I have a friend who is Catholic, and we have had many discussions on the topic of "apostolic succession." Can you give me your thoughts and point me in the right direction of some additional information on that subject for someone from a Protestant background? -- Eric

The Catholics view succession as a pedigree of duly-ordained bishops in an unbroken line going back to "St. Peter." But what is to say that the succession is person to person, or maintained by the episcopal laying on of hands?

Rather, to be successors of the apostles means to follow their teaching (Acts 2:42). The continuity lies not in the men (so fallible, so subject to sin), but in the word itself (which is perfect). Anyone who picks up the Bible and plants the seed (Luke 8:11) has the potential to initiate biblical Christianity--even if the person before him failed to do so.

See also Q&A 0111.