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Author Topic: How do we know what church is right?  (Read 2927 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 21, 2009, 03:54:02 PM »

*pre-note*  please don't be offended these are just some questions that are going through my head and I want to know other people's opinions on.


Why does the Roman Catholic Church have so many more people in it than the Orthodox Church does?  Doesn't that say something about its authenticity?  Afterall, we need to judge a church by its fruits and if they have lots of converts, perhaps the Holy Spirit is working with them.  Although then again that could be said of Islam since many people belong to it.

How do we know that it was the Orthodox Church that was the original church and that the Catholic Church split from it and not the other way around? The beliefs of the Orthodox Church is the beliefs of the people, is it not? God will lead us into all truth. So if the majority of the Christian people at the time believed that the pope was... well... the pope, then wouldn't that mean that there was some validity behind the statement.  Is the reason we know the Eastern Church is the true church because they had the most original patriarchs?  Or is it simply because they have the same beliefs as the early Christians.

Where did the Patriarchates come from?  Aren't they kind of like mini-popes in that they were not around from the beginning but had their status elevated so that they could be in charge of their patriarchate?

If these questions have been answered in other threads, could someone please direct me to those.
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2009, 04:25:33 PM »

*pre-note*  please don't be offended these are just some questions that are going through my head and I want to know other people's opinions on.


Why does the Roman Catholic Church have so many more people in it than the Orthodox Church does?  Doesn't that say something about its authenticity?  Afterall, we need to judge a church by its fruits and if they have lots of converts, perhaps the Holy Spirit is working with them.  Although then again that could be said of Islam since many people belong to it.

How do we know that it was the Orthodox Church that was the original church and that the Catholic Church split from it and not the other way around? The beliefs of the Orthodox Church is the beliefs of the people, is it not? God will lead us into all truth. So if the majority of the Christian people at the time believed that the pope was... well... the pope, then wouldn't that mean that there was some validity behind the statement.  Is the reason we know the Eastern Church is the true church because they had the most original patriarchs?  Or is it simply because they have the same beliefs as the early Christians.

Where did the Patriarchates come from?  Aren't they kind of like mini-popes in that they were not around from the beginning but had their status elevated so that they could be in charge of their patriarchate?

If these questions have been answered in other threads, could someone please direct me to those.

How do we know what church is right... Continuity with Sacred Tradition.
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2009, 04:31:58 PM »

Hi Ary_Girl,

Why does the Roman Catholic Church have so many more people in it than the Orthodox Church does?  Doesn't that say something about its authenticity?  Afterall, we need to judge a church by its fruits and if they have lots of converts, perhaps the Holy Spirit is working with them.  Although then again that could be said of Islam since many people belong to it.

I don't know the exact statistics, but correct me if I am wrong, in some Latin American countries all people are Roman Catholics, simply because when their birth is registered, their belonging to the RC is authomatically affirmed. That includes tribal people who live in the jungle of the Amazon basin and who may well have no understanding of words like God, Christ, Church etc.

The countries where the Eastern Orthodoxy was widespread have, on the most part, experienced foreign occupation (Turks) or Communist anti-theistic terror (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Georgia). That certainly resulted in a substantial decrease in the numbers of people who openly confess their Orthodox faith.  

How do we know that it was the Orthodox Church that was the original church and that the Catholic Church split from it and not the other way around? The beliefs of the Orthodox Church is the beliefs of the people, is it not? God will lead us into all truth. So if the majority of the Christian people at the time believed that the pope was... well... the pope, then wouldn't that mean that there was some validity behind the statement.  Is the reason we know the Eastern Church is the true church because they had the most original patriarchs?  Or is it simply because they have the same beliefs as the early Christians.

Where did the Patriarchates come from?  Aren't they kind of like mini-popes in that they were not around from the beginning but had their status elevated so that they could be in charge of their patriarchate?

Berofe 1054, the Church was one, and it included several administrative units, each headed by a very respected prelate or Patriarch. There were five of them: the Patriarch (or archbishop, or Pope) of Rome, the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Patriarch of Antioch, and the Patriarch of Constantinople. All of them were equal in status, and they ruled the entire Church in a consiliar manner. However, in the 7th-10th century there appeared a belief that the archbishop of Rome has a unique status, higher than the remaining four Patriarchs. For example, some clergy in the West began to believe that the Archbishop or Pope of Rome can appoint other prelates. When the clergy and laity of Constantinople put a man called Photius on the throne of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Pope of Rome became furious and ordered his subordinate clergy to ignore the following Ecumenical Council. The other four Patriarchs, however, argued that this self-elevation of the Pope does not have any grounds in Scripture or in the Church Tradition; the Church has only one Head, Who is Christ Himself, and before His glorious Second Coming the Church should be run not by any one individual but by councils of bishops who all have an equal status ("charisma").

