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Apostolic Succession in an Ecumenical Context [Paperback]

By Thomas M. Kocik (Author)
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Item Number 138703  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.2" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.49"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 1998
Publisher   Alba House
ISBN  0818907592  
EAN  9780818907593  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The question of apostolic succession in advancing the cause of Christian unity.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Leadership   [1086  similar products]
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The continuing quest for unity  May 18, 2003
In his book `Apostolic Succession in an Ecumenical Context', Fr. Thomas Kocik has expanded the topic of the thesis he prepared for his Master's degree into this useful and concise text showing some of the broad-ranging discussion of the place of and importance of apostolic succession within historical and modern ecclesial contexts.

Kocik's text is organised along the lines of historical progression. After an introduction, he begins by looking apostleship in the New Testament. This was by no means a clear definition. It is commonly held that there were Twelve Apostles appointed by Jesus during his earthly ministry before the crucifixion. Were there more? Luke-Acts shows various others being sent out. And what is the status of Paul? He was not one of the Twelve, and even when there was a vacancy, he was not appointed to fill it. Yet he is called an Apostle. This was controversial even in his own day. Kocik proceeds to discuss the appointing of successors by apostles, which eventually led to ordination rites. Ordination rites were not unique to Christians, nor are the early practices originally Christian.

Kocik then looks at apostolic ideas in early Christian literature, the writing of the Church Fathers. Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria and the Didache are all examined for elements of support and variation of the apostolic ideal. Was the apostolic succession one that was passed on through ideas, or through men, or both?

`From earliest times, Christians recognised the presbyter-episkopoi as successors of the apostles, with the special responsibility for safeguarding and handing on the apostolic Tradition. Succession in office, the Church's Tradition and sacramental-juridical communion are not juxtaposed, but `triune'. A congregation may not encapsulate itself from the other Churches. If it should do so, it would cease to be Church and would soon fracture. Catholicity preserves and expresses apostolicity.'

Kocik looks at liturgical expressions of apostolicity in the ancient and medieval church, particularly within ordination rites that have been preserved. The ordination rite described by Hippolytus of Rome is particularly important to Kocik's discussion here, but Eusebius, Epiphanius of Salamis, and other Eastern churches are also important for consideration. The actual institution of apostolicity as an explicit part of the creed did not occur, however, until the fourth century.

Kocik traces development of thought from Trent to Vatican I through to Vatican II. The Council of Trent and Vatican II really provide the basis for modern Roman thought on the ecclesial doctrines of apostolic succession. (Vatican I was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and various political disturbances around Rome, and so ended effectively unfinished, and with regard to ecclesial theology, largely ended with simple reiteration of the Council of Trent with a few additions - like explicit Papal Infallibility.)

Perhaps the most valuable chapter in Kocik's book is the sixth chapter, which discusses contemporary thought on apostolic succession topics. Drawing on Rahner, Von Balthasar, Kasper, Ehrhardt, and Congar, Kocik explores thought both on the place of priests and bishops within the church, and the validity of ministries outside of the official Roman institution. Drawing on work from Avery Dulles' doctoral dissertation, Kocik writes:

`Additionally, one Catholic theologian has questioned whether the quality of Protestant preaching - often considered to be better than Catholic preaching - points in favour of an authentic ministry in these communities, a ministry received without the apostolic succession but nonetheless an authentic charism of the Spirit.'

Modern Catholic thought in many strands strives to keep lines of communication and community connections going with Protestant and Orthodox expressions of Christianity, in the hopes of cooperation, if not actually reunion. This progress is often back-and-forth, with tensions arising on all sides for varying historical, political, social and theological reasons.

Chapter seven shows different dialogues and discussions among different Christian groups during the recent past, which has been one of the more ecumenical periods in Christian history. Following discussions of these key dialogues, Kocik presents various proposals and speculations for reunification and recognition of ministries. Kocik explores Raymond Brown's ideas of reunion without assimilation or absorption. How this would work in actual fact is difficult to understand, but Brown clearly envisions a time when congregations with episcopal, presbyterian, and congregational leadership styles could coexist within the same general structure. However, as Kocik points out, without certain hierarchical agreements, such reunion would be illusory and unworkable.

Kocik explores the options of Catholic recognition of non-Catholic ministries and orders. One of the issues here that is not discussed is the recognition of Catholic ministry by non-Catholics - this would be more an of issue that Kocik and other Roman Catholics tend to think, as validity is not a one-way pronouncement, but rather, like communion, is an interaction and relationship.

This book is very interesting and a very helpful in determining key issues in the debate on apostolic succession.

`Never has a group which has broken communion with the Roman Pontiff ever admitted to breaking with `the Church'. Nor should one expect a future schismatic group to do so, if history has taught us anything.'

Kocik allows that the intentions of reformers and schismatics, great and small, have often been to safeguard the continuity of the church as a messenger of the true Gospel, and that the weight of Tradition is interpreted through a new lens more often than thrown out altogether. However, Kocik ultimately maintains that validity is largely a Roman decision, and puts the power of such recognition squarely with the papal authority. Perhaps one could not expect a Roman Catholic seminarian to do otherwise. Kocik's bias is understandable, and even valuable as a piece of consideration for continuing discussion in ecumenical contexts.

good insight  Mar 29, 2002
He makes good points from a Roman Catholic view. Uses history and scripture to back up Roman Catholic teaching on apostolic succession. Also, shows what other Churches believe about it and what it is going to take for church unityPersonally, I think institutions will continue to fail to achieve unity if the keep the focus on themselves.

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