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patricius
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« on: October 25, 2002, 11:34:25 PM »

I have read opinions about the Church and how the Orthodox view it, but I am somewhat confused.  It seems that apparently contradictory views are sometimes held simultaneously.  So, I am wondering, does the Orthodox Church have a concrete opinion on the matter of there being a "true Church"?  Is the "True Church" seen as a visible, organisational reality?  Or is it purely an invisible concept?  Any help is appreciated.

God bless,

Patrick
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2002, 02:04:14 AM »

Hello again, Patrick,

AFAIK this is what Orthodoxy teaches:

Orthodoxy is the one true Church and consists of the Orthodox communion of Churches and their bishops who hold the Orthodox faith (to give OrthodoxyorDeath credit, that last bit is as essential as being in communion with the rest of the Church and having a claim to apostolic succession).

From a from-the-ground-up POV, the Church in its fullness is wherever a congregation are gathered with their bishop, who holds the true faith and is in communion with the world's Orthodox bishops, or his deputy a priest, celebrating the Eucharist.
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2002, 11:10:09 AM »

Many thanks Serge.  I appreciate the clarification.  It seems that the East is much more comfortable using some vague language which almost implies the "invisible church" ideas of Protestantism.  However, I am not really comfortable with that idea and wanted to be sure that this was not the case.  Thanks again.

Patrick
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2002, 01:38:11 PM »

Unity and Unity of Faith

www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/dogmatics/pissare_unity_of_faith.htm

Hierachs

www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/index.htm

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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2002, 03:46:44 PM »

  I am in the same boat you are in about leaving Protestantism for either Catholicism or Orthodoxy.
Right now I am leaning Orthodox.

You wrote "It seems that the East is much more comfortable using some vague language which almost implies the "invisible church" ideas of Protestantism.  However, I am not really comfortable with that idea and wanted to be sure that this was not the case.  Thanks again."

 Here are a few of my thoughts, though I am by no
means an expert. Orthodoxy is not like Protestantism
in ecclesiology in that Orthodoxy, like Catholicism believes
that there can only be one true visible church, i.e. only
one legitimate church government and not a host
of contradictorary and competing denominations,
all with there own seperate govts., all binding things
on the faithful. This is pure confusion and chaos. While
in a sense, the Orthodox might agree with Calvin that
"the true church is where the sacraments are correctly
administered and the gospel truly preached", the
idea of having more that one church or that the church
can somehow fall into corruption is foreign to Orthodoxy
IMO.
     Orthodoxy, however, does not identify the visible church with one sole bishop as does Roman Catholicism.
Sure, Roman Catholicism is simplier, i.e. where there is
the sucessor to Peter, there is the church. The question
is, is it correct? So, you have to look at papal infallibility
and universal papal jurisdiction. If these are false,
then one can't simply identify the Church with the Pope.
Just as a suggestion, you might read John Meyendorff's
"The Primacy of Peter". It offers an Orthodox perspective
on papal primacy and Orthodox ecclesiology. I am not
saying that this matter is simple or that a case cannot
be made for Catholicism. I am saying, however, that it
may not be as simple as some Catholic apologists say
it is.

Hope this helps!

The Protestant Seeker
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2002, 09:00:09 PM »

Protestant Seeker,

Many thanks for the thoughts and comments.  By the way, is there something which I can use to address you other than Protestant Seeker?  I don't mean to pry but it seems so impersonal, if you know what I mean.

Discussing the papal claims is very much close to my heart at this time, as this is an issue which has been driving some of my doubts.  The Roman Catholic Church, of which I am currently of course a member, has always claimed, to my knowledge, that the Church does not create new dogma, but only restates what was always believed for new situations.  And of course historically this was always the case.  Ephesus declared that Mary is the Theotokos, and this was a response to an immediate threat.  When doubts or controversy arose, then the Chuch responded.  Makes sense.  They didn't wait a thousand years, and then do so, which would certainly cause many reasonable people to ask if this were really the faith of the Church all along.  So, why, I asked myself, did the Catholic Church define the dogma of Papal infallibility when it did?  I don't mean that there was no cause at that time, which may have been the case, but wasn't there much better cause much earlier?  What about the schism with the East?  They rejected claims about the Papacy, but nothing of this sort came from Rome.  The Reformation, again rejecting the claims of the Papacy, and again nothing about infallibility from Rome.  I have to say that just this alone casts into great doubt my ability to simply accept the words of Rome and her councils as those of the Catholic Church.  It would be like having defended the use of the title of Theotokos at Trent.