Because of this diagereement, the relationships between the Roman archbishop or Pope and the remaining four Patriarchs became very tense, and finally in 1054 an ambassador from the Pope brought to Constantinople a "bull" (letter) from the Pope, in which the Pope excommunicated the four Patriarchs. Since that moment the Roman archdiocese began its separate existence as the "Roman Catholic Church."

There are certainly many threads on this forum and elsewhere that have already discussed this issue. Personally, I would recommend a wonderful, comprehensive historical study of this issue made by Metropolitan Lakkistos (Timothy Ware), in his book, "The Orthodox Church." Here is a link to its text:

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/history_timothy_ware_1.htm

Best wishes,

George
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2009, 05:31:12 PM »

*pre-note*  please don't be offended these are just some questions that are going through my head and I want to know other people's opinions on.


Why does the Roman Catholic Church have so many more people in it than the Orthodox Church does?

Because one gate is narrow and another wide.  Which they go to is the question.

Btw, at the time of the schism, and some time afterward, there were more Orthodox.

The present numbers are a result of the followers of the Vatican subjugating half the world by the sword, while the Orthodox were fighting off Muslims on one side and their Latin "brethren" on the other.

Quote
  Doesn't that say something about its authenticity? 


St. Jerome said the world awoke one day and found itself Arian.  Maybe we should rethink Nicea, no?

Quote
Afterall, we need to judge a church by its fruits and if they have lots of converts, perhaps the Holy Spirit is working with them.

And then how do you explain the Evangelicals, who are decimating the Latin church in Latin America?

Quote
Although then again that could be said of Islam since many people belong to it.

You just answered your own question.

Quote
How do we know that it was the Orthodox Church that was the original church and that the Catholic Church split from it and not the other way around?
Who changed the Creed, and changed their position on changing the Creed?  And who didn't change?

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The beliefs of the Orthodox Church is the beliefs of the people, is it not?

No, it is the beliefs of the Apostles.

Quote
God will lead us into all truth.


Only those who follow him.

Quote
So if the majority of the Christian people at the time believed that the pope was... well... the pope,

Problem is the majority didn't believe that the pope of Rome was the ultramontanist pope.

Quote
then wouldn't that mean that there was some validity behind the statement.


No.  Remember the warning of the wide gate and the promise to the Little Flock.

Quote
Is the reason we know the Eastern Church is the true church because they had the most original patriarchs?

Doesn't hurt.  They had the original Creed.

Quote
  Or is it simply because they have the same beliefs as the early Christians.

Bingo!  To be believed everywhere, by everyone at all times, i.e. Catholic,  means believed by the early Christians in the Apostolic sees (plural) in the early Church.

Quote
Where did the Patriarchates come from?

The Apostles and the Early Church.

Quote
  Aren't they kind of like mini-popes in that they were not around from the beginning but had their status elevated so that they could be in charge of their patriarchate?

Elevated by whom?  Certainly not Rome.  Patriarchate of Antioch predates Rome, and the title Pope of Alexandria predates the pope of Rome.

The Vatican's pope is more like a super-patriarch.

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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2009, 05:39:50 PM »

There was a moment in history when the Orthodox Church was larger than the Roman Catholic Church, and that moment was the Great Schism. The Eastern Church was always larger than the Western Church up until the 12th and early 13th centuries. So at the time of the Schism, the majority of the people went along with the East.

The Orthodox Church shrunk mainly from Islamic conquests and later the Soviet Union. The Roman Church eventually expanded to all of Western Europe, then all the way to South and Central America.
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2009, 07:52:50 PM »

There are certainly many threads on this forum and elsewhere that have already discussed this issue. Personally, I would recommend a wonderful, comprehensive historical study of this issue made by Metropolitan Lakkistos (Timothy Ware), in his book, "The Orthodox Church." Here is a link to its text:

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/history_timothy_ware_1.htm

Best wishes,

George

Sorry for the typo, it's of course Kallistos, not "Lakkistos." Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2009, 08:28:00 PM »

I agree with Heorig's recommendation. Met. Kallistos' book is both informative and balanced. If anyone is looking for "other church bashing", it's not in this book.

