Author Topic: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church  (Read 3449 times)

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Offline theosis

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One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
« on: December 09, 2008, 04:54:58 PM »
Greetings,

Hello. I am new to the forum and in a way, I am new to Orthodoxy as well. This is my first post on the forum, and I hope and pray that those of you who hold knowledge about the Orthodox Church may help this confused sinner. To give you a bit of a background on me, I am Catholic, born in the latin rite, discovered the Eastern Rites in the Catholic Church and naturally following, discovered the Orthodox Church. This progression has revealed many things to me and I find myself asking the question: Is the Orthodox Church, the true Church?

I have been considering conversion, though this is not something one should take lightly (I've heard of converts joining the Orthodox Church because they are upset or frustrated with the Church they left). While there are frustrations present when looking at the Catholic Church to which I belong, it is Truth that I seek, not satisfying my personal views. It is in regards to that, that I post here with the hope that some of you in the Orthodox church may help me understand the Four Marks of the Church.

Both Catholics and Orthodox accept and agree on the Marks of the Church. Mainly that she is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church. These marks reveal the Church that Christ has established and are part of the Creed. Yet I'm stumped in a way as to how the Orthodox Church identifies with these marks in total. It is clear that the Orthodox is Apostolic as the Church can trace her lineage to that of the Apostles. The Church is the Body of Christ, therefore Holy. Now come the 2 parts which I'm struggling with.  :-\

Is the Orthodox Church, Catholic, ie universal? From what I understand the Orthodox Church does not have a significant presence outside the original Patriarchates (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, etc.) and a few churches they established in neighboring areas (Albania, Cyprus, Czech-Slovakia, Estonia, etc.) if I'm not mistaken. They do have Archdioceses and Metropolis' in many areas around the world. However, according to the Ecumenical Patriarch himself, the Orthodox Church has failed "to constitute a single Orthodox Church in the so-called Diaspora in accor­dance with the ecclesiological and canoni­cal principles of our Church." In 2000 years, only a few new national churches. I find myself wondering about the Orthodox Church and its claim that it is "catholic". I do not mean to stirr emotions or anger, but perhaps one of you may help me to understand this better.

As for the mark of being One, this is also something that puzzles me. The Orthodox Church claims to share a common faith, yet where is the evidence for this? There is no Catechism approved by all the Patriarchates, so how does one truly know that the faith is shared between them all? I bring up the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the fact that within that Catechism, that is the Faith that all of the 22 Catholic Churches (east + west) hold. When those outside of the Catholic Church want to know the Faith held by the Catholic Churh (all of the Catholic rites/Churches) they can, with confidence look at the Catechism and know this. Now the downside to this is that is has caused latinization and many of the eastern churches to accept doctrines foreign to them but forced on them in a way by the Roman / Latin rite. Nonetheless, to stay on the topic. There is not a Catechism approved by all the leaders in the Orthodox Church. There is not even a Catechism approved by all the leaders of the canonical Orthodox leadership in the U.S. The Church has not held an Ecumenical Council in over 1200 years. Since about the 1920's the Church has been planning for the next "Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church," but it has yet to happen... Also, there is suppose to be only one Orthodox Church per country. The Church has been in the U.S. for over 200 years and still there are multiple jurisdictions here. In the U.S. the Orthodox Church have institutionalized this jurisdictionalism, ethnic nationalism of the old country churches, in the SCOBA. Can this be a form of Phyletism?

I am grateful for those of you who can help me understand this better. Please note: I am not out to offend anyone on this board and I approach all of you with love and kindness and also ignorance. I don't know many things about the Orthodox Church. But what I do know about Orthodoxy, leads me on a quest for more knowledge because what I am reading and learning about your Church, makes sense. I noted earlier, is it Truth that I seek... Perhaps some of you may be able to help me on my journey. Thank you my friends and may the love of God be with you all.