Additionally, I find the method, so popular among those apologists you mention, of tying primacy in with infallibility to be questionable.  I happen to think that primacy of Rome has very strong historical support, but why does this support infallibility?  How are these connected?  The company I recently worked for, a nursing home, claimed that the corporation had authority in the building, and this is doubtless true.  However, they weren't infallible.  It just doesn't follow as I see it.  When I read these proof-texts from the councils and early Church fathers which the apologist crowds throw around they are, at best, claims of primacy of some sort, but I have seen nothing that even remotely suggested that the Pope can claim to be a one man council.  If so, why have all those councils in the first place?  That the early Church was conciliar seems almost beyond question.  The apolotists' claims simply don't add up historically, and that is for me the most crucial test at this time.

So, as things currently stand for me, I am leaning to Orthodoxy too.  My wife, a Roman Catholic too btw, is comfortable with my position and supports me entirely, though she is not currently entertaining any thoughts of leaving Rome, at least as far as I know.  That she is not pressuring me, however, one way or the other frees me to pray, study and pray some more on this.  I would ask if you and all those on this list might consider also thinking of me in your prayers during this tough time.  I will certainly remember you in my own.

Many thanks for the help.

Patrick
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2002, 11:24:07 AM »

Patrick,

  Well, I prefer not to give out my real name on the
internet, but you could just say P.S. I guess. My favorite
Church Father is Ignatius, so if you like that it would be
o.k. too.

I found several things you said interesting:

"When doubts or controversy arose, then the Chuch responded.  Makes sense.  They didn't wait a thousand years, and then do so, which would certainly cause many reasonable people to ask if this were really the faith of the Church all along.  So, why, I asked myself, did the Catholic Church define the dogma of Papal infallibility when it did?  I don't mean that there was no cause at that time, which may have been the case, but wasn't there much better cause much earlier?  What about the schism with the East?  They rejected claims about the Papacy, but nothing of this sort came from Rome.  The Reformation, again rejecting the claims of the Papacy, and again nothing about infallibility from Rome.  I have to say that just this alone casts into great doubt my ability to simply accept the words of Rome and her councils as those of the Catholic Church."

I agree with you here. Why did Rome wait so long to
make papal infallibility an offical dogma? 1870 wasn't
that long ago in the grand scheme of things. I wonder what a Catholic apologist would say to this. Maybe there is a reasonable answer, but it seems a bit strange to me. Another thing to remember, like you mentioned
is that there is a huge difference between papal primacy
and papal infallibility. I don't think any Orthodox, except
one engaged in sheer polemics (and there are some,
unfortunately who do this) would deny that the
bishop of Rome held primacy before 1054. This doesn't
mean, however, that he ruled over all the other bishops
like a monarch. "Servant of servants" having pastoral
care for the whole church is probably more like it.
  Also, for papal infallibility what bothers me about it
at the moment is that Vatican I states that the Pope
can excercise this infallibility without 1) the consent of
the church and 2) without being in agreement with his
fellow bishops. The idea of papal infallibility wouldn't
bother me so much if 1 and 2 were included in the
definition. It is the Church as a whole that is infallibile, and
though the bishop of Rome would be a great place to
identify or locate what the church says infalliblely, it seems that Vatican I detaches the pope from the church so to speak and identifies the church solely with him. Perhaps I
am wrong about this, but the way Vatican I describes
infalliblity seems problematic to me.
   So, in conclusion I don't think Orthodox rejects the
papacy per se, it is just the way the current RCC lays
it out. I think, however, in a future reunion senario
(which I hope one day occurs) that perhaps papal
infallibility wouldn't have to be denied, but re-defined
to couch it in terms of the whole church instead of
the Pope in isolation.
   Hope this helps! Pray for me as I pray for you!

P.S.
 



Many thanks for the help.
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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2002, 11:46:48 AM »

[So, in conclusion I don't think Orthodox rejects the
papacy per se, it is just the way the current RCC lays
it out. I think, however, in a future reunion senario
(which I hope one day occurs) that perhaps papal
infallibility wouldn't have to be denied, but re-defined
to couch it in terms of the whole church instead of
the Pope in isolation.]

The issue between the two churches has never been Papal Primacy but Papal SUPREMACY and now Papal INFALLIBILITY.  Also taken from the book "Orthodoxy In Conversation" -

In a reintegrated Christendom, when the Pope takes his place once again as PRIMUS INTER PARES (first amongst EQUALS) within the Orthodox Catholic communion, the bishop of Rome will have the initiative to summon a synod of the whole church.  The bishop of Rome will, of course, preside over such a synod and his office will coordinate the life and the witness of the Orthodox Catholic Church and in times of need be its spokesman.  The role of acting as the voice of the Church IS NOT, HOWEVER, TO BE RESTICTED TO ANY HIERACHICAL ORDER WTHIN THE CHURCH, AND STILL LESS TO A SINGLE SEE.  In principle, any bishop, priest or layman may be called by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the true faith.

