I am an Orthodox Christian who attends an ACROD church. I was received into Holy Orthodoxy in that same parish.
Are we going to begin splitting jurisdictional hairs here like Protestants?
No, I was just curious.
Are you actually going to compare paltry forms of fakirism and idolatry to the miracles associated with RC saints?
The people who adore this man are quite sincere, and do not think it's "paltry" at all.
When we speak of Roman Catholics living holy lives and doing good works of charity and self-sacrifice we are speaking of Christians, people who hold about 99% or more of their beliefs in common with us, people who worship the Holy Trinity and share our faith in Christ.
We are speaking of heterodox
btw., I do not out of hand/automatically question the sincerity of anyone, let alone the legions of people who regularly attend Roman Catholic services. Several of them are friends and family of mine, and they are amongst the most decent people I know. Sadly, this does not render them members of Christ.
We are not speaking of Hindus and Muslims and Jews and other deniers of Christ.
Hindus do not formally say they "deny Christ" - I know many include images of Him in their private shrines, and I was even told by a Hindu friend years back, that the temple he regularly attends has a picture of Him, along with their idols.
Muslims certainly do not "deny Jesus" either - they hold Him in great esteem, even numbering Him amongst their "prophets". In their opinion, He's a brother of theirs.
But you would do well, if you raised the following valid point - while these people may speak of Christ, and even know of His Sacred Life amongst men, they have some very false ideas about Him, and about what He taught - they also hold other ideas, which are incompatable with what He actually taught. Yet as far as I can know, they are "sincere."
While it is obvious that at least on a didatic level they are "more far off" than the Roman Catholics, or Protestants, qualitatively the problem is the same (just not to the same extent) - for Roman Catholics too, have not only misconceptions about God and Christ (which are formally espoused by their church), but profoundly mistaken ideas about what He has taught, or the identity of His qahal/ekklesia, and what She really constitutes.
What really distinguishes the heresies from Orthodoxy, is that they are still (in varying degrees) in possession of things which are "of the Church" (both in fact, and by way of historical descent); whether it be particular beliefs, certain writings (Scriptures, writings of Fathers they accept), and certain practices/disciplines.
However, what they sadly have in common with the previously mentioned groups (infidels, pagans) is that they are outside of the Church of Christ.
What is "antichrist" about the RCC?
Several things, unfortunately. The Papacy, is a conspicuous example of this.
For, as your venerable Holiness knows, this name of Universality was offered by the holy synod of Chalcedon to the pontiff of the Apostolic See which by the providence of God I serve38 . But no one of my predecessors has ever consented to use this so profane a title; since, forsooth, if one Patriarch is called Universal, the name of Patriarch in the case of the rest is derogated. But far be this, far be it from the mind of a Christian, that any one should wish to seize for himself that whereby he might seem in the least degree to lessen the honour of his brethren. While, then, we are unwilling to receive this honour when offered to us, think how disgraceful it is for any one to have wished to usurp it to himself perforce. (Pope St.Gregory the Great, Book V, Epistle XLIII)
Now I confidently say thatwhosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others. Nor is it by dissimilar pride that he is led into error; for, as that perverse one wishes to appear as above all men, so whosoever this one is who covets being called sole priest, he extols himself above all other priests. (Pope St.Gregory the Great, Book VII, Epistle XXXIII
Are you comparing the saints of the RCC to the priests of Baal faced by the prophet Elijah?
As you know, the "cult of baal" was very popular amongst the people in that part of the levant, and due to dissent from what they received from Moses and the Prophets, the Israelitic people themselves. What is interesting about the Israelites, is that they seem to have confounded the "cult of baal" with the worship of the Lord. This wasn't new - for example, the idol of the calf they formed in the desert (symbolically borrowed from the Egyptians, though also very popular throughout the Middle East), was not intended to be a representation of a completly foreign god, but as the Scriptures relate, was understood to be of the Lord (Hebrew: YHWH).
The same is true of the schism of the Northern Kingdom - it's heterodox rites, and idolatrous practices, were meant to be a competitive parallel to what was going on in Jerusalem, and the Kingdom of Judah.
