I first want to say that I have really enjoyed reading this
thread. Everyone has been respectful and summarized their
issues/problems well, without disparaging the other side (which
I sometimes do
As one in a similar position of Orthodoxy? (thanks, buddy,
for starting this thread) and the Iambic Pen (greetings as well),
I would like to add a few things that our Orthodox and Catholic
friendly posters are free to comment on:
1) Legalism of Catholicism vs. free will of Orthodoxy. I guess
the sinning formula of Catholicism is a problem for me. For example,
Missing church without a good reason is a sin, and not a venial
one. I think three times cutting church and it becomes a mortal
sin, which needs to be confessed before death for it to be
forgiven. (Not only Sundays count here but the awfully-named Holy Days of
Obligation.) I mean, really, isn't this a replacement of the old
law with the new? People fear going to church rather than
wanting to go, as they do in Orthodoxy (and Protestantism). While I see a
scriptural basis for mortal and venial sins, I prefer the "we don't
know" stance of Orthodoxy rejecting such "forgiveness formulas."
2) Essence and energies - I prefer this Orthodox thinking about
knowing God and salvation to the more legalistic formulas of Catholicism
(and, although they would never admit it, Protestants). The east
knew Greek and the west didn't, resulting in the west not understanding
the distinction between the essence and energies. (Augustine didn't
know what the word energy meant). Generally, Thomas Aquinas
is not at the same level as eastern thinkers. Too much dependence
on reason, too little on God.
3) Can someone explain to me when the pope speaks ex cathedra
There doesn't seem to be a clear answer to this. Although there
appears to be agreement that the Immaculate Conception of Mary
is an ex cathedra statement.
4) On the Catholic side, I have read (in a pro-Catholic book) that
Rome served as an appelate role in the early church. This would take
the Roman church to a level above being a "first among equals."
5) While Popes have not been perfect, the Orthodox church claims
that their church is perfect. I think they mean perfect in belief, not
in practice. It seems to me that in the first 600 years, not all eastern
churches were perfect in doctrine (belief). And later churches, especially in
Russia, were not perfect in practice.
For me, the historical and experiencial evidence (Orthodox services
seem more other-worldly to me) point clearly towards Orthodoxy.
But, like Orthodoxy? and others said, I want this conversion to
be my last.