I'm only going to answer your topic question, as I believe that Met. Kallistos answers your other questions so much better than I can.  Grin

I can only express my thoughts on this in the hope that you will get something from my own experience. If you don't, simply discard whatever I have to say as ramblings.

Being an ardent student of history, I realise that situations of the past are always tricky things to judge. We weren't present at the time to observe for ourselves and even then our observation would be tainted by our own prejudices. As we are distanced by time, we can only rely on the evidence of whichever author we choose to read on any topic. When we look into history, we are inevitably in the danger of taking sides on issues, perhaps because of our own biases, often because of the biases of the authors we read; and sometimes simply because of how well they sell their opinion. I also believe that there are often underlying prejudices that prevent most of us from being able to fully and honestly investigate this most delicate of issues. Met. Kallistos seems to have been able to rise above that kind of prejudice and present a history that is unflavoured by partisanship.

Do I believe that the Orthodox is the true Church? Yes, I do. Do I know for sure. I think "knowing" is a long reach. In the end, I believe we can only hope to have a kind of comfort at the outcome of our investigation into history; especially the history of the Church. I am Orthodox, because that is where I felt (yes, felt) compelled to be so; perhaps that was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; I would like to think so, but I'm more inclined not to see it as some kind of divine intervention. After all, many sincere seekers are converting to Catholicism or something else. I believe it was my decision and I could easily have done more research and gone somewhere else. Still, there was something stopping me from becoming Catholic or returning as a full member of the Anglican communion. I wonder sometimes if this was due to latent prejudices on my part. Who knows; and to me it doesn't really matter in the overall scheme of things. We should always rememeber that we are fallible creatures. I have good friends who were convinced that they should travel West, while I was convinced that East was the direction I should take. 

Having become Orthodox, I'm content to work with the Church for my salvation; the only reason I am there - not because I think the Catholic Church or any other church is completely evil or even completely wrong. I'm not particularly partisan and I think it very dangerous for a fallible human being to go in for trimphantism. 

Would I die for my faith? Yes, I would, but that is probably not because I am by any means saintly; it's because I am one stubborn lady who, in the end, is comfortable to rely on the Mercy of God; not the hope of infallible intellectual decisions about who is right and who is wrong. I hope that I have helped in some small way.

God be with you.
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« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2009, 10:27:01 PM »


Why does the Roman Catholic Church have so many more people in it than the Orthodox Church does?

Central & South America, not to mention sub-Saharen Africa. Most of Orthodoxy was trapped under Islam and later communism.


 
Quote
Doesn't that say something about its authenticity?

Nope, The Assyrian Church of the East was once the largest. It covered Persia, parts of China, and India, so no. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, Rome was small. Her size doubled when Columbus went west(to the Americas).



 
Quote
Afterall, we need to judge a church by its fruits and if they have lots of converts, perhaps the Holy Spirit is working with them.  Although then again that could be said of Islam since many people belong to it.

Now that Eastern Orthodoxy is free in the west, Eastern Europe, Black Africa, and the South Pacific.. alot of people are now flocking to Her.



Quote
How do we know that it was the Orthodox Church that was the original church and that the Catholic Church split from it and not the other way around?


Just look at what happened around 1054. Also look at what happened with the Franks, and how that later helped with the cause of the split.



Quote
The beliefs of the Orthodox Church is the beliefs of the people, is it not?

We are not a democratic republic. And when you look at the decrees of the Councils of Nicea/Constantinople and Chalcedon, then you will see that our view is the view of the Great Councils.



 
Quote
God will lead us into all truth. So if the majority of the Christian people at the time believed that the pope was... well... the pope, then wouldn't that mean that there was some validity behind the statement.

No, the Patrairch of Egypt is also called "Pope". And if you look at the Decrees of the great Councils then you will understand that the Majority view was our view.


 
Quote
Is the reason we know the Eastern Church is the true church because they had the most original patriarchs?  Or is it simply because they have the same beliefs as the early Christians.

Rome keeps adding stuff. And she keeps making unilateral decisions....just like what Europe said about George Bush. They said he was unilateral. But Rome kept adding stuff.


Quote
Where did the Patriarchates come from?  Aren't they kind of like mini-popes in that they were not around from the beginning but had their status elevated so that they could be in charge of their patriarchate?

Nope. The Original Patriarchs were three.

Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. Later two more were added......Constantinople and Jerusalem.

So 3 were around from the beginning, and later 2 more were added. Oh, by the way. Peter was in Antioch before he died in Rome.








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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2009, 05:21:53 AM »

Berofe 1054, the Church was one, and it included several administrative units, each headed by a very respected prelate or Patriarch. There were five of them: the Patriarch (or archbishop, or Pope) of Rome, the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Patriarch of Antioch, and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Bah!  Alexandria and the Orientals left the Church in 451.  Antioch has about 8,000 Apostolic thrones right now, but even within the first 500 years of Christianity the Patriarchy of Antioch was split to hell and back.  After the Great Schism Antioch was evenly divided between those loyal to Rome (the Melkites), and those loyal to the Greeks (the Antiochian Orthodox).  This isn't even getting into the Nestorian schism!

So to act as if all of Christendom was one for 1,000 years is really stretching it, but these finer details do not gel with the oversimplified "church history" that some Orthodox give during their conversion-geared speeches.  So at the time of the Great Schism, Alexandria had two Patriarchs, Antioch had three or more, and who knows how many that Jerusalem had (or has today)!

All that said, I still believe that the Eastern Orthodox communion is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  All those that have separated from her are heretics and outside of the Church Militant.  I would expect any members of the other apostolic communions to hold the same position, but what do I know?
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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2009, 08:37:57 AM »

Berofe 1054, the Church was one, and it included several administrative units, each headed by a very respected prelate or Patriarch. There were five of them: the Patriarch (or archbishop, or Pope) of Rome, the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Patriarch of Antioch, and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Bah!  Alexandria and the Orientals left the Church in 451. 

But I did not mean the Copts. There is the Coptic Church with its center in Alexandria (and they indeed are "Orientals," who disagree with Chalcedon), but there also is an Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Am I wrong?

I know that I was over-simplifying the Church history in my reply to Ary-Girl, but I don't think I wrote something principally wrong, or did I?
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2009, 03:08:24 PM »

But I did not mean the Copts. There is the Coptic Church with its center in Alexandria (and they indeed are "Orientals," who disagree with Chalcedon), but there also is an Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Am I wrong?

You are correct that a new Patriarch of Alexandria was put in place by the Orthodox Church, but almost the whole of the Alexandrian communion denied the Council of Chalcedon.  Today's Coptic church represents the overwhelming majority of Egyptian Christianity.  The Patriarch of the Greek Church for the most part only headed a small segment who stood by the council.  As far as the way that I realistically see it, Alexandria broke communion with the Church in 451.  So it just seem silly to me to act as if the whole of Christendom was united until the pope messed up everything at the beginning of the second millennium.

In reality, you could say that Christendom was "one" for about 106 years if you trace the time between the First Council of Nicaea (325) and the Council of Ephesus (431), at which the Assyrian Church of the East split off from the union of all Christendom.  But to act as if the whole Christian world was united in doctrine and practice even within this narrow scope of exactly 106 years is preposterous!  The liturgical practices between the churches were very different, and the differences in theological approach simply had not been brought to light yet.

I do not say all of this to argue against the notion of One True and Visible Church, but rather to try to delineate how very complicated early Church history is, and how giving people such an oversimplified introduction can lead to confusion and disappointment has they dig deeper into history.
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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2009, 04:42:45 PM »

it just seem silly to me to act as if the whole of Christendom was united until the pope messed up everything at the beginning of the second millennium.

In reality, you could say that Christendom was "one" for about 106 years if you trace the time between the First Council of Nicaea (325) and the Council of Ephesus (431), at which the Assyrian Church of the East split off from the union of all Christendom.  But to act as if the whole Christian world was united in doctrine and practice even within this narrow scope of exactly 106 years is preposterous!  The liturgical practices between the churches were very different, and the differences in theological approach simply had not been brought to light yet.

Well, I still stand by the notion that Christianity was one. Yes, there were heresies. But if your logic is, "because there appeared all these Nestorians and what not, then it is correct to say that after ~430 there were many different Churches." Forgive me, but I don't buy this logic. Arianism appeared even before 325 (that's why the focus Nicea was at Arianism), and even before Arius, there were Montanists, and Donatists, and Nicolaites (Revelation 2:15), and what not. That does not count. The present-day "Non-Chalcs" (Oriental Orthodox) deny that they are Eutichian Monophysites. So they actually ARE a part of the Church, not heretics (because while they do not agree with Chalcedon, they still believe in the full Divinity and in the full humanity of Christ). I'd venture to say that before 1054, the Church was DOCTRINALLY, dogmatically, ONE (since the various heretics are NOT the Church).

