Thieleman J. Van Braght, Martyrs Mirror

8. Of Doctrinal Succession

Succession of Doctrine

Here the words of Tertullian are applicable. He says: “The Christian church is called apostolic not just because of the succession of persons, but on account of the kinship of doctrine, since she holds the doctrine of the apostles.” Lib. de praescript, etc.

This doctrine everyone who boasts [“Let no man glory in men,” says Paul, I Cor. 3:21. We may not glory, therefore, in the succession of eminent persons, if they do not derive their eminence from the eminence and truth of the word of God. The prophet Jeremiah, going further yet in this point, has cursed that man who trusts in man, and maketh flesh his arm. Jer. 17:5.] of the true succession, must prove from the true apostolic writings, as the means by which the church was originally instituted, subsequently established, and maintained through all times (we speak of the Christian and evangelical church). Therefore, this doctrine must necessarily, also in these last times be the mark of the true succession.

Now, if this is united with the common succession of teachers, we have everything that is necessary for the demonstration of the true church. This stands so fast that it cannot reasonably be disputed, much less, refuted.

The question now will be, in what church the true apostolic doctrine has been held from the beginning, and is still held; which is a privilege boasted of by many. We leave it to them, and content ourselves with the testimony of our conscience, compared with the holy Gospel of Christ and the faith of the holy church, of which mention is made, throughout, in the ancient church histories.

Thieleman J. Van Braght (1625-1664) was an Anabaptist who is best known for writing a history of the Christian witness throughout the centuries entitled “The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660” (1660).

Thieleman J. Van Braght, Martyrs Mirror