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So, Apostolic succession and 'right doctrine' are the outward and visible marks of 'the Church'.But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true.
One way of reading this last is that it is saying that where, even though division seems to have occurred, it is found that Apostolicity and right doctrine are to be found, there too is the Church to be found. We have no doubts about these things in our Church, but see no need to suggest that however fractured the contacts have been over time, that we do not share the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith; yet this seems to be what some very intelligent EOs believe.Grant, then, that all have erred; that the apostle was mistaken in giving his testimony; that the Holy Ghost had no such respect to any one (church) as to lead it into truth, although sent with this view by Christ, and for this asked of the Father that He might be the teacher of truth; grant, also, that He, the Steward of God, the Vicar of Christ, neglected His office, permitting the churches for a time to understand differently, (and) to believe differently, what He Himself was preaching by the apostles, — is it likely that so many churches, and they so great, should have gone astray into one and the same faith? No casualty distributed among many men issues in one and the same result. Error of doctrine in the churches must necessarily have produced various issues. When, however, that which is deposited among many is found to be one and the same, it is not the result of error, but of tradition. Can any one, then, be reckless enough to say that they were in error who handed on the tradition?
Any way, it may be that such a topic is a little rarefied for us, but I hope not, since it seems essential that we bear witness to our own Church being what it is - Holy Catholic and Apostolic - and have a way of describing its relationship with others who make the same claim.This general failure to question is a direct by product of the [Byzantine] ideology, which has managed to produce a powerful myth about itself that it does not need to be interrogated.