I do not say all of this to argue against the notion of One True and Visible Church, but rather to try to delineate how very complicated early Church history is, and how giving people such an oversimplified introduction can lead to confusion and disappointment has they dig deeper into history.

Let's hope this will not happen to Ary_Girl.
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2009, 05:38:26 PM »

Let's hope this will not happen to Ary_Girl.

Amen.  Lord, have mercy on the work of your hands!
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2009, 06:49:22 PM »

But I did not mean the Copts. There is the Coptic Church with its center in Alexandria (and they indeed are "Orientals," who disagree with Chalcedon), but there also is an Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Am I wrong?

You are correct that a new Patriarch of Alexandria was put in place by the Orthodox Church, but almost the whole of the Alexandrian communion denied the Council of Chalcedon.  Today's Coptic church represents the overwhelming majority of Egyptian Christianity.  The Patriarch of the Greek Church for the most part only headed a small segment who stood by the council.  As far as the way that I realistically see it, Alexandria broke communion with the Church in 451.  So it just seem silly to me to act as if the whole of Christendom was united until the pope messed up everything at the beginning of the second millennium.

In reality, you could say that Christendom was "one" for about 106 years if you trace the time between the First Council of Nicaea (325) and the Council of Ephesus (431), at which the Assyrian Church of the East split off from the union of all Christendom.  But to act as if the whole Christian world was united in doctrine and practice even within this narrow scope of exactly 106 years is preposterous!  The liturgical practices between the churches were very different, and the differences in theological approach simply had not been brought to light yet.

I do not say all of this to argue against the notion of One True and Visible Church, but rather to try to delineate how very complicated early Church history is, and how giving people such an oversimplified introduction can lead to confusion and disappointment has they dig deeper into history.

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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2009, 07:49:32 PM »

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Bah!  Alexandria and the Orientals left the Church in 451.  Antioch has about 8,000 Apostolic thrones right now, but even within the first 500 years of Christianity the Patriarchy of Antioch was split to hell and back.  After the Great Schism Antioch was evenly divided between those loyal to Rome (the Melkites), and those loyal to the Greeks (the Antiochian Orthodox).  This isn't even getting into the Nestorian schism!

Not really. The Eastern Orthodox Patriarch immediately replaced the one who disagreed with Chalcedon. The Patriarch condemned by Chalcedon was kicked out, and a new one was brought in to replace him. The Eastern Orthodox are of the lineage of the replacement, while the Coptic Patriarch is of the lineage of the patriarch condemned by Chalcedon. So in a way, both Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs can claim succession.
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2009, 12:42:48 AM »

So in a way, both Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs can claim succession.

I understand that, but in reality since 99.9% (a real statistic) of Copts disagreed with the council, Alexandria broke communion with the Catholic church at that time.  It's very obvious which Patriarch really represents the Egyptian Orthodox community.
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2009, 01:19:32 AM »

So in a way, both Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs can claim succession.

I understand that, but in reality since 99.9% (a real statistic) of Copts disagreed with the council, Alexandria broke communion with the Catholic church at that time.
 

You need to clarify.  By "Catholic church" do you mean Rome?  If that is what you mean, then yes, Alexandria broke with Rome after Chalcedon.  Or perhaps one should say that Rome broke with the Orthodox in Alexandria after Chalcedon.   Smiley

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It's very obvious which Patriarch really represents the Egyptian Orthodox community.

Yes, and His Holiness Pope Shenouda is a wonderful Patriarch.   Smiley



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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2009, 01:41:21 AM »

So in a way, both Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs can claim succession.

I understand that, but in reality since 99.9% (a real statistic) of Copts disagreed with the council, Alexandria broke communion with the Catholic church at that time.  It's very obvious which Patriarch really represents the Egyptian Orthodox community.

And 99.9% of those in the patriarchate of Constantinople are Muslim, so?  Actually, at the time of Chalcedon and some time thereafter Greeks made up a large part of the patriarchate, especially in Alexandria, and there is a question about the position of the Nubian Church in the south.


The Alexandrian Church under Pope Theodoros, EO, is the largest the EO patriarchate has been since Chalcedon.
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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2009, 01:45:04 AM »

Are we setting a good precedent for the OP even as most of us do this in jest?