It's easy to understand how this syncretism and falsehood could occur; the name "baal" itself simply means "master" - and certainly, the Lord/YHWH was understood to be a "Master".
It even appears that many of the practices which would come to be prohibited amongst the Israelites because of their association with the "baal cult", were actually narrowly allowed by the Torah, and were common in Patriarchal practice (for example, the erection of sacred pillars in honour of holy sites, or significant land marks). It's as if there was a pious version of many of these practices, and a heterodox one.
I'm not saying of course that it is all the "exact same thing"; but the parallels are certainly present; since the Roman Catholic church also has rites similar to Orthodox ones, is a historical schism from the Orthodox Church/Israel, but many of these are infused with a differing meaning, and spiced with beliefs that are simply false, and not from God. Like the baal cults, and the similar cult of the Northern Kingdom, the RCC also acts as a competitor/replacement in regards to the genuine Church of Christ.
Before launching into a tyrade of how terrible a thing this is to say, I would appreciate telling me how this comparison is invalid. Then feel free to launch into the tyrade...
Then what is to be said of our own incorruptible saints?
Well, incorruptability is only considered a sign; it's not understood in a context serpated from the Church, or a pious, confessing life. Other alleged "wonders" are most certainly seperate from this, whether they be those of the Roman Catholics, the charismatics, or even more "foreign" (historically and doctrinally speaking) groups (Hindus, Muslims, etc.)
You wrote, "all that occurs outside of the Church, is anathema."
Is that really true?
Look up the meaning of this Greek term, and I think you'll find my meaning is very clear (in fact, I explained it's meaning to you...but I invite you to do your own research to confirm or deny what I explained.)
Will not God judge each person according to his or her own works and how much he or she knew?
..and in light of what God has given them, and how they accepted or rejected this. Yes, He will - and these are things which will be revealed on the Last Day.
Or will He judge simply based upon whether or not one is within the visible Church?
No, not simply - since there will be (sadly) many of those who received the grace of Holy Baptism, other Holy Mysteries, and the true doctrine of the Church, who will be condemned.
So, you see absolutely no difference between heathens and Christians?
Between heathen and heterodox Christians? Of course not. Just as I perceive differences between Jews and Buddhists. See my explanation above, of how the heterodox are, and are not, fundamentally similar to infidels and heathen.
Between those who deny Christ and those who worship Him?
The Arians also called on the "name" of "Christ" and claimed to worship Him.
Apparently even good works performed through "natural virtue" have value to God, who will judge men according to their works.
Of course...keeping in mind, no man is saved by works. That would be Pelagianism
, hence, a heresy.
If I understand you rightly, you are saying that all post-schism Roman Catholic saints lived the lives they did through the exercise of purely natural virtue and performed the wonders they performed through the power of Satan, and not by the grace of God, correct?
I will simply say, to avoid scandal, that the ecumenical appraisal you (and those who think like you) grant them, is neither unquestionable, nor the only one possible. I will also say that there are certainly "RC mystics" and "saints" whose method and teaching, betray precisely the mis-steps which the Orthodox Fathers would have identified as prelest
, and are precisely the thing which a struggler must avoid
Keep in mind, that there have even been Orthodox who ended up
rectifying their ways and becoming Saints, with the benefits of the Church close at hand, who have fallen into such delusion and had all sorts of incredible, yet false
"mystical" experiences, and even did things which are far outside of any normal, naturalistic explanation. Yet, because their spiritual fathers were in the bosom of the Church, and possessed/understood the healing medicine which is contained in Her doctrine, they could identify this in these poor souls, and put them on the right track. In heterodoxy, not only is this medicine not present, but the "poison" is mistooken for medicine, and actively prescribed.
Identify the tree by its fruit.
Precisely. Is heterodoxy the gift of God?
I don't think that God has totally abandoned Western Christendom, and even the Protestants (shudder!) sometimes display evidence of God's grace.
Of course He does. He hasn't abandoned anyone, let alone the heterodox Christians. All are, in many ways, benefactors of His Grace; including the birds in the trees.