Is the Orthodox Church really the one, true, faith founded by Jesus Christ? I've struggled with this one for a long time and am sort of at a cross roads in my life. ROBB,
Administratively, there is no question that it is the same institution based on apostolic succession. I think in some small, ways, probably not matters of faith, it has changed from the institution at Jesus' time. For example, neither calendars were probably in use at Jesus' time. However, one of the goals in Orthodoxy is actually to continue and get back to the faith founded by Jesus. On one hand, I think it's debateable whether women should wear headcoverings, and in this manner we have gotten away. On the other hand, it's possible that in other ways the church is much "better" than that founded at Jesus' time: We have succeeded in spreading the gospel far far beyond the bounds of Palestine, and around the world.
It is hard to know with exact certainty how much our doctrines have changed from Jesus' time. But we have the big advantage over Protestants that we rely on the teachings of the early church, teachings that were written about the same time, or not long after, the New Testament itself.
Could someone give me some type of evidence that can emphatically prove that the OC is the way God wants things to be?
I guess it comes to faith. I can tell you to read early church writings. But does that mean 100% it's how God wants things to be? How do we know for certain that God wants Christianity or monotheism? We can philosophize alot, but I am sorry I don't have such a philosophy at my fingertips to prove it 100%.
Why, for instance would God want his Church to be a string of self governing national ones instead of a unified central authority like the Papacy?
How can we know with 100% certainty the mind of God? It seems tome though that humans error and that centralizing authority into only one person who is above everyone else, unequaled, is not simply "undemocratic," but can lead to arbitrariness, a kind of earthly one-man totalitarianism. And since I reject sole papal infallibility on the basis of human infallbility, I also reject an earthly totalitarian model.
Perhaps another proof of this, if you accept Christianity, is that Jesus chose his 12 apostles. They were the leaders. I think Jesus talked about giving the keys to Peter, but remember after he said this Peter denied him three times, and there is a tradition that only John stayed loyal. And remember, that while Jesus said, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven," Jesus, as I remember, said the same thing to all the apostles.
Doesn't the very concept of the Pope as top man and controlling (Or, at least trying to control) the whole operation of the Church make more sense from a logical and truly Catholic perspective?
I would say no. From a truly logical perspective, Jesus is supposed to be the top man controlling. He chose 12 disciples and is supposed to be still with them and us. As for Catholicity, you could say that since we follow "all" of the apostles, (Catholic and Apostolic), then we should follow them equally. You could even say that "all" bishops or leaders are supposed to be equal. We are all together, ("Catholic"), so we are all united and equal.
Basically, you can as easily argue that the top-down model is for earthly rulership and we should invert it- the last will be first and the first last. This kind of purely logical argument can go either way, even to the point of Protestantism. DeusVeritas even has a thread discussing how the Patriarchate "developed" later. So if we want to go back to the faith at Jesus' time, we could go as far as to make 12 Patriarchates as there were 12 apostolic positions, like there were 12 tribes of Israel. Again, these are more arguments based on logic.
When they came up with the 5 Patriarch idea, wasn't that just based on the jurisdictional situation of the Roman empire which has long since (Sadly) been defunct.
Why sadly? The Roman empire and the Sanhedrin crucified Christ.
Sidenote: I wonder by the way if the Vatican is the legal successor of the Roman empire? Apparently a "Sanhedrin" project has returned in Israel.
Anyway, Russia has a Patriarchate, and no other jurisdiction in the West had a Patriarch (I believe), while the east had several, so I don't think that it is based only on the jurisdictions of the ROman empire.
I'm not trying to goad anybody or proselytize for anything. I'm just asking these questions since, coming from an RC backround they are what I've struggled with. I tried talking about them to an Orthodox priest, but his answers were not very satisfactory for me (He claimed that he didn't know much about the RCC in the first place and seemed to believe that the RC's worship the Popes every word as infallible).
Sure, reading more than one source than talking to one person can be best for lots of spiritual matters. If you go on other threads on the forum, you can find quotes from Canon rules and Catholic scholars explaining that if a Pope became a heretic you would have to obey him. I know Catholicism says the pope is only infallible when speaking ex-cathedra, but under the canon rules, you have to obey him even when he is not speaking ex-cathedra. This seems to be a problem.
I don't know how anyone could not know anything about Catholicism but this guy didn't do a very good job talking about it to me.
I accept Christianity, but might find it hard witnessing to a strong agnostic. I might have to say to go elsewhere
It doesn't mean a personal failing, just he never went into the same depth about the philosophy as you would like. Alot of these philosophy things can be argued either way.
I also brought up the universality of the Church (Which seemed somewhat lacking in the OC to me).
Fact that we have jurisdictions doesn't seem to me that we somehow lack universality. We do make decisions together, we have SCOBA, we have canon rules. So I am not sure how you mean we lack universality, unless you just mean that we lack a one-earthly-man totalitarian administrative model like the Roman Catholic church. Just as the apostles and the early church was universal and existed in different places, you can say the same about the Orthodox.
He gave me some talk about how the true church exists when only a handful of people believe
Probably true. If all the bishops were wiped out, the church could still exist.
(This didn't answer why there is no outward, actual, real unity in the OC as opposed to the, at least superficial appearance you get with the RCC).
What more are you requiring for Unity in the Orthodox church? For Moscow to subordinate itself administratively to the EP? Or the fact that we have different juriscitions itself seems broken? Well, in Catholicism you have different jurisdictions because you have different Eastern Catholic groups, just they are ultimately under one earthly man.
These questions mean something to my worldview since I was raised to believe in quantity over quality. The bigger and better something was presented to me then the truer it must be.
Sounds like you are critical of the worldview you were raised in. Well, those outside the Papacy outnumber those under it. So maybe rejection of papal infallibility must be true. This can go either way.
I freely admit to being not from a Protestant "Bible Baptist" type backround. I like the extravagance of life. I come from deeply expressionist, deeply Catholic type of people.
That is nice. I wish we had unity. The single biggest obstacle is Papal supremacy because it would mean that we would have to subordinate ourselves to him in all matters of faith, yet we have doctrinal differences. Consequently, all other differences with Catholicism by us come together to criticize this one. That is, if we hold to a single doctrinal difference with the pope, then we must necessarily reject "obedience" to him as a direct superior.
(Ones who it is frequently said that "God made us Catholic before making us Christian"). I only get the big picture.
What do you mean? Shouldn't we put Christianity before
Orthodoxy/Catholicism or at least say that they are "one in the same?" The basic principles of all Christianity are more central to Orthodoxy than all the administrative and artistic differences that distinguish it as its own "organization."
If Orthodoxy is true then why isn't it big and important everywhere like the RCC is?
In other words, if X is true, why doesn't big and important like X is?
If RCC is true, why did it break in half with the Reformation, while Orthodoxy did not have a huge post-1054 "reformation" schism? Thanks Bogu we avoided this.
If RCC is true, why isn't it big and important in America, the biggest Christian country?
If you want the real reason, I'll tell you- countries with Latin-based languages like Spanish and French stayed Catholic, just as the Roman Catholic Church used Latin. When they spread to the New World, they spread Catholicism. It's that simple. That's why it's big and powerful. Meanwhile the Protestants took over in countries that used German-based languages like English and Norwegian. They spread their religion to their colonies.
Meanwhile, Orthodox countries were conquered until recently by Muslim ones. Does that mean Islam is right and Christianity is wrong?
Anyway, that's the reason. Religion is important to those cultures and Western Europe was on the ocean and spread to other continents.