I interpret the OP's concerns as whether or not a dominant culture influences the Orthodox faith and the answer is unanimously, NO.  Of course, when one attends any GOA Metropolis Folk Dance Festival and sees dances from Black Sea and other areas of former Greek civilization now in Turkish, Georgian and other hands, I really try to compromise ethnic dance to "Dance, O Isaiah...." and find the relevance, if any.  Honestly, there is no correlation between dancing the Kotsari and dancing Isaiah's Dance of Joy.   Huh
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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2009, 01:45:47 AM »

You need to clarify.  By "Catholic church" do you mean Rome?  If that is what you mean, then yes, Alexandria broke with Rome after Chalcedon.  Or perhaps one should say that Rome broke with the Orthodox in Alexandria after Chalcedon.

I meant the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  All of the Church was "Roman" at that time, East or West.  I meant that Alexandria broke off from the Greco-Roman communion.  Obviously that also includes a lot of other ethnic groups besides the Copts.

You think that you're part of the One Church and so do I.  But we're not in communion, so unless both of our respective churches embrace reunion, then I'm not going to refer to the Orientals as if they are a part of the same church as me.  It's nothing personal, it's just the way it is.

I'm only a catechumen, so even though you're in a different communion than me I'm not trying to school you on anything or insult you.  I'm sure you have a much better idea of what it means to be an Apostolic "orthodox" Christian anyway.

After death, God can sort out the historical mess!
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« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2009, 08:35:31 AM »

So in a way, both Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs can claim succession.

I understand that, but in reality since 99.9% (a real statistic) of Copts disagreed with the council, Alexandria broke communion with the Catholic church at that time.
 

You need to clarify.  By "Catholic church" do you mean Rome?  If that is what you mean, then yes, Alexandria broke with Rome after Chalcedon.  Or perhaps one should say that Rome broke with the Orthodox in Alexandria after Chalcedon.   Smiley

Quote
It's very obvious which Patriarch really represents the Egyptian Orthodox community.

Yes, and His Holiness Pope Shenouda is a wonderful Patriarch.   Smiley

Yes, he is.

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I just love it when people talk about my Church like we're not in the room.    Cheesy

Speaking of that, Marlo on another forum  police Roll Eyes police said that the OO would see the pentarchy as an innovation, and that you recognize only three sees of St. Peter.  What say you?
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« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2009, 09:09:39 AM »

I just love it when people talk about my Church like we're not in the room.    Cheesy

Not me. I understand that you guys (the OO) ARE "in the room." BTW, did I write correctly that you, just lile us (EO), confess full Divinity and full humanity of Christ? If this is so, I don't see any reasons for us not to be in communion... I pray that our bishops sort it out one happy day! Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: January 23, 2009, 09:16:50 AM »

Are we setting a good precedent for the OP even as most of us do this in jest?

No. I regret that this thread evolved the way it did. I think we should emphasize on the unity of the Church before the Great Schism. Heresies are NOT Church.

I interpret the OP's concerns as whether or not a dominant culture influences the Orthodox faith and the answer is unanimously, NO.  Of course, when one attends any GOA Metropolis Folk Dance Festival and sees dances from Black Sea and other areas of former Greek civilization now in Turkish, Georgian and other hands, I really try to compromise ethnic dance to "Dance, O Isaiah...." and find the relevance, if any.  Honestly, there is no correlation between dancing the Kotsari and dancing Isaiah's Dance of Joy.   Huh

Yes, if I get your drift correctly, I am the same way - I don't believe that ethnic cultures determine our faith. It is BETTER for us to be in a jurisdiction and in a parish where we can worship in our native language and where we can rejoice watching children dance OUR native ethic dances. But if this is not possible, we should still be part of the Orthodox Church. I dearly miss singing "Svyatyj Bozhe, Svyatyj Kripkyj..." (Holy God, Holy MIghty...) in Ukrainian and to a tune by Maksym Berezovs'kyj; but just because in the parish I currently attend, they sing "Agias o Theos" in English or Greek to a tune that has nothing in common with my ethnic tradition, - I will not go to a Roman Catholic or Protestant church.
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« Reply #23 on: January 23, 2009, 09:36:32 PM »

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« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2009, 09:51:44 PM »

BTW, did I write correctly that you, just lile us (EO), confess full Divinity and full humanity of Christ?

Yes.


