Methodist Apostolic Succession

I was joking with Jason and Spencer about Jason wondering if it was a sin for him to host his Weblog on []; I joked that it would only be a venial sin to give me money. [And actually, while I do tithe, I don’t consider the .net to be income; it’s still not even making money.]

We then devolved into a discussion as to whether Methodists have apostolic succession. Of course, this subject has come up here before in my comments, and at the time, I linked to Dr. Greg Neal on the matter of Methodist apostolic succession.

I also did some digging in Wikipedia, which convinced me that we really don’t … if you consider it important for Wesley himself to have been a bishop. However, that’s not Neal’s argument:

Nowhere in Scripture do we find it stated, however, that only Episcopoi laid on hands for ordination to ministry. Nor can we find anything which limits the ordinational power to just the Episcopoi. Such limitations began to appear in the practice of the Church around the middle of the second century and, for the most part, have continued on to this day in those denominations which have maintained the Episcopal form of Church Government.

[I converted the CAPS to emphasized text. I hate caps.]

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, Neal takes us all the way back to Christ from himself, which I think is pretty cool. Neal’s finishing point is the key here:

As the above list indicates, the only technical break in the Methodist Episcopal line comes at its foundation, with Father Wesley. However, the Alexandrian experience of emergency consecrations to the Episcopacy during the absence of a Bishop, supports his action in consecrating Dr. Thomas Coke to the Episcopacy in 1784.

I find this stuff fascinating…

1 comment

  1. i find this quite interesting. my original understanding was that in order for a valid line of succession to be transmitted the ordaining cleric needed to be a bishop consecrated in the historic episcopate, the more i study early church history however the more i learn that elders in the early church were often ordained by other elders, leading me to believe that the succession can be transmitted from elder to elder (presbyter to presbyter). Although I still believe that traditional apostolic succession with bishops in the episcopal lineage dating back to the apostles is very important, i would tend to argue against those who claim that the validity of the ordinations outside the succession are invalid. From my experience, the holy spirit is alot more powerful than we as people give her credit for, and she certainly works more times than not outside of our human made confines.

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