What is “Apostolic”?


If you are interested in the issue of doctrinal development, and, specifically, the Catholic understanding of apostolic criteria, then I recommend the discussion being had on the blog, Fides Quaerens Intellectum. In particular, see this post by Kepha on the historicity of the bodily assumption of Mary. The comment section is quite lengthy but with some good thoughts, especially from Tim Enloe, Peter Escalante, and others. Kepha has a good summary of the discussion (the Catholic points and counter-points) here:

Ecclesiology and Epistemology

And, lastly, here is a list of links to the most important posts related to the subject (we’ve been going over this from many different angles for several months now):

Ecclesiology and Epistemology, pt. 2

I do not know of anywhere else on the web currently where the Catholic side is taken as respectfully and seriously along with Protestant objections forthrightly displayed.



  1. Thanks. I’ll look at these posts. Questions of apostolic succession and ecclesiology fascinate me. At some point, I would really love to discuss some things that Joseph Ratzinger says in his address, “The Theological Locus of Ecclesial Movements.” especially the second section, “II. The Perspectives of History: Apostolic Succession and Apostolic Movements” …

  2. I had thought about that, but the discussion over there is 1. more focused on Marian doctrines and 2. I really don’t get conventional Catholic apologetics. I think I’ll do something over at La Nouvelle Theologie…

  3. Kepha’s blog is hardly dealing with conventional Catholic apologetics; in fact, Kepha has repeatedly asserted his disdain for the Catholic apologetics movement, as have I. The reason Kepha only brings forth real, peer-reviewed scholars (like Shoemaker, Congar, Moran, etc.) is because of his respect for scholarship.

    And the marian doctrines are only a catalyst for grasping the fundamental problems. They are the most explicit and most obvious — and therefore the easiest to grasp — of Catholic doctrinal development beyond the known teachings of the NT. But, Kepha and John have also dealt with the Trinity and the Papacy, in order to understand the same problems.

  4. Hi Kevin,

    You posted:

    >>But, Kepha and John have also dealt with the Trinity and the Papacy, in order to understand the same problems.>>

    Certainly their posts on the Papacy directly relate to “conventional Catholic apologetics”; however, when it comes to the Trinity, the same cannot be said. When dealing with the Papacy, scholars who thoroughly embrace the historical-critical method are invoked, but when it comes to the Trinity, scholars who use the HCM are for the most part ignored, the same can be said for the “conventional Catholic apologetics”, for they too pretty much ignore scholars who use the HCM. For an introduction into the early CFs and their ‘doctrine of the Trinity’, see the threads HERE.

    Grace and peace,


  5. Kevin – thank you for correcting my first impressions, and I did not mean to suggest that Kepha et al are unscholarly…

    But looking over there and looking at Ratzinger’s address, I see that Ratzinger is not discussing Marian doctrine at all so that the piece doesn’t strongly pertain to the discussion at hand. If at some point, they start discussing again the historical development of the apostolic task and the tension with local governance or lay responsibility for the apostolic task, then I’ll reconsider.

  6. Thanks for the clarification, Fred.


    Such posts “directly relate” to Catholic apologetics as a subversion of their method, which could be called “proof text evidentialism in a closed hermeneutic of a presupposed telos.” As for the Trinity, John, Tim, Kepha, etc. have already dealt with this. We all do not buy into the relevancy of whatever HCM scholars you have in mind. It is a delicate balance — between historicism and fideism — and we, of course, do not perfectly keep it, but we can at least get as close as possible. I suppose we could be bringing in scholars like Bart Ehrman, but it would distract us by having to constantly re-situate our common Christian presups.

  7. Mr. Davis,

    Thank you so much for this kind mention on your blog. My blog is most certainly not interested in popular Catholic apologetics (or Protestant for that matter). In fact, I have had to ban Catholic zealots for trying bring this perspective and “method” to my blog. There are some occassional apologetics jabs, e.g., David Waltz. a reader and participant, is fond of saying that Protestants are the contemporary equivalents of the ancient heresies. However, nobody on my blog takes these things seriously. We would much rather talk about the link between the medieval Conciliar Movement and the Reformation (e.g., as set forth by Anglican scholar Paul Avis).

    My co-contributor Iohannes and I have spent and are spending a considerable amount of time doing serious research of the original sources and scholarly sources. The overwhelming majority of scholars we reference or quote or summarize or discuss are Catholic. Our concern is primarily with epistemological issues, e.g., revelation theology and material sufficiency. This has caused us to talk about the Papacy and the Bodily Assumption, but we certainly have not done this on a popular apologetics level, and, again, only as they relate to how we know Christian Truth.

    Recently, our focus has been on the late-19th and early to mid-20th century of Catholic thought regarding Revelation, Scripture and Tradition. The latest entry on the Assumption is explicity related to mid-20th century Catholic thought on Revelation.

    Thanks once again for this generous mention on your blog, Mr. Davis. Blessings to you.

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