A partially quoted title from a sermon by Heinrich Bullinger:
THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH; WHAT IT IS, HOW FAR IT EXTENDETH, BY WHAT MARKS IT IS KNOWN, FROM WHENCE IT SPRINGETH, HOW IT IS MAINTAINED AND PRESERVED, WHETHER IT MAY ERR.
Here is an excerpt from Bullinger discussing “continual succession”:
The prophet Zachary heard these words spoken to him from the Lord:
“Take to thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd; lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not look for the thing that is lost, nor seek the tender lambs, nor heal that that is hurt, nor feed that that standeth up: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their hoofs in pieces. Wo be to the idle shepherd, that forsaketh the flock, &c.”
Therefore never a whit more do these men prove by their continual succession of bishops, who teach not the word of God sincerely nor execute the office and duty of pastors, than if they should set before the eyes of the world a company of idols. For who dare deny but that a great part, yea, the most part of the bishops of Rome since Gregory the Great, were such manner of idols, such kind of wolves and devourers, as are described by the prophet Zachary? What then, I pray you, can the continual succession of such false pastors prove? Yea, and they which were of the latter time, did they not fill almost the universal church with the traditions of men, and partly oppressed the word of God, and partly persecuted it? (Heinrich Bullinger, Decades, 5th Decade, Sermon 1, vol 5, p. 29).
Likewise many Calvinists (and other professing Christians) attempt to prove to us their particular version of “continual succession of bishops” with their mouths gaping, jaws dropping, and fingers pointing in amazement at our Heterodoxy Hall of Shame:
We are iconoclasts who have set up and smashed the “continual succession” of the company of their idols before their self-righteously indignant eyes. The Heterodoxy Hall of Shame exposes men they revere and idolize as ravenous wolves and devourers. In searching for the true church in the writings of church history we must look for THE TRUE GOSPEL. For where the true gospel is found that is where the true church is found (see: http://www.outsidethecamp.org/ccfvi.htm).
“I say then, Did not God thrust away His people? Let it not be! For I also am an Israelite, out of Abraham’s seed, of the tribe of Benjamin. God did not thrust away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture said in Elijah, how he pleaded with God against Israel, saying, Lord, they killed Your prophets, and they dug down Your altars, and only I am left, and they seek my life. But what does the Divine answer say to him, I reserved to Myself seven thousand men who did not bow a knee to Baal. So then, also in the present time a remnant according to election of grace has come into being. But if by grace, no longer is it of works; else grace no longer becomes grace. But if of works, it is no longer grace; else work is no longer work. What then? What Israel seeks, this it did not obtain, but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened; even as it has been written, God gave to them a spirit of slumber, eyes not seeing and ears not hearing until this day” (Romans 11:1-8).
From the days of Elijah to the days of Jesus Christ, to the days of the apostle Paul to this present day, the “universal church” has besotted herself with the pernicious and damnable traditions of men. Although the Pharisees in Christ’s day were blatant deniers of His deity — thus showing themselves to be members of a Synagogue of Satan and part of the Great Whore — I wonder if they could be called members of the “universal professing church” in that they claimed the God of Israel as their father.
The Old Testament describes the true church as a remnant among the “universal church” or “universal Israel.” Just as a remnant of true believers within the whole lump of national Israel(e.g., the days of Elijah), so today there is a remnant of true believers within the whole lump of “professing Christendom.”
“What then is the superiority of the Jew? Or what the profit of circumcision? Much every way. For first, indeed, that they were entrusted with the Words of God. For what if some did not believe? Will not their unbelief nullify the faith of God? Let it not be! But let God be true, and every man a liar; even as it has been written, That You should be justified in Your words, and will overcome in Your being judged” (Romans 3:1-4).
Who was entrusted with the portion of the Word of God commonly known as the New Testament? Who did God entrust with multitudinous manuscripts? Is it not the “universal church”?
Just as many professed to believe in the God of Scripture were in reality believers in Baal, so in this present day there are many who profess to believe in the God of Scripture who are in reality believers in a “god” who cannot save, or in a “god” who relinquishes his redemptive glory by “graciously enabling” sinners to meet “non-meritorious conditions” for salvation (cf. Isaiah 45:20; Romans 11:6).
“Do not judge according to sight, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
We judge the spiritual state of the well-known “Christian leaders/theologians” recorded in “church history” based on whether or not they believed the gospel (essential gospel doctrine). Our unbelieving detractors who stand aghast at our Heterodoxy Hall of Shame judge the spiritual state of the well-known “Christian leaders/theologians” recorded in “church history” based on their reputation as being well-known “Christian leaders/theologians” whether or not they believed the gospel (essential gospel doctrine). Who is judging righteous judgment?