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Anglican Argument for Episcopal Succession
  Otherwise known as 'Apostolic Succession':
The essence of the Anglican position is that the bishop in the local church, and the college of bishops in the universal church, is the clearest outward expression of the inner nature of the Christian community.
Continuity of Christian Church identity is allegedly therefore continuity of episcopal ordination/consecration from the original Twelve Apostles.
This view is built upon the assumption that the practice of Christianity in the first four centuries within the Roman empire is normative to all Christianity, and that texts of Holy Scripture must be interpreted therefore in the light of church practice in those centuries.
As a result of the 16th century Reformation in Europe, a moderating position to the above was developed by John Jewel (1522-71), Bishop of Salisbury in Britain, for 'emergency' recognition of ordination when churches had been forced by circumstance to choose between the true gospel and strict episcopal succession.
In this, a bishop's recognition is therefore not based on who ordained him but that he is bishop of a recognizable local community, itself in succession from apostolic times, and accepted as such by other right-believing communities.
(So 'succession' then passes from continuity of bishops to continuity of a congregation).
fatal flaw in both of the above positions is the presumption that Holy Scripture should be interpreted in the light of "universal church practice" of subsequent generations (in this particular regard: limited to the first four centuries of the Christian era when synods of Christianity within the Roman Empire had the appearance of universality).
But the facts of church history directly contradict this on two points -
1.  The questionable representation of 'universal' Christianity as being the Roman Empire's churches;
2.  The questionable principle used here in the interpretation of Holy Scripture.
is so for the following reasons –
The 'universal' practice of the Church pertains in reality only to the churches of the Roman Empire as reflected in their surviving letters, resolutions and edicts preserved by the dominant form of Christianity within the empire. Christianity had spread much further than the empire, but the imperial churches' legacy has given them a false appearance as normative to all Christianity.
The increasing involvement of these same churches in the political circumstances of their time also significantly contaminated their representation of Christianity. This was sadly demonstrated in the years 339-379AD in the Persian Empire when the increasing identification of western Christianity within the Roman Empire with the politics of Roman power caused Christians within the Persian empire to be seen by its authorities as a danger to their State and steps were implemented to eliminate Christians causing many massacres which eventually cost more than 160,000 Christian lives.
This political contamination shows to the extent that the division of the empire became reflected in the division of these churches between Latin and Greek. Yet these are the churches whose conduct is strangely and rather ridiculously set for us as the Christian norm.
Already in the third century, the pagan practice of regarding priests as a separate class from the worshipers had taken hold within the churches of the empire in stark contrast to first century Christianity's 'priesthood of believers'.
The mind of the New Testament writers is far better understood by an examination of the immediate background to their thought rather than by the behaviour of subsequent generations. Especially is this so as this behaviour (such as an increasing hierarchicalism) led toward the abuses that became so characteristic of medieval Christianity and required a radical Reformation which disrupted Europe and produced many wars.
For instance, rather than trying to interpret the New Testament office of 'Presbyter' in the light of a subsequent sacramental priesthood (i.e. as Priest), it would be much more honest to real history to understand it in the light of the communities of the time in which it was written (i.e. as Elder), and the use of this Greek term in the Bible of the time (the Jewish Septuagint).
Anything other is to falsify Christian beginnings; a sin which has continued to mar Anglican history today.
Anglican claim for episcopacy is essentially a claim for control, and has little to nothing to do with the Christianity which Christ entrusted to His Ecclesia (ἐκκλησία) – His Congregation.
Christian continuity today
is nothing less than
the Author of Holy Scripture:
the Spirit of God Himself.
To this Ecclesia the Holy Spirit was given, not as an object is given, but as in a marriage, so that "he who is joined to the Lord" (every Christian, not just the Twelve, according Holy Scripture) "is one spirit with Him". The believers relationship to the Holy Spirit, or better said - the Holy Spirit's relation to the believer, is itself the continuity of Christ's Church. There is no other!
1 Corinthians 6:16-17
Perhaps in regard to 'apostolic succession' we should allow the Apostle Paul, who was not one of the original Twelve, to have the last word:
"Paul an Apostle - not from men, neither through man, but from Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead".
Galatians 1:1
even more decisively, the Bible teaches that the Twelve have no successors. Their apostleship was from their direct historical relationship to the physical ministry of Jesus, from His baptism to His Ascension. Thus, the Lord said that in addition to the Holy Spirit (by Whom gave gifts were given on the day of Pentecost including apostles such as Paul's apostleship), the Twelve were eye-witnesses of His ministry and therefore unique, irreplaceable and without successors.
  "And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning." John 15:27
apostle Paul did not qualify, but then his apostleship was not based on historical background or ordination from any previous apostle, as he so definitely made clear in this Galatians quote above.
We do well to pay more heed to the Word of God than to the word of men, whether they be churchmen or not!

Remember: the Lord Jesus said, and it is recorded for our understanding: "...I will build My church..." (Matthew 16:18).
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