Offline theosis

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Re: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2008, 05:07:27 PM »
These are some troubling quotes that I've found from Orthodox Christians that really confuse me. Can someone please help me to understand them. I have read much about the Orthodox, and as I posted above, Orthodoxy makes sense. What doesn't- is these comments. I am considering Orthodoxy, but these quotes make it seem as if the family is divided in a way...

"The Orthodox Church cannot claim to be the true, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church if she is actually divided into a plurality of mutually independent, competing, and overlapping jurisdictions. This division has long ago ceased to be justified by the peculiarities of Orthodox immigration in America, and has become an open scandal to the faithful, a source of demoralization and dissatisfaction in the laity, and an obstacle to any effort or progress."

Per SCOBA's Ad Hoc Commission on Unity. Meeting XI Minutes 1970. Cited in "Orthodox Reunion: Overcoming the Curse of Jurisdictionalism in America" by The Very Reverend Josiah Trenham, Ph.D. (2006) http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/TrenhamUnity.php

"In externals, Orthodox Christians in North America resemble Roman Catholics. They share a similar sacramental view of life; liturgical forms of corporate worship; traditional forms of piety such as fasting, prayer, monasticism; and generally "conservative" positions on contemporary moral issues. In administration the Orthodox in North America resemble Protestants and are splintered into distinct administrative "jurisdictions", divisions based on ethnic origin and politics, both secular and ecclesiastical. In self-identity, however, Orthodox Christians in North America are like Orthodox Jews; a people apart, unable and at time unwilling to separate the claims of race, religion, and politics: people for whom the Greek terms "diaspora" ("dispersion") has been an expression of enduring meaning"

Orthodox historian Mark Stokoe, http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/orthodoxpaper.html

"Despite administrational division, Orthodoxy remains united in faith, the Sacraments, etc. But is this sufficient? When before non-Orthodox we sometimes appear divided in theological dialogues and elsewhere; when we are unable to proceed to the realization of the long-heralded Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church; when we lack a unified voice on contemporary issues and, instead, convoke bilateral dialogues with non-Orthodox on these issues; when we fail to constitute a single Orthodox Church in the so-called Diaspora in accordance with the ecclesiological and canonical principles of our Church; how can we avoid the image of division in Orthodoxy, especially on the basis of non-theological, secular criteria?"

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the October 2008 Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches http://www.goarch.org/news/observer/


Offline ialmisry

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Re: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2008, 05:16:28 PM »
These are some troubling quotes that I've found from Orthodox Christians that really confuse me. Can someone please help me to understand them. I have read much about the Orthodox, and as I posted above, Orthodoxy makes sense. What doesn't- is these comments. I am considering Orthodoxy, but these quotes make it seem as if the family is divided in a way...

"The Orthodox Church cannot claim to be the true, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church if she is actually divided into a plurality of mutually independent, competing, and overlapping jurisdictions. This division has long ago ceased to be justified by the peculiarities of Orthodox immigration in America, and has become an open scandal to the faithful, a source of demoralization and dissatisfaction in the laity, and an obstacle to any effort or progress."

Per SCOBA's Ad Hoc Commission on Unity. Meeting XI Minutes 1970. Cited in "Orthodox Reunion: Overcoming the Curse of Jurisdictionalism in America" by The Very Reverend Josiah Trenham, Ph.D. (2006) http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/TrenhamUnity.php

"In externals, Orthodox Christians in North America resemble Roman Catholics. They share a similar sacramental view of life; liturgical forms of corporate worship; traditional forms of piety such as fasting, prayer, monasticism; and generally "conservative" positions on contemporary moral issues. In administration the Orthodox in North America resemble Protestants and are splintered into distinct administrative "jurisdictions", divisions based on ethnic origin and politics, both secular and ecclesiastical. In self-identity, however, Orthodox Christians in North America are like Orthodox Jews; a people apart, unable and at time unwilling to separate the claims of race, religion, and politics: people for whom the Greek terms "diaspora" ("dispersion") has been an expression of enduring meaning"

