Apostolic succession is the principle of ecclesiastical law in historical churches and in Anglicanism , according to which the church hierarchy rises directly and successively, through a continuous series of ordinations (consecrations) of bishops , to the apostles appointed by Jesus Christ . The most important instrument and guarantee of the preservation of apostolic succession is the legality and correctness of the commission of episcopal ordinations as one of the external expressions of the spatio-temporal unity of the Church .
According to the teachings of historical churches , the grace of the Holy Spirit received by the apostles is transmitted through ordination. According to the testament of the New Testament , they performed the first ordinations ( Acts 14:23 , 2 Tim. 1: 6 , etc.). They also instructed their disciples to ordain according to their example ( Tit. 1: 5 , 1 Tim. 5:22 ). The Apostolic Rules stipulate the consecration: a priest , deacon, and lower clergy are ordained by one bishop (rule 2), and two or three bishops are ordained by a bishop (rule 1).
It is believed   that the idea of apostolic succession was first formulated by Clement of Rome ( I century , an apostle of seventy ) in his first letter to the Corinthians:
And our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be contention about the episcopal rank. For this very reason, having received the perfect foreknowledge, they appointed the above-mentioned ministers, and then added the law, so that when they rest, other experienced men would take over their ministry. So, we consider it unfair to deprive those who were appointed by the apostles themselves or after them other respected men, with the consent of the whole Church, and served the flock of Christ immaculately, with humility, meekly and without blame, and, moreover, received approval from everyone for a long time. And it will not be a small sin on us if we reproach the bishopric with reproachfully and sacredly bringing gifts. - First Corinthians chap. 44
The calculus of the apostolic succession of the bishop of a particular church has been significant since antiquity. So, Irenaeus of Lyon ( II century ) wrote:
Everyone who wants to see the truth can in every church recognize the tradition of the apostles, which is open throughout the world; and we can list the bishops appointed by the apostles in the churches, and their successors to us ... - Against heresies. III, 3
In his essay, he lists the entire chain of succession of the Roman bishops from the apostles Peter and Paul to modern Eleutheria .
Condemning heretics , Tertullian ( III century ) wrote: “ let them show the foundations of their churches, open the line of their bishops, going from the beginning through succession, and so that the first has a mentor and predecessor to one of the apostles, or apostolic husbands (but such who stayed with the apostles constantly). For the apostolic churches thus prove their position . ” [five]
Regarding the apostolic succession among schismatics, Basil the Great ( 4th century ) in his first canonical letter to Bishop Amphilochius of Iconium writes:
... the teaching of grace was impoverished, because legal succession was suppressed. For the first apostates received initiation from the fathers, and through the laying on of their hands, they had a spiritual gift. But the rejected, having become laymen, did not have the power of either baptism or ordination, and could not teach others the grace of the Holy Spirit, from which they themselves fell away. 
In the Orthodox Church
According to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, apostolic succession involves not only a chain of continuous ordinations (consecrations) dating back to the apostles, but also the transfer of blessed gifts, including the blessed gift of the priesthood . 
Among the Orthodox, there are different approaches to answering the question of the existence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church:
- the doctrine of the complete absence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church,
- the principle of "uncertainty"
- the doctrine of the existence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church.
The doctrine of the absence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church
The absence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church was taught back in the 12th century by the interpreter of the holy canons, Patriarch Theodore Walsamon in his canonical 33 response to Patriarch Mark of Alexandria (the answers were included in the Athenian Syntagma )   . The main theologians who asserted the doctrine of the complete absence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church were the monks of Mount Athos, led by Nicodemus Svyatogorets , who set forth this doctrine in Πηδάλιον  - a collection of canons of the Orthodox Church with interpretations, Hierarch Ignatius (Brianchaninikov) , sacred Hilarion (Trinity) . The essence of the teaching is that the apostolic succession is considered preserved only in all local Orthodox churches . Based on the text of the Nicene-Constantinople creed : “I believe in a single, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”, it is concluded that the Church is only one - the Orthodox, and only she is the guardian of grace, and there can be no grace outside it, according to the first the rules of Basil the Great (see it above). The first rule of Basil the Great is church-wide and unchanged in the Orthodox Church, according to the second rule 6 of the Ecumenical Council . The clergy of the Catholic Church and the Ancient Eastern Churches are not considered part of the Orthodox Church, therefore, the presence of grace in the sacraments is not recognized in their communities, although they have a chain of continuous ordinations.  For the sake of housebuilding (οἰκονομία), the clergy of these churches can be accepted into the Orthodox Church in the second order, that is, through the renunciation of heresies, confession of the Orthodox faith and anointing , or by the third order, that is, through the written renunciation of heresies and the practice of the Orthodox faith, [12 ] according to the seventh rule of the Second Ecumenical Council and 95 rule 6 of the Ecumenical Council ; and according to the first rule of Basil the Great, their admission in the existing rank is allowed.  The disclosure of the doctrine of the absence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church was associated with the Kollivad movement, at the end of the 18th century , it was disclosed in their works, for example, Nicodemus Svyatorets explains this teaching in detail on the example of the adoption of Arians and Dukhobors  .
The Principle of Uncertainty
The doctrine of the absence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church was sharply criticized by patr. Sergius (Stragorodsky)  , prot. Sergius Bulgakov  and prot. George Florovsky  , whose position as a whole corresponds to § 1.15 of the “Fundamental Principles ...” below, however, unlike § 1.17, connects the question of the validity of the sacraments in non-Orthodoxy with the preserved or lost continuity of ordinations (actually approaching the teaching on the presence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church, although not formulating it directly).
