

Just as one Anglican speaking, I am really not interested in whether Rome finds our Apostolic Succession valid or not.
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Old 29th June 2008, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by longhair75 View Post
a very concise definition from



Our Roman brothers and sisters have provided us with this excellent definition. They do claim that, due to a change in wording in the ceremony at one point, that the Apostolic Succession of the Anglican Communion is no longer valid. They also argue that "intent" plays a part in this lack of validity in that the Priests and Bishops of the Anglican Communion lack the proper intent to carry on The Apostolic Succession in a proper manner.

I suspect that the real reason behind the condemnation of the validity of Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Communion from Rome is our stubborn propensity to refuse to acknowledge and submit to the Papal authority of the Church of Rome.

Just as one Anglican speaking, I am really not interested in whether Rome finds our Apostolic Succession valid or not.
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  #9  
Old 29th June 2008, 12:36 PM
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As VofR suggested, a very convincing case can be made that the Papal decree invalidating Anglican Orders was made because of political considerations of that time and place. We don't need to go further into this, however, since that wasn't Jason's question.

As for the Anglican view itself, though, I have to disagree with a few things that have been said. First, there are almost no Anglicans who don't accept Apostolic Succession. Secondly, and although we all know that there is a wide and accepted range of opinion on lots of issues among Anglicans, there has never been any official, general statement made that supports the quasi-Roman Catholic view about validity, etc.

In other words, and while recognizing the usual spectrum of opinion, I think a good answer to this question requires us to narrow the range of answers. Of course Anglo-Catholics will tend towards the Catholic/Orthodox view, but neither the Articles nor the Quadrilateral take that Anglo-Catholic view (esse). Meanwhile, and at the other end of things, not even the lowest of the Low Churchmen reject Apostolic Succession as it is described in the Articles and Quadrilateral--which come as close as anything we have to official Anglican position statements.

P.S. Thanks, Jason, for your answer on that other thread!

Last edited by Albion; 29th June 2008 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 29th June 2008, 02:31 PM
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Iowa, Thank you for the Latin terms. I myself seem to fall under the "plene esse" definition.

Albion, you mentioned that there is some information that may be reason to reject the "esse" definition. Can you pass along one or two items for our study?
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