Brandon Addison’s “Called to Communion” article, “The Quest for the Historical Church: A Protestant Assessment”, is now posted here in .PDF format, for your convenience.
In this article, Brandon addresses the notion that the Roman Catholic Church is “The Church that Christ Founded™”, which is espoused in quite a thick way over there. Brandon systematically presents the latest scholarship, and in doing so he systematically dismantles arguments that they have made for their case.
The teaching of the [Roman Catholic] Church in this regard is that the episcopacy was instituted by the “real and historical Christ,” but when we only see leadership of plurality into the middle of the second century from documents written to Rome (even then the 2nd century documents do not speak of a unique Petrine ministry) the plausibility of such a doctrine is suspect.
Often in response Catholics will cite development of doctrine as a way to explain the silence about a monarchical bishop in Rome. Invoking development in things like the infallibility of the successor of Peter, or even the Primacy of the successor of Peter is conceptually understandable, but the question is not a matter of development but of existence. If there is no episcopal office then there is no episcopal succession and if there is no episcopal succession then there is no Apostolic Succession as defined by the RCC.
The importance of this for the CTC apologetic is that Apostolic Succession is absolutely essential to the existence of the church. When we read the literature examined in this article, however, the corroboration is sorely lacking. It is possible, in the very technical sense of that word that a bishop as important as the bishop of Rome could have been in Rome even though we don’t have any information about him until much later. That case needs to be made in its own right however, and what this paper has attempted to do is show that all the available data is best understood with primitive church government being presbyterial….