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If this is so, I don't see any reasons for us not to be in communion... I pray that our bishops sort it out one happy day! Smiley

That's my prayer also.   Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2009, 09:56:38 PM »

Speaking of that, Marlo on another forum  police Roll Eyes police said that the OO would see the pentarchy as an innovation, and that you recognize only three sees of St. Peter.  What say you?

I think the whole ranking system is a bit foreign to us.  I don't know about the three sees of St. Peter.
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« Reply #26 on: January 24, 2009, 11:56:30 AM »

Speaking of that, Marlo on another forum  police Roll Eyes police said that the OO would see the pentarchy as an innovation, and that you recognize only three sees of St. Peter.  What say you?

I think the whole ranking system is a bit foreign to us.  I don't know about the three sees of St. Peter.

I'm not sure how much you know about the relationship historically between Antioch and Georgia and the Armenian Church, but perhaps as an Armenian you have a better vantage point to answer the question: how do you view the relationship between Alexandria over Ethiopia and Antioch over Jerusalem and India (leaving aside for the moment, perhaps, the issue of an autocephalous Church in India and the present status of Ethiopia).
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« Reply #27 on: January 24, 2009, 12:26:08 PM »

I'm not sure the relationships you mention are exactly the same thing as the EO pentarchy.  We do have a history of some parent-child type relationships between churches, but I think it is different.  I'm not exactly an expert on this.  The Armenian Church was under Caesarea when it started, but that ended in the late 300's.  Also, as you pointed out, the Ethiopian Patriarchs are independent of the Coptic Church now (I hope I'm using the right terminology.)  I think that is significant in that it shows that to the extent we've had these parent-child relationships, they don't have the same character that the EO pentarchy seems to have.  I don't know.  There are other OO's on this board who know more of these things than I do.   Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2009, 01:09:21 AM »

Thanks all for your imput.   Smiley 

I must admit that I have become a bit confused due to there being RCC, OO, and EO that all have apostolic succession.  It is not easy just to point and say, hey this is the Church founded by Christ.  I really would like to find out which is "the Church," but my mind is fallible and I doubt if I could ever say with any certainty.  The thing is that I would like to help people in their faith with God, and I do not see how I can do this if I don't have it right.  For example, I have grown up in the Lutheran tradition and have felt more and more that I could not teach sunday school or mentor without compromising my beliefs.  I would feel bad if I invited one of my Catholic friends to my church, and they ended up leaving the RCC.  Of course that would be their choice, still if the RCC was the original Christian Church, I would feel culpable for leading my friend in the wrong direction.  If this is wrong or right, I don't know, but this is how I feel.  I just would not like to be working against Christ's Church. 

Riddikulus, I appreciate your personal story.  I am trying to drop my biases when looking into Church history.  After studying the RCC, I must admit that I have a bias lean toward the RCC, however I felt compelled to look at Orthodoxy before I could make a definitive choice.  I heard that few ELCA theologians had become RCC and Eastern Orthodox, and I wondered, why EO?  The more I am learning about it the more that I am reconsidering my view of Catholicism. 

I had some issues with Catholicism that I was willing to set aside, thinking it was the Church, but it seems like Eastern Orthodoxy answers these.  I have been wrestling with this question for about a year and still I do not feel ready to make a choice, because whichever side I decide to go to I plan to stick with.  Maybe I should just pick one and rely on God's mercy for any mistake that I may make. 

One of the big issues was I didn't understand how Jesus (and Mary) could be preserved from original sin if that was part of our fallen nature.  How could they be entirely human if they did not share that one component with the rest of humanity.  Also why the pope could make infallible statements within the last century, when he didn't at other times in Christianity.  I was told that the belief was always there as a seed.  But then why is it only now that he would exercise that authority, and why wouldn't the East acknowledge that authority?  Reading about how the Franks influenced the pope is quite unsettling, too.  I also like mystery and don't quite understand why everything has to be explained, like transubstantiation, but then again if God revealed these things through His Church, who am I to disagree.  So I suppose if I were to join the Eastern Orthodox Church it would be for theological reasons (which kind of makes me uneasy since I am no theologian.)



haha, I thought I had it figured out when I started looking into the RCC, but drop in the EO and OO churches into the mix and it gets confusing. 
Heorhij and Alveus Lacuna it appears I have already become confused although not disappointed... yet.

If I could ask one more question, I also wondered why there were no more Ecumenical Councils after the Schism, was there no need or is it more difficult now? 