Orthodox historian Mark Stokoe, http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/orthodoxpaper.html

"Despite administrational division, Orthodoxy remains united in faith, the Sacraments, etc. But is this sufficient? When before non-Orthodox we sometimes appear divided in theological dialogues and elsewhere; when we are unable to proceed to the realization of the long-heralded Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church; when we lack a unified voice on contemporary issues and, instead, convoke bilateral dialogues with non-Orthodox on these issues; when we fail to constitute a single Orthodox Church in the so-called Diaspora in accordance with the ecclesiological and canonical principles of our Church; how can we avoid the image of division in Orthodoxy, especially on the basis of non-theological, secular criteria?"

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the October 2008 Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches http://www.goarch.org/news/observer/



Not divided, but not as united as we should be.  Sort of like a family split between Democrats and Republicans celebrating Thanksgiving after any one of the recent Presidential elections.
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Offline Elisha

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Re: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2008, 05:17:57 PM »
theosis,

First, welcome to the forum.

I would say that most of your other questions have been answered before if you use the search function.

Second, per worldwide presence, there is a significant presence - just not AS significant as others (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church).  Keep in mind, that historically, while the west was rich and flourishing, colonizing Africa and South America, the east was diminishing economically and being fiercely persecuted by the Muslim world.  This makes evangelism a lot more difficult.

Third, where do you live?  The United States?  Unless you are out in the rural and mountainous west, there is probably at least a couple of Orthodox parishes near you.  Just go to www.orthodoxyinamerica.org and search.

Offline serb1389

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Re: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2008, 06:26:11 PM »
theosis,

welcome to the site!  Here are some notes from my ecclesiology class that may be helpful. 

Abbreviations: 

LG = Lumen Gentium (here is the whole document, from the Vatican web-site) http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

OHCA = One, Holy Catholic (and) Apostolic (sometimes the "church" is implied, otherwise I am saying it as a sentence...sorry for the confusion...these are notes after all)

XC = christianity
JC = Jesus Christ
Z = (Met.) John Zizioulas

OC = Orthodox Church
RC = Roman Church (roman catholic church)

I think that's it.  Let me know if there are any questions.   
Quote
The LG affirms the notion of (subsist) that the RC church is the one, holy catholic apostolic church is the RC church in exclusive and unqualified church.  Florence says whoever is not united to the bishop of Rome is destined to burn in Hell, they are not in the salvific life of the church.  We move from that to an inclusive ecclesiology through the notion of the people of God, the pneumatology that has been injected in the document.  The OHCA church subsists in the church and aspects of the church can be found in different degrees in other Christians. 

Cyprian said outside the church there is no salvation.  Now they make a movement from that notion to the idea that the OHCA subsists in the RC church but there are elements of the OHCA church in the other Christian churches.  They say that even non-believers are somehow related to the OHCA church, like the Jews, etc.  This is important.  You can understand why the Pope called our church a wounded church.  They recognize the fullness of the church being in OC but we are wounded b/c one of their criterion of fullness is not present – communion with the bishop of Rome. 

How do we interpret the notion of “subsist” which means you can find the OHCA in the RC but the RC in its institutional context does not limit the presence of that catholicity in other churches.  This classic text (LG) is in paragraph 8.  We must not divide the heavenly and the earthly church.  What we can find in the spiritual realm can be found in the hierarchical and institutional church.  What other have, is not yours (as EO, or P) but rather elements of the catholic church that pulls you towards the fullness of catholicity as found in the RC church. 

There is an evolution from Cyprianic ecclesiology they moved to Augustinian.  That is the basis of RC ecumenism.  They will relate with respect and dialogical spirit with other XC churches and be ready to acknowledge and affirm whatever good can be found in our churches.  But after they have said everything about us they will maintain that we are missing something, that we are not yet in unity with the bishop of rome.  The primacy of the bishop of Rome, there was no evolution there.  The primacy has been put in a conciliar context, which is important. 

