This is a post at "Reformed Mafia":
While apostolic succession is seen by the Pope as that which constitutes the true church, the Reformers saw something in Scripture they believed was central in describing the true church: sola fide.
Luther called justification by faith alone "the article upon which the church stands or falls."
R. C. Sproul pointed out the logic followed by the Reformers:
1)Justification by faith alone is essential to the gospel.
2)The gospel is essential to Christianity and to salvation.
3) The gospel is essential to a church's being a true church.
4) To reject justification by faith alone is to reject the gospel and to fall as a church.
According to Sproul, "The Reformers concluded that when Rome rejected and condemned sola fide, it condemned itself, in effect, and ceased to be a true church."
It was the comment that caught my eye:
Whenever I consider this topic, the Bible's teaching on descent and lineage come to mind. Specifically, it's possible to be a Gentile by birth and yet be truly called a descendant, or son, of Abraham. Likewise, a Jew who could prove his ancestry back to Abe could legitimately prove by his actions that he was instead a son of the devil.
So, even if a church COULD prove its physical descent, or succession, from an apostle (which is a historically dubious claim to begin with) that doesn't speak at all to the issue of spiritual legitmacy and whether or not one is a true heir of the apostles and prophets.
Yes. There are a couple of denominations that claim apostolic succession - but does that "spiritual ancestry" or "apostolic genealogy" mean that they are the "true church", any more than being a descendant of Abraham will bring salvation through Christ to a Jew in the 21 century?