According to the "Basic Principles of Attitude towards the Orthodox Church of the Russian Orthodox Church " the principle of "uncertainty" is stated:
|1.15. The Orthodox Church, through the mouth of the Holy Fathers, argues that salvation can only be obtained in the Church of Christ. But at the same time, communities that fell away from unity with Orthodoxy were never seen as completely devoid of the grace of God. The breakdown of church communion inevitably leads to damage to the blessed life, but not always to its complete disappearance in the separated communities. It is with this that the practice of admitting people from heterodox communities to the Orthodox Church not only through the Sacrament of Baptism is connected. Despite the breakdown in unity, there remains some incomplete communication, which serves as a guarantee of the possibility of a return to unity in the Church, to catholic fullness and unity.|
1.16. The church position of the separated cannot be unambiguously defined. In a divided Christian world, there are some signs that unite it: this is the Word of God, faith in Christ as God and Savior come in the flesh (1 John 1, 1–2; 4, 2, 9), and sincere piety.1.17. The existence of various ceremonies (through Baptism, through Anointing, through Repentance) shows that the Orthodox Church approaches different religions differentially. The criterion is the degree of preservation of faith and the structure of the Church and the norms of the spiritual Christian life. But, establishing various official methods, the Orthodox Church does not pass judgment on the measure of preservation or damage to the grace-free life in non-Orthodoxy, considering this a secret of Providence and the judgment of God. 
The doctrine of the existence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church
The doctrine of the existence of apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church is historically associated with the concept of the indelibility of the priesthood, first formulated in Ukraine in the 17th century, in the great catechism of Lawrence Zizanii of Tustanski  . Then Pyotr Mogila in his collection requires the doctrine of the existence of apostolic succession outside of Orthodoxy. 
In the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church considers apostolic succession preserved in all local Orthodox churches and pre-Chalcedonian churches . Recognition of the validity of the sacraments outside the Catholic Church is based on the doctrine of the reality of baptism in the name of the Trinity, committed to make a person part of the Church (4 canon, section “On Baptism”, 7 session, 19 Ecumenical Council - Council of Trent )   ; as well as on the documents of the Ferrara-Florentine Cathedral , pope Eugene’s bulletin November 8-22, 1439,  according to which the priesthood is indelible or eternal (even in the future life), and the ban that is imposed on the priest is not an eruption from the dignity and deprivation forever a blessed gift of the priesthood, but only an administrative measure restricting the rights of the priest.
Like the Orthodox churches, the Catholic Church, at present, in connection with fundamental changes in the concept of the priesthood of the Anglicans, denies apostolic succession in the Anglican church , and accepts the bishops and priests of the Anglicans as ordinary laity. At the same time, former Anglican bishops and priests can become Catholic priests by accepting the sacrament of the priesthood , but if they are married, they will no longer be able to become Catholic bishops.  
The catechism of the Catholic Church indicates that apostolic succession " is a sacrament, and is transmitted through the sacrament of the priesthood ." The declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Dominus Iesus (approved by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2000 ) emphasizes the importance of apostolic succession as a true witness of the unity of the Ecumenical Church: 
|Churches that are not in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remaining united with it by strong ties - the apostolic succession and the sacrament of the Eucharist - are genuine Local Churches.|
In Protestant Denominations
The Reformation revised the very principle of apostolic succession, highlighting the relevance of church teaching to the Holy Scriptures . According to the views of supporters of the Reformation, bishops and elders are not such because of their participation in the “ordination chain,” but because of the calling of Christian communities.
Martin Luther wrote: “The laying on of hands [consecration, ordination] blesses, affirms and certifies this [calling to the ministry] just as a notary and witness certify some kind of worldly work and as a pastor, blessing the bride and groom, confirms and certifies them marriage, that is, the fact that they had already taken each other [as husbands and wives], having publicly proclaimed this ”  . The Book of Accord proclaims that “in earlier times, people elected pastors and bishops. Then the bishop came, either from the same church or from a neighboring one, and he approved the elect, laying his hands on him. And ordination was nothing more than such a statement ”  .
Nevertheless, the Lutheran churches of the Scandinavian tradition have maintained apostolic succession and attach fundamental importance to it. Subsequently, it was restored from them in a number of other Lutheran unions and jurisdictions  . Succession is preserved and observed also in Anglicanism and Old Catholicism usually referred to as Protestants.
According to the teachings of later Protestant confessions ( Mennonites , Baptists , Methodists ), as well as Rivevelian denominations formed in the 19th-20th centuries ( Seventh-day Adventists , Pentecostals , Charismatics , etc.), apostolic church authenticity is determined not by consecration , but by fidelity of ministers (biblical principles in the interpretation of this particular denomination) and the manifestation in the life of believers of Christian virtues.
However, this does not prevent individual Russian and post-Soviet ECHB ministers from asserting the existence of apostolic succession in their communities - through the Mennonites, who build their succession to the ordained ministers of the Catholic Church  , or through the Czech brothers who were ordained I. S. Prokhanov [31 ] . [ significance of fact? ]
According to some Protestant authors [ who? ] , all members of the early Christian church were bearers of apostolic ordination, since first the apostles and then other ordained ministers laid hands on all who were baptized ( Acts 8: 14-17 ). In the assertion of historical churches that only the hierarchy is the bearer of the apostolic ordination, they see a contradiction in the continuity of the apostolic doctrine  .
In turn, historical churches traditionally identify the laying on of hands referred to in Acts. 8: 14–17 , not with the priesthood , but with anointing ( confirmation )  . In Russian, different terms are similar in sound: ἐπίθεσις των χειρων , laying on of hands (as a physical gesture) and χειροτονία (letters. ordination = “voting by hand, election or appointment”, Wed synodal translation 2 Cor. 8:19 , where χειροτονηθεις is referred to as the “chosen one”), which leads to confusion between these concepts.
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