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« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2002, 11:47:23 AM »

I would think that if you're looking for historical reasons for the proclamation of papal infallibility (PI), you should look to the political realm.  During the 19th century, Italy began annexing the papal states.  The papacy which had enjoyed so much power, secular and religious, saw its empire begin to shrink.  The Vatican I council was called short because of the impending arrival of the Italian army.  The proclamation of PI was Pius IX's last ditch effort to hang on to power.  It was under his watch that the vast empire of the papal states was reduced to nothing.
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« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2002, 12:43:57 PM »

P.S.,

That is exactly as I see it too.  The historic Church consistently held to the concept of infallibility of the Church gathered in council, but Vatican I clearly states the the charism of the Pope in this regard is exercised without the consent of the Church.  This means that the Church can disagree with him but he will prevail.  How can that be reconciled with the fact that the infallibility of the Church clearly existed for 1870 years at that point without a hint of papal infallibility?  If asked to decide between the doctrine defined in 1870 which seems to deny the belief of the Church for the preceeding 1870 years while also creating an entirely new dogma, or the belief of the Church of the preceeding centuries, how can I choose other than the latter?

Orthodoc, your statement on primacy vs. supremacy seems very sensible to me, but this leads me to a question.  How does the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch as practiced today compare to that of Rome before the schism? And if reunion should occur how would Constantinople be affected?  Just curious.

And, Moronikos, I agree about the politics completely.  This seems to be the most significant factor in the decision, and simply goes further to demonstrate that this is a dubious position.  It seems to me that the last two councils, V I and V II, have done immense harm to the possibilities of reconciliation between the East and Rome.  That is simply too bad as there was nothing good done for Rome by these either.  A lose/lose development if you ask me.

Patrick

PS:  P.S., hey I like that  Cheesy I understand about the real names, believe me.  P.S. will do fine.  Patrick
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« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2002, 03:33:32 PM »

[Orthodoc, your statement on primacy vs. supremacy seems very sensible to me, but this leads me to a question.á How does the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch as practiced today compare to that of Rome before the schism? And if reunion should occur how would Constantinople be affected?á Just curious.]

Very simple answer.á He would go back to having the rank of second 'IN HONOR'á which was afforded to him prior to the schism.á He only took the title of 'FIRST AMONGST EQUALS'á within the fourá remaining Patriarchatesá after Rome severed itself from them.á Contrary to what you read in the press, the EP IS NOT the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Catholics in the sense that the Pope is for Roman Catholics.á He can call together the otherá Orthodox Churches (as he did a few years back).á He can preside over that assembly as president.á But on any issues discussedá or voted upon he has only ONE VOTE.á The same as all the other Orthodox bishops present.

The Canons of the undivided church are very specific regarding the place of the Ecumenical Patriarch and his responsibilities -
Second Ecumenical Council A.D. 381:

Canon III:á The Bishop of Costantinople, however, shall have the preogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome.

CHALCEDON A. D. 451 -

Canon XXVIII:á The bishop of New Rome shall enjoy the same honour as the bishop of Old Rome, on account of the removal of the Empire.á For this reason the [metropolitans] of Pontus, of Asia, and of Thrace, as well as the Barbarian bishops shall be ordained by the bishop of Constantinople.

[This most probably will have to be redefined.á For it is already causes problems in the sense of what is defined as Barbarian.á It is the Canon that the EP uses to claim jurisdiction amongst the Orthodox Catholics in America.

Apparently the EP still utilizes the definition used when the Canon was written to define Barbarian as any non Greek speaking area. hence, America is considered as a 'Barbain' land.á Don't think this would be applicable today]

Canon IX:á If any Clergyman have a matter against another clergyman, he shall not forsake his bishop and run to secular courts; but let him firstá lay open the matter before his own Bishop, or let the matter be submitted to any person whom each of the parties may, with the bishops consent select.á And if anyone shall contravene these decrees, let him be subjected to canonical penalties.á And if a clergyman have a complaint against his own or any other bishop, let it be decided by the synod of the province.á And if a bishop or clergyman should have difference with the metropolitan of the province, let him have recourse to the Exarch of the Diocese, or to the throne of the Imperial City of Constantinople, and let it be tried.

QUINISEXT A.D. 692 -

Canon XXXVI:á Renewing the enactments by the 150 Fathers assembled at the God-protected and imperial city, and those of the 630 who met at Chalcedon; we decree that the see of Constantinopleá shall have equal priviliges with the see of Old Rome, and shall be highly regarded in ecclesiastical matters as that is, and shall be second after it. After Constantinople, shall be ranked the See of Alexandria, then that of Antioch, and afterwards the See of Jerusalem.

[Once again from "Orthodoxy in Conversation" ]

The Orthodox Catholic Church sees the administrative structure of the church, not as the Roman Catholic Church does, but how it was defined and accepted by the undivided in the 34th Apostolic Canon -

Canon 34:á The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first amongst them and account them as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent...BUT NEITHER LET HIM (who is the first)á DO ANYTHING WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF ALL; FOR SO THERE WILL BE UNANIMITY..."