I wish I could respond to everyone, but I am afraid that would be one long post. Again thank you for all the imput and I will continue to look around on this forum.  It is quite informative.  Cheesy
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« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2009, 02:33:20 AM »

Thanks all for your imput.   Smiley 

I must admit that I have become a bit confused due to there being RCC, OO, and EO that all have apostolic succession.

They do, but they morphed into 3 different entities in the ensuing Centuries where the OO and EO basically differ by one Greek letter (forgive me my OO brethren if I oversimplified as such) and the RCC has created her own sovereign entity (which wasn't what Christ had planned). 

Also why the pope could make infallible statements within the last century, when he didn't at other times in Christianity.  I was told that the belief was always there as a seed.  But then why is it only now that he would exercise that authority, and why wouldn't the East acknowledge that authority?  Reading about how the Franks influenced the pope is quite unsettling, too.  I also like mystery and don't quite understand why everything has to be explained, like transubstantiation, but then again if God revealed these things through His Church, who am I to disagree.  So I suppose if I were to join the Eastern Orthodox Church it would be for theological reasons (which kind of makes me uneasy since I am no theologian.)

How you feel about Eastern Orthodoxy vs. Lutheranism vs. RCC vs. anything else you have been exposed to?  If your heart says that EO is the One True Church, follow that and forget about knowing too much theology.  Sure, you can ask questions about EO theology without becoming a theologian.   Wink

If I could ask one more question, I also wondered why there were no more Ecumenical Councils after the Schism, was there no need or is it more difficult now?

Very difficult due to geopolitical and technical concerns.  RCC has had a number of binding conferences in Vatican I and Vatican II.  Eastern Orthodox have had local councils but not an Ecumenical Council. 

I wish I could respond to everyone, but I am afraid that would be one long post. Again thank you for all the imput and I will continue to look around on this forum.  It is quite informative.  Cheesy

That's why I'm here.   Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2009, 02:59:32 PM »

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Very difficult due to geopolitical and technical concerns.  RCC has had a number of binding conferences in Vatican I and Vatican II.  Eastern Orthodox have had local councils but not an Ecumenical Council.

Actually, we have had some councils that were practically ecumenical, but not all Orthodox Christians call it that.. Constantinople V (the Palamite Councils) would count. Also the Synod of Jerusalem during the Reformation and another council during the Raskol Schism in Moscow (at least I think that one was ecumenical).
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« Reply #31 on: January 27, 2009, 03:48:11 PM »


One of the big issues was I didn't understand how Jesus (and Mary) could be preserved from original sin if that was part of our fallen nature.  How could they be entirely human if they did not share that one component with the rest of humanity.

The way I understand it after my catechumen studies (very insufficient of course, giving me only a very basic and incomplete understanding):

Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, or the second Person of the Holy Trinity Who assumed our human nature (or our humanity) without ceasing to be God. Our humanity per se does not contain sin; it is said to be "fallen," but the Orthodox Church sees this state of "fallen-ness" as "injury" to our nature done by the transgression of our forefathers, as humanity being fragile and susceptible to sin rather than "sinful" from birth or from conception. So, Christ, having accepted exactly this, our own, fallen, fragile, injured humanity would be as susceptible to sin as we are. But in Him, there were two natures - human and Divine, - and two wills, human and Divine. He made his human will perfectly obedient to the Divine will and therefore, even being one in essence or nature (cosubstantial) with each and every one of us, committed no sin.

The Most Holy Theotokos was chosen as the "vessel" for the humanity of the Incarnate God. Christ actually assumed His humanity from her; His body after conception formed entirely from her body, or, using a term from modern biology, from her "zygote." To guard our Incarnate Lord from every possible hereditory aberration, physical as well as spiritual (moral), the body and the soul of the Most Holy Theotokos had to be specially prepared. While we do not believe that she was "immaculately conceived," she was most definitely under a special, unique "watch" of the Holy Spirit, so she spent all the years of her life prior to the miracle of Annunciation in a perfect purity, having committed no sin whatsoever.


I also wondered why there were no more Ecumenical Councils after the Schism, was there no need or is it more difficult now?

AFAIK, there were several reasons, of which perhaps the most significant was that in the 7th-8th century, the Eastern Roman Empire lost a huge chunk of its territories due to the Muslim expansion. All kinds of communication between Constantinople and Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria became exceedingly difficult because the latter were under the Muslim occupation.  

Thank you for your interest and nice words about our forum!
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