Catholic Apostolic Authority is a very confusing concept. I do believe that most Protestants are ignorant about what they mean by it so we say foolish things when we don’t completely understand them. I have certainly been guilty of this in the past. Catholics do believe that the Catholic Church speaks with apostolic authority, but the bishops of the Catholic Church don’t have the same authority as the apostles. They haven’t been with the historical Jesus and they can’t teach anything new. What a bishop writes isn’t automatically on a level with Scripture, for instance. So for all the times that I’ve assumed that Catholic bishops are given the exact same authority as Christ’s apostles, I have to now apologize!
However, Catholics do believe that the bishops of the Catholic Church most fully bear the same authority that Jesus gave to His apostles. There’s a weird twist here, because at first it sounds contradictory. Catholics believe that the authority that Jesus gave to his apostles has been handed down in a line of succession to the bishops. They don’t possess the same authority and spiritual power of Jesus or even the apostles who were with Jesus possessed. It’s more because of a lineage. They possess the same authority because Jesus passed it down. Catholics believe the dynamic teaching authority which Christ gave His apostles continues to live through the ministry of the Catholic bishops who have received their authority in direct line from the apostles- passed down over the last 2,000 years.
I would argue that this minimizes the power of Christ’s potential in the heart of a believer, and makes the apostles out to be supermen, when really they were just normal guys that had the tremendous power of the Holy Spirit of God unleashed in them. I would add that though we didn’t have the great privilege of walking with Jesus, we have the same power that the apostles had available to us today. This may be controversial to say in America, but if one only looks at the Christians around the world who are being persecuted and martyred for their faith, they would see average people that most would call “nobodies”, are laying their hands on people and healing them, seeing visions of Christ and His angels, and witnessing the power of God come to life.
- What Do Catholics and Protestants Have in Common? (benjaminbradfordwhite.wordpress.com)
- Who Interprets Scripture? People or God? (benjaminbradfordwhite.wordpress.com)