From this canon, it is thus evident that the regional primacy can be conceived not as power or jurisdiction but only as an expression of the unity and unaniminity of all the bishops, and consequently of all te churches, of the area.

We must understand the universal primacy of the Roman Church similarly.á Based on Christian tradition, it is possible to affirm the validity of the church of Rome's claims of universal primacy.á ORTHODOX THEOLOGY, HOWEVER, OBJECTS TO THE IDENTIFICATION OF THIS PRIMACY AS 'SUPREME POWER' TRANSFORMING ROME INTO THE principium radix et origio OF THE UNITY OF THE CHURCHá AND OF THE CHURCH ITSELF.á The church from the first days of its existence undeniably possessed an ecumenical center of unity and agreement.á In the apostolic and Judaeo-Christian period this centre of unity was first the church of Jerusalem and later the church of Rome - "presiding in agape (love) according to St Ignatios of Antioch.

Orthodocááá
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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2002, 03:44:57 PM »

OrthoDoc, sorry about that! I meant to hit "quote" and accidentally hit "modify" and it messed up the spacing of your post. Sorry!
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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2002, 03:50:37 PM »

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Let me try this again...

Canon 34:á The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first amongst them and account them as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent...BUT NEITHER LET HIM (who is the first)á DO ANYTHING WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF ALL; FOR SO THERE WILL BE UNANIMITY..."

The question becomes, what is "of consequence" as many would say changing the calendar is of consequence. God Bless!
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« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2002, 04:19:16 PM »

Papal infallibility is a symptom of a larger problem. I would also point people to the general understanding of the current state of papalism and it's undeniable difference even with itself.

During the 50 plus years of the 'Babylonian Captivity', a time in which there were as many as three rival popes, there were three Latin councils, that of Pisa in 1409, Constance in 1415, and Basle in 1432, which deposed popes and placed new ones in their place.

The council of Basle declared that "even the pope is bound to obey the councils."

The Council of Constance declared that "every lawfully convoked Ecumenical council representing the Church derives its authority immediately from Christ, and every one, the pope included, is subject to it in matters of faith, in the healing of schism, and the reformation of the Church."

So the Council of Constance declared that a council is superior to a pope, and thus it acted to depose three popes at once. Latin apologists will take the odd position that the first forty sessions of the council were not ecumenical, but that sessions 41-45, presided over by Martin V whom they elected, were ecumenical. Martin proceeded to confirm all the decrees of the first forty sessions except those which minimized the papacy. And this of course is the embodiment of their dilemma. If the earlier sessions were valid, the council was supreme over the pope. If not, the other popes were not deposed and Martin V was not rightly elected.

And the Vatican Council of 1870 declared: "They err from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgment of the Roman Pontiff to an ecumenical council, as to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff." This is wonderful; the decisions of a pope are higher than a council. I guess this would mean that the authority of their church and the infallible mouth of God has collapsed on several occasions.

Now back to the Martin V and the council of Florence. It is with keen interest that we also note that for some years, up and past the time of the Council of Florence, the Latin bishops and the pope were struggling for power. In fact, the council of Florence was a huge power struggle in the Latin system. An example might be that when it came time to pick up the Orthodox delegation at Constantinople, the bishops, seated in Germany, sent a fleet, and the pope, seated in Rome, sent his own fleet. When the two fleets arrived, only the Greeks kept them from a full scale naval battle.

Inevitably, a careful study of REAL history will show that the ôperfectö institutional system we see today in Rome is not at all a representation of the true deposit of faith given by the apostles, but a defeat of it.
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2002, 04:36:21 PM »

Orthodoc,

Many thanks for the clarification.  I really do find this a fascinating topic as it really is key to my situation, in that I am currently finding it extremely difficult as a Roman Catholic to continue to entertain the papal claims.

There is something which I hope you can clarify for me.  One canon you list mentioned "The bishop of New Rome shall enjoy the same honour as the bishop of Old Rome, on account of the removal of the Empire."  What is meant here by honour?  Is this one of the statements which Rome has rejected in the past?  I have been exposed mostly to Roman Catholic apologists claims in this area, and you can probably guess that means that I have seen little beyond the approved proof-texts.

Many thanks,

Patrick
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« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2002, 05:28:55 PM »

[What is meant here by honour? ]

Respect rather than jurisdictional authority.  The Patriarch (Pope) of Rome was afforded a primacy of 'honor' because he resided in what was the the capitol of the 'Roman Empire'.  When the capitol was moved from Rome to Constantinople by Constantine the EP was given the same title of 'respect' because presided in the New Rome (the new capitol) of the Empire.

Read the canons that I posted which kind of explain it.

I hope this answers your question.

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