Z said the notion of the people of God, we all constitute it together, we constitute JC.  Within the body of Christ there is a differentiation b/w the ordained and the non-ordained but non of the ministries can be differentiated from the ministries of the other.  They are presenting the mystery of the church, the people of God, and then the hierarchical structures.  The hierarchy cannot be understood apart from the unity. 

The notion of ordination in RC is radically different than OC.  The ordained people are essentially different than the people.  Paragraph 10 in LG talks about this explicitly.  Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree.  What does he say here?  Ordination changes the ordained person, differentiating him from the rest of the people of God, although remaining related to the people of God.  Z would say that this is a remnant of Vatican I, and that is the basis of clericalism. 


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Offline serb1389

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Re: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2008, 06:35:01 PM »
Quote
When the LG discusses the people of God, the RC is eager to confirm the dignity of the lay people.  The dignity and freedom that they have as sons of God and all the people have received the HS that dwells in their hearts.  What does it mean to be a baptized person, that you live the commandment of God to love as JC loves.  The ultimate vision we have of life Is the kingdom of God initiated to us through God Himself. 

The baptized faithful are with God and they have the HS with them and they live in the fullness of the church.  If they don’t live a life of love, although they are in church, they are not saved.  Some say that participation in church life will lead to salvation, but if we do not love, that is not true.  LG says that salvation comes from JC.  There is a possibility that people outside the OHCA church (RC) to be saved by Christ.  It does not limit the operation of Christ within the institutional church.  The HS (LG) is everywhere present and the salvific work of Christ is in the whole creation. 
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Our unity with God is constantly developing it is constantly moving, and constantly participating in new expressions of his love.  (Nyssa talks about this). 
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I experience and live the fullness of the OHCA in the OC church, without excluding the RC and other churches which exist beyond the canonical bounds of the catholic church.  The eucharist is the church, so the fullness of the church is in Eucharist.  If the church is Christ, you cannot limit JC in the canonical limits of the church.
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According to Ignatius, Cyprian, Irenaeus there is only 1 Christ, so only 1 church.  That is why it is inconceivable for the OC to have 2 churches in one city.  Formally the OC has accepted the suggestion of Augustine, the involvement of our church in the EC movement.  Also it is in Vatican II and the RC church.  But the Augustinian view does not compromise the catholicity of the local church.  The catholicity of the local church discloses itself, can be found, in the celebration of the Eucharist with the presidency of the bishop, wehre the fullness of OC is lived and celebrated.  So the catholicity of the one holy catholic and apostolic church subsists in OC and without them the catholicity of the church cannot be found apart from them.  Aspects of the catholicity can be found outside the church.  God is not constrained by the bounds of the church.  He intends to save all people and the grace of God is for all people. 
Quote
Because of the qualitative nature of the local church, every local church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.  But these local churches have the right faith, are celebrating the Eucharist under the presidency of the bishop and therefore they are JC himself and are in communion with each other and their communion is of identity and not of administrative or juridical structures.  So for OC the local church is the manifestation of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.  Each local church is the manifestation of JC by virtue of its celebration of the eucharist and there is no eucharist w/o the bishop. 


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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2008, 09:19:24 PM »
theosis,

Welcome to the forum! I'm not sure how much help I can give, but I'll give the quotes that you provided a shot...

Quote
"The Orthodox Church cannot claim to be the true, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church if she is actually divided into a plurality of mutually independent, competing, and overlapping jurisdictions. This division has long ago ceased to be justified by the peculiarities of Orthodox immigration in America, and has become an open scandal to the faithful, a source of demoralization and dissatisfaction in the laity, and an obstacle to any effort or progress."

I would disagree with the first sentence of this paragraph. I think the Orthodox Church is still one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, in spite of having an uncanonical situation in place. There is indeed a problem with the way the jurisdictions are set up in America, and it is indeed an "open scandal to the faithful," with that I would agree. However, I do not think that this irregular situation effects the very