Vol.XI No.VIII Pg.4
October 1974

Succession In The Seed

Robert F. Turner

The central idea of restoration is faith in the word of God as the seed of the kingdom (Lu. 8:11). When others were vainly trying to establish an unbroken line of succession of Popes, Bishops, Churches, or Evangelists; restoration preachers were saying, Succession is in the seed.

If a Jay bird carried an acorn into a field and dropped it, the resultant growth would be an oak tree, not a Jay-bird tree. The seed determines the plant, not the sower. That was one of bro. N. B. Hardemans favorite illustrations. Or another: if a New Testament were cast from a ship, and drifted to the shores of some far off island; it could be translated, studied, obeyed — and would result in N. T. Christians who, working together, would form a N. T. church. Of course the idea is that divine authority is resident in Christ; and is expressed in His word, set forth by inspired apostles and prophets in the N.T.

The antithesis of this is that Christ relinquished his authority (by delegating power of attorney to the apostles and their successors) who then act and speak as though they were Christ. (A variation of this is the claim of continued inspired revelation.) These men of authority must administer baptism, the Lords Supper, etc.; and these things have no validity or benefit except by their, or their successors hands.

Succession in the seed was readily accepted by restoration pioneers, pleading the all-sufficiency of the Word and struggling against tradition to establish N. T. churches; but as we have grown more numerous, and have established our own traditions, some seem to think maybe there is a sort of authority resident in the great middle-section of the church, or big-name preachers, elders, etc.

We have been told that an evangelist can not go-preach except he be sent by some church; that to question the elders judgment is to reject the will of God; that the Lords Supper is not valid except it be sanctioned or set by the church; and that baptism is not valid unless administered by a sound preacher, or at least a true saint . I think such conclusions come from people who have not thought through to the logical end of their arguments. Is succession really in the seed, or have we just invented this to satisfy early needs?

I believe it would be a mistake (as respects influence, discipline of sinners, etc.) to ask a known backslider and reprobate to serve at the Lords table — but I do not believe this would invalidate the memorial to those who partook of it properly. I would seriously question the propriety of asking a man (or woman) off the Street to baptize a candidate; although I believe the validity of baptism is not dependent upon the character of the one who performs the act. Surely we need not abandon sound Bible principles in order to act with restraint and decorum.

Deity has not abdicated the throne for any man or group of men; the Word will completely furnish us unto all. good works; and succession is, indeed, in the